The 2013 NBA draft is certainly an intriguing one despite its perceived lack of top-flight talent. Perhaps the next Michael Jordan, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant won't be found, but there is plenty of depth in this class, particularly at the center and power forward positions.
Guards are generally viewed more favorably than bigs by fans, but every team needs a quality big or two in order to succeed. There are plenty of post players out there, but skilled ones are at a premium. Luckily for the teams in need of one this year, the 2013 class is particularly stacked at center.
In addition to a full, first-round mock draft, here is some further analysis on teams that must come away with at least one big who can contribute significantly in the near future.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Alex Len, C, Maryland
While it certainly won't come as a surprise if the Cavaliers select a center No. 1, considering the fact that they already have a strong backcourt consisting of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, they certainly could surprise some people when it comes to which center they take. Kentucky center Nerlens Noel has presumably been the No. 1 guy throughout that process, but that may no longer be the case.
Maryland center Alex Len has slowly but surely moved up the charts and may now be in the mix for the Cavs at No. 1. Cleveland has yet to tip its hand, so the Cavs could go with Len, Noel or any number of different prospects. According to Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, however, Len is Cleveland's likely target.
While Len hasn't been hyped quite as much as Noel, it's easy to see why the Cavs might like him. He is a physical specimen at 7'1" and he made big strides from his freshman year to his sophomore season. He seemed to be on a leash at Maryland as the coaching staff didn't want to overexert him, but it's possible that he simply wasn't able to play a bigger role. The Cavs could really use a center at any rate and Len has a ton of upside.
2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
With a decent amount of depth and youth at every position, the Magic are in a pretty enviable position heading into this draft. They have a myriad of options to choose from, but Oladipo makes a lot of sense as he is a shooting guard capable of taking over games.
3. Washington Wizards: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
If the Cavs go with Len as has been rumored, the Wizards may very well have a crack at Noel. While the big man may not be back until Christmas at the earliest due to an ACL injury, his long-term ceiling is extremely high. The Wizards would love to get better right away, but if taking Noel means that they will thrive down the line, then that would be a smart selection.
The Wizards are a lot like the Cavaliers in that they have a great, young duo in the backcourt in the form of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Washington doesn't have much down low, though, on either end of the court. Despite the fact that Noel was a freshman last year and Len was in his second season at Maryland, Noel actually outperformed Len in most statistical categories:
Len was a slightly better scorer as he averaged just under 12 points per game to Noel's 10.5, but the difference was negligible. Noel was a better rebounder and shot blocker right off the bat, so he'll at least make an impact defensively as soon as he is ready. The offense will come as he develops, so he simply seems like a safer pick than Len even with the injury concerns involved.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV
It's amazing that the Bobcats haven't shown any improvement over the past few years with the amount of high picks they have accrued, but they have a chance to find an impact player this year and Bennett should be their man.
5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
It isn't inconceivable to think that McLemore could be taken No. 1 overall, so if he manages to fall to the Suns at No. 5, Phoenix shouldn't hesitate to take him even with work ethic concerns currently surrounding him.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
With an exciting nucleus in place, which includes the likes of Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Greivis Vasquez, Austin Rivers and others, the Pelicans simply need a promising glue guy to ring it all together, and there is no better fit in this draft than Porter.
7. Sacramento Kings: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana
Regardless of how things ultimately play out with center DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings could really use some help in the paint, and Zeller is a guy who has shown the ability to absolutely dominate offensively for long stretches.
8. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
Muhammad's draft stock has seemingly fallen since the beginning of last college basketball season, but he averaged nearly 18 points per game as a freshman and has an NBA body, so the Pistons will be thrilled to take him here.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh
While McCollum isn't quite as highly touted as Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, the Weber State product proved last season that small-school guards can contribute in the NBA immediately. The T'Wolves hope that McCollum can do the same.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
The Blazers have a strong starting lineup, but they need depth at every position. Despite the fact that young center Meyers Leonard is still developing, Portland should nab Olynyk and create a promising rotation for the future.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Philly thought that it found its ideal big man for many years to come when it traded for center Andrew Bynum last offseason. Bynum didn't play a single game all season, though, and he will be free to sign anywhere. Even if the Sixers are able to re-sign Bynum, there is no question that they need a contingency plan of some kind as his injury history makes him far too unreliable.
The 76ers have plenty of options, but Pittsburgh center Steven Adams would be a particularly good addition. The seven-foot New Zealand native played just one season at Pitt, but he showed flashes of brilliance. He averaged over seven points, six rebounds and two blocks in just 23 minutes per game last season, so he doesn't have a lengthy track record of success, but there is definitely room to grow.
