Here's what you need to know about Thursday's
Now he's the likely No. 1 pick.
Noel still can't jump because of surgery for a torn ligament and might not even play until two months into the
If he turns out to be a solid pro, his delayed NBA debut is a small price for a team to pay over the four-year run of his rookie contract. But the Noel case is indicative of one of the weakest drafts in recent memory.
This certainly isn't 2003, when
Want more ambiguity? Don't look any further than our own backyard.
Some NBA minds think
And who's this
Like Noel, he's a big man who underwent surgery (ankle). Unlike Noel, his physical measurements mysteriously weren't taken at the scouting combine, other than a wingspan of 7 feet 4.
And yet, there's a chance the Maryland center, who averaged 11.9 points last season as a sophomore, will go very high in the draft.
Next year's draft features once-in-a-decade prospect
Oh, and the Lakers won't have a first-round pick for a sixth consecutive year. This one was traded to Cleveland as part of the
What follows is our mock draft, with team, player, college/country, most recent year completed, position, height without shoes and weight.
1) Cleveland: Nerlens Noel (Kentucky, freshman, PF, 6-10, 206)
His college career ended in February because of a knee injury. Now he'll sign a rookie deal worth potentially $23 million. God bless America. And the NBA.
What's not to like about the draft's top pure scorer? Par for this year, though, he could be the top pick or slide a couple of more spots from here if the
Hate it when picks make too much sense. Porter is plenty familiar with the
Everyone knows about his defensive skills, especially after he set the single-season steals record at Indiana (78). But Oladipo had consecutive 16-point games in the
Remember when the
6) New Orleans:
What to do with the
9) Minnesota: Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA, freshman, SG, 6-5, 222)
Here he is! Here he probably won't go! It'll either be a few spots higher or a few lower, so why not settle for middle ground on the draft's hardest-to-determine player. There were whispers he would be a lottery pick before he arrived at UCLA and now there are whispers he can't create his own shot. Go figure.
Not buying the Alex Len hype yet. The
Still not buying the Len hype. Gobert represents something lacking in this draft — foreign players — and also has by far the longest wingspan of any draft-eligible athletes (almost 7 feet 9). He will eventually take
12) Oklahoma City: Alex Len (Maryland, sophomore, C, 7-1, 255)
It's official. Now buying the Len hype. The
Strange team, the
About the only thing the
Nothing special here, but the Hawks need something better than
Moment of silence for where the Lakers would have picked. Some teams just hate the draft. Sigh. At any rate, Cleveland gets another big young player.
His dad is a basketball coach, so you know his basketball IQ is solid. Was only a bit player on the Russian national team that took bronze at last year's London Olympics. He might not be quite ready for the NBA, but the
Utah hopes that
This year's version of
24) New York (
Tough call here. Ledo never played a game for Providence after being declared academically ineligible but reportedly was impressive after the NCAA allowed him to take part in team practices. In case
Franklin was the only Division I player to lead his team in scoring (17 points a game), rebounding (9.5), assists (3.3) and steals (1.6). He also comes with a tough on-court reputation, which the
28) San Antonio:
Which late draft gem will the
29) Oklahoma City:
Strange trip to the NBA. He was booted off Georgia Tech's team a year ago after a nightclub incident but was solid last season in the NBA's
The final first-round pick is always the draft's happiest guy. He gets at least two years of guaranteed money while second-round picks get no such thing. Congrats to Hardaway, who lacks the scoring prowess of his father but might be a pleasant surprise this late.