NBA Mock Draft: Noel has tenuous grip on top spot

Tyler Jamieson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Light on star power but chock full of prospects who should turn out to be quality role players, the 2013 NBA Draft promises to be a free for all. Plenty of teams are under the salary cap heading into free agency this summer and have money to spend, which means we could see heavy action on the trade front heading into and during the draft.
NBA First-Round Mock:
1. Cleveland: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky -- Some believe Victor Oladipo is rising up the board and could be the pick here, but if there's a shred of doubt expect the Cavs to go the way of the NBA Draft norm - better to risk on a big man than a guard. While still raw offensively, the athletic Noel should be the pick here and will provide Cleveland with some frontcourt depth when he has recovered from knee surgery, and will be a nice complement to Cleveland's growing young core.
2. Orlando: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas -- Look for Orlando to grab the smooth-shooting McLemore and possibly insert him into the starting lineup immediately. 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. A lot of people would argue there are better prospects at this spot, but it seems Porter from the hometown Hoyas will likely be the pick.
4. Charlotte: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV -- Although undersized, what Bennett lacks in height he makes up for with his long wingspan and strong frame. Bennett has a knack for scoring in the paint and has range out to 21 feet, which should only improve and become more consistent. Very solid pick for Charlotte who needs a physical player like him to complement Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
5. Phoenix: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana -- He's as tough as they come and seems to be in the middle of every game storyline. He brings a defensive mentality that teammates can appreciate and he knows how to fit in. Has improved his jumper dramatically over the past year and should only get better. He's the hot name right now and rumors are he could go higher.
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: Alex Len, C, Maryland -- The Kings have a lot of needs, but with DeMarcus Cousins' issues with teammates and coaches putting his long-term future with the team in doubt, it would be wise to draft for depth/find his potential replacement. Len is 7-feet-1 of potential who hasn't hit his ceiling yet. Sacramento is years away from being good so investing time in a prospect like Len could prove wise down the road.
8. Detroit: Shabazz Muhammad, SG, UCLA -- It will be interesting to see how much influence Phil Jackson has over this pick. If Joe Dumars has the final say perhaps he takes a gamble on the lottery's most polarizing player in Muhammad. Detroit needs wings/scorers in the worst way and Muhammad could be a guy who comes in with a chip on his shoulder after being picked apart by NBA people the past year.
9. Minnesota: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh -- Don't be fooled when you see the name Lehigh next to McCollum's name, he's a big-time scorer. Minnesota is badly in need of shooters to space the floor for Rubio/Love/Pekovic and McCollum could step in and do that right away.
10. Portland: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga -- Quietly the Blazers are building a solid young team up in Portland with LaMarcus Aldridge as the elder statesman. Depth at the center position with Meyers Leonard could be the play here and Olynyk would fit nicely. He can play high post with Leonard on the floor and low post with Aldridge on the floor. The biggest concern with Olynyk is his trouble finishing around the rim, but he fits nicely in Portland with this team.
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: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh -- Some would say this is a bit high for Adams, who was generally considered a bit of a bust at Pitt. However, with Kendrick Perkins fading fast and Nick Collison getting up in age the Thunder need a big physical body to complement Serge Ibaka. Adams is a beast with good athleticism who runs the floor well for his size, which should play well both in transition and in the half court with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Look for OKC to address this need first and a wing scorer at No. 29.
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, PG is a need and drafting Carter-Williams would be an upgrade to what they have on the current roster. At 6-5, Carter-Williams has good size for a PG along with very good court vision with the ball in his hands. While Dallas' roster may be in flux this summer, Carter-Williams shouldn't drop below this pick.
14. Utah: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany -- There's always one guy every year you've never heard of who jumps out of nowhere. Enter Dennis Schroeder. Virtually unheard of until the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland a little over a month ago, the 19 year old exploded on the scene with an impressive performance. Showing off lightening quick speed and a willingness to get teammates involved, Schroeder had NBA personnel tripping over their feet to get as much information on the kid as they could. With a dire need at PG, Utah takes the gamble here.
15. Milwaukee: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami -- The knock on Larkin is that he's small (5-11), but he's a great athlete for his size and he's very difficult to handle in pick-and-roll situations, which NBA coaches love. With rumors coming out of Milwaukee that the Bucks are ready to break up the Monta Ellis/Brandon Jennings backcourt, with the preference of keeping Ellis, perhaps Milwaukee makes a play for Larkin here with the idea of Larkin playing a traditional PG and moving Ellis to a more traditional SG rather than his current PG/SG hybrid position.
16. Boston: Rudy Gobert, C, France -- With Kevin Garnett on his last legs and Paul Pierce possibly on his way out of town Boston will look to build around Rajon Rondo. The 7-2 Gobert, who sports a massive 9'7" standing reach (yes, that means he can almost dunk a basketball standing flat footed), is not very athletic and incredibly raw offensively but has been called dominant defensively. Not a bad gamble for the Celtics to snatch him up and see what Garnett can do with him under his wing.
17. Atlanta: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke -- Atlanta has picks 17 and 18, and look for them to go big with one pick and with a wing/shooter on the other. If Plumlee is available he should be one of the selections. 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: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia -- Another need for Atlanta is at wing/shooting guard, which could land the 6-6 smooth-shooting Caldwell-Pope here. Playing in the Hawks' home state, chances are they've scouted him well, know what he can do and won't look to gamble on someone else. Caldwell-Pope won't drop too much past this point so the Hawks take him here.
19. Cleveland: Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia -- 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: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas -- Withey is a big 7-footer who is remarkably agile and light on his feet for his size. He isn't going to scare anyone with his offense but he's very good defensively and provides a nice backup to Brook Lopez.
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, Dario Saric, SF, Croatia -- A 6-10 wing, Saric would be a nice piece to complement the Clipper guards and frontcourt. He can handle the ball, break down his defender and create for others. He's almost everything Clipper fans thought Lamar Odom would be this past year. At just 19 years old, the young Saric would fit nicely with Blake Griffin and company, and if Chris Paul comes back this pick gives the Clippers the piece they need to move forward in the playoffs.
26. Minnesota: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil -- 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. Denver has guys who play wing but they could use a shooter; Hardaway has the range to fit in and make a difference for the Nuggets.
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.
Tyler Jamieson is the Senior NBA Draft Analyst for The Sports Xchange.

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