If the 76ers do bring back Bynum, Adams would be a great understudy at first. He is a bit young and raw to count on immediately, but he could potentially be just as good as a healthy Bynum in a couple years. The Sixers need a short-term or long-term answer at center one way or another heading into next season and Adams would provide that.
Although Russell Westbrook's season-ending injury was probably the true culprit behind the Thunder's early exit in the playoffs this season, center Kendrick Perkins seemed to decline, so bringing in a younger defensive stopper like Dieng would be ideal.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Burke is a guy who could be taken as early as No. 2 overall, but with so few teams in the market for a point guard, the Mavericks could be the big winners of this draft as the Michigan star plummeting to No. 13 is a definite possibility.
14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Much like Burke, Carter-Williams may be a victim of circumstance in this draft. He is a top-10 pick from a talent perspective, however, the Jazz will reap the benefits when he falls into their lap and fills a major hole at point guard.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Rudy Gobert, C, France
The Bucks have a fantastic guard combo in the form of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, but they need some more offensive production in the paint and Gobert could eventually develop into a player who provides that.
16. Boston Celtics: Glen Rice, Jr., SG, D-League
Boston has a serious hole at shooting guard, and while there is no question that taking a guy who was dismissed from college is a risk, Rice showed some incredible offensive ability in the D-League and deserves a chance to impress at the next level.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Duke
Plumlee may not be the flashiest pick in this year's draft, but he does all the little things that teams look for out of their bigs. If he rebounds, blocks shots and contributes a bit offensively, the Hawks will be more than happy.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
Caldwell-Pope's draft stock has seemingly risen in recent weeks, so it's possible that he won't make it to No. 18, but if he is available, then Atlanta would be crazy to pass him up as he and Lou Williams could form a dynamic guard combo.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
With a young trio of Len, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters in place, the Cavs should have an opportunity to build upon that at No. 19. International prospects come with some risk, but Karasev is polished and could be an Andrei Kirilenko type.
20. Chicago Bulls: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
Chicago needs to find a long-term answer at shooting guard, and while Crabbe isn't as hyped as many of the shooting guard prospects in this draft, he is a consistent player who should be able to complement Derrick Rose well.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
The Jazz have a ton of depth and talent up front, but the cupboard is pretty bare at guard. After already stealing Carter-Williams earlier in the round, the Jazz could have another value pick on their hands with Franklin.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Even though center isn't necessarily the Nets' biggest need with Brook Lopez already in the fold, a team can never have too many quality bigs. Withey can contribute right away off the bench and eventually grow into a bigger role.
23. Indiana Pacers: Reggie Bullock, SG/SF, North Carolina
The Pacers have a really nice starting lineup, but they can definitely afford to bring in some competition for shooting guard Lance Stephenson. Bullock may not usurp him right away, but a great shooter like him will be utilized.
24. New York Knicks: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami (Fla.)
New York has a quality starting point guard in place in the form of Raymond Felton, but with Jason Kidd retiring and taking the Nets' head coaching job, the Knicks need a point guard of the future and Larkin could be it.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Tony Snell, SG/SF, New Mexico
The Clippers are in a state of flux right now as they didn't fare quite as well as most anticipated they would this season. They have stars in place provided Chris Paul re-signs, but they're clearly missing something. Snell may not be a key player right away, but he could develop into one.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Greece
Few teams enjoy taking international players more than the Timberwolves and they'll have plenty of options in this draft. Antetokounmpo still needs a decent amount of seasoning, but he is a big, skilled player with a ton of potential.
27. Denver Nuggets: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
The Nuggets did a fantastic job making Nene into a quality NBA center, so they will look to Brazil once again and select Nogueira in hopes that he can one day become a comparable player.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Most mock drafts have Schroeder being taken earlier, but due to a combination of teams not needing point guards and wanting guys who can step in right away, he falls to the Spurs who can groom him to take over for Tony Parker one day.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Lorenzo Brown, PG, North Carolina State
Oklahoma City has what it takes to get back to the NBA Finals next season despite their disappointing year, but now the Thunder know that they need more depth behind Westbrook, so Brown would be a logical pick here.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
The Suns' backcourt is set if they are able to get McLemore at No. 5, so it makes sense to focus on the frontcourt at No. 30. Mitchell is a very versatile player who can move around to a couple different positions, which makes him a nice fit.
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