Indiana sophomore center Cody Zeller and Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams became the latest big names to declare for the 2013 NBA Draft Wednesday, and where they and the slew of talented players in the country suit up next season will be decided in just over two months.
Zeller joined teammate Victor Oladipo, Kansas multi-threat shooter Ben McLemore, Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas, and Kentucky’s Archie Goodwin as underclassman to forgo the rest of their college careers for a shot at NBA stardom.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore Carter-Williams is hoping to parlay his strong showing in the NCAA Tournament into a lottery selection.
Thus far, 22 underclassmen have officially declared for the draft, including five freshmen. The jury is still out on whether or not Michigan sophomore guard Trey Burke will go pro, while UCLA freshman small forward Shabazz Muhummad is expected to declare for the draft.
Injured Kentucky freshman block machine Nerlens Noel has not officially declared, but the torn ACL that kept him out of the last two months of the season has apparently had no ill affect on his draft stock according to most experts. Noel was widely considered a “one-and-done” player before his first game at Rupp Arena.
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Before the season began the 6-foot-11 Noel’s uncanny ability to swat anything within five feet of the basket was a top reason he was considered a near lock for the No. 1 overall pick in a what has been called a “weak” draft class. Scouts have looked past Noel’s limited offensive game in favor of his size and ability to run the floor much like last year’s top selection, Anthony Davis.
Who lands the top pick could have more to do with Noel’s final destination than his injury. The 18-60 Charlotte Bobcats are in need of a center, but could also use a guard like McLemore, or a hot-shooting forward along the lines of UNLV’s Anthony Bennett. Orlando, Phoenix, and Cleveland also have multiple issues that can't be addressed with one pick morphing into an All-Star.
Below is a mock draft that addresses overall talent, but also team needs and accounts for players who have not yet officially declared. The draft order is based on current team records. The actual order will be announced in a lottery on May 21.
1) Charlotte Bobcats, C, Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
2) Orlando Magic, SG, Ben McLemore, Kansas
3) Phoenix Suns, PG, Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
4) Cleveland Cavaliers, PF, Anthony Bennett, UNLV
5) Detroit Pistons, SG, Victor Oladipo, Indiana
6) New Orleans Hornets, SF, Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
7) Sacramento Kings, PG, Trey Burke, Michigan
8) Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors), PF, Mitch McGary, Michigan
9) Washington Wizards, SF, Otto Porter, Georgetown
10) Minnesota Timberwolves, SG, Gary Harris, Michigan State
11) Philadelphia 76ers, C, Cody Zeller, Indiana
12) Portland Trailblazers, C, Alex Len, Maryland
13) Dallas Mavericks, PG, Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
14) Phoenix Suns (via Los Angeles Lakers), C, Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga