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NBA Draft: Mock 4.0 - Noel back at No. 1

The SportsXchange

As the 2013 NBA Draft approaches Thursday, the Los Angeles Clippers have landed their new head coach in Doc Rivers and the rumor mill continues to swirl with potential trades coming down the pike. Teams are finalizing their draft boards while also formulating their gameplans for the start of free agency in July.

It all plays a factor in how the first round will unfold in a draft light on star power but loaded with prospects who should prove to be quality role players in the NBA.

NBA First-Round Mock:

1. Cleveland: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky -- After rumors of a brief flirtation with the idea of taking Alex Len, it seems Cleveland is back on board with selecting the athletic Kentucky big man. Otto Porter has been mentioned as a possibility as well, but barring a trade Noel looks to be the odds-on favorite to be the top pick.

2. Orlando: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas -- Rumors are flying the Magic might be looking to trade this pick. If they don't, Orlando will most likely grab the smooth-shooting McLemore and possibly insert him into the starting line up the second they draft him. Orlando needs scorers and McLemore fits the bill here in spades. While comparisons to Ray Allen may be far-fetched, McLemore possesses just the type of skillset and scoring from the SG position the Magic crave and need.

3. Washington: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown -- A long, rangy wing/forward with the type of body NBA personnel love. He's still quite raw offensively but could fit in and play right away. Things to like include his length (ridiculously long) and he plays unorthodox, which could potentially make him difficult to guard when he starts to polish his game. Porter's agent is very confident he won't slide past the third pick.

4. Charlotte: Alex Len, C, Maryland -- The Bobcats have reportedly been enamored with Len ever since they worked him out a couple weeks ago. If he's off the board, it sounds like they will still pick a big man. Anthony Bennett could be the pick here, but the most likely scenario is Charlotte will take the best center available -- which should be Len or Noel.

5. Phoenix: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana -- He's as tough as they come and seems to be in the middle of every game story line. He brings a defensive mentality teammates can appreciate and he knows how to fit in. Has improved his jumper dramatically over the past year and should only get better moving forward. He was originally being discussed as a possible No. 1 overall pick, but now it seems teams are looking to trade up to get him around No. 5.

6. New Orleans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan -- With Austin Rivers looking like he's not going to be a PG, look for New Orleans to make the move to grab Burke even with Greivis Vasquez in the fold. New Orleans couldn't have been happier with how Vazquez played last year, but Burke is lethal in the pick-and-roll and would give them a nice Anthony Davis/Burke/Rivers/Ryan Anderson core to build around.

7. Sacramento: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV -- The Kings have a lot of needs, but first and foremost they need to bolster their frontcourt to help out the moody DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings have stated they're invested in Cousins for the long haul. If that's the really the case, having the bruising Bennett fall into their laps at No. 7 should make Kings fans excited. Bennett would be a very nice complement to Cousins and be a huge boost to Sacramento's frontcourt.

8. Detroit: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh -- Detroit should be looking for scoring help on the wing, which puts McCollum, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and possibly Shabazz Muhammad in play for this pick. Both McCollum and Caldwell-Pope have impressed in workouts, but Joe Dumars could look to gamble on the polarizing Muhammad. McCollum is a big-time scorer who can also play point, which gets him the nod here.

9. Minnesota: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia -- Minnesota is one of the teams rumored to be trying to trade up for a shot at Oladipo. The T-Wolves are badly in need of shooters to space the floor for Rubio/Love/Pekovic, and "KCP" could step in and do that right away should Minnesota stay put.

10. Portland: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh -- After a disappointing season at Pittsburgh, Adams has impressed in pre-draft workouts and has risen up everyone's draft boards. Physically, he's a beast who runs the floor well for his size, which would help bring a defensive presence Portland badly needs and complement LaMarcus Aldridge (if he's not traded) and Meyers Leonard nicely.

11. Philadelphia: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana -- With the Andrew Bynum debacle behind them, the Sixers should look to add depth in the frontcourt behind Spencer Hawes and undersized Lavoy Allen. Once considered a potential top pick, Zeller has dropped off a little but still remains an athletic 7-footer who can do plenty of things. Zeller, much like Olynyk, has trouble finishing around the rim but would still be a logical fit in Philly.

12. Oklahoma City: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga -- The big man from Gonzaga could go as high as No. 10 to Portland, or could slide to the mid to low teens. He makes sense for the Thunder with the aging Kendrick Perkins falling off fast, and Olynyk would be a nice offensive front-court weapon to pair with the athletic Serge Ibaka.

13. Dallas: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse -- Dallas has money to spend and Mark Cuban has announced he will be doing so this summer, making the Mavs a team to watch in free agency. Currently, point guard is a need and drafting Carter-Williams would be an upgrade to what they have on the roster now. At 6-5, Carter-Williams has good size for a point and has very good court vision with the ball in his hands. While Dallas' roster may be in flux this summer and it will probably trade this pick, Carter-Williams shouldn't drop below this slot.

14. Utah: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami - The young German, Dennis Schroeder, was thought to be the pick here, but he has struggled with the NBA's physical style of play in recent workouts with teams. Larkin has been rock-solid by contrast and has been steadily climbing up people's draft boards. He's a very good athlete and has been very good in pick-and-roll situations, which NBA coaches love. Utah may still be looking at Schroeder, but Larkin is less of a risk and the more likely pick.

15. Milwaukee: Shabazz Muhammad, SG, UCLA -- With Monta Ellis rejecting a contract extension and opting out of his current deal, look for the Bucks to draft a replacement. Muhammad could go to the Pistons or T-Wolves in the top 10, but it's sounding more and more like he's dropping out of the lottery. He fills a need for Milwaukee.

