The Final Four is over and the Louisville Cardinals are the national champions. With their victory, the college basketball season has come to an end. Likewise, the scouting of competitive games also has ended, and thus we're ready to reveal our first full mock draft of 2013.
All year we have kept tabs on the draft stock of players using our Big Board and the Top 100 list. Both tools are a reflection of the consensus of NBA scouts and GMs about a player's relative value in the draft.
A mock draft is a different animal altogether. In a mock draft we don't tell you where a player should go, but rather, what each team in the draft would likely do with its pick. At this point very little is set in stone, as we are still in the NBA regular season. Expect this mock draft to fluctuate greatly over the course of the next two months.
Draft order will change, as will the stock of a number of players thanks to draft camps in Portsmouth, Va., and Chicago in the coming month. We still won't know which underclassmen officially declare for the draft until the April 28 deadline. We won't even be sure of the non-lottery draft order until the regular season ends. Nor will we know the results of the lottery draft order until the NBA draft lottery on May 21. Thus, the mock draft order begins with the lottery teams owning the greatest possibility of winning the No. 1 pick (by percentage), then followed by the remaining teams in reverse order of current standings.
If you want to check out what your team would do with the No. 1 pick, check out our Lottery Mock Draft Machine that features more than 2,000 scenarios.
Here's my initial stab at a full first-round mock draft for 2013 (assuming every eligible prospect who has yet to state his intentions on the draft declares), after accounting for team needs.
MORE DRAFT CONTENT:
Nerlens NoelCharlotte Bobcats (25 percent chance to win lottery )
Analysis: The Bobcats need help everywhere. With the possible exception of small forward (where last year's No. 2 pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is holding down the fort), Charlotte doesn't really have an A-list player on its roster. The Bobcats already have a young, athletic project in Bismack Biyombo, but every scout feels that Noel has much more potential than Biyombo and most GMs feel Noel has the most upside of any player in the draft. Noel's ACL injury is an obvious red flag, but even that could turn into a blessing. If the Bobcats have to sit Noel for much of the season, they'll likely finish with the best chance of winning the lottery in 2014. With Andrew Wiggins and a stellar high school class of 2014 coming up, it might be worth the wait.
Marcus SmartOrlando Magic (19.9)
COLLEGE: Oklahoma St.
Analysis: The Orlando Magic have promising young players at the 3, 4 and 5. While they could certainly upgrade there (and might if Noel is available), I expect them to take a backcourt player at No. 2. Jameer Nelson is 31 and starting to slow down. Adding a dominant player like Smart would upgrade the position immensely. While Smart has his weaknesses (his jump shot is shaky and he needs to tighten up his handle), he's strong, has a great motor and toughness, is a beast defensively and brings the leadership a young rudderless team like the Magic desperately needs.
Ben McLemorePhoenix Suns (15.6)
Analysis: The Phoenix Suns shot 32 percent on 3-pointers this season and desperately need to improve. Their starting 2-guards, Shannon Brown and Wesley Johnson, both struggled from 3. Adding McLemore makes a lot of sense. He's one of the two or three best pure shooters in the draft and has great length and athleticism at his position. He can be a bit of a wallflower, but when he gets going he's as good as anyone in the draft.