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Rufus on Fire top 10 mock draft, part I

In this first of two Rufus on Fire mock drafts, we have the site's two editors and staff writer Derek to contribute their ideas on how the top 10 picks in the upcoming draft will go.

Disclaimer: Hello there, readers from the future! I see you've come to see people guess what the draft will be like so you can laugh about it later. Welcome and enjoy!


1) Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel

Apparently the Cavs are seriously debating other options with this pick but no one else makes more sense here than Noel.

2) Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore

ESPN's Chad Ford said last Tuesday that McLemore could slide down a lot of teams' big boards due to his poor conditioning in workouts. Well, here's the good news: conditioning can be improved and reaching up for Otto Porter when they already have Arron Afflalo and a young Moe Harkless at the small forward position makes little sense. Draft McLemore and get him in your trainer's appointment book and quit overthinking stuff, Magic.

3) Washington Wizards: Otto Porter
With Porter the Wizards would get a small forward to play with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The Wizards took a defensive leap last year and with Porter's size and athleticism they could improve further. Besides, giving Wall more weapons is always a good idea.

4) Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len

Ben's reasoning in the SB Nation mock really sold me on this pick. Yeah, his ankle is fused and won't be able to fully practice until about late summer, but taking the Maryland center makes more sense here than a remaining guard since the frontcourt is a more pressing need. Besides, if you're going to take a risk on a player with health concerns, it might as well be this draft since you're most likely not going to be missing out on a star player at number four anyway.

5) Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo

Since the Suns drafted Kendall Marshall here last year (and wound up buried on Alvin Gentry's depth chart until Gentry was let go) and Goran Dragic is still on the roster, it makes less sense for the Suns to go with Indiana's Trey Burke. With Oladipo, the Suns get shooting and someone who is capable of cleaning up after Michael Beasley's defensive lapses!

6) New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke

I went back and forth between Burke and Anthony Bennett for this pick, but ultimately settled on Burke. Although the Pelicans have two point guards, Greivis Vasquez had a breakout year but it remains to be seen if he can replicate that long-term. Then they drafted Austin Rivers, whose play last year was discouraging enough for them to believe that they may need to look elsewhere. With Burke, they can move Rivers behind the oft-injured Eric Gordon to shooting guard, his more natural position, and develop a potentially nice and young backcourt.

Bennett made sense here for about two seconds before I realized that the Pelicans already had Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson, whose game would duplicate Bennett's because they both like to stretch the floor. Bennett being a bit undersized has been mentioned as a possible small forward, but Al Faroq-Aminu plays the same position and he played well enough last season Bennett may not see the minutes he needs to get better there either. So, I settled on Burke, but if the Pelicans decided they liked him more than Burke and would be willing to figure out the fit later then I could see Bennett. However, I'll stick with Burke for now.

7) Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett

This would be more ideal for the Kings than Burke considering how many guards they have on the roster. Sure they have Patrick Patterson as a young power forward, but since Bennett can play the three and the only threes are John Salmons and James Johnson, they can have the luxury of trying Bennett out at multiple positions. Bennett's scoring potential could also balance out the scoring between the front and backcourts as well.

8) Detroit Pistons: CJ McCollum

With the contracts of Jose Calderon and Will Bynum expiring and Rodney Stuckey entering the final year of his deal, taking the combo guard from Lehigh makes a ton of sense here. Do I have to have more than one sentence? Oh, I'm good with one? Okay, cool!

9) Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad is an option here, but KCP is the safer pick. He has good size so he can play defense, he gives the Timberwolves some desperately-needed shooting and most of all, he fills a need at shooting guard.

10) Portland Trail Blazers: Cody Zeller

It was between either Zeller or Pitt's Steven Adams for this pick. On one hand, Zeller didn't improve much in his sophomore season at Indiana but he was still productive. On the other hand, Adams looked raw and has talked about how he isn't going to go in and dominate, but that he'll be able to dominate certain tasks. Well, at least he's realistic, but Zeller is only twenty and he will certainly get the minutes to develop in Portland with JJ Hickson gone.


