MAMBINO’s NBA Mock Draft, Part 1

With an epic NBA Finals in the books and new legacies defined, the most exciting part of the season continues on with the 2013 NBA Draft.


Most prognosticators have called this weakest draft since Kenyon Martin, Darius Miles and the other dregs of the NBA sewer system bogged up our beloved L in 2000. However, what I’m seeing is a talent pool that might not have a definite superstar in it’s upper echelons, but rather a sizeable amount of solid role players and borderline All-Stars. Not too shabby.


To sate our endless appetite for anything smelling like the NBA, us hoophead junkies assembled like Voltron this week to do our annual mock draft. We all were assigned teams and told to get into the minds of each team’s GM, and pick not only along talent, but also need. The MAMBINO crew will be there in person this Thursday to see what we got right, what we got terribly wrong and yes, if we can boo David Stern as lustily with the 1st pick as we do the 30th. It’s the Commissioner’s last draft before his retirement, so we’ll make sure to emerge from Barclays Center with our vocal chords raw. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for some in-arena perspective @TheGreatMambino. Today we’ll cover the lottery picks in part 1, and tomorrow we’ll do the rest of the first round in part 2.


Without further ado….let’s go!


With the number 1 pick, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Anthony Bennett, forward from UNLV


AO: Obviously, lots of rumors surrounding this pick.  Looking at it from a pure “need” standpoint, Bennett is the right mix of safe + potential.  Sure, Cleveland doesn’t have a foundation in the middle, although Anderson Varajeo and Tyler Zeller are both competent, the former being a borderline All-Star when healthy.  But I’m not sold on the bigs in this draft.


Noel and Len have both been rumored to be the target for CLE, but they are both projects, not ready to come in and contribute right away.  CLE is set at the 1 and 2 with Mr. Irving and Mr. Waiters.  The front court is mostly unproven and young.  Why would you want more of that?  Why assume that risk of drafting a bust, especially when everyone agrees the ceilings are pretty low w/ Noel and Len.  Instead, I’d take a guy in Bennett who can play the 3 and leverage his size at that position.  He’s a good enough shooter to be a legit 3, but will also be capable of playing the stretch 4 for at least some minutes.  Lastly, I think Dan Gilbert and co like to play things close to the vest (except when the best player in the NBA leaves his team on national TV, then, yea, he gets a bit “public”).  No one saw Waiters coming last year.  Who knows what Tricky Dan has behind his bowtie?


With the 2nd pick, the Orlando Magic select Nerlens Noel, center from the University of Kentucky.

KOBEsh: A debatable number 1 pick, Noel (if healthy) could be an absolute defensive destroyer for any NBA team. Orlando has found a hidden gem in Nikola Vucevic, whose rebounding is certainly underrated, but can’t be depended upon as shot blocking intimidation in the paint. Pairing him with Noel could make for a formidable Magic frontline, with Nerlens serving as the Tyson Chandler (the best case scenario, by far for Noel) to Vucevic’s offensive capabilities. By drafting the center, Orlando is essentially punting next season (as Noel is still recovering from a torn ACL), and setting themselves up for another lottery pick in the STACKED 2014 Draft. Not a bad idea by any standard.

With the 3rd pick, the Washington Wizards select Otto Porter, forward from Georgetown University.


The CDP: Although it’s intriguing to think about Oladipo here, the Wizards have to bet they have their starters of the future at both guard positions with Bradley Beal and John Wall. The Wizards need size here, and Noel and Bennett are off the board already. That makes Otto Porter is an easy choice – he’s a versatile 3 who doesn’t need to dominate the ball to be effective. The fact that he played his college ball at Georgetown seals the deal. The Wizards have to be excited about building on their core for the future.


With the 4th pick, the Charlotte Bobcats select Victor Oladipo, guard from the University of Indiana.  


El Miz: Oladipo is the premier perimeter defender in the draft, a 6’5″ menace who has the athleticism to guard either backcourt position.  More importantly, he is a hard worker who has improved his game every season in college.  Oladipo’s NBA comp has been Tony Allen, an All-Defensive First Team player two years in a row, though Victor may bring more to the table offensively than Allen.


In regards to his new squad, bad teams fail to create an identity.  Add Oladipo to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the perimeter, and Bismack Biyombo down low, and it is clear that Charlotte is fast on their way to establishing an identity as an athletic, defense-first team.


With the 5th pick, the Phoenix Suns select Ben McLemore, guard from the University of Kansas.


6 on Hibbert: Kid has the talent and the upside to be the best player in this class.  The major critique of him is that he didn’t demand the ball despite being the best player on Kansas last year. It’s hard to fault him for that when his coach didn’t run enough plays for him and when his team had a bunch of upper classmen. The Suns need someone with upside because their team is one of the worst collections of talent in the NBA. Goran Dragic and McLemore would form a very big, potent offensive guard duo. Now they just need to fill out the team around them with players other than Michael Beasley. 

With the 6th pick, the New Orleans Pelicans select Alex Len, center from the University of Maryland.


BockerKnocker: Pelicans gotta love being able to draft Alex Len, whose potential is overmatched only by his size. He’ll need to work on his P&R game, but his natural athletic ability won’t stand in the way of his progress. Hopefully the ankle issue will subside relatively quickly, because Len will allow Anthony Davis to slide into a more comfortable position at the 4. If this happens in real life, wait til you see these bigs run the floor together.

With the 7th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select Trey Burke, guard from the University of Michigan.

Sip Rogers: Considering the state of Sactown’s team, regardless if they give Boogie Cousins a max deal or not, they need help everywhere. What better place to start than the highest rated PG in the draft. If Burke could ever live up to be a best case scenario that is the type of building block you need to solidify an otherwise messy roster. There is no panacea for the Kings here but Burke is a step in the right direction.


