2013 NBA mock drafts are flooded with prospects attached to the dreaded P-word, potential.
While some of those players may be naturally gifted enough to make somewhat of an instant impact in the league, most won’t see significant minutes for at least a year. If groomed properly, though, those raw prospects possess the ceiling to be some of the best players in the draft class.
Here is a full first-round mock highlighting draftees who will be picked on potential alone.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, some within the Cavs organization favor Alex Len to Noel.
The Wildcats center averaged over twice as many blocks per game as Len last season. Noel is a superior physical specimen. If Cleveland selects Len over Noel because of the latter’s torn ACL, the decision would be extremely shortsighted.
2. Orlando Magic: SG Victor Oladipo, Indiana
Orlando should be praying the Cavaliers are foolish enough to pass on Noel. If Dan Gilbert doesn’t suffer a concussion prior to draft night, that shouldn’t happen. Oladipo, whose combination of freak athleticism and unparalleled intangibles makes him one of the safest selections in the class, should be a satisfying Plan B for the Magic.
3. Washington Wizards: SF Otto Porter, Georgetown
Martell Webster, Trevor Ariza, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton aren’t long-term fixes at small forward. Porter will finally fill the gaping hole that’s been a need since Caron Butler’s departure.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: PF Anthony Bennett, UNLV
If the Bobcats wait for Bismack Biyombo to develop, they’ll be waiting forever. Bennett not only boasts a sky-high upside, he may be more pro-ready now than Biyombo and his 4.8 points per game last season will ever be.
5. Phoenix Suns: SG Ben McLemore, Kansas
With elite athleticism, shooting range and defensive ability, McLemore may have more tools than any prospect in the draft. A Suns team attempting to replace Steve Nash as the face of the franchise needs a player like McLemore with the potential to carry it back to relevance.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: C Alex Len, Maryland
Pairing Anthony Davis with Len would provide the Pelicans with one of the most promising backcourts in the entire league. Robin Lopez and Jason Smith coming off the bench would make for a top four-man big rotation as well.
7. Sacramento Kings: PG Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
Every point guard on the Kings averaged two, if not three times as many shot attempts as assists this past season. Trey Burke is the better prospect, but Carter-Williams is the better fit. He averaged more assists and less shot attempts than Burke last year.
8. Detroit Pistons: PG Trey Burke, Michigan
Without a single perimeter player scoring at least 14.0 points per game last season, Detroit needs to select the best floor general or wing that falls to it. That would be Burke who fits into the team’s plans to move Brandon Knight to shooting guard, according to ESPN.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
Ford reported that the Timberwolves are seemingly trying to decide between Caldwell-Pope and Shabazz Muhammad at No. 9. Selecting the one-dimensional Muhammad over Caldwell-Pope would be nearly as unintelligent as picking Len over Noel.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: PG C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
Portland could pick Cody Zeller here, but if it believes unrestricted free agent J.J. Hickson will re-sign, the Trail Blazers wouldn’t be desperate for another big with Meyers Leonard still progressing. None of their reserves averaged at least 7.0 points per game last season, which would change with the sharp shooting McCollum.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: C Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
While Zeller is also an option for Philly, it's set at power forward with Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen and Arnett Moultrie. Centers Andrew Bynum, Spencer Hawes and Kwame Brown will all become unrestricted free agents by the next summer. That’s why Adams is the better fit.
The New Zealand seven-footer only averaged 7.2 points per game last year at Pitt. If he spends all of next season in the D-League, fans shouldn’t be disappointed, though. Adams has a 7’5” wingspan, is 255 pounds, athletic and would be in an ideal situation with the 76ers because they don’t need him right away.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: PF Cody Zeller, Indiana
Zeller falling to the Thunder isn’t fair, especially after Perry Jones fell to them last year, but life isn’t fair. Nick Collison will be 33 years old in October. Zeller should be able to replace Collision as the Thunder’s first big off the bench in a year or two.
13. Dallas Mavericks: SG Sergey Karasev, Russia
Ford reported that the Mavs are trying to trade the 13th overall pick to create cap room for free agency. If they fail to do so, stashing an international prospect like Karasev overseas accomplishes the same thing.
14. Utah Jazz: PG Shane Larkin, Miami
Point guards Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson are all unrestricted free agents. None were the future at the position in Utah anyway. Larkin could quickly assume that role.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: PG Dennis Schroeder, Germany
ESPN’s Marc Stein reported in late May that the Bucks would rather keep free agent Monta Ellis over Brandon Jennings.
If they let Jennings walk, a need for a point guard to back up Ellis would be created.