1) Cleveland Cavaliers - Nerlens Noel

While he's certainly not a franchise-changing player, Noel gives the Cavaliers a defensive foundation to pair with the offensive dynamo that is Kyrie Irving. They have their core filled at most positions, as Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson appear to be panning out. If they don't select Noel, I anticipate they'll grab Otto Porter.

2) Orlando Magic - Ben McLemore

When the Magic traded Dwight Howard and received a handful of young players that didn't exhibit star potential, many thought they'd received peanuts. Or some other nut. Nikola Vucevic is the real deal, and Tobias Harris is a stud. They lost JJ Reddick in the trade that netted them Harris, however, and are an average 3-point shooting team at best. McLemore fits well in Orlando, and while he's probably not a star, he's a very solid piece for Orlando to build with.

3) Washington Wizards - Otto Porter

The Wizards are building around John Wall and rightfully so -- Wall was dominant last season. Trevor Ariza won't be around when Wall hits his prime, so Porter seems like a natural choice for them. He's a sweet shooter, and when paired with Bradley Beal, Wall should have a ton of room to operate in.

4) Charlotte Bobcats - Alex Len

The Bobcats desperately need a two-way big man. The Bobcats will get a two-way big man.

5) Phoenix Suns - Victor Oladipo

He's my favorite prospect in this Draft without question. With Oladipo, you can be sure of two things: you're getting an elite defender and a great hustle player. And that range he suddenly found last season? All reports indicate it was no fluke. Oladipo has been terrific in workouts. Phoenix will take any talent they can get at this point. There just doesn't seem to be a clear plan in place.

6) New Orleans Pelicans - Trey Burke

Ah, the magic of recency bias. Burke became a monster in the NCAA Tournament and shot up nearly 10 spots on most mock drafts. I'm not sure he's as good as he's shown, but at worst you're getting a good shooter that plays with an edge. Can't complain. If Burke and Anthony Davis figure out how to play the pick and roll together, though? Woo. The Pelicans could be really good.

7) Sacramento Kings - Michael Carter-Williams

I don't know what to expect from the Kings. Their roster is a mess. Their players have little chemistry. They, much like the Phoenix Suns, don't seem to have a plan in place. Their best player is DeMarcus Cousins, and they have some other pieces that could pan out. I've no idea what direction they're going in, but assuming Cousins is their guy, Carter-Williams seems like a great pick for them. He's a traditional point guard, something the KIngs haven't had in a long time. If they don't grab him, I expect them to take a good look at Anthony Bennett.

8) Detroit Pistons - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

They have Greg Monroe. They have Andre Drummond. That front line is going to be absolutely dominant in a couple of years, and the Pistons want to build around it. Brandon Knight wasn't what the Pistons thought he'd be, but he's still serviceable. Caldwell-Pope is a scorer capable of creating his own shot. The Pistons don't have much of that on the wings, so Caldwell-Pope should be on their radar.

9) Minnesota Timberwolves - C.J. McCollum

The Timberwolves are a very good team. They faced a ton of injuries last year and missed the playoffs, so they got a lottery pick. They've been using J.J. Barrea to date, but the Wolves want a change-of-pace player to come off of the bench that contrasts Ricky Rubio's style. McCollum is a ball-dominant combo guard capable of scoring a lot of points in a short period of time. He'd do well in Minnesota.

10) Portland Trail Blazers - Anthony Bennett

Remember Andray Blatche in Washington? That's Anthony Bennett, for the most part. Bennett's more efficient and plays a bit closer to the rim, but the fact remains that Bennett is a one-dimensional player. The Blazers are in a tough spot with their pick, because they have talent at most positions and instead need depth. But if Bennett falls to them, they'll grab him. No question.

