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Early Mock NBA Draft – Picks 1 Through 5

Posted by Craig Parsons on 5/17/2013 6:07:01 PM

When people in the online sports betting legalcommunity try to assess the 2013 NBA Draft, they’re going to say to themselves (or to their friends), “Man, this is a pretty weak draft.” It is, especially since there have been some surprising decisions from the collegiate ranks. Adreian Payne of Michigan State and Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State looked like NBA-ready players, but they chose to stay in college for another season.

Doug McDermott of Creighton also appeared to be in shape to jump to the pros, but he decided that he wanted to play for his father, Greg, in Omaha, Neb., for one more season. Russ Smith, the two-guard for the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals, weighed his options for a week and then opted to return to college. He wants to get his degree and win a second national title while also making a third straight Final Four.

This has left the cupboard bare in the 2013 NBA Draft. It’s alarmingly bereft of sure-fire NBA stars, and it’s a great draft in which teams at the top should want to either trade down or swap. The dealing that could be done in this draft would rival anything that happens in a succession ofonline poker games.

For people interested infootball betting or baseball betting, this draft might not resonate for all the reasons mentioned above. However, the very fact that this draft is not loaded could paradoxically create a fascinating evening of television. There’s not going to be an obvious progression for the draft. This event will not be predictable. It would be a disappointment from a theatrical standpoint if there weren’t several surprises in the top 10. People who don’t normally follow professional basketball might find this draft more eventful than they’ve been led to expect, and that could hold their interest on draft night.

Let’s look at the top five and offer one set of projections on how it might unfold:

With the first pick, the Orlando Magic – smarting from losing Dwight Howard (and knowing that almost two decades ago, they lost Shaquille O’Neal as well) – will probably go with a big man and take Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel. It’s true that Noel suffered an ACL injury in February and will not make a big impact in his first season, but a top pick is a long-term investment, and Noel’s defensive prowess – which is unmistakable – could prove to be too much for the Magic to resist.

This pick would make sense when one realizes that the second-best big man on the board is Cody Zeller of Indiana, a soft center who played terribly in the 2013 NCAA Tournament with the Indiana Hoosiers. It was felt by many college basketball observers that Zeller needed another year at Indiana, but he’s in the draft and will therefore go in the top five, probably to Charlotte with the No. 2 pick.

Cleveland has the third pick. The Cavaliers’ backcourt is set, so they’re not going to go with a guard. They’ll probably take small forward Otto Porter from Georgetown, especially since they already have Tyler Zeller, a second-year center from North Carolina who needs to develop even more with the Cavs’ system this season.

With the fourth pick, Phoenix needs scoring punch. Therefore, Trey Burke of Michigan makes a great deal of sense. Burke has a terrific handle and devastating quickness. He is an inconsistent shooter, but he owns considerable range and will certainly be able to polish his jumper as a pro. If he does indeed find a consistent jumper, he’s going to be very hard to defend in the NBA.

With the fifth pick, New Orleans, looking for some backcourt scoring as well, will probably go to Ben McLemore of Kansas, who played well against Burke’s Michigan team in the Sweet 16 round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. McLemore is very unpolished, but his upside is vast, and his athleticism is worthy of a top-tier draft selection.

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