Gary Williams has Len going to the Wiz in mock draft
The Wizards pulled off their version of a 3-peat, landing the third overall pick for the second straight year, this time by leapfrogging five teams. Now, it's time to mock, the first of several we will unveil between now and the June 27 draft.
1) Cavaliers - Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky. For the second time in three years, the Cavaliers lucked their way to the first pick. Unlike 2011 when Kyrie Irving was a relative no-brainer, the call here is more complicated. The ultimate factor could be whether management is focused on an immediate playoff push or simply setting the team up best for a possible free agent run at LeBron James in the summer of 2014. Based on pure positional need, Georgetown's Otto Porter or even Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore make arguably more sense for the Cavs then Noel. The knocks against the flat top sporting big man include his lack of offensive moves, recovering from knee surgery that will keep him sidelined until December and that he weighed a mere 206 pounds at the combine. Then again Noel led the nation in block shots as a freshman and some of the weight issues apparently stem from being inactive following surgery. Still, until other names emerge as the top pick - and so far that isn't happening - why not Noel.
2) Magic - Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas. Like with just about every team picking high in the draft, it's all about adding talent for Orlando and the sharp-shooting McLemore is arguably the top prospect. Seeing as the Magic already have an intriguing young frontcourt, tacking on a potential dynamic scoring threat in the backcourt would work nicely.
3) Wizards- Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV. You're not the only one surprised Porter is not in this slot considering 1) the Wizards need a long-term solution at small forward, 2) the Big East Player of the Year's off-the-ball game makes for a great fit with John Wall and Bradley Beal and 3) just a few days ago while projecting this exact scenario I had Porter staying in town. No doubt that could take place - assuming the Wizards keep the pick - but for now, just hours after the lottery order reveal, we're focusing on upside more than the here and now. If forced to pick the best for future stardom among the 2013 class, the power-packed Bennett is a strong option. The Mountain West Rookie of the Year will miss the entire draft workout process following rotator cuff surgery, but there is plenty of game film showing the 6-foot-7 forward attacking the glass and scoring from all angles. Though not a textbook definition of a stretch-four, a position the Wizards are lacking, Bennett sank 37.5 percent of his attempts from the college 3-point line. If the Wizards take Bennett, that further complicates the situation for Trevor Booker and Jan Vesely. If the signing of Martell Webster starts looking unlikely, then the odds of Washington picking Porter increase. Plenty of debate to come on this one, even from inside my own head.
4) Bobcats - Alex Len, C, Maryland. Porter is arguably the best and safest player available, but the soon-to-be-renamed Hornets drafted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist last year. Next comes Indiana's Victor Oladipo, but seeing as MKG is already in tow, not sure how Charlotte puts two offensively-challenged players together. In a perfect world, the Bobcats land a frontcourt scorer, specifically a center. If the medical reports on the 7-foot-1 Ukrainian's surgically repaired ankle are solid, Len is clearly the top offensive big man remaining. Though inconsistent as a sophomore, scouts I've spoken with put more blame on facing constant double teams and the Terps inability to feed Len enough inside because of their point guard issues.
5) Suns - Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana. In terms of athleticism and attitude, the former DeMatha product rocked the combine. Wing guard Wesley Johnson is a free agent, but Phoenix needs an upgrade at that spot regardless.
6) Pelicans - Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown. Another team seeking a small forward solution, New Orleans would be giddy if the player who led the Hoyas in scoring, rebounding and 3-point shooting fell this far.
7) Kings - Trey Burke, PG, Michigan. Best player available for a team with a random assortment of players. Because Sacramento already has a little point guard in Isaiah Thomas, perhaps taking the lengthy Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse makes more sense, but many believe Burke has more of a wow factor.
8) Pistons - Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse. Another team needing a small forward, but likely forced to look elsewhere (unless Detroit starts loving UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad). Carter-Williams is a freaky athlete with tremendous size and court vision. Shooting is not a current strength, but with free agent Jose Calderon uncertain to return, reserve guard Will Bynum headed to free agency and Brandon Knight yet to prove he's the long-term solution, Carter-Williams is the call.
9) Timberwolves - C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh. McCollum shot over 51 percent from beyond the 3-point arc as a senior and his ability to play either guard slot makes for a potential long-term backcourt pairing with Ricky Rubio.
10) Blazers - Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana. J.J. Hickson is a free agent, so Portland could be looking for another big man in the middle. The 7-foot Zeller stopped his draft board slide with a rather impressive athletic display at the combine.
11) 76ers - Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA. Three of Philadelphia's top wing performers are free agents and the team ranked last in the NBA in scoring. That's enough to strongly consider looking past Muhammad's on and off court concerns and simply focus on his 20-points per game potential.
12) Thunder - Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga. With a pick acquired from the Raptors, the Thunder could target interior help so they can avoid being reliant on the brutal Kendrick Perkins. Same goes for Pittsburgh's Steven Adams, but Olynyk offers more immediate help for an OKC team vying for a title.
13) Mavericks - Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany. Reportedly the 6-foot-2 Schroeder already as a first round promise from some NBA team which is why he passed on any of the combine workouts. Guessing that team is the one that has Dirk Nowitzki and could use a point guard seems reasonable. The 19-year-old dominated the recent Nike Hoops Summit which included matchups against prominent U.S. High School seniors.
14) Jazz - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia. With almost everyone on the roster not named Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors headed to free agency, including Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, the Jazz could for a big man, though a point guard tops their needs list. With Carter-Williams and Schroeder gone, we'll say the Jazz snag the 6-foot-5 Caldwell-Pope, who led he Bulldogs in most categories last season.