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Centers Len, Adams rise in the rankings

POSTED: Jun 12, 2013 1:40 AM ET

By Scott Howard-Cooper

BY Scott Howard-Cooper


Alex Len's injury hasn't diminished his chances of leaving draft board early, writes Scott Howard-Cooper.

Speculation has started within the league on the possibility of a top pick not named Ben McLemore or Nerlens Noel, some organizations believe Trey Burke is closer to the No. 2 point guard than the No. 2 selection bound for Orlando on position need, and at least one team has Pitt facing-rising center Steven Adams, who didn't even plan to leave school, as the seventh-best prospect on the board.

We have officially arrived at head-spinning mode as preparations in advance of the June 27 draft reach a new stage. The adidas Eurocamp ended Monday, most team officials headed home after the final large group gathering, and now it's down to individual workouts as the only remaining new evaluations.

So the intrigue ramps up as well. It would be everywhere anyway, as part of the process every year, only now the debates ramp up in a draft filled with holes, even at the very top. This of all Junes invitites speculation.

The post-Eurocamp mock has several changes after conversations with executives and scouts, but no alterations at the front of the pack. It's still Noel, McLemore and Otto Porter, before movement in the top 10 and beyond.

1. Cavaliers, Nerlens Noel, Kentucky, PF, 6-11, 220

Some executives -- not media, not fans -- have been gossiping that Cleveland could make the surprise move at Alex Len at No. 1. It's questionable Len could have made that kind of surge, though, while unable to work out for any teams because of an ankle injury. Was Len a top-three prospect during the season and the entire league kept quiet about it?

2. Magic, Ben McLemore, Kansas, SG, 6-4, 195

Trey Burke as the No. 2 pick for a need at point guard? Some teams feel he is the No. 2 player, at best, at his position. The Magic have Arron Afflalo at shooting guard, but McLemore is regarded as the second-best prospect on the board. Take him, gather assets, make a trade.

3. Wizards, Otto Porter, Georgetown, SF, 6-8, 200

The Wizards get a very good outcome. Porter is a position need and coming off a season as the Big East Player of the Year that moved the versatile small forward into the top five, and it doesn't hurt that he is a local product. Porter does not project as a star, but he does a lot of things well.

4. Bobcats, Alex Len, Maryland Indiana, C, 7-1, 255

The ankle problem has hardly hurt his stock. If anything, the injury that will also cost Len summer league has been beneficial in keeping him from the scrutiny of team visits. And there is always the other key for climbing stock since the end of the regular season: He is the best true center available, by a significant margin.

5. Suns, Anthony Bennett, UNLV, PF, 6-7, 240

An undersized power forward who can play some small forward (though while likely struggling there on defense), Bennett is a positive step in the Suns trying to return to respectability. There's still some teams that rate him the third-best prospect.

6. Pelicans, Victor Oladipo, Indiana, SG, 6-5, 210

With his defensive abilities previously established, Oladipo shot up draft boards by expanding his offense and becoming a dependable shooter. Imagine pairing one of the best two-way players available with the defense of Anthony Davis.

7. Kings, Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, PG, 6-5, 175

He has stayed in contention for the top 10 despite shooting 39.3 percent, thanks to the lure of being a point guard with size and vision who can handle. Hoping to address the obvious problem, Carter-Williams has been working on his perimeter game since the end of the season.

8. Pistons, Trey Burke, Michigan, PG, 6-1, 175

Teams love the intangibles -- leadership, toughness, experience in big games -- of the college Player of the Year, but questions remain about small guards who don't have a special level of athleticism to compensate for lack of size.

9. Timberwolves, C.J. McCollum, Lehigh, PG-SG, 6-3, 190

Minnesota wants to add scoring and shooting, and McCollum can do both. The reason it's a bad call is Minnesota does not want to add point guards. It wants to shed point guards. McCollum can become a combo guard and play alongside a big point.

10. Trail Blazers, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia, SG, 6-5, 205

Several teams are convinced this is the Portland call in the attempt to add depth as one of the final steps to a playoff push. Caldwell-Pope is an offensive threat who has spent two seasons in a system that created a lot of shooting opportunities for him.

11. 76ers, Cody Zeller, Indiana, PF-C, 7-0, 240

The call may come down to how much the Sixers trust in Andrew Bynum's recovery, not to mention the commitment to the recovery process. If they decide to go big, there will be no shortage of options: Zeller, Kelly Olynyk, Mason Plumlee and Adams are all projected in this range.

12. Thunder, Steven Adams, Pittsburgh, C, 6-11, 235

Adams continues to use team and group workouts to show more of an offensive game than most saw in the one season at Pitt. He is relatively inexperienced against top competition after growing up in New Zealand, but the aggressive, high-energy style of play coupled with the upward trajectory in his game is very appealing.