Schroeder is 19 years old and with minimal experience against NBA-caliber talent, he can’t be expected to contribute right away. His physical gifts make up for his nearly bare resume. Schroeder is one of the best athletes in the draft and possesses a 6’8” wingspan.
16. Boston Celtics: SF Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
Paul Piece will be 36 years old when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2014. Boston must find his successor and Muhammad, while one dimensional, is the only player with that level of scoring potential this late in the first round.
17. Atlanta Hawks: C Mason Plumlee, Duke
Al Horford and Mike Scott are the only Hawks big men still under contract this summer. The team must add length with one of its back-to-back first-round picks and few prospects are more pro-ready than Plumlee.
18. Atlanta Hawks: SG Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
The 6’1” Louis Williams is too short to be a starting shooting guard and John Jenkins isn’t athletic enough. They’re both respectable reserves, but Atlanta needs a bona fide go-to scorer on the outside to fill Joe Johnson’s shoes and Franklin has the ceiling to be just that.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers: SF Glen Rice Jr., Georgia Tech
Rice averaged 25.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in the D-League playoffs this year. He’s one of the most pro-ready players in the class and is one of the few perimeter players who could crack Cleveland’s rotation at this point in the draft.
20. Chicago Bulls: PF Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
Nazr Mohammed is an unrestricted free agent and needed to be replaced regardless after failing to fill the hole left by Omer Asik. Olynyk isn’t nearly as gifted defensively as Asik, but he’s a superior offensive threat—exactly what the Bulls need to stretch the floor for Derrick Rose.
21. Utah Jazz: PF Tony Mitchell, North Texas
Mitchell is a freak athlete that would form a top-notch big man trio with Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors for years to come. Utah needs bodies down low with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap headed to free agency this summer.
22. Brooklyn Nets: C Rudy Gobert, France
Andray Blatche is an unrestricted free agent this summer, Kris Humphries’ efficiency plummeted in a reserve role and Reggie Evans is an offensive liability. Gobert would form a top-notch one-two punch with Brook Lopez down low in a couple years.
The 7’2”, 238-pound French center boasts a freakish 7’9” wingspan. He’s also an above average athlete for a center, even at his size. However, skill set wise, his postgame is nonexistent and few prospects are less polished.
23. Indiana Pacers: SG Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
Indiana’s sixth man, D.J. Augustine, only averaged 5.2 points per game. Usually teams that were one game away from the finals can’t find a Year 1 contributor this late in the first round, but the Pacers bench is so mediocre that Indiana may be able to in Bullock.
24. New York Knicks: SG Allen Crabbe, California
No Knick not named Carmelo Anthony averaged at least 15.0 points per game in the playoffs this year. New York needs scoring, especially with J.R. Smith headed to free agency. Crabbe and his 18.4 points per game last season is the best scorer left in the draft.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: C Lucas Nogueira, Brazil
Not a single big on the Clippers bench averaged more than 4.0 points per game last season. They need an upgrade behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
At 7’0”, Nogueira has the length and athleticism to make an instant impact in the NBA on the glass and defensive end. The 20-year-old will be the last offensive option on the floor at least for a few years, though. Like Gobert, his postgame couldn’t be much rawer.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: SG Ricardo Ledo, Providence
Minnesota must draft multiple perimeter scorers in the first round. It didn’t have a single player shoot at least 35.0 percent from downtown last year.
27. Denver Nuggets: SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece
Denver went nine deep in the playoffs. It’s arguably the deepest team in the NBA so whomever the Nuggets select at No. 27 won’t see the floor as a rookie.
That’s why they should select the 18-year-old Greek. The 6’9” Antetokounmpo has the potential to be a special point forward, but according to ESPN, there’s a consensus belief among scouts that he won’t be pro ready for at least three years. Few teams have the luxury to take such a project, but the Nuggets are one of them.
28. San Antonio Spurs: C Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
Every single Spurs big man besides Aaron Baynes is free-agency bound either of the next two summers. They need length and the 7’0” Dieng fits the bill.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: C Jeff Withey, Kansas
Kendrick Perkins averaged 2.2 points per game shooting 26.3 percent from the field in the playoffs this postseason as a starter. That’s unacceptable. If he doesn’t improve drastically, the Thunder must rid themselves of him.
30. Phoenix Suns: PF Mike Muscala, Bucknell
Jermaine O’Neal is an unrestricted free agent, Marcin Gortat will be next summer and Luis Scola is 33 years old. Phoenix’s depth chart is flooded with needs, but it has so many bodies on the perimeter, it should just settle for size with its second first-round pick.
David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.