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NBA Mock Draft: Version 2

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The Final Mockdown
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Steve Alexander's Final NBA Mock Draft (Version 5) is here, and Nerlens Noel still looks like the No. …

We still don’t know the lottery draft order, so I went with the odds for the first 14 picks. Keep in mind that this is just the second of many updated mock drafts to come, so you should expect to see some changes as we get closer to draft day (and once the draft order becomes finalized). The lottery takes place on May 21, when things should become clearer once we know who will have the No. 1 pick. 

1. Orlando – Nerlens Noel C Kentucky

I’d still like to think the Magic will take guard Trey Burke if they get the No. 1 pick, but at this point, Noel is the consensus first pick in this draft. I may change my mind and go back to Burke at some point, but for now, I’m going against my gut and with the tide. Noel is coming off an ACL tear, so we’ll have to see how he looks in workouts before declaring him 100 percent healthy. The Magic are stacked with competent big men and need to work on finding an eventual replacement for Jameer Nelson, which is why I think taking Burke here makes sense, but for now, Noel looks like he will be the No. 1 pick.

2. Charlotte – Ben McLemore SG Kansas

Ben Gordon is on the downside of his career, while Gerald Henderson started at shooting guard and exceeded expectations this season. The Bobcats have their biggest needs at PF and C, but McLemore might be too talented to pass up here. He might be the best two-way player in this draft, has serious shooting range, and Henderson can always start at small forward if the Cats decide to bring Michael Kidd-Gilchrist off the bench as sixth man. But if Noel is available when the Bobcats pick, it’s hard to see them passing on him.

3. Cleveland – Otto Porter SF Georgetown

The Cavs have been looking for a small forward ever since youknowwho left, and Porter looks like the best one in this draft, especially given his ability to do work on both ends of the court, along with his versatility.

4. Phoenix – Victor Oladipo SG Indiana

The Suns have all kinds of needs but shooting guard is an obvious problem, as they didn’t seem to fall in love with Jared Dudley or P.J. Tucker this season. Oladipo could end up being the best player in this draft, and possibly help point the Suns franchise in the right direction. Regardless of where he ends up, Oladipo should be an early front-runner for Rookie of the Year, depending on how he’s used.

5. New Orleans – Anthony Bennett F UNLV

The Hornets appear to be set at PG (Greivis Vasquez), SG (Eric Gordon) and PF (Anthony Davis/Ryan Anderson), but they could use a center or small forward other than Robin Lopez and Al-Farouq Aminu. If Porter is gone, Bennett makes a lot of sense here, although he’s a classic “tweener,” meaning he’s not really going to be a true small or power forward due to his 6’7” size. They could also look at Shabazz Muhammad with this pick. 

6. Sacramento – Shabazz Muhammad G/F UCLA

The Kings have been looking for a small forward for a long time and John Salmons isn’t the answer. They may have to choose between Porter, Bennett or Muhammad here, but it’s starting to look like Porter may not still be on the board. Muhammad is strong and could finally provide a solid answer at small forward in Sacramento, although there are concerns about his basketball IQ and inability to dish the rock.  

7. Detroit – Trey Burke G Michigan

Brandon Knight could end up being a backup NBA point guard, and Rodney Stuckey and Jose Calderon won’t be around forever. The Pistons really could use a small forward with this pick, but if Porter and Muhammad are off the board, they’ll have to take the best available player. And the biggest question with Burke is whether or not he’ll still be around after the No. 6 pick.   

8. Washington – Alex Len C Maryland

The Wizards are set at the guard spots until further notice with John Wall and Bradley Beal locked up, while Emeka Okafor could be on his last legs. The Wiz also have needs at both forward spots, but do have Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker to hold down the fort, if Nene is about to shut it down. Len is a big, athletic two-way center and looks like a fairly logical choice for the Wizards.

9. Minnesota – C.J. McCollum G Lehigh

The Timberwolves need wings and with Ricky Rubio all set to run the Wolves offense until he can’t take it anymore, McCollum would slot in nicely at shooting guard, where the Wolves are severely lacking. McCollum is a combo guard with strong offensive skills and could also adapt to become a reliable NBA point guard, where he could serve as a backup for Rubio. He looks like a great fit in Minnesota.

