As the 2013 NBA Finals approaches, the top of the first round seems to be rounding into shape. Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore are viewed by most experts as the No.1 and No.2 picks this year.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic could trade their top selections, but the two clubs hold the top picks with two and a half weeks remaining until draft day. The two players have very little experience, having played just one year of college basketball. Noel didn’t even get to finish the year after suffering a torn ACL.
While the two freshmen will likely be off the board in the first few minutes, the rest of the draft won’t be nearly as easy to predict. There are a number of different players that could be taken in the lottery, once Noel and McLemore are gone. Below are four names that have recently been climbing on first-round draft boards.
The big man wasn't exactly dominant at Maryland, but his potential could make him the first center taken after Noel. In his sophomore year with the Terrapins, the 7’1 center averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. His ability to improve in the NBA could make his a top five pick. The Charlotte Bobcats or Phoenix Suns could snag him at No.4 or No.5.
Looking at several mock drafts, few players have improved their draft stock since the end of the college basketball season like Adams. In his one year at Pittsburgh, the seven-footer averaged just 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. However, he’s being discussed as a lottery selection, and could go as high as No.10 to the Portland Trail Blazers. The lack of true centers in the NBA makes a player like Adams an attractive option to many teams.
Despite playing his college basketball at Lehigh, it seems unlikely that McCollum will make it out of the top 10. In a draft that will be dominated by freshman and sophomore, the guard is the best player to enter the league after completing his senior season. He’s already had individual workouts for the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers.
A few weeks ago, not many mock drafts had Caldwell-Pope being taken in the top half of the first round. Now, some have him easily being a lottery pick. The Georgia product has been moving up draft boards because of his ability to shoot. He made 2.6 three-pointers per game in the 2012-2013 season and several teams that missed the playoffs are in need of a player with his elite skill.
Mock Draft (Lottery)
1) Cleveland Cavaliers, C, Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
2) Orlando Magic, SG, Ben McLemore, Kansas
3) Washington Wizards, SF, Otto Porter, Georgetown
4) Charlotte Bobcats, C, Alex Len, Maryland
5) Phoenix Suns, SG, Victor Oladipo, Indiana
6) New Orleans Pelicans, PG, Trey Burke, Michigan
7) Sacramento Kings, PF, Anthony Bennett, UNLV
8) Detroit Pistons, SF, Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
9) Minnesota Timberwolves, SG, C.J. McCollum, Lehigh.
10) Portland Trailblazers, SG, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
11) Philadelphia 76ers, C, Cody Zeller, Indiana
12) Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors), C, Steven Adams Pittsburgh
13) Dallas Mavericks, PG, Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
14) Utah Jazz, PG, Dennis Schroeder, Germany