13. Mavericks, Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, SG, 6-6, 225

O.J. Mayo could be gone soon and Vince Carter isn't far behind, so Dallas needs to add wing scoring. Muhammad has been the focus of harsh criticism from teams most of the season, and especially since late in his freshman campaign, but the potential makes him a worthwhile risk at this stage.

14. Jazz, Dennis Schroeder, Germany, PG, 6-1, 180

A breakout performance for the international team playing against the top U.S. college-bound stars at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland in April moved the jet-like point guard from the second round to legitimate, even likely, lottery possibility.

15. Bucks, Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, C, 7-0, 240

The Bucks could have pressing issues in the backcourt once free agency begins, but there are few choices among guards at this point. Olynyk's advanced offensive game will be a nice complement to the defensive presence of Larry Sanders and John Henson.

16. Celtics, Dario Saric, Croatia, SF, 6-10, 225

While Saric will withdraw from the draft before the June 17 deadline, according to his agent, teams are not completely convinced. If he actually stays in, he will be a small forward with a great feel for the game and the chance to make an impact right away.

17. Hawks, Mason Plumlee, Duke, PF, 6-11, 245

The combination of a developing offensive game and already-there elite athleticism for a big man has put the brother of Pacers rookie Miles Plumlee into a very good spot. He could go as high as late-lottery, in that Philadelphia-Oklahoma City range.

18. Hawks, Rudy Gobert, France, PF-C, 7-1, 235

Gobert had an underwhelming 2012-13 in France, but front offices see real defensive potential with the size and wingspan. They were also impressed he participated in the Chicago pre-draft combine when a lot of others with a chance for mid-first would have bailed. But not being in great shape for the early individual workouts could hurt.

19. Cavaliers, Sergey Karasev, Russia, SF, 6-7, 205

He is showing potential while playing big minutes in a good league as a 19 year old. Cleveland could use help at small forward. Playing with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristen Thompson and others would keep immediate pressure of Karasev and allow him to develop.

20. Bulls, Gorgui Dieng, Louisville, C, 6-11, 245

Dieng's size and mobility translate into a future as a shot blocker, with signs of a respectable offense. Being 23 years old is a drawback because it gives him fewer years to develop and play. But that should also make him more mature and able to better fit with a team in win-now mode.

21. Jazz, Jeff Withey, Kansas, C, 7-0, 235

The Jazz, and Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, have hard decisions to make in free agency. Withey would be a move to address that as a defender inside with four years experience at a major program.

22. Nets, Giannis Adetokoubo, Greece, SF, 6-9, 215

One of the late climbers on the draft board has the disadvantage of playing against competition that would be equal to Division II or III in the United States, hurting his development and increasing uncertainty about his transition to the NBA. If he does well in individual workouts, his stock will jump again.

23. Pacers,Lucas Nogueira, Brazil, PF-C, 7-0, 220

The NBA has been waiting for years for the athletic 7-footer to add toughness. That it hasn't happened is a bad sign. That teams are still very interested is a good sign

24. Knicks, Shane Larkin, Miami, PG, 6-0, 170

The son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin would be a nice dose of athleticism at point guard, even as the backup. The size is an obvious concerns, but it's not hard to find players with long careers despite going to the pros with the same doubts.

25. Clippers, Glen Rice Jr., D-League, SG, 6-6, 210

The long road back // for the son of the former All-Star small forward includes playing for the Rio Grande Vipers after being kicked off the team at Georgia Tech. The good sign is that he is willing to stand up to whatever tough questions executives have been asking.

26. Timberwolves, Tony Mitchell, North Texas, SF-PF, 6-8, 235

One of the wild cards. Mitchell had a disappointing sophomore season and is the first to admit he did not play hard all the time, with a lot of NBA people willing to also say it for him. But it's easy to see teams falling back in like with his athleticism and toughness and Minnesota is very open to using its second first-rounder on a player who will need developing.

27. Nuggets, Allen Crabbe, California, SG, 6-6, 205

Denver needs help from behind the arc. Though he needs to get stronger, Crabbe has the size, accuracy and decent three-point range to fit the shooting-guard mold.

28. Spurs, Isaiah Canaan, Murray State, PG, 6-0, 188

He is one of the most NBA-ready players of the draft, after four years in college and particular praise from Chris Paul. A lot of teams are looking at Canaan late in the first round and early in the second as a dependable backup point guard.

29. Thunder, Alex Abrines, Spain, SG, 6-5, 190

Oklahoma City is in win-now mode, had two rookies this season and will be adding another player in this lottery, barring a trade. The last thing it needs is another first-year player. Abrines can develop overseas for at least one more season.

30. Suns, Jamaal Franklin, San Diego St, SG, 6-5, 205

The Mountain West Conference Player of the Year will have to show he can handle the transition from college forward to primarily a shooting guard in the pros.