With the 8th pick, the Detroit Pistons select Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, guard from the University of Georgia.


AO: A long name, but not a big name among hoop heads.  However, he fits perfectly into what Detroit needs.  The first thing you look at with Detroit is their front court.  After these playoffs, it’s clear the “big man is no longer relevant” argument was just silly.  The Drummond-Monroe combo is very intriguing and the Pistons are certainly going to hang their hat on that.  Aside from that, you’ve got Brandon Knight who is a tweener 1-2 and has shown some flashes of competence (and a great ability to get dunked on).  He’s a very smart kid who I think can potentially be a starter on a playoff team.  So after Drummond/Monroe/Knight, you’ve got holes at the wing and guard positions.  Caldwell-Pope is a pure shooting guard, similar to Bradley Beal from last year’s draft at 6’6, 205 lbs with a 6’8 wingspan.  He is a good shooter with the potential to get better when you look at his mechanics.


Two things that are enticing: 1) he averaged 7 rebounds a game! And he didn’t play in some mid major conference.  2) with his quickness and wingspan, he’s got defensive potential.  It’s natural that Dumars, and Detroit in general, will always have a preference for tougher, defensive minded players.  One knock against him is that he’s not ready to contribute.  Well you know what?  Neither are the Pistons.  I draft Caldwell-Pope, hope his potential pans out, and a couple years down the road you’re rolling with a forceful interior of Drummond/Monroe with Knight/Pope on the perimeter.  You could do a lot worse.


With the 9th pick, the Minnesota Timberwolves select CJ McCollum, guard from Lehigh University.


KOBEsh: With Caldwell-Pope off the board, the Wolves have to take the next best wing scoring option on the table, and that’s McCollum. Minnesota has taken so many wing shooter/scorers over the past several seasons that have flamed out almost upon entrance into the league. Wes Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Derrick Williams, Lazar Hayward–none of these guys have worked out for the Timberwolves. They need another shooter to go along with Rubio in their backcourt, and while Alexey Shved might be that guy going forward, taking McCollum as (at worst) a solid bench combo guard is a great value pick.


With the 10th pick, the Portland Trailblazers select Michael Carter-Williams, guard from Syracuse University.


The CDP: Portland was not expecting for him to still be on the board, but he fills a need for a big guard at 6’6″ to pair with Damian Lillard and will also provide sorely needed shooting. Although he needs to develop his body and add strength, he’ll have time to adjust to the NBA game while backing up Wesley Matthews. Portland will need to find a new big body to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge–they were thinking about Steven Adams/Cody Zeller before pulling the trigger on another guard–but are thrilled that this kind of talent was available. They weren’t in love with any of the options at the 5, but they’ll need to fill a JJ Hickson-sized hole through free agency this summer.


With the 11th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Cody Zeller, center from the University of Indiana.  

El Miz: After last season’s blockbuster trade for Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia’s cupboard of talent looks somewhat bare.  Gone are Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic.  All that’s left is franchise point guard Jrue Holliday is signed to a long-term deal, and stretch forward Thaddeus Young as solid members of the rotation.

Bynum is a huge question mark (if he is re-signed), and drafting Zeller allows Philadelphia to hedge for a potential departure from the enigmatic big man.  Beyond just a hedge, however, Zeller represents a nice mix of potential and sure-thing.  At this time last year, he was seen as a potential #1 pick.  While some may see his ceiling as slightly lower, Zeller is still a well-rounded big who could alongside Bynum, or start in his place in the event Bynum signs elsewhere.


With the 12th pick, the Oklahoma City Thunder take Steven Adams, center from the University of Pittsburgh.


6 on Hibbert: The Thunder have been in the market for a project big for what seems like their entire existence as a franchise and even dating back as far as the Sonics days when they drafted the kid from Problem Child, Robert Swift. Hasheem Thabeet shouldn’t be in their rotation and BJ Mullens failed in OKC before getting dealt to Charlotte. They’ll take another shot at it as they begin to realize that Kendrick Perkins hurts more than he helps (if they haven’t seen that already)  It’s a high risk pick because Adams did nothing to impress anyone in the Big East last year. But, as they say, you can’t teach height.

With the 13th pick, the Dallas Mavericks select Lucas Nogueira, center from Brazil

BockerKnocker: Cuban has been scouring the market for 1 of 2 things: a buyer for his 13th overall pick, or an international player he can stash overseas. Both options would give him more cap space to go after a certain man-child free agent, emphasis on child. Assuming that the Mavericks stay put, Nogueira would fit here. The Brazilian big man has been rising up draft boards faster than an El Miz email after Boston College signs a basketball recruit. He’s certainly a project, and it might take a while to understand the NBA game, but Nogueira has been said to display elite athleticism for a 7-footer.

With the 14th pick, the Utah Yazz select Dennis Schroeder, guard from Deutschland.  


Sip Rogers: The Yazz love a good point man and with their deep and formidable front line they could use a speed, efficient and heady back court leader.  With Burke and MCW off the board, they go Schroeder here, although from what I’ve read, I’m liking German more than MCW these days.  He is launching up draft boards and seems to have those pass first instincts to go along with his lighting speed and great first step.  Are we seeing a Ty Lawson 2.0 or Tony Parker 2.0?  Perhaps.  Also has a Gambian mother (#Mudford).  The Jazz need a solid point, Schoerder (I think) is best PG available and the right pick above the likes of Barry Larkin Jr.


(Part 2 coming tomorrow!)

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