The 2013 NBA draft is rapidly approaching, meaning there are just a few more weeks for potential prospects to display their stuff under the critical eye of fans, scouts and general managers.
With so much on the line in conference play, conference tournaments and—of course—the NCAA tournament, you are going to want to start catching up now on which players are lighting it up and which are worth keeping an eye on.
Let’s take a look at our updated list of the top-30 prospects in the collegiate ranks (and overseas) in our Feb. 12 big board.
Last week’s big board can be found here. Please note this is not a mock draft, but an overall ranking based on grade.
No. 1: Ben McLemore, SF, Kansas (Remains No. 1)
McLemore may be old for a freshman (he just recently turned 20), but there is absolutely no denying his upside or pure displays of talent on the court for the Jayhawks.
If he continues to fill it up on a consistent basis, this Kansas star may emerge as a consensus No. 1 pick in a draft many felt simply did not hold one.
No. 2: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky (Remains No. 2)
Noel is a high potential PF/C that looks to be a sure thing on defense, but has many questions to answer about his offensive capabilities.
The Wildcats anchor can certainly protect the paint now, but would benefit greatly from bulking up a bit in the NBA. Regardless, he has a motor that doesn’t quit—the rarest of qualities in a big man these days—and should pan out largely based on that alone.
No. 3: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State (Up from No. 6)
Smart continues to ascend the rankings with his excellent play, solid leadership, ability to be coached and more—making him the top point guard on our latest big board.
It would not be surprising whatsoever to see the Pokes guard come off the board within the first five selections come June.
No. 4: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV (Up from No. 5)
If the 6’8” Bennett were two inches taller, he’d be the unquestionable No. 1 pick in this draft. Unfortunately, many scouts doubt the Rebels' ability to play PF effectively in the NBA, which is a legitimate concern at his height.
However, what this youngster lacks in height, he makes up for in strength and mass, using sheer force to outmuscle opponents for boards and low post scores. If he can work on his finesse over these next few months, Bennett is a surefire top pick.
No. 5: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA (Down from No. 3)
Even though Muhammad is slipping, he still projects as perhaps the top professional scorer in this class.
The Bruins star has great size to play the 2 or 3 at the next level, great touch from range and the body to draw contact up close and still finish.
No. 6: Alex Len, C, Maryland (Down from No. 4)
Len is dominant in the limited minutes he gets, but his program isn’t doing that well and he’s not on the court enough to show scouts just how incredible he can be.
Fortunately, no other center in this draft has anywhere near the low-post repertoire that Len possesses, making this kid a shoo-in for a high draft pick to a team that needs frontcourt scoring.
No. 7: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (Remains No. 7)
The Hoyas' versatile swingman may not do anything at an elite level, but he does do everything well.
While he’s not going to be a leading scorer for a championship contender, Porter is a glue guy that can wear many hats and would be absolutely essential on a good team.
No. 8: Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse (Remains No. 8)
Carter-Williams' inconsistent scoring ability and ball handle are extremely concerning, but his playmaking ability is something that cannot be ignored.
There is no other player in the class that sees the floor like this 6’6” ‘Cuse guard, and his height is just icing on the cake. The upside here is too much to ignore and one franchise will certainly gamble on this shaky handle and poor jumper.
No. 9: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana (Remains from No. 9)
Zeller isn’t a bad prospect by any means, we just have him rated at No. 9 because his upside is extremely low.
We don’t feel Zeller will ever develop into much more than a backup big in the NBA—one who has a high IQ and can run the floor extremely well, but will never grow into an impact player like this next guy could...
No. 10: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana (Up from No. 14)
Oladipo has skied up our rankings the past two weeks, as the athletic 2 should look extremely appealing for a number of lottery-bound teams right now.
He possesses the sheer athleticism to guard anyone at his position, plus would be able to check the top point guards and undersized small forwards out on the perimeter.
Throw in a high ceiling and blossoming scoring ability, and you aren’t going to find a better guard to draft after the big names come off the board.
No. 11: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke (Remains No. 11)
Plumlee is our favorite garbage man and promises to make an impact when he gets to the NBA.
The Blue Devil reminds us of a more athletic Kris Humphries, and should carve out a niche on a winning team shortly after being selected.
No. 12: Alex Poythress, SF, Kentucky (Down from No. 10)
Poythress' lack of a motor and consistent production is hurting his stock. He was once in the discussion to become a top pick, but it doesn’t look like anything short of an out-of-this-world NCAA tournament will boost him back up.
It’s a shame, because he has the size, athletic abilities and potential to become a superstar.
No. 13: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (Remains No. 13)
Burke is one of the best players in college basketball, but his small stature and ability to be locked down from time to time are certainly concerning.
The Wolverines have faltered a bit as of late, but if Burke can turn it on for the Big 10 tournament and heat up during March Madness, his stock will take another sharp turn towards the top.
