Three days after the Miami Heat reveled in their 2013 NBA Championship with a parade down Biscayne Boulevard, the league shifts its focus to a new crop of players awaiting the opportunity to ride on their own celebratory floats. The 2013 NBA Draft is scheduled to be held this Thursday, June 27, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and it will be the first draft for New Orleans under their new Pelicans moniker, after playing as the New Orleans Hornets for the last five seasons. Ten seasons ago the Cleveland Cavaliers held the number one pick and salivated over LeBron James, and while the Cavs again find themselves holding the top pick there is no true consensus as to what Dan Gilbert’s team will do.
Teams continue to jostle for position in this draft, and there is the decided impression that once the first move is made, several others will follow. Cleveland has reportedly shopped the number one pick, but has yet to find a taker. The Cavs are also interested in Boston’s Paul Pierce. Chicago may deal All-Star small forward Luol Deng to Washington for the number three pick, and sources say the Portland Trailblazers have had some discussions surrounding LaMarcus Aldridge. It’s no secret that Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks want to position themselves for a big Dwight Howard free agency push, and part of doing that might be unloading Shawn Marion’s $9.3 million contract and the number 13 overall pick. (Talks have linked Cleveland to that trade.)
Some teams looking to jump back into the draft are the Houston Rockets (shopping 2012 number five overall selection forward Thomas Robinson), and the Golden State Warriors. The Los Angeles Lakers may also jump back into the first round, and may deal All-Star forward Pau Gasol to do so. The Miami Heat, 2013 Champions, are less likely to make a move, considering their salary cap situation.
The following is a Mock NBA Draft for SportsFansNews.com, and while this is what I believe may transpire, it’ll probably all go to Hell the minute that first trade is made.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel, Center, 6’10” from Kentucky; I think the talk surrounding Alex Len bit is something of a smoke screen for the Cavs, to keep teams guessing. Noel can become, once he’s back from the ACL injury, the defensive menace inside the team sorely needs. With Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters, the Cavs can stand to wait for Noel to return from his injury.
2. Orlando Magic – SG Ben McLemore, 6’5″ from Kansas; Should Cleveland pass on Noel, Orlando has said he’s their pick. But I don’t think the Cavs pass. Despite the poor workouts, McLemore had a very good season for the Jayhawks. He’s one of the few potential All-Stars in this group, and should the Magic deal Aaron Afflalo to the Clippers, as reported, he’ll step right in to a prominent role.
3. Washington Wizards – SF Otto Porter, 6’8″ from Georgetown; The Wizards may still deal this pick, but should they make this selection, I think they go with Porter over Anthony Bennett. Porter is well-known in town, and is a versatile forward with a good mid-range game. With whispers of “bust” surrounding 2011 lottery pick Jan Veselý, Porter should slot in nicely with the electric John Wall and the long-range bomber Bradley Beal.
4. Charlotte Bobcats – C Alex Len, 7’1″ from Maryland; The soon-to-be-once-again-Hornets need help everywhere. Michael Jordan will hope the team can hit on a inside player that some people think might go number one overall. The likes of Bismack Biyombo and Bryon Mullens shouldn’t deter Charlotte from this project. Hall-of-Fame center Patrick Ewing has joined the coaching staff and should provide Lens with the developmental attention he’ll need to become a productive player.