With over a quarter of the NBA season behind us and just over three months until March Madness to go, it would be wise for teams (and fans) to start getting serious about identifying the top prospects in the 2013 draft.
There’s still plenty of time for these young men to alter their stock—whether that be good or bad—and drastically change their projected draft slot come late-April.
Last week’s rankings can be found here, but we’ve saved you some time and noted how each player moved in our rankings to the right of their name.
Let’s take a look at this week’s updated big board, check out whose stock is rising and whose is falling, the new faces and much more.
***Please note this isn’t a mock draft; prospects are ordered by overall grade and not by projected draft order***
No. 1: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky (Remains No. 1)
Noel has been topping our list since we created it, although he hasn’t been as consistent as we would like to see.
However, this Wildcats star has the athleticism, size and innate ability to be the top pick in the NBA draft, which gives him a huge leg up on a number of these other potential candidates for the No. 1 overall selection.
No. 2: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA (Up from No. 3)
Muhammad has the capability to put points on the board in a hurry, and he’s akin to an extremely raw James Harden at this juncture of his career.
It won’t be a surprise to see him taken in the top three come April, as a number of lottery-bound squads simply need more reliable scoring.
No. 3: Alex Len, C, Maryland (Up from No. 6)
Len is establishing himself as the best big man in the country in terms of offensive prowess, and for that reason we’ve put him past Zeller on our big board.
Through 10 games with the Terps, the Ukrainian has averaged 13.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in just 25.6 minutes a night. He’s also got an NBA-ready frame, standing at 7’1”, 255 lbs.
It’ll be a close race between the two sophomore big men (Len and Zeller) when it comes time for the second big to come off the board on draft night.
No. 4: Alex Poythress, SF, Kentucky (Remains No. 4)
Poythress is an extremely talented wing that could actually be taken No. 1, depending on which team is selecting in that spot.
The 6’7” freshman has all the tools required to play the 3 at the next level and plays with a motor that just doesn’t quit.
No. 5: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana (Down from No. 2)
We’ve bumped Zeller down a peg now that his Hoosiers have finally lost and his numbers are taking a slight dip.
Indiana lost to Butler last week, and Zeller was only able to make 4-of-9 shots from the field, although he nailed 10-of-14 from the line, and grab five boards. If a mid-major program like the Bulldogs can shut him down, an NBA frontline will have no problem whatsoever.
Zeller needs to add strength and get more aggressive if he wants to reestablish himself as a top pick.
No. 6: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV (Up from No. 8)
Despite being undersized for the 4, Bennett is making real noise and is likely a lock to become a top-10 pick right now.
He’s extremely strong and has a thick frame, but he has to work on incorporating some finesse into his repertoire to make a name for himself in the NBA.
No. 7: Archie Goodwin, G, Kentucky (Remains No. 7)
When Goodwin gets a full head of steam, there’s no stopping this electrifying guard.
However, he’s a bit reckless, and it would serve him well to slow things down from time to time in order to better control the game and facilitate when playing PG.
We have him as one of the top guard prospects right now, and it’s likely his role in the pros will be fluid, floating from the 1 to 2 depending on the needs of the team and lineup on the floor.
No. 8: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (Down from No. 5)
Porter is the definition of a versatile swingman.
He has handles, a knack for rebounding, a deft shooting stroke, athleticism and everything else required to a multitude of positions, but truly thrives at the 3.
No. 9: Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse (Remains No. 9)
Carter-Williams is one of the best set-up artists in the nation, and his incredible 6’6” frame makes him an ideal candidate for the first PG to come off the board.
The young man is dropping 10.7 dimes per game right now, a ridiculous number when considering he’s also recording 3.4 steals, 5.0 rebounds and 12.3 points a night.
No. 10: Ben McLemore, SF, Kansas (Up from No. 16)
McLemore continues to climb up our big board during his first season of collegiate basketball.
He’s shown the tendency to do a bit of everything well, including long-range shooting, rebounding, ball-handling, making plays and most importantly, scoring and getting to the foul line.
If he continues to display these skills, especially when the competition heats up late in the season and into the tournaments, the Jayhawks swingman will establish himself as a lottery lock.
No. 11: Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor (Remains No. 11)
We still aren’t seeing Austin be as aggressive and playing as big as he needs to in order to man the 4 at the next level.
Right now, the seven-footer is convinced he’s a swingman and continues to play like one, despite his sheer size making him an ideal candidate to play down on the block.
No. 12: Rudy Gobert, PF, France (Down from No. 10)
Gobert’s extremely athletic and has a ridiculous wingspan, but we’re a bit skeptical due to the competition he’s up against and being yet another unknown foreign prospect.
We just don’t see the Frenchman having what it takes to become the next great international player in the NBA, but many seem to think he’s going to be a stud when he comes to our shores.
We’ll find out what the GMs see in him come April.
No. 13: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke (Down from No. 12)
As long as Plumlee continues to thrive by playing a high-energy, blue-collar style of basketball, he’s going to keep his name in lottery contention.
No one is drafting the Blue Devils stud to be a superstar, but he’s got the potential to be a solid role player on a championship-caliber team due to his hustle and hard-nosed style of play.
