Surprisingly, a quieter timer of the year for college athletics has turned into a busy month. University of Maryland football and basketball coaches, Randy Edsall and Mark Turgeon, have hit the recruiting trail hard and have already seen results from their hard work. Tonight we take a brief break from the future of Maryland athletics, and celebrate the accomplishment of a Maryland player. Regardless of where Alex Len ends up tomorrow night, there is not enough that can be said to praise his hard work. The NBA Draft is another chance to watch a bunch of young men take a step towards making their NBA dreams a reality.
With out further ado, I bring you my 2013 NBA Mock Lottery. I’m sure there will be plenty of disagreeing with some of the picks I have, but luckily it will be settled tonight. I have a feeling that tonight will be a fun night for viewers, I think there is the potential for us to see a lot of picks being traded given the uncertainly at the top of the draft.
Art Ferrer’s Draft Picks
1) Cleveland Cavaliers - Alex Len C University of Maryland: Sure, a lot of this could be the fan in me, but I do believe that Cleveland is a good fit for Alex. Cleveland has rolled the dice on some players in the draft earlier than most would have thought. The Cavs have a young back court, and two just as youthful big men, but neither has the ability to stretch the floor yet. Anderson Varejo plays this role, but given his health issues and his salary, I’m not sure how much longer Cleveland would like to keep him. Len can come in and provide the midrange ability that Anderson Varajeo occasionally provided, which makes it possible for Cleveland to look to move him.
2) Orlando Magic – Nerlens Noel C University of Kentucky: Orlando has been open about how they would take Noel if Cleveland passed on him, and you really can’t blame them given their lack of big men. The Magic are working on a deal to bring in Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers, which would eliminate their need for a point guard and give them some justification in taking Noel.
3) Washington Wizards – Anthony Bennett F UNLV: A tough choice for the Wizards between three solid players; Bennett, Porter, and Oladipo are all looked at as players who can provide a boost. With the development of Kevin Seraphin and the ability to get out Okafor’s $14 million contract, I think Bennett makes the most sense. Beal and Wall are a young back court, Ariza is opting in for his final year, and Nene is still under contract until 2016, so Bennett slides in nicely. Bennett is also a good prospect to build around with Wall and Beal, as he is a big time offensive scorer with a solid shot.
4) Charlotte Bobcats – Cody Zeller C Indiana University: The Bobcats are an odd assortment of players and contracts. With most teams, you cane get an idea of what they are building around, but Charlotte isn’t one of them. But with Zeller, they become a team building around three young winners. Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Cody Zeller gives them a young core group that had success in college, and with regard to the first two, a bit of success in the NBA. With a new coach coming in, Zeller provides another positive locker room guy and a high IQ seven footer.
5) Phoenix Suns – Otto Porter F Georgetown: Porter fits a need for Phoenix, who lack a quality swing man. Porter has great size at 6’9″ and showed the ability to have the offense run through him at Georgetown. He is passive at times, and isn’t necessarily a natural scorer, but has a solid all-around game and can hit it from mid range and three.
6) New Orleans Pelicans – Victor Oladipo G Indiana University: The Pelicans whiffed on a guard last year with Austin Rivers, so Oladipo would serve as an upgrade over Rivers in every area of the game. His defensive ability would help New Orleans a lot by covering up former Terp Greivis Vasquez’ inability to cover quicker guards. His athletic ability would also help a Pelicans team that lacks athletes, get one that is probably more explosive than anyone in the draft.
7) Sacramento Kings – Trey Burke G University of Michigan: The Kings have been lacking a true point guard for a couple of years, and Jimmer Fredette isn’t gong to get any better. Burke not only fills this need, but he can come in and start from day one. Trey also provide a young leader for a struggling locker room in desperate need of one. Controlling DeMarcus Cousins is tough for anyone to do, but at least with Burke you know that he won’t be feeding into the problem.
8) Detroit Pistons – C.J. McCollum G Lehigh University: Solid pick up for the Pistons at eight. Although they are planning on bringing back WIll Bynum, they need another point guard to be able to move Brandon Knight off the ball. The front court is young and developing with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, but they need a reliable point guard to keep those guys involved. McCollum brings a high IQ, experience running the point, and the ability to penetrate.