10. Portland – Cody Zeller F/C Indiana

Zeller’s one-dimensional game was exposed in the tournament, but he’s still slated for a lottery pick and the Blazers seem to always be looking for centers. Zeller’s probably going to be a better NBA player than what he showed in the tourney, and his ability to run the floor will work in his favor.   

11. Philadelphia – Mason Plumlee C Duke

Andrew Bynum didn’t exactly work out and Spencer Hawes, despite some very nice runs this season, still may not be the long-term answer. And even if he is, adding a guy like Plumlee is going to give them some depth at C. His offensive game is developing and he’s a solid defensive presence with some athleticism.

12. Oklahoma City (via Toronto) – Gorgui Dieng C Louisville

The Thunder could use an eventual replacement for Kendrick Perkins and unlike Zeller, Dieng’s stock rose during the NCAA Tournament. Dieng looks like he’s going to be a very good defender, while his offensive skills have potential given his ability to knock down mid-range jumpers. And after watching Perkins attempt to guard Omer Asik in Round 1 of the playoffs, the Thunder would like to add centers sooner than later.

13. Dallas – Michael Carter-Williams PG Syracuse  

Rick Carlisle apparently can’t stand Darren Collison, so much so that he decided to roll with Mike James in a lottery campaign. They desperately need a center, and I could see them taking Olynyk or another big man here, but they also could use a point guard. Carter-Williams is a nicely sized point guard and if he ever develops a reliable jumper, he should end up having a long career.

14. Utah – Jamaal Franklin SF San Diego State

The Jazz can always slide Gordon Hayward to shooting guard, as Randy Foye certainly doesn’t look like a long-term answer as a starting shooting guard. Franklin is a freakish athlete and led his team in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals. And he can even play defense and created more shots for himself last season. If he lands in the right situation I see him as a sleeper pick for Rookie of the Year.

15. Milwaukee – Rudy Gobert PF France

The Bucks look set with young big men like Larry Sanders and John Henson, and still have Ersan Ilyasova to start at power forward. But they could use an upgrade over Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Gobert looks like an impressive big man. He has a massive 7’9” wingspan and moves very well for a guy standing 7’2”. He should be able to clean the glass and play well enough offensively to make an immediate impact in the league.

16. Boston – Kelly Olynyk C Gonzaga

The Celtics need big bodies, as evidenced by the fact Kevin Garnett is finishing his career as a center instead of a power forward. Olynyk appears to be well suited for the Celtics’ half-court offense and averaged nearly 18 points per game last season for Gonzaga. If the Celtics pass on him, don’t look for the Hawks to do the same.  

17. Atlanta – Steven Adams C Pittsburgh

The Hawks have needed a solid big man, well, pretty much forever. They also need a shooting guard, but finding a true center should be the top priority. Adams is going to be a bit of a project, but he’s 7’0” tall, athletic for his size and should thrive at running the floor. He’ll need to work hard to develop an inside game worthy of the NBA, but has enough upside that someone will grab him in the first round.

18. Atlanta (via Houston) – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope SG Georgia

The Hawks clearly have a need at shooting guard, as Lou Williams still came off the bench even when he was healthy. Caldwell-Pope, the SEC player of the year, averaged 18.5 points and should be a very good 3-point shooter in the NBA. And I’m guessing that unlike Dwight Howard, he wouldn’t mind playing in Atlanta after starring at UGA. He’s also a solid defensive player, and really looks like a perfect fit for the Hawks.

19. Cleveland (via Lakers) – Sergey Karasev SF Moscow  

The Cavs may be looking at another small forward here, as that is easily their biggest need, and Karasev would likely be one of the best small forwards left on the board at this stage. He’s only 19 and has plenty of upside, along with a competent offensive game and high basketball IQ. Defense and a lack of athleticism are the biggest concerns with Karasev, but not enough that he won’t be taken in the first round.

