We're now one week from the June 27 draft and it's been nearly a month since our last mock draft. With it becoming clearer we have a top-6 and then multiple tiers behind the lead pack, here's a quickie look at where those initial half-dozen prospects land.
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 content to pile up talent for the future. Based on pure positional need, Georgetown's Otto Porter makes arguably more sense for the Cavs then Noel. If it's about adding an interior scorer, then Maryland's Alex Len is the call. For now, we stick with Noel, who has remained the favorite for No. 1 despite a torn left ACL that ended his college season in February. The knocks against the flattop sporting big man include his lack of offensive moves and that the knee surgery will keep him sidelined until December. Then again Noel led the nation in blocks as a freshman and that skill translates to the next level. This feels shakier than it did a month ago.
2) Magic - Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas. Every team picking high wants to trade down. No team should look harder at making a move than the Magic. Ideally they go for a point guard, but none are worthy of going this high. The idea of sending Aaron Afflalo to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe makes sense especially since Orlando can tab one of two wing guards in this slot. Tempted to go with Indiana's Victor Oladipo, but for now it's the sharp-shooting McLemore. 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- Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown. This - and by this I mean my final projection for the locals - is far from settled. Legitimate arguments for UNLV's Anthony Bennett, Len or Noel exist. It just depends on what the Wizards are thinking. Whether it's winning now or planning for the future, finding a prospect that enhances John Wall and Bradley Beal's development should trump all rationale. No player does that better in this draft then the versatile Big East Player of the Year. Porter can guard multiple positions, remains active even without receiving many touches and is effective as both scorer and passer. Factor in his next-to-no ego plus the Wizards need for a long-term small forward and we have our answer. Well, for now anyway.
4) Bobcats - Alex Len, C, Maryland. In a perfect world, the Bobcats land a frontcourt scorer, specifically a center. The medical reports on the 7-foot-1 Ukrainian's surgically repaired ankle have been reported as positive and 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 - Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV. The Mountain West Rookie of the Year will end up missing 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, Bennett sank 37.5 percent of his attempts from the college 3-point line. His sjill set should benefit from playing in the offensive-minded Western Conference.
6) Pelicans - Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana. The Pelicans would prefer seeing Porter or Len slide to them and Michigan's Trey Burke arguably makes more sense than his Big Ten rival. Still, Oladipo could wind up as the No. 2 overall pick so this would be a good value selection and one that also gives New Orleans a hedge against Eric Gordon's injury history plus forms a dynamic inside-outside defensive combo with Anthony Davis.