9) Minnesota Timberwolves – Ben McLemore G University of Kansas: Its tough to see McLemore falling this far in the draft, but I think it will happen to one of the projected top picks. McLemore is an elite athlete and great scorer who didn’t do enough to impress scouts after his college career, and that’s why he’s going to drop. The Timberwolves took a chance last year bringing in injury plagued Brandon Roy, and getting McLemore would help them cut some of Roy’s minutes to keep those knees running a few more years. With Ricky Rubio being more of a pass first point guard, McLemore provides another offensive weapon for him to set up.
10) Portland Trailblazers – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope G University of Georgia: Good luck, David Stern, with that first name. Caldwell-Pope was under the radar for most of the season, playing for one of the middle tier SEC teams. At 6’6″ and a scoring threat though, Caldwell-Pope brings a lot to the table for Portland. Adding Caldwell-Pope gives them another lengthy player to help on defense, but also an instant offense guy off the bench. With the emergence of Damian Lillard, Caldwell-Pope provides a good future point guard/shooting guard tandem.
11) Philadelphia 76ers – Steven Adams C University of Pittsburgh: After the failed Andrew Bynum experiment, I think Philadelphia looks to replace him. Adams is a 7-footer with a good motor and gives the 76ers a young player to build with. Adams is described as having an NBA body, but needing more experience. He improved a lot while at Pitt, and before the season started no one thought that he would be NBA ready. Now he is a projected lottery pick, and teams like that growth rate.
12) Oklahoma City Thunder – Sergey Karasev G Russia: The Thunder are looking to get bigger, but with Adams and Len both off the board, I think they take Karasev. The Russian guard is 6’7″ but can play point guard, shooting guard, small forward. He is known for having great court vision and a high IQ. Having a player like Karasev helps Oklahoma City get deeper while not having to sacrifice their style of play or a ton of cap space. Karasev’s passing and vision will give their second unit an added threat.
13) Dallas Mavericks- Michael Carter-Williams G Syracuse University: Dallas has size up front already, but with Darren Collison as the only consistently healthy point guard, they will look to add depth. Carter-Williams provides great size for his position and steady ball handling. Dallas is looking to rebuild in free agency to make a final run with Dirk, and Carter-Williams gives them a smooth point guard with tons of size that would be difficult to find elsewhere (unless they want Shaun Livingston).
14) Utah Jazz – Lucas Nogueira C Brazil: The Jazz have both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson becoming free agents this off-season, and they’d like to find replacements. The Jazz know what they want in big men, too, and a guy like Nogueira (also known as Bebe) Nogueira gives them an athletic seven footer to protect the rim. Like most international players, Bebe is raw, but his size and shot blocking on defense will be valuable from day one. Considering this is the club that always has a quality big man, there’s no reason they can’t help develop him as they do with all their players.
An interesting lottery to say the least, especially for my first time doing this. I’ll be happy to get a handful of these picks, but I think the toughest things to account for are the draft night trades. Without there being a clear number one pick, a lot of teams are unsure about who will be available when they are up. There are teams looking to trade into the top five area, while some teams are looking to get out of the top five. Like I said up top, this draft could have a lot of trades happening through out it, or could go exactly as its laid out.
Outside of the lottery teams can still find good value in guys like Shane Larkin, Jamaal Franklin, and Shabazz Muhammad to name a few. In the second round, there are players like C.J. Leslie, Trevor Mbakwe and DeShaun Thomas who will be available, can help contribute on the right team.
With a loaded draft and free agency class next year, it will be interesting to see the direction that some of the teams take in this years draft. There is value to be had in this draft, the uncertainty just comes up with how early you need to pick those guys.
Chris’ Mock Draft:
1) Cleveland Cavaliers - Alex Len (C, Maryland): This being a Maryland site aside, Len is the best fit for the Cavaliers. The team hasn’t had a solid post presence since Zydrunas Ilgauskas retired. Len has the potential to be the back-to-the-basket presence that the Cavs need and would give Kyrie Irving some interior help.
2) Orlando Magic – Victor Oladipo (G, Indiana): With their trade with Philadelphia in the Andrew Bynum deal, the Magic grabbed a nice center in Nikola Vucevic and an up-and-coming wing in Maurice Harkless. Orlando has been in talks with the Clippers, possibly swapping Arron Affalo for Eric Bledsoe. If they acquire Bledsoe, there is no need for a floor general. They can then slide Oladipo right into Affalo’s spot. Oladipo is a stalwart on the defensive end and has a solid outside shot.
