NBA Mock Draft No. 1: Sixers grab a guard at 11

NBA Mock Draft No. 1: Sixers grab a guard at 11
May 22, 2013, 1:00 pm
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The 76ers stood pat during Wednesday night's NBA draft lottery. They entered the night slotted 11th out of the 14 lottery teams, and when the dust settled, they came away with the 11th pick in the 2013 draft. New GM Sam Hinkie and his staff now have five weeks to mull over their strategy. Draft night is June 27. will have complete NBA draft coverage over the next five weeks -- position rankings, the most likely targets for the 76ers at No. 11, and several versions of a mock draft, the first of which is listed below.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Nerlens Noel, C, 7-0, 205, Kentucky

This decision comes down to Noel and Ben McLemore. With the Cavs' drafting Dion Waiters in the top five last year, chances are they're not taking another shooting guard here. Noel is far from a sure thing - I wasn't impressed with his abbreviated body of work at Kentucky. His offensive game needs a significant amount of polish, but he is an NBA-caliber shot-blocker and defender. Noel will also need to bulk up substantially after losing a good deal of weight while sidelined with an ACL tear suffered in mid-February. But the potential outweighs all the question marks for Cleveland with this pick. 

2. Orlando Magic - Ben McLemore, SG, 6-5, 190, Kansas

The Magic could look to land their point guard of the future here in Michigan's Trey Burke. But in the end, McLemore's talent will be too much for Orlando to pass up. He's that rare fast-twitch athlete with a pure shooting stroke to match. He excelled last season in Bill Self's structured offense at Kansas, putting up numbers while also showing the capability to play team basketball. His dip in production in Kansas' three NCAA tournament games is a red flag, but I'm of the opinion that was a poorly timed shooting slump as opposed to a natural tendency to shrink under the bright lights. 

3. Washington Wizards - Otto Porter, SF, 6-9, 200, Georgetown

The Wizards will pluck an NBA-ready forward out of their own backyard with this pick. Porter is cut from the same cloth as other Georgetown big men (Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert, Greg Monroe) in that he understands the game and has a well-rounded offensive repertoire. His athleticism and unselfishness will play well alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal.

4. Charlotte Bobcats - Anthony Bennett, PF, 6-8, 240, UNLV

Charlotte could go with Burke or Victor Oladipo here, but the need to upgrade its frontline is more pressing. The pick comes down to Bennett or Alex Len. Michael Jordan and company can't afford to miss on another top-five pick, and Bennett is more of a sure thing than Len. Bennett displayed a versatile offensive game in his lone collegiate season. He is able to score on the block as well as step out and knock down the perimeter jumper.

5. Phoenix Suns - Alex Len, C, 7-1, 225, Maryland

Len shouldn't drop much further than this, and the Suns won't pass up on his potential here. Len has that sought-after combination of size and skill and played against high level competition in the ACC. His offensive skills translate nicely to the next level, but the question is whether he will be physical enough for NBA post play. Len will be sidelined for the next four to six months with an ankle injury, but that shouldn't have too big of an impact on his draft status. 

6. New Orleans - Victor Oladipo, SG, 6-4, 215, Indiana

Oladipo was the breakout star of the college basketball season, and his athleticism will be a nice fit with New Orleans. He's a lot like McLemore in that he's proven he can produce despite not being the focal point of the offense every possession. Oladipo doesn't get enough credit for his outside shooting (44 percent from three last season). On the other hand, he gets too much credit for being a lockdown defender. Temple's Khalif Wyatt dispelled that notion nicely in the NCAA tournament. 

7. Sacramento Kings - Trey Burke, PG, 6-1, 190, Michigan 

The Kings get great value here with Burke, who I believe will end up as one of the five best players in this draft. Burke is athletic, intelligent and most importantly fearless. He helped his draft stock tremendously during Michigan's run to the National Championship. He's got that trait NBA executives look for in point guards - he gets his teammates involved while having no trouble scoring himself.

8. Detroit Pistons - Cody Zeller, PF, 7-0, 230, Indiana

Everyone has strong opinions on Zeller, and they're mostly negative following a "disappointing" sophomore season. I put "disappointing" in quotes because he averaged better than 16.0 and 8.0 and shot 56 percent for a title contender. But Zeller was tabbed the Preseason Player of the Year after he decided to return to school for his sophomore season, and he didn't live up to those expectations. But the bottom line with Zeller is this: He's a legit seven-footer who has good ball skills and can score. That combination tends to go over well in NBA circles. 

9. Minnesota Timberwolves - Dario Saric, SF, 6-10, 220, Croatia

Saric is a 19-year-old prodigy with a skill set comparable to Toni Kukoc, a former NBA star by way of Croatia. He has the size of a power forward with the ball skills of a point guard. There are concerns as to whether Saric will agree to sign with an NBA team right away, but reports indicate he will come over immediately if he's taken in the draft. Saric is the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect, but the Timberwolves haven't been shy when it comes to embracing European talent.