16. Boston: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, International -- Now that Rivers is headed out of town, it would appear the Celtics are set to begin rebuilding. Adetokunbo, who's from Greece, is freakishly athletic with extremely long arms and ridiculously big hands. At just 18 years old, he has shown off-the-charts potential. He's still very raw in a lot of areas, but at the very least he could turn into an elite lock-down defender.

17. Atlanta: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke -- Atlanta has picks 17 and 18, and look for the Hawks to go big with one pick. If Plumlee is available he should be one of these selections, but 7-2 Rudy Gobert could be in the mix as well. The Hawks need frontcourt depth, and the solid but not spectacular Plumlee fits that need. Plumlee is a better athlete than he gets credit for, he runs the floor well and finishes in transition well. If he can develop a consistent jump shot, this could go from a decent to very good pick for Atlanta.

18. Atlanta: Dennis Shroeder, PG, International -- Schroeder exploded on the scene at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, but his stock has cooled a bit recently due to his struggles in workouts. He's lightening quick and likes to get his teammates involved, plus at just 19 years old scouts expect him to struggle a little bit adjusting to the NBA game while still loving his potential.

19. Cleveland: Sergey Karasev, SF, International -- Karasev is a 6-7 smooth-shooting 19 year old Russian with a very high basketball I.Q. who is comfortable in a complementary role and would fit well with Cleveland's young core. The argument can be made that the Cavs already have this position filled in Tristan Thompson, but for what Thompson lacks in offensive prowess Karasev can be the perfect complement. Cleveland could potentially go into next year with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao, Thompson/Karasev and Noel. That's a dangerous young team for years to come.

20. Chicago: Gorgui Dieng, C. Louisville -- Would be a great Chicago guy - his defense comes first and he would be a solid complementary role player on offense. Dieng is known for his defense and shot blocking, and he should be, but what a lot of people don't realize is that Dieng is an under the radar, very effective jump shooter out to 17 feet. He's still raw around the basket but he'd be a very good defensive presence in Chicago who could also be effective in the high post offensively.

21. Utah: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State -- While his love for wearing long sleeves under his jersey (apparently it's a SDSU thing) won't carry over to the NBA, his skillset should. Franklin is a well-rounded 6-5 combo guard who should fit right into the NBA game from the get-go. The Jazz continue to bolster their backcourt with this solid pick.

22. Brooklyn: Rudy Gobert, C, International -- Gobert, who sports a massive 9-foot, 7-inch standing reach, is not very athletic and incredibly raw offensively, but has been called dominant defensively. There are dissenting views from NBA people as to whether he could make his way into the lottery or drop down to the back end of the first round. Gobert could be a nice complement to Brook Lopez in Brooklyn.

23. Indiana: Allen Crabbe, SG, California -- Crabbe had a solid career at Cal and has flown under the radar for a while, but the guy is a really good scorer. He started last season as second-round material but has played his way into the first round with another solid season and tournament showing despite some differences with coach Mike Montgomery. He's a good fit with Indiana and will fit right on in the wing with Paul George.

24. New York: Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas -- Somebody is going to take a gamble on Mitchell in the first round, so it might as well be the Knicks. Despite Carmelo Anthony's wish to add another scorer, New York will look to bolster its frontcourt. While Mitchell may have a similar physique to Amare Stoudemire don't be fooled Knick fans, he doesn't have Stoudemire's long lost game. What he does have, however, is athleticism, long arms and an ability to block shots and rebound. Tyson Chandler needs the help so the Knicks go with Mitchell.

25. L.A. Clippers: Tony Snell, SF, New Mexico -- Originally thought to be an early second rounder, rumors are floating Snell has made his way into the first round with a guarantee from some team. He has been impressing in workouts and would be a nice complementary shooter/scorer for the Clippers. Snell needs playmakers to help him get his shot, and the Clippers have the ballhandlers to make this a nice fit.

26. Minnesota: Lucas Nogueira, C, International -- The young man they call "Bebe" in Brazil has no jumper to speak of and can't score outside of the charge circle, so why would Minnesota draft him? He's everything Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic are not - he's skinny with long arms and he will dunk everything Ricky Rubio throws him anywhere near the rim. The Wolves will go with a wing scorer early at pick No. 9 and will look to add depth for Love and big Pek at this pick. Rubio + Bebe = jealousy in Lob City.

27. Denver: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan -- A lot of analysts have Hardaway dropping into the second round. However, while last year wasn't what he hoped it would be statistically, Hardaway has enough game (and the last name) to get himself into the first round. The Nuggets are desperately trying to trade out of this pick; if they're stuck with it Hardaway Jr. makes sense.

28. San Antonio: Mike Muscala, C, Bucknell -- This is usually the point in the draft San Antonio picks an international player you've never heard of, but Muscala is a proven product and the Spurs know exactly what they're getting with him. He adds depth to an already very good front court and can be a solid backup to Tim Duncan.

29. Oklahoma City: Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence -- Ricky Ledo is generally considered wildly inconsistent and has never played a game for Providence, but he possesses the biggest adjective NBA personnel love when it comes to the draft - potential. When Ledo is on his game he is a naturally gifted scorer with NBA range. He's a bit of a gamble in the first round but worth the payoff for OKC - pair him up with Durant and Westbrook and look out.

30. Phoenix: Reggie Bullock, SF, North Carolina -- Bullock is a very good shooter who can space the floor. The Suns have wing players but they don't have shooters - precisely what Bullock did best at North Carolina. He has played with numerous first-round picks in his time at North Carolina and been a solid complementary scorer alongside all of them; he'll do the same in the NBA.
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