3) Washington Wizards – Otto Porter (F, Georgetown): Another top pick for the Wizards and their fanbase cowers in the corner. History has not been kind to the Wizards but I think they actually get it right for once. Washington already has a great backcourt in place with John Wall and Bradley Beal. With a young Kevin Seraphin, Nene, and Okafor for the time being, they can afford to wait to add a big man. Adding a wing like Porter is a safe pick. Porter is one of the most talented players in this draft and fills a legitimate need for the Wizards.
4) Charlotte Bobcats – Nerlens Noel (C, Kentucky): It hasn’t been a secret that Michael Jordan and company want a big man in this draft. They seem to love Alex Len, but it doesn’t look like he will be around at four. Despite coming off a major knee injury, Noel has a huge defensive presence and can alter any shot in the paint. Noel doesn’t have a strong offensive game, but he has the athleticism to improve.
5) Phoenix Suns – Ben McLemore (G, Kansas): The Suns don’t have a ton of talent on their current roster. However, Ben McLemore would bring some offensive firepower to the desert. Wes Johnson and Jared Dudley aren’t going to cut it as the Suns’ two-guards. McLemore is a potential top-three pick and Phoenix is getting tremendous value outside the top five.
6) New Orleans Pelicans - Trey Burke (G, Michigan): Former Terp star Greivis Vasquez had an extraordinary year last season and set career-highs in many categories, Sadly, I believe the Pelicans will still elect to draft Trey Burke. There have been rumors that the Pelicans are shopping shooting guard Eric Gordon, which leads me to believe that Vasquez and Burke could co-exist in the same backcourt.
7) Sacramento Kings - Anthony Bennett (F, UNLV): Bennett is one of the most versatile players in this draft. He has the body to be able to play on the wing or line up at the power forward spot. The Kings are likely to try and deal troubled big man DeMarcus Cousins which could force Bennett to line up at power forward.
8) Detroit Pistons – C.J. McCollum (G, Lehigh): There isn’t a ton of talent in Detroit’s backcourt but C.J. McCollum could instantly change that. The Lehigh combo guard can do it all. McCollum is a great shooter and has the size to grab his fair share of rebounds. He could have a similar impact to what Damian Lillard enjoyed with Portland this past season.
9) Minnesota Timberwolves – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (G, Georgia): For a guy who stands at 6’6, Caldwell-Pope can still shoot the rock. It is unclear how serious the Timberwolves are about moving Kevin Love but you can never have too many guards. Caldwell-Pope could also play on the wing due to his size.
10) Portland Trailblazers – Cody Zeller (F, Indiana): There is a lot of trade talk surrounding LaMarcus Aldridge which leads me to believe that Portland drafts a big man. The best one on the board is Cody Zeller. Zeller may have been a top-five pick if he came out last season. He may not be a starter over his career, but should serve as a solid backup.
11) Philadelphia 76ers – Steven Adams (C, Pittsburgh): After the horrific Andrew Bynum deal, the Sixers need help just about everywhere. I believe it will come down to best player available for them. Jrue Holiday is the only real sure thing on the current roster. Steven Adams is a project but has impressed in workouts leading up to the draft. He may spend a year in the D-League but may be a solid NBA center down the road and the Sixers definitely need that.
12) Oklahoma City Thunder – Michael Carter-Williams (G, Syracuse): There has been plenty of talks that the Thunder are trying to move up in the draft. However if they stay put at 12, a guard makes the most sense. Carter-Williams makes the most sense for them. Oklahoma City really doesn’t have a great backup point guard to Russell Westbrook and we saw that during this year’s playoffs after Russell Westbrook went down. Carter-Williams has great court vision and knows how to be an effective distributor.
13) Dallas Mavericks- Sergey Karasev (G, Russia): From what I’ve read, it sounds like Karasev can either play the two or the three. The Mavericks could use a swingman with Shawn Marion and Vince Carter approaching the ripe age of 160. I don’t know a lot about Karasev but this fills a position of need.
14) Utah Jazz – Lucas Nogueira (C, Brazil): There are rumblings that the Jazz may just let center Al Jefferson walk in free agency. If that’s the case, they will need a big man in a bad way. Nogueira has drawn comparisons to Joakim Noah and has a similar game. He has a huge wingspan and has a lot of defensive potential due to his size. The Jazz have had luck in the past with foreign players like Andrei Kirilenko.