The NBA combine has always been a place for prospects to raise (or lower) their stocks. So much of the evaluation process is predicated on how a prospect will translate to the bigger and badder NBA, so it's not a surprise when the athletically gifted rise up draft boards after the combine.
The 2013 NBA combine begins today at Attack Athletics in Chicago, showcasing some of the best prospects in the country. Future NBA talent will undoubtedly rise and fall based on their combine workouts. Some lesser-known prospects have more to gain from the combine.
Here's my latest 2013 NBA mock draft before the combine gets underway.
1. Orlando Magic: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Nerlens Noel tore his ACL in February, but he's expected to make a full recovery. Noel has the potential to become the best NBA player in this class, displaying excellent rebounding and shot-blocking ability at Kentucky.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
Ben McLemore showed bouts of inconsistency at Kansas, but he's still young at 20 years of age. His scoring ability could make him a star at the next level. The Bobcats need just about everything right now.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Otto Porter would be a great complement to the young backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters in Cleveland. He can be a difference-maker on both offense and defense and he can play off the ball.
4. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
The Suns need an identity right now. They also need a leader. Victor Oladipo is a born leader. He's also a dynamic defender whose offensive game has grown by leaps and bounds in the past year.
5. New Orleans Pelicans: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
The Pelicans have a big hole at small forward. While Shabazz Muhammad is raw, his athleticism and explosiveness certainly translate to the NBA, and you know the dedicated prospect is going to work hard on his game. The Golden State Warriors drafted a small forward at No. 7 overall in the 2012 draft who was considered a reach by some. How is Harrison Barnes working out for them now?
6. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
The Kings are in great need of a floor general. A lot has been made about Trey Burke's scoring ability, but he differs from Isaiah Thomas and Tyreke Evans in that he's also an all-around point guard. He would be the ideal pick for Sacramento.
7. Detroit Pistons: Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV
Anthony Bennett just had rotator cuff surgery, but you can't deny his upside is through the roof. His versatility, athleticism and power would be a nice addition to the Pistons' frontcourt.
8. Washington Wizards: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Len is just coming off ankle surgery, but his athleticism, versatile offensive game, rebounding, shot-blocking ability and passing skills are hard to pass up. He's only 19 years old, with plenty of room to grow.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh
C.J. McCollum shot 51 percent from beyond the arc last season. Scoring ability, this kid has. But don't ask me, ask Duke circa March 2012. The Timberwolves need someone to space the floor next to Ricky Rubio. McCollum would be an excellent pick in that regard.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
The Trail Blazers could use a weapon off the bench. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is quickly rising up draft boards, given his deadly shooting from long distance and his pesky defense.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
After the disastrous trade for Andrew Bynum, the 76ers are in need of a young center to potentially develop into a high-impact player. Cody Zeller needs to add strength so he's not pushed around in the NBA, but he has a nice set of offensive skills, he's quick for his size and he can find open teammates.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Gorgui Dieng, C, Lousville
Gorgui Dieng showed improvement in his offensive game down the stretch for Louisville in the 2013 NCAA tournament. He possesses the athleticism, rebounding, shot-blocking ability and passing to add to the Thunder's frontcourt.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
This would be a nice landing spot for Michael Carter-Williams, indicative of his place in the pecking order this year. He's raw and he showed bouts of inconsistency at Syracuse, but he's a true point guard who will be a pesky defender right away for the Mavericks. He could succeed Darren Collison eventually.
14. Utah Jazz: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
The Jazz are about as prepared as they can be if they lose big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap this summer. They have two young, talented players in Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors to build around. Utah would be wise to add a slasher like Jamaal Franklin, whose passion for the game tends to spread to his teammates.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Glen Rice Jr., SG, Georgia Tech
The Bucks have several swing players headed for free agency this summer. Glen Rice Jr., named to the NBA's D-League All-Rookie Second Team this season, has developed a nice overall game. He averaged 25 points, 9.5 rebounds. 4.3 assists, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals in the playoffs en route to leading the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to the title this season. He's a nuisance on the defense end. He also has the bloodlines, as the son of Glen Rice.
