NBA mock draft: Alex Len, Nerlens Noel go 1, 2 - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

NBA Draft class could lead to surprises, trades

Nerlens Noel is projected as one of the top-2 picks in the 2013 NBA Draft. (Source: UK Athletics/Chet White) Nerlens Noel is projected as one of the top-2 picks in the 2013 NBA Draft. (Source: UK Athletics/Chet White)
Alex Len may end up hearing his name called No. 1 overall Thursday at the NBA Draft. (Source: Maryland Athletics) Alex Len may end up hearing his name called No. 1 overall Thursday at the NBA Draft. (Source: Maryland Athletics)

(RNN) – The teams that get a top-3 spot in the NBA Draft lottery are usually assured a chance at an all-star caliber player.

Granted, some take a big swing and miss – a la Bowie over Jordan – but the opportunity is there. The 2013 class does not have that, according to a majority of the analysts.

This group may lack the "sure things" others had in recent years, but there are several who look primed to make a lasting impact on the league. Another intriguing aspect is the talent pool: This year's may be deeper than usual in quality players.

2013 NBA Draft: 7 p.m. ET Thursday

With little drop in value from the middle of the first to midway through the second round, teams may be more willing to move down in exchange for players or additional picks. That should give the organizations hoping to leap up and grab a specific guy plenty of trade suitors to choose from.

This mock draft assumes what everyone would do if they stood pat. But don't be surprised if the final order of selections turns out a lot different than it was at the start of the night.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Alex Len, Maryland sophomore

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has stated he wants to win now. Nerlens Noel of Kentucky, the longtime favorite for the No. 1 pick, is coming off surgery in March to repair a torn ACL.

Len is coming off surgery, too – he had a stress fracture in his ankle fixed in May – but is expected to be ready by the start of the season. The 7'1, 255-pounder may not be quite the athletic specimen Noel is, but he's pretty close, even training as a gymnast in his younger days.

Len has a lot of positives that could help a team immediately: He runs the floor, blocks shots and does a great job blocking out for rebounds. He also showed he was willing to put the work in to improve by adding 30 pounds of muscle and vastly improving his overall game between his freshman and sophomore years.

The biggest knock against him is he did not assert himself at times; a year as Anderson "Wild Thing" Varejao's understudy in Cleveland could fix that.

2. Orlando Magic – Nerlens Noel, Kentucky freshman

The 7-footer may be unrefined but possesses a motor like few others. His injury Feb. 12 came when he chased down a player half his size on a breakaway and swatted what would have been an uncontested layup.

The Magic will be ecstatic if Noel drops to them. While the former No. 1 high school prospect is still a work in progress, he may have the most potential of any available options.

With a healed knee, the right attitude and natural abilities, he only lacks a few fine points in his offensive game to become a top-level power forward.

3. Washington Wizards – Anthony Bennett, UNLV freshman

The Wizards backcourt should be set for the near future, with John Wall (2011 No. 1 overall) and Bradley Beal (2012 No. 3 overall). Bennett could help solidify the frontline.

At 240 pounds, the 20-year-old has the frame to match up with his NBA counterparts. And his jump shot is more polished than usual for someone coming into the league.

At 6'8", Bennett falls a little short of the optimum height of an NBA power forward. But provided he overcomes that – something usually overemphasized leading to the draft – he could have the most immediate impact on offense of any rookie.

4. Charlotte Bobcats – Victor Oladipo, Indiana junior

If the draft goes this way, it would be a worst-case scenario for the Bobcats. The team would get a sizable upgrade in the low post with any of the guys already taken.

Charlotte may try to trade with Washington to get into the third pick if it appears none of them will be there at No. 4. If that doesn't happen, they should take the best player available (and fill another need) with Oladipo.

The 6'4" shooting guard has the skill and mindset to affect a game on either end of the floor. He is a tenacious defender, extremely quick and has the tools to develop into the top-scoring option for the Bobcats.

5. Phoenix Suns – Ben McLemore, Kansas freshman

The young man out of Lawrence, KS, was once thought of as a potential No. 1 overall pick. However, reports that he struggled and was out of shape during workouts with several teams may have hurt his chances to get picked that high.

Still, McLemore has one of the best shooting strokes among the 2013 class, and the Suns are badly in need of someone who can score efficiently. They may be willing to overlook any negatives with the expectation he'll come around under a professional training regimen.

6. New Orleans Pelicans – Otto Porter, Georgetown sophomore

Porter has gained a reputation as a jack-of-all-trades among NBA squads, someone who doesn't have one "elite" ability but can do several things well. At 6'9" with good speed, the former Hoya will give his future team someone who can defend his position extremely well.

With his addition to last year's No. 1, Anthony Davis, the Pelicans could develop into one of the better teams in the NBA at protecting the basket. On offense, Porter can handle the ball well for his size and create his own shot off the dribble.

7. Sacramento Kings – Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse sophomore

The Kings amassed a nice collection of offense-minded players in recent years, but they have not been able to form a cohesive unit. Carter-Williams could be the ball distributor and on-court leader the team needs.

The 6'6" point guard has the size teams covet at the position, and he showed his talent at creating turnovers during Syracuse's run to the Final Four. His jumper needs work, but he can get to the basket to score and create open shots for teammates with his passing.

8. Detroit Pistons – Trey Burke, Michigan sophomore

Burke solidified his status as the best player in college basketball last season by taking his team to the brink of a national championship. The Wolverines finished as runner-up to Louisville, but the point guard proved he could handle the spotlight against top competition.

The Pistons would get a guy from their home state, a proven winner and someone to fill a need for the starting lineup. Burke did not register as quick as other point guards during workouts, but he has shown an ability to use his dribble and changes of speed to create shots.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia sophomore

It appears this draft slot, player and team are as good a fit as one could find this year. The Wolves need an outside scoring threat, and Caldwell-Pope might be the best long-range and clutch shooter available.

ESPN reported Caldwell-Pope has been a favorite of head coach Flip Saunders. His addition to the lineup would balance the inside presence of All-Star power forward Kevin Love.

10. Portland Trail Blazers (from CHA) – C.J. McCollum, Lehigh senior

The Blazers have to be happy with how their first-round pick last year turned out. Damian Lillard, No. 6 overall, turned in an excellent opening campaign and walked away as NBA Rookie of the Year.

McCollum's addition would give the Rose City one of the most dynamic young backcourts in the NBA. He is a pure scorer with 3-point range; he also can cause turnovers and lead the fast break.

11. Philadelphia 76ers – Cody Zeller, Indiana sophomore

Philadelphia took a gamble and lost last season when they traded for injury prone 7-footer Andrew Bynum. In Zeller, they may get the comparable size and ability they were looking for.

The sophomore can be passive at times, but he has shown athleticism far greater than other guys his size. He can score around the basket and is quick enough to keep up with smaller players in transition.

12. OKC Thunder (from TOR via HOU) – Steven Adams, Pittsburgh freshman

The Thunder's playoff run ended earlier than expected after one of the team's stars, Russell Westbrook, went down with an injury. But after making the Finals two seasons ago, the franchise wants to find someone who can help them win immediately.

Adams could give Oklahoma City a strong presence for rebounding and defense. His physical style of play should allow him to bang with other NBA big men, adding a toughness the team has struggled to find on its current roster.

13. Dallas Mavericks – Dennis Schroeder, Germany

Dallas could not decide on who it wanted to run the point last year, and the team ended the season out of the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Star Dirk Nowitzki is 35, so the team may try to reload for a championship run one more time in 2013-2014.

Along with their free agent chase, Schroeder should be an immediate upgrade at guard. His play at a recent showcase gave teams the chance to see his speed, ballhandling abilities and aggressiveness first-hand.

14. Utah Jazz – Shane Larkin, Miami sophomore

Natural ability, leadership, shooting and an athletic pedigree – the son of Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin has all of that. The only thing he doesn't have is ideal height.

At 5'11", Larkin's stock drops a little with some franchises. But after leading his Miami Hurricanes to a great season, he looks like he's ready to make the leap. The point guard provides a nice balance of scoring and distributing the ball, along with a good sense of "the moment."

15. Milwaukee Bucks – Glen Rice Jr., NBDL

16. Boston Celtics – Mason Plumlee, Duke senior

17. Atlanta Hawks – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece

18. Atlanta Hawks (from HOU via NETS) – Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA freshman

19. Cleveland Cavaliers (from LAL) – Sergey Karasev, Russia

20. Chicago Bulls – Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State junior

21. Utah Jazz (from GS via NETS) – Lucas Nogueira, Brazil

22. Brooklyn Nets – Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga junior

23. Indiana Pacers – Isaiah Canaan, Murray State senior

24. New York Knicks – Tony Snell, New Mexico junior

25. Los Angeles Clippers – Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan junior

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (from MEM via HOU) – Gorgui Dieng, Louisville junior

27. Denver Nuggets – Tony Mitchell, North Texas sophomore

28. San Antonio Spurs – Erick Green, Virginia Tech senior

29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Ricky Ledo, Providence freshman

30. Phoenix Suns (from MIA via LAL and CLE) – Jeff Withey, Kansas senior

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