What time is it? Time to play pretend with the added bonus of making intangible judgements. Yippee! I love this time of year when the weather gets warmer, you question if the New York Mets are a real MLB team, and us “draft experts” come out of the woodwork to guess which players end up where in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft. It’d be cool if an NBA Draft was ever Nate Silver-ed, wouldn’t it?

As a sort of primer, check my thoughts on the needs of Eastern and Western Conference teams. Below are my picks… as of now.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
What? Not Nerlens Noel? No, not Nerlens Noel. It’s okay, the world will still continue to ride its own way into becoming the world of “Idiocracy” thanks to Twitter (how dare I!), TMZ, and the non-separation of church and state. Damn, got deep. Anyway, Noel’s name has been buzzing around the interwebs as not being the consensus number one after all because Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wants to make the playoffs now, and with Noel’s injury concerns the team could be going another direction. Of course, they could always trade the pick instead of making a selection, but if they do the latter, I’m thinking Porter since he fits in better with the current Cavs personnel. Ben McLemore might have been an option, but thanks to Dion Waiters, it’s less likely.

2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
Rumors are spreading, as they are apt to do during this time of year, that the Magic are open to trading Arron Afflalo, which would open up the two-spot for McLemore. If they do trade Afflalo, the Magic better get back a point guard or a high enough pick in the lottery to nab one of the several point guards that stand out from the rest.

3. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV
The Wizards were surely hoping to draft Porter, the local Georgetown product, but they’ll have to “settle” for the player some say will end up being the best player in the draft. He’s a tweener at this point, but is ridiculously talented, and can fill in spots at the three and four.

4. Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
If they had to choose, I’m sure Michael Jordan and the rest of Bobcats Nation (or would it be more like Bobcats Town?) would rather have won last year’s NBA Draft Lottery when they had the best chances and select Anthony Davis. But, they’ll have to settle for another shot-blocking menace, despite the presence of Bismack Biyombo. Noel is too good of a talent to let slip past here.

5. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
In my first NBA Lottery Mock Draft, I thought Oladipo would the Suns’ pick and I still do. Much needed athleticism.

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, C Maryland
Len is a more complete and experienced center than Noel and any other center out there in the draft this year. In fact, going to the the Pelicans, he’d be the better traditional center there too. Len has excellent size, athleticism, speed, and both offensive and defensive instincts. He still has room to grow and it’d be exciting to see a Twin Towers in basketball once again with Anthony Davis.

7. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Isaiah Thomas, we love you! No, we don’t. It seemed that quick when it comes to the diminutive point guard, who actually does fairly well when getting burn on the court. But, with rumors of trading DeMarcus Cousins and letting Tyreke Evans sign with another team, no one is safe, especially with all-new everything at the upper levels of management and ownership. This is where the College Basketball Player of the Year can step in and help bring back the franchise.

8. Detroit Pistons: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh
Three point guards could be gone this offseason (Jose Calderon and Will Bynum) and next (Rodney Stuckey). Just like Stuckey, McCollum is more of a hybrid that could play the two-guard because of his ability to score and hit from the outside, which has also led to Damian Lillard comparisons, although I think he’s a little more Stephen Curry in that he’s an outstanding shooter that will need to learn the point guard position.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
Andrei Kirilenko could opt-out this offseason and Chase Budinger could also kiss the ten thousand lakes bye as well. So, in comes Muhammad who can score, score, score! He was considered a first overall pick before the college season started, which tells you how much talent he has, but also how much he might have flaws in his game or character to drop this low. Could be worth a gamble on the T-Wolves part though.

10. Portland Trail Blazers: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana
I’ve come to like Zeller a lot, even though those of you in the PDX may think this is a dumb pick. He isn’t going to be the defensive stopper in the paint the Blazers need, but he should make up for it offensively. His outstanding athleticism could land him in a few highlights with Lillard on the giving side of the ball.


11. Philadelphia 76ers: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
My gut feeling is that Andrew Bynum is gone, especially when Sixers/basketball icon Dr. J says that Bynum was damaged goods from the Los Angeles Lakers. His comment could be manipulated into a blessing of sorts on why the franchise let’s Bynum go. So, in comes Olynyk, a legitimate post presence on offense with the ability to make jumpers from the outside. Will he replace Bynum easily in Philly? Yes, because Bynum never played. No pressure at all.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Adams is a bit of a project, but what a great one he could be, especially by playing with high-caliber players such as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. If he can learn to play nasty defense from Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, well, damn. He’s the center I’ll be playing closest attention to from this draft to watch his development.

13. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
The Mavs will need a point guard with all three of theirs from this past season entering free agency in some way, shape or form. Carter-Williams is a tall point guard has very good passing ability and whose vision is that much better because of his height. He still doesn’t protect the ball as much as you’d like from your lead guard and he’ll really need to work on making his jumper consistent. Dirk Nowitzki can probably teach him a thing or two.

14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Schroeder is super, super quick with excellent length that will enable him to break up plays in the passing lane. He’ll need to add some muscle to his frame, but he’s still young at only 19 years old. Are Derrick Favors and he the next great pick-and-roll duo? It’s a possibility, but I’d think they’d do their damage running up and down the court, utilizing their speed and athleticism.

15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
Monta Ellis is reportedly wanting to opt out this offseason and the tangible evidence of that is his rejecting of a two-year extension from the Bucks. I guess it won’t be so hard now to decide between Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Caldwell-Pope could be the best option at the shooting guard position at this point in the draft. The question would still remain though if Jennings will be in a Bucks uniform passing him the ball.

16. Boston Celtics: Lucas Nogueira, PF/C, Brazil
Nogueira could eventually take the place of Kevin Garnett, particularly from a defensive point of view. Nogueira is athletic with length and could be as great as KG in help defense if he listens to the old-timer while he’s there in Boston. Lots of crazy upside for Nogueira, but still a project. Can go earlier or later depending on how much a team believes in said upside.

17: Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
Plumlee is a very good player that plays up to his strengths and uses his athleticism and size well. He’s a four-year player from Duke, which matters because it speaks to Plumlee’s BBIQ. He may never be an outstanding player, but Plumlee could be in the league for several years. In Atlanta, he may allow Al Horford to play the four at times. However, it’s a pipe dream at this point (unless Dwight Howard comes via free agency) that Horford will never play the five for Atlanta. Plumlee isn’t that good.

18: Atlanta Hawks: Tony Mitchell, SF/PF, North Texas
Mitchell is a ridiculous athlete that is a menace on defense. Offensively, he’s a mediocre shooter that shot well from three-point range this past season, but there are some questions about the authenticity of that performance. Ladies and gentleman, Mitchell is sort of a Josh Smith clone that shoots right-handed, which is good because the real J-Smoove is likely gone.

19. Cleveland Cavaliers: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Dieng is a big-time defensive center, which the Cavaliers do not currently have. If only you could add Tyler Zeller’s offensive skills, Anderson Varejao’s ability to board and Dieng’s skills on defense, you’d have an excellent five. Unfortunately, unless Nick Gilbert is present during the stem cell reconstruction process, the Cavs will have to be happy with limited centers. Although Andy is pretty damn good by himself. Dieng should be a solid role player for this young team.

20. Chicago Bulls: Tony Snell, SG/SF, New Mexico
Snell is an excellent outside shooter who will take the place that could possibly be vacated by Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, both free agents this offseason.


21. Utah Jazz: Sergey Karasev, SG/SF, Russia
Karasev will bring the ability to shoot from the outside and drain Js, creating space for one of the Jazz big men that will likely stay. They got the point guard with their previous pick, so we needed to choose a wing.

22. Brooklyn Nets: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Has excellent size and plays very good defense. Most definitely a much-needed backup for Brook Lopez with Andray Blatche either leaving via free agency or sliding over to the four position.

23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
The possibility of D.J. Augustin leaving via free agency will open up a spot for Larkin who should become a very capable backup point guard to George Hill. Larkin is very athletic and quick with great leadership skills.

24. New York Knicks: Tim Hardaway, Jr., SG, Michigan
Hardaway is a very good shooter and scorer and could be counted on to relieve some of the scoring burden that will likely be lost when J.R. Smith leaves via free agency for a fatter contract from another team.

25. Los Angeles Clippers: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
Beautiful jump shot along with a heaping of athleticism. Kind of like a poor man’s Ben McLemore.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rudy Gobert, C, France
A major project with great length and athleticism, and nothing else really at this point. Will love running with Ricky Rubio.

27. Denver Nuggets: Giannis Adetokoubo, SF, Greece
Great length and balance with very good instincts on the court. A tall small forward at 6-foot-9.

28: San Antonio Spurs: Reggie Bullock, SG/SF, North Carolina
Excellent shooter from deep with an ability to finesse his way to the rim. Smart player and should fit in very nicely in Coach Pop’s system.

29: Oklahoma City Thunder: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Franklin does a lot of things very well and was the leader of the Aztecs attack. He has a high BBIQ and is an excellent rebounder at only 6-foot-5. Solid jumper that he can shoot off the dribble or the catch.

30. Phoenix Suns: Mike Muscala, C, Bucknell
Dominated the Patriot League, has post and perimeter skills with excellent movement for a big. Some questions about his defense, but his offensive skill set may have people overlook the deficiency.

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