No. 14: Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor (Up from from No. 16)
Austin is simply too skinny to be considered anything more than a project right now. He’d get himself hurt trying to bang around in the paint with the big boys, but doesn’t have the handles or smoothness to play out on the perimeter in the NBA.
If he can bulk up, this is, perhaps, the most intriguing prospect in the entire 2013 class.
No. 15: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh (Remains No. 15)
McCollum may not be playing, but his stock is still up and many teams have observed just how seamlessly Damian Lillard has adjusted from being a scoring guard at a small school to becoming a scoring guard in the NBA.
We wouldn’t bet against the Mountain Hawks star doing the same.
No. 16: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky (Down from No. 12)
Goodwin is a freak athlete, but he has to find a way to be more in control when he plays if he’s ever going to take the next step.
As a prospect, he should still go in the latter portion of the lottery, considering he has the ability to guard some of the league’s best guards and the ceiling to develop into one himself.
No. 17: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State (Up from No. 18)
Franklin is the best rebounding guard in the class, which is a testament to his supreme athletic abilities and solid height for a 2.
If he can continue working on his jumper and scoring abilities, we have a feeling this kid will be in the NBA for a long time.
No. 18: Rudy Gobert, PF, France (Up from No. 19)
Gobert is renowned for his wingspan, but has to show up on American shores and prove he has the toughness and willpower to compete in the Association.
Until he does that, we project this big Frenchman as nothing more than a big body.
No. 19: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia (Up from No. 20)
Saric is a crafty playmaker with a lot of upside, considering he’s only 18 years old.
We suspect a team that has a deep roster and is currently contending will use a draft pick on him in order to keep him in Europe for a few years until he’s ready to make the leap to the USA.
No. 20: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky (Up from No. 21)
Cauley-Stein has been a pleasant surprise for the Wildcats in 2012-13, proving that Noel isn’t the only legitimate big man in Lexington.
The seven-footer could shoot up to the early lottery come June, as his size and upside make for an interesting prospect with a lot of potential to become a stud in the NBA.
No. 21: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan (Down from No. 17)
Robinson has the NBA pedigree, scoring ability, rebounding knack and general look of a professional basketball player.
If he can continue honing his game through Big 10 conference play and through a deep NCAA tournament run, the sky is the limit for this young man.
No. 22: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas (Remains No. 22)
This small school stud hasn’t been living up to his ability, as he should be completely destroying the lesser competition the Mean Green regularly faces.
Until we see that—and time is certainly running out—Mitchell projects as nothing more than a late first round selection.
No. 23: James Michael McAdoo, PF, UNC (Remains No. 23)
Speaking of players not living up to their ability, McAdoo flashed immense promise at the tail end of his freshman year, but seems to have regressed as a sophomore.
Unless the Tar Heels forward steps up in a big way over these next few weeks, we have a feeling his draft stock will remain in the toilet and he may benefit more from another year in Chapel Hill.
No. 24: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Up from No. 25)
Withey is a shot-blocking and defensive extraordinaire, but his offensive game makes him a possible liability on the NBA hardwood.
If he can develop some semblance of a post-up game, Withey would be a much better prospect considering his seven-foot height.
No. 25: Patric Young, C, Florida (Unranked last week)
Young may be a bit undersized at 6’9”, but he has the mass at 250 pounds to be an effective contributor in the paint.
The Gators star is prone to on and off offensive performances, but is a consistent defender and solid rebounder for his height.
No. 26: Lorenzo Brown, PG, NC State (Unranked last week)
Brown has great size for the position at 6’5” and seems to do everything well.
He’s a big guard who isn’t afraid to use his frame to get in and bang for a rebound, or hang outside and pop a three when it is available. His versatility will make him an asset in more ways than one when he makes it to the NBA.
No. 27: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga (Remains No. 27)
Olynyk isn’t going to blow anyone away with his athleticism, but he’s an exciting prospect for his size and low-post skills.
Most knocks on bigs in this class is their lack of scoring ability, which is something this ‘Zags center can bring to the table. As a projected backup in the big leagues, you could find much worse.
No. 28: BJ Young, PG, Arkansas (Remains No. 28)
Young is an electrifying guard, but it’s a bit of a stretch to label him a point guard in the pure sense of the term.
He’s more of a ball-dominant scorer or undersized 2 that isn’t willing to pass often. There’s definitely a place for him, but we imagine it will be as an energy guy coming off the bench.
No. 29: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas (Remains No. 29)
Here’s the prototypical pure point guard.
Kabongo reminds us a bit of Rajon Rondo in college, in which he has the athleticism to get to the cup and score, but would prefer to kick it out and help his teammates. He’s about to start playing again, which will finally give us a chance to evaluate him this season.
No. 30: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh (Remains No. 30)
Adams is a seven-footer with a lot of upside and not much else. Until we see more from this New Zealand native, we are slapping a giant bust label on him.
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