No. 14: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh (Remains No. 14)
McCollum is continuing to build on his performance that put his name on the map—his evisceration of Duke in the first-round of the 2012 NCAA tournament.
The Mountain Hawks stud is a natural-born scorer that has a bit of Damian Lillard and a dash of Jimmer Fredette in his veins.
No. 15: James Michael McAdoo, PF, UNC (Down from No. 13)
McAdoo is continuing to slip, and it’s starting to look like the Tar Heels forward should have declared for last year’s draft.
He’s shown little improvement over the player that did well in limited minutes in his freshman season, and he’s having trouble adjusting to being a focal point in North Carolina’s offensive system.
No. 16: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State (Down from No. 15)
Smart has a nice frame and has flashed the skills to become a starting-caliber point guard in the NBA.
He’s extremely strong, has explosive athleticism, isn’t afraid to get in the paint and grab a board or two and can slide over to the 2 when necessary.
As long as Smart continues to strongly lead the Pokes both by example and vocally, his stock is going to stay high.
No. 17: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia (Up from No. 19)
Saric is extremely raw but immensely promising. He’s not going to be stateside anytime soon, unless the team that takes a chance on him is extremely desperate and borderline crazy.
Expect a team like the Spurs to snap him up late in the first and stash him in Europe for a few years.
No. 18: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas (Down from No. 17)
Mitchell’s stock has continued to plummet as he’s yet to show a true dominance over the weak competition his Mean Green are matching up against.
He’s still an extremely intriguing swingman that looks like a natural scorer, but he needs to pick up the pace in order to vault back into the lottery.
No. 19: B.J. Young, PG, Arkansas (Down from No. 18)
We’re not sure that Young is going to be the best PG at the next level, as he’s struggled with his assist-to-turnover ratio and seems to dominate the ball when he’s on the floor.
It’ll be interesting to see if that changes when he has NBA-caliber teammates to pass to, or if he’s going to be relegated to an energy role off the bench by whomever drafts him.
No. 20: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas (Up from No. 22)
Kabongo still hasn’t seen the floor due to an NCAA probe into his eligibility, but the Longhorns pass-first pure point guard is still a hot prospect.
There simply aren’t many players like him in this class or coming up through youth basketball at all anymore. He’s all about getting his teammates involved and making the players around him better.
He’s extremely reminiscent of Rajon Rondo, who has won a title and become the best assist man in the NBA; which isn’t a bad comparison for a player not expected to come off the board until after the lottery.
No. 21: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State (Down from No. 20)
This junior put himself on the map two weeks ago and hasn’t flown under the radar since.
If he keeps his scoring up and plays with the same intensity for the remainder of the season, he’s without a doubt a first-round candidate.
No. 22: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh (Down from No. 21)
We love this seven-footer’s upside, but he’s a huge project for any team that selects him in 2013. He needs to improve a ton of things, and his only NBA-ready area is his size.
No. 23: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State (Remains No. 23)
Harris is an athletic freak that continues to get better as the season drags on, although he’s still prone to a bad night every now and then.
That inconsistency is what is keeping him projected as a late-first rounder.
No. 24: Le’Bryan Nash, SF, Oklahoma State (Remains No. 24)
Speaking of inconsistency, we’d love to see this young man lose that maddening trait.
Nash has the skills and frame to be an NBA superstar, but his decision-making and lack of effort is holding him back.
No. 25: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Up from No. 26)
Until Withey develops an offensive game, he’s not going to be thought of as much more than a shot-blocking big man that will hurt a team’s ability to score when he’s on the floor.
No. 26: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (Down from No. 25)
Burke’s Wolverines are surprising a ton of people, and his pure-point skills are a large reason for this.
The sophomore is averaging 18.0 points and 7.0 assists in 2012, which are great numbers for a team that is now 11-0 and ranked No. 2 in the polls.
If the Wolverines go on a run this coming March, Burke will certainly improve his stock considerably.
No. 27: C.J. Leslie, PF, NC State (Remains No. 27)
Leslie is a huge mystery still, although he’s picked up his play in recent weeks.
Until we see that elevated game stay consistent, we’re not sold on Leslie as a starting-caliber NBA forward.
No. 28: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky (Remains No. 28)
Cauley-Stein’s upside is tremendous, and he’s rivaling Nerlens Noel’s effectiveness out on the court for the Wildcats.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to see this seven-footer land in the lottery due to his choice of school and raw talent.
No. 29: Brandon Paul, SG, Illinois (Unranked last week)
Paul’s athleticism and lanky body help make up for his smallish stature, and he’s shown the ability to really turn it on when needed.
If the Illini star can focus that energy and elevate his game every single minute he’s on the court, it will do wonders for his stock and ability to become a top-tier guard.
No. 30: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA (Unranked last week)
Anderson is here based purely on his upside. We don’t believe the Bruins are using his skills correctly, as he’s a gifted passer that should be playing a point-forward role.
He just might surprise a lot of people by declaring and becoming an absolute stud on the right NBA team.
Dropped From Rankings
No. 29: Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
No. 30: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia