After a fortnight of Doc Rivers talk, believe it or not, the NBA draft is Thursday night. When you wake up Friday, the entire Celtics roster could be traded, but for now we’ll take a stab at how the 2013 edition of the league’s most unintentionally comical night might unfold.
1. Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel (Kentucky). Despite a knee injury early in his freshman season that’s the latest in what is a concerning injury history for a 19-year-old, the 7-foot center and Everett, Mass., product is the best player on the board in a draft without superstars. Still developing offensively, he’s an elite shot blocker.
2. Magic: Ben McLemore (Kansas). Already facing questions about a few rumored poor workouts and his relationship with an agent prior to leaving college, the 20-year-old shooting guard can still shoot the lights out.
3. Wizards: Otto Porter (Georgetown). Considered “a sure thing” by many as a big body (6-9) on the wing, the 20-year-old’s Washington D.C. ties make too much sense here.
4. Bobcats: Victor Oladipo (Indiana). A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who isn’t considered a great shooter, the 21-year-old is lauded for his leadership, freak athletic ability and defensive skills.
5. Suns: Anthony Bennett (UNLV): The Suns need help just about everywhere, so why not begin with a 6-foot-8 20-year-old forward who can hurt you inside and out?
6. Pelicans: Alex Len (Maryland): We don’t have a Pelicans logo in our system yet; that’s how weird writing Pelicans is. Anyhow, the 7-foot-1, 20-year-old center’s ability to space the floor would complement Anthony Davis nicely in the frontcourt — if he lasts to No. 6 in the draft.
7. Kings: Trey Burke (Michigan): I’m not a huge Burke guy, but the 20-year-old point guard is known as a shooter, distributor and leader, and those are all good things, especially for this team.
8. Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse): When’s the last time Massachusetts produced two guys in the top 10? The 21-year-old Hamilton native — a long, pass-first point guard (6-6) who can defend — would make a nice backcourt pairing with the undersized Brandon Knight.
9. Timberwolves: Cody Zeller (Indiana). Widely considered marginal physically at 20 years old, but Kevin Love‘s presence complements this skilled and smart 7-foot center.
10. Blazers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia). A 20-year-old rising star in this year’s draft, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard’s defense and shooting gives Portland a backcourt pairing with Damian Lillard for the future.
11. 76ers: Steven Adams (Pittsburgh). Somewhat of a mystery in Jamie Dixon‘s system across the state at Pitt, the 20-year-old New Zealander is a well-built 7-footer with plenty of potential.
12. Thunder (via Raptors). Sergey Karasev (Russia): A skilled and fundamental 6-foot-7 southpaw, the 19-year-old could provide depth on the wing to a team with a history of foreign picks.
13. Mavericks: C.J. McCollum (Lehigh). Potentially the Lillard of this draft, the 21-year-old polished pick-and-roll point guard fills a need in a backcourt that should also include O.J. Mayo.
14. Jazz: Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga). My favorite anecdote about this 22-year-old 7-footer? He has short arms. I don’t know why I love that, but I do. Regardless, he’s not a great athlete, but can space the floor and give the Jazz some frontcourt insurance should they lose Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap this summer.
15. Bucks: Shane Larkin (Miami). If Milwaukee plans on eventually moving on from both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, the 20-year-old point guard’s quickness would pair nicely with J.J. Redick.
16. Celtics: Dennis Schroeder (Germany). While he’s still developing and there are questions about his competition, the 19-year-old point guard could give Danny Ainge the backup point guard behind Rajon Rondo he’s been searching for. There’s also the chance he stays overseas another year, giving Boston some cap relief.
17. Hawks (via Rockets): Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA). While he’s got more red flags than the Kremlin, the 20-year-old wing was once considered the best prospect in this class.
18. Hawks: Mason Plumlee (Duke). Atlanta can’t make two risky picks in a row, and the 23-year-old big is about as stable a pick as this team could make. He is what he is.
19. Cavaliers (via Lakers): Allen Crabbe (California). If Cleveland takes Noel — or even Len — with the No. 1 pick, this team needs to follow with a wing, and, at 6-foot-7, the 22-year-old is the best one left.
20. Bulls: Reggie Bullock (Bulls). Chicago needs shooting, and the 22-year-old provides that on the wing. Plus, he’s 6-foot-7 and can defend multiple positions, fitting Tom Thibodeau‘s system.
21. Jazz (via Warriors): Isaiah Canaan (Murray State). If Utah goes big with its first pick, the team should grab a point guard here, and the 22-year-old fits the bill.
22. Nets: Gorgui Deng (Louisville): Brooklyn needs defense and immediate contributors, and provided his knees hold up the 6-foot-11 center should be able to do both.
23. Pacers: Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State). Indiana turned Kawhi Leonard into George Hill, so why not draft the Spurs star’s 22-year-old former teammate and prototype, too.
24. Knicks: Tony Mitchell (North Texas).The 6-foot-9, 21-year-old forward has some effort questions surrounding him, so it’s only natural New York fans boo this pick.
25. Clippers: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan). After trading for a seasoned and respected coach in Doc Rivers, why not draft a 21-year-old shooting guard in a similar mold?
26. Timberwolves (via Grizzlies). Glen Rice Jr. (Georgia Tech). With its second pick in the first round, Minnesota can take a risk here. The 22-year-old shooting guard is that guy.
27. Nuggets: C.J. Leslie (N.C. State). A big (6-9), athletic wing, the 22-year-old was once an elite prospect and may still be despite his underwhelming collegiate career.
28. Spurs: Rudy Gobert (France). San Antonio has a history of grabbing European projects, and the 20-year-old is just that. Plus, 7-foot-2 guys don’t grow on trees. They are trees.
29. Thunder: Giannis Adetokundo (Greece). The 18-year-old forward is considered a major project with a ton of potential, and Oklahoma City can afford to take that risk with this pick.
30. Suns (via Heat): Archie Goodwin (Kentucky). The 6-foot-5 shooting guard didn’t have the Wildcats career many expected, but he’s just 18 years old and still talented.