20. Chicago – Dario Saric F Croatia

The Bulls are set at most positions and if they get a shooting guard with their first pick, taking the best player available here makes sense. Whether that will be Saric remains up for debate, but the 6’10” forward has a solid offensive game and high basketball IQ. He plays a lot like Andrea Bargnani, which means he’s not going to clean the glass, but the Bulls have Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer to do that.  

21. Utah (via Golden State) – Tony Mitchell F North Texas

Mitchell is an athletic freak and is another guy that could help a Utah team stacked with big men, but lacking effective wing players. He’s another ‘tweener, but I doubt the Jazz would have a problem slotting him at small forward and turning him loose.

22. Brooklyn – Archie Goodwin SG Kentucky

The Nets clearly need wing players, as Gerald Wallace fell off a cliff this season, Joe Johnson and his feet aren’t getting any younger, and MarShon Brooks still hasn’t been able to rise to prominence.  Goodwin may not still be available this late, but if he is, the Nets look like a perfect fit. He’ll have to work on his shooting and creating his own shot, but the potential is there.  

23. Indiana – Jeff Withey C University of Kansas

Withey is a deceptively adequate athlete and a former volleyball player. Strength is a concern, but he’s a good shot blocker and knows what to do with the ball when he gets it down low. If he can bulk up, he could end up being a very good NBA center one day. In short, he’d be a solid potential backup for Roy Hibbert.

24. New York – Shane Larkin PG Miami

The Knicks’ greatest need is probably power forward, as Amare Stoudemire’s knees probably won’t last too many more seasons, but Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd are not going to be able to hold down the point guard position for too much longer. Larkin is very quick and looks like a good pairing with Carmelo Anthony, as the Knicks could really get out and run with Larkin running the show. He’s only 5’11”, but did a great job of running Miami’s offense last season.  

25. L.A. Clippers – Allen Crabbe SG California

The Clippers have a need at shooting guard, with Willie Green getting a lot of starts and Jamal Crawford embracing the role of sixth man. Crabbe is a shot maker, like to run off screens and has a solid offensive game, which should work well with the Clippers’ offense.

26. Minnesota (via Memphis) – Lucas Nogueira C Brazil

Nogueira is a freakish athlete with raw offensive skills. Nikola Pekovic’s feet may continue to be an issue throughout the rest of his career and the Wolves, in addition to needing wings, could also use a quality backup center. This might be the year Nogueira gets drafted in the first round and shows up next year as a rookie.

27. Denver (via Memphis) – Mouhammadou Jaiteh C Boulogne

Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee have been able to hold down the fort in Denver, and while they might be better off drafting a shooting guard, getting a center makes sense. Jaiteh is only 18 years old but has grown recently to 6’11” and is already much stronger than he should be for his age. He’s going to be raw offensively early on, but looks like he should already be able to hold his own in the NBA.

28. San Antonio – Dennis Schroeder PG Germany

The Spurs have plenty of big men, including grandpa Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter and ACL-less DeJuan Blair, and while they could use some depth and upside in the paint, they could also use a point guard that stands out from the several backups they’re currently employing. The Spurs love drafting Euros and Schroeder is a nicely-sized 6’2” PG that would immediately make an impression on Gregg Popovich with his speed and ability to get to the rack.

29. Oklahoma City – Reggie Bullock SF North Carolina

Bullock hasn’t really been allowed to fully explore his offensive game, spending much of his time as a spot-up shooter instead of being allowed to create his own shot for the Heels. He’s not a lock for the first round, but is perfectly sized for an NBA wing position and my guess is his stock will rise in workouts. The Thunder still don’t have a suitable backup for Kevin Durant, and don’t really need one, but Bullock is talented and could serve a nice bench player for the Thunder next season.

30. Phoenix (via Cavs, Heat) – Giannis Adetokunbo SF Greece

The Suns could use help at several positions and small forward is one of them. Danny Ainge is reportedly a fan of Adetokunbo, but if they pass on him, he could be available at the end of the first round. He needs to have the ball in his hands to be effective and will likely need some time to adapt to the NBA game, but he’s a great ball handler and a stellar athlete. The 30th pick seems like a great time to take a flier on him. 

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