10. Portland Trail Blazers - Shabazz Muhammad, SF, 6-6, 220, UCLA 

For the record, I wouldn't spend a first-round pick on Muhammad. I think the "selfish" and "unmotivated" labels suit him well. But the Trail Blazers will look at all the players available and decide he's the best fit with their roster. Muhammad is talented - he was the top-rated prospect coming out of high school a year ago and he put up numbers at UCLA. I just don't think he's a guy you win with in the NBA. 

11. Philadelphia 76ers - C.J. McCollum, SG, 6-3, 200, Lehigh 

If he's still on the board, this is a no-brainer for the 76ers. McCollum should go anywhere from eighth to 12th in the first round, and if Hinkie really likes him (as I feel he should) then he may have to move up a spot or two to grab him. The Sixers have two of the first 12 picks in the second round, picks that could be used to move up in the first round. 

With apologies to McLemore, McCollum is hands-down the best shooter in this draft. The Sixers desperately need someone who can stretch the defense and consistently knock down three-point baskets. McCollum shot over 51 percent from long range before a foot injury in January cost him the rest of his senior year at Lehigh. He can play either guard position, he can get to the basket and is an above-average ballhandler and passer.

McCollum has great intangibles, as well. He's a high character guy who will continue to work at his game throughout his career.

 The biggest knock on McCollum is the level of competition he played against in the Patriot League. But he would have been a star in any league in the country, as he proved by scoring 30 points to single-handedly beat Duke in the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament. 

12. Oklahoma City Thunder - Michael Carter-Williams, PG, 6-5, 185, Syracuse

The Thunder can afford to take a gamble with this pick, and Carter-Williams makes sense on a number of levels. For one, he gives them an insurance policy for Russell Westbrook, whom Oklahoma City missed dearly in the playoffs. But Carter-Williams also gives the Thunder the option to play Westbrook off the ball more, where he can focus on scoring instead of setting up the offense. I'm not a big fan of Carter-Williams. He drifts in and out of games and his shooting numbers are atrocious. He could have used another year of seasoning at Syracuse. But his size, athleticism and assist totals call to mind Rajon Rondo. If he approaches Rondo's level, this will be a steal for Oklahoma City.
13. Dallas Mavericks - Kelly Olynyk, C, 7-0, 235, Gonzaga

Olynyk's offensive skills will give Dallas a boost immediately. It's his contributions on the other end of the floor that will ultimately determine his level of success in the NBA. Is he physical enough to guard NBA big men? And is he athletic enough to defend smaller forwards on the perimeter? Olynyk was incredibly efficient last year at Gonzaga, but the level of competition he faced in the West Coast Conference is a legitimate question mark.

14. Utah Jazz - Mason Plumlee, C, 7-0, 238, Duke

With Jazz big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap set to test the free agent market, Utah can restock its frontcourt with this pick. Plumlee could team with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter to form one of the top young frontlines in the league. Plumlee has all the tools to succeed at the next level - he's big, strong and athletic. Two years ago, I thought Plumlee was a lock to eventually be a top-10 pick, but he never developed a back-to-the-basket game during his four years at Duke. If he takes his offensive game to the next level, Plumlee will be a 10-year starter in the NBA.

15. Milwaukee Bucks - Steven Adams, C, 7-0, 255, Pittsburgh 

16. Boston Celtics - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, 6-6, 205, Georgia

17. Atlanta Hawks - Gorgui Dieng, C, 6-11, 240, Louisville

18. Atlanta Hawks - Allen Crabbe, SG, 6-6, 200, California 

19. Cleveland Cavaliers - Rudy Gobert, C, 7-0, 240, France

20. Chicago Bulls - Jamaal Franklin, SG, 6-5, 190, San Diego State 

21. Utah Jazz - Shane Larkin, PG, 6-1, 180, Miami

22. Brooklyn Nets - Tony Mitchell, PF, 6-9, 240, North Texas

23. Indiana Pacers - Dennis Schroeder, PG, 6-2, 170, Germany

24. New York Knicks - Tim Hardaway, Jr., SG, 6-6, 200, Michigan

25. Los Angeles Clippers - Sergey Karasev, SF, 6-7, 200, Russia

26. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jeff Withey, C, 7-0, 220, Kansas 

27. Denver Nuggets - Archie Goodwin, SG, 6-5, 190, Kentucky

28. San Antonio Spurs - DeShaun Thomas, SF, 6-6, 200, Ohio State

29. Oklahoma City Thunder - Lucas Nogueira, C, 7-0, 235, Brazil

30. Phoenix Suns - Tony Snell, SG, 6-7, 200, New Mexico

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