Now that the NBA season has come to an end, we can begin to focus on the NBA Draft. Unlike the NFL, the NBA holds its draft shortly after the conclusion of the season, so it's time to start learning about the draft's prospects and the needs of NBA teams. With no prospects considered "elite" by most analysts, this year's draft will be relatively unpredictable compared to past years, and we are sure to hear many rumors connecting different teams to different players as the draft grows closer. Here is my second mock draft of 2013:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky: I'm sticking with Noel here despite the rumors that the Cavaliers are interested in other players at this spot. Cleveland wants to trade this pick, and they are attempting to create a market for it by speaking highly of several prospects. Noel is certainly not a surefire superstar, but he's a pretty safe bet to be a game-changer on the defensive end. The Cavaliers finished last season ranked 29th in blocked shots and 25th in points allowed - Noel could improve those rankings as a rookie. Cleveland also ranked poorly in rebounding (22nd), which is an area Noel excels in.
2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana: I swapped out Ben McLemore for Oladipo in this mock draft in large part because of the reports that McLemore showed up to workouts out of shape. McLemore is a player that has been questioned as far as keeping his head in the game, and it's not a good sign that he let himself get out of shape between the college season and pre-draft workouts. The Magic also need a point guard, which leaves Trey Burke as a possibility, but I believe his old school style will hurt his stock here. The Magic will not be able to pass on Oladipo's exceptional athleticism, intensity, hustle, and rapidly improving offensive game.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown: I still like this pick due to both the Wizard's position needs, and the value Porter gives them at this spot in the draft. Porter may never become a dominant scorer, rebounder, or facilitator, but he has a chance to be above average in just about every facet of the game. Small forward is the Wizard's biggest position need, and taking Porter would be be a great way to address it.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV: While the Bobcats actually have some solid guards/wings in Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, they also have what is probably the worst frontcourt in the NBA. This is a team that finished the season ranked 27th in rebounding and dead last in field goal percentage. Their top scoring big man, Byron Mullens, shot a pathetic 38.5% from the field. Bennett will offer the offensive versatility in the frontcourt that the Bobcats have been badly missing. Though he is a bit undersized to be a full time PF (6'7''), he does have the strength and athleticism to bang down low at the next level. However, I could see Bennett's size causing the Bobcats to opt for Alex Len, whose position in the NBA is clearly center.
5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas: Recently said to be a potential first overall pick, McLemore's stock has been falling. The Suns would probably love to grab him here, as he offers a lot of what the Suns are missing. Every successful team needs a go-to scorer, and the Suns don't have one - McLemore has the potential to be a great scorer at the next level. In addition, he can improve their three-point shooting and trips to the free throw line - the Suns ranked 28th in both categories.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, C, Maryland: I had Len dropping past New Orleans in my first mock draft on account of the stress fracture in his ankle, but it doesn't appear to be bothering NBA teams as much as I thought it would. I personally believe the Pelicans would be best suited to find a small forward here, but in this scenario there is not one with anywhere near the upside of Len. At a towering 7'1'', Len has prototypical size for an NBA center, as well as ideal coordination and agility to go with it. If the Pelicans are able to pair Len with last year's top pick Anthony Davis, they will have a good shot at creating one of the most promising young frontcourts in the NBA.
7. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan: As I said in my last mock, the Kings' leader in assists was Isaiah Thomas with 4.0 per game. The Kings are a young team that needs someone out on the floor to facilitate and distribute the ball. Burke can be that facilitator, as well as being a scorer when necessary, a pesky defender, and a leader who raises the overall intensity of his team. Both his intangibles and his style of play make him a great fit in Sacramento.
8. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA: Most mocks see Muhammad dropping into the teens, but if Burke is off the board, I see the Pistons going with the small forward with the highest potential - in this case, that's Muhammad. Though he is often criticized for his tendency to fire up bad shots, Muhammad led his team to the top seed in the Pac-12 tournament as UCLA's leading scorer and second-leading rebounder. Another year in college probably would have been good for him, but he can learn when to shoot and when to dish the ball while the Pistons rebuild. The Pistons are badly missing a scorer on the wing, and Muhammad could come in with his killer instinct and fill a strong need.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: CJ McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh: McCollum - who described himself recently as a "scoring point guard" - would be a great fit next to Ricky Rubio in Minnesota's backcourt. This is a team that ranked dead last in three-point field goal percentage, shooting just 30.5% from behind the arc - McCollum shot 51.6% on threes last season. In addition, the Wolves' starting backcourt of Rubio and Luke Ridnour averaged a combined 22.2 points per game last season - McCollum averaged 23.9 points on his own as a senior at Lehigh.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia: It's tough to figure out exactly what Portland will be targeting with this pick, as they have a few needs but none that really stand out. I like them going after Caldwell-Pope as the future backcourt mate for Damian Lillard. His game could be a nice fit in Portland given the team's current weaknesses. The Trail Blazers ranked 15th in points, 24th in rebounds, 24th in free throw attempts, and 28th in steals. In his sophomore season at Georgia, Caldwell-Pope averaged 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.3 free throw attempts, and 2.0 steals per game. He would also likely improve the Blazers' 35.3% mark from behind the arc (20th in the NBA) with his ultra smooth jump shot.