Josh's top 10 prospects list

1) Victor Oladipo
2) Nerlens Noel
3) Alex Len
4) Otto Porter
5) Ben McLemore
6) Michael Carter-Williams
7) CJ McCollum
8) Reggie Bullock
9) Trey Burke
10) Anthony Bennett


1) Cleveland Cavaliers - Nerlens Noel

Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters in the backcourt is a strong scoring duo (even though I need to see some more consistency from Waiters after his very gradual improvement this year) and Tristan Thompson had a very solid season. The Cavaliers don't need Wilt Chamberlain here. Noel's defense is fantastic and I'm sure he can add a few buckets if you need him to. Cleveland was fourth-worst in field goal percentage allowed at the rim and fifth-worst in field goal percentage allowed between three and nine feet from the rim last season. You can bet that changes substantially with Noel.

2) Orlando Magic - Ben McLemore

The Magic could really use some help on both sides of the ball, frankly. Their frontcourt is much better off with a handful of young solid forwards in Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic at center. With J.J. Redick gone, they could use some three-point help. He's also a decent defender and would help them improve their pace.

3) Washington Wizards - Otto Porter

Porter is a very good fit here. He moves off the ball well, which would be a nice addition to John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene, who can all generate their own offense fairly well. Porter's improvement as a shooter is key here, as he wasn't a great shooter before this past season at Georgetown. Range makes him a multidimensional threat for opponents, rather than just a cutter or transitional weapon. His defense could also take Washington's starting five to a more complete unit.

4) Charlotte Bobcats - Alex Len

Alex Len has the tools to become a solid center on both ends of the floor with good hands, shot-blocking skills and decent mobility for his size. The Bobcats desperately need a big man who can be the high-efficiency finisher to help Kemba Walker. Len can be that guy. I wouldn't be surprised if they went with a more polished offensive player like Anthony Bennett or Victor Oladipo, however.

5) Phoenix Suns - Victor Oladipo

I'm sorry, Shannon Brown cannot be your starting shooting guard in 2013. Or 2012. Or 2011. Or any year. Oladipo gives them a defensive workhorse and, if his shooting at Indiana isn't lightning in a bottle, a three-point threat to help their offense.

6) New Orleans Pelicans - Trey Burke

I have no idea what the Pelicans are going to do here. Greivis Vasquez did well at point guard and Eric Gordon is, uh, an enigma. Robin Lopez was serviceable and Anthony Davis was quietly as good as advertised. A great small forward or center would be best here, but alas there aren't any sure things at this position this late. Reach for Shabazz Muhammad at your own risk. I'll have the 'Pellies' taking Burke to help their backcourt. I wouldn't overlook a 7-footer like Zeller helping shore up their frontcourt, however. Heck, who knows with these things anyway? We're all going to look stupid by about 30 minutes into the telecast.

7) Sacramento Kings - Anthony Bennett

Though you might expect the Kings to draft another guard to go with their 65 others on the roster, I'm betting they get some help in the frontcourt if Bennett is available. He's got long arms, an NBA-ready body and some offensive versatility to help draw focus away from their plethora of shooting guards and point guards that are actually shooting guards disguised as point guards. Burke would nice here, or possibly even Michael Carter-Williams, if they're not scared away by his shot selection and turnovers. The Kings could really use a dynamic passer if there's one available.

8) Detroit Pistons - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

With Detroit set in the frontcourt for years to come, they need a good point guard and shooting guard. Sorry, I just don't think Brandon Knight is the point guard of the future. But I think giving him another year isn't the worst idea when the point guard crop isn't that great. Caldwell-Pope is a decent defender and can score the ball pretty well. If he can become a kickout threat from three, he can work as a Piston. Carter-Williams is a decent look here, too.

9) Minnesota Timberwolves - C.J. McCollum

I love this guy. A true student of the game, McCollum is focused on doing whatever his team needs to succeed. Minnesota could really used a shooter and he can do just that. His ballhandling is solid too and can be that 6th man they could use but his shooting (51.6 percent from three last year) is where they will really need him. If Pope's here, they could go with him as an option.

10 ) Portland Trail Blazers - Cody Zeller

Sadly for the the Trail Blazers, the pool of apt candidates here is not going to wow many. The big man crop is decent, but Portland could really use a defensive and rebounding presence to shore up their frontcourt. Unfortunately, Cody Zeller's length could cause issues in the NBA and Steven Adams is so very raw. Were I Portland, potential be damned - go with Zeller.