16. Boston Celtics: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
There will be more talent in the frontcourt than the backcourt for the Celtics by the time they are on the clock. There are concerns about Kelly Olynyk's toughness and he's not a great defender, but as an offensive weapon, Olynyk makes sense. Plus, you would think Doc Rivers and company will work with Olynyk on his defense.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
I'm a big fan of Giannis Adetokunbo. His skill set draws comparisons to Scottie Pippen, given his fluidity driving to the hoop, passing skills and vision. With Josh Smith likely headed out of Atlanta, the 19-year-old could pay off in a big way for the Hawks with some grooming.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Rudy Gobert, PF, France
At 7'1", 220 pounds, Rudy Gobert needs to add strength, but his length (a ridiculous 7'9" wingspan), explosiveness and rebounding ability make him one of my favorite international prospects in the class. He's 20 years old and getting better. He could grow alongside Adetokunbo.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Lakers): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Finding a physical, low-post player to go along with Otto Porter would be a great way to put a stamp on the first round for Cleveland. Steven Adams has NBA-level size and athleticism for the position and he's a monster on the glass. His offensive game needs a good deal of work, but learning under veteran Anderson Varejao's wing would be the perfect fit.
20. Chicago Bulls: Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
It seems like every year I do a mock draft for the Bulls, their greatest need is outside shooting. That hasn't changed this year. The Bulls ranked 20th in three-point shooting in 2012-13. Sergey Karasev shot 49 percent from downtown for the Triumph in the Eurocup in 2012-13, via EuroBasket.com. He's also a smart player I could see coach Tom Thibodeau liking.
21. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Shane Larkin, PG, Miami (FL)
I'm a big believer in Shane Larkin. At 5'11", critics talk about his lack of size, but I think he can defy the odds. He can shoot, get into the lane, rack up steals and he understands the game. As the son of former MLB star Barry Larkin, he also has the pedigree. The Jazz need more consistent playmaking ability.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
The Nets would obviously like to add a sharp-shooter like Karasev, but with him off the board, adding depth to the frontcourt would be a nice move. Plumlee has the athleticism, quickness and rebounding ability to be an asset in the pros.
23. Indiana Pacers: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Dennis Schroeder could be a name we look back on in a few years as one of the best steals in the draft. Not only does he have impressive vision running the point, but his measurables also stack up to the NBA. His combination of athleticism, length and quickness should make him a favorite at the combine. Schroeder could be a great backup for George Hill.
24. New York Knicks: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
The Knicks are getting old in the frontcourt. They need to find a post defender for the future. Jeff Withey was a shot-blocking machine at Kansas, and he has the size and rebounding ability to translate nicely to the NBA. Withey may never be a star in the NBA, but I expect him to be a solid, dependable pro.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Pierre Jackson, PG, Baylor
Pierre Jackson is another player who stands to benefit from the combine. Like Larkin, there are questions about his size, but he's drawn comparisons to Nate Robinson given his out-of-this-world explosiveness and speed. Eric Bledsoe may depart in the summer for more money. Jackson would be a logical replacement on the bench.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
I'm a bit less excited about Dario Saric than a lot of draft experts. He needs to add strength, he needs to improve his jump shot and he doesn't have top-notch athleticism. But that doesn't mean I don't like him. At 19 years of age, he still has plenty of upside. His ability to play point-forward at 6'10" is hard to ignore. The Timberwolves' international scouting department is widely respected throughout the NBA. I find it hard to believe they'd pass up Saric here.
27. Denver Nuggets: Allen Crabbe, SG, Cal
The Nuggets will be jumping for joy if Allen Crabbe lands to them at No. 27 overall. Their lack of outside shooting was exposed against the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs this season. Crabbe is a dynamic deep threat who can light it up. He shot 38 percent from downtown during his career at Cal.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
Alex Abrines will need to add strength, but he's a dynamic scorer who has earned minutes this season despite being on one of the best teams in Europe. The 20-year-old has the shooting ability and athleticism to find a spot on San Antonio's aging roster.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ricardo Ledo, PG, Providence
Ricardo Ledo was lauded as one of the nation's top scorers in 2011-12 before being ruled academically ineligible for the 2012-13 campaign. Ledo is a combo guard who understands the game and gets into the paint with regularity. Adding some depth in the backcourt wouldn't be a bad idea for Oklahoma City.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Heat): Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
It's all about projection with Archie Goodwin. He's very raw at 18 years of age, but he has the size, length, athleticism, fluidity and finishing ability to eventually be a solid pro. Phoenix won't be a title contender anytime soon, so the squad can wait for Goodwin to develop.
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