NBA Mock Draft 2013: Pinpointing the Biggest Risers and Fallers
With conference play just underway, NBA draft boards are starting to round themselves out.
Over the past few weeks, we've seen some prospects rise from irrelevance to stardom. Others have taken a slide down the mountain, falling out of favor with NBA scouts and evaluators.
UNLV's Anthony Bennett continues to climb the board with Michigan's Trey Burke not too far behind. North Carolina's James McAdoo just can't seem to get a grip, and it's leaving him stuck in the mud.
The high risers and big fallers have been noted in the headline of each slide.
Stats updated as of January 8, 2013
1. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA- 6'6'' SG/SF
Notable Stats: 19.6 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 49.1 percent shooting, 47.8 percent from three-point line
Shabazz Muhammad's consistent production can be attributed to his ability to explore different avenues of scoring throughout a game. Regardless of what the defense throws at him, Muhammad has an answer, whether it's using touch to adjust or strength to finish.
He put up 27 points, including a clutch three-pointer in overtime, to give UCLA the win over Missouri. His star power is starting to shine, and it's resulting in wins for his team.
Only once all season has he scored under 15 points, illustrating his extraordinary scoring instincts and constant presence in the lineup.
We haven't even seen his ceiling yet because of UCLA's methodical system, which shuts the blinds and prevents us from really seeing what its players are capable of. He's scoring close to 20 points a game without being featured, and still presents the most favorable ratio of upside to risk.
2. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky- 6'11'', C
Notable Stats: 10.3 rebounds per game, 9.3 points per game, 3.5 blocks per game, 55.7 percent shooting
Nerlens Noel will stay at the No. 2 spot, as he focuses on patrolling the paint instead of putting up points.
Coach John Calipari isn't even giving him the option. Rarely does Noel get the ball in the post, unless he's completely sealed off his defender and there's room to catch and dunk.
He wasn't much of a factor in Kentucky's loss to Louisville, finishing with eight points, eight boards and two blocks. But as long as he's blocking shots, cleaning up the glass and presenting his guards with a target at the rim, Noel's draft stock shouldn't be damaged by a lack of scoring production.
High Riser Alert—3. Ben McLemore, Kansas—6'5'' SG
Notable Stats: 15.6 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, 40 percent from three-point line
Ben McLemore's scoring has fluctuated throughout the year, but that's mostly a result of inconsistent scoring opportunities available in Kansas' offense.
He's making at least two NBA-caliber plays a game, whether it's showing speed and explosion in transition or rhythm and fluidity on the perimeter.
McLemore presents little risk as an NBA prospect—if worse comes to worst, he's a three-point shooter who can stretch the floor, finish off the ball and defend perimeter scorers. In a draft with so many question marks, reliability could go a long way.
4. Cody Zeller, Indiana- 6'11'', C
Notable Stats: 16.5 points per game, 7.9 rebound per game, 62.7 percent shooting
Cody Zeller went for 19 points and 10 boards in a trap-game against Iowa, converting isolation-scoring opportunities in the post and holding down the fort inside.
With space to operate and his back to the basket, Zeller is a good bet for at least a field goal or trip to the line.
Zeller tends to disappear when defenses take away the post by fronting or doubling, and without a face-up game, it will be tough to overcome that. Moving forward, it would be nice to see him square up and knock down a few 18-footers, which would add a new dimension to his offensive repertoire.
Until we see that, it will be hard to justify using a top three pick on a center who isn't known for controlling the glass or protecting the rim.
High Riser Alert—5. Anthony Bennett, UNLV—6'7'' SF/PF
Notable Stats: 19.9 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, 56.1 percent shooting, 38 percent from three-point line
Anthony Bennett was more or less a myth to the average fan until he confirmed his potential on national television. Bennett made some plays against North Carolina that made your television rumble. He threw down a couple of next-level dunks—one running at full speed and another exploding vertical from a stationary position.
His mobility, explosiveness and power is a deadly combination for opposing 4s who lack foot speed and 3s who lack strength.
Bennett has shown star power over the past few weeks which has given his draft stock a jolt. With a game that's easy on the eyes, he's rising up boards as a potential top five pick.
6. Alex Len, Maryland—7'1'' C
Notable Stats: 13.5 points per game, 8.1 rebound per game, 2.2 blocks per game, 57.4 percent shooting
Alex Len made his gigantic presence known in a win over Virginia Tech, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds in an effortless 24 minutes of action.
Len's length and feel for the rim inside make it difficult to contest his shot once he's already initiated his move.
His efficiency and consistency this year have been off-the-charts. Len has shot at least 50 percent from the floor in every game he's played but one.
It's a telling sign that Maryland needs to get their prized big man more touches on a possession-by-possession basis. His upside is high enough to the point where the top five isn't out of his reach.
7. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky—6'5'' SG
Notable Stats: 15.8 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 3.8 assists per game, 40 percent from three-point line
Archie Goodwin looked like a pro attacking Louisville's pressure defense, penetrating with speed and finishing with body control. He scored 22 points on 8-of-15 from the floor, displaying NBA athleticism as a prolific offensive weapon.
He's as good as any guard in the country getting from the arc to the rim, using angles to create easy scoring opportunities while exploding towards the basket.
Though he hasn't shown NBA range yet, he's making the jumpers he's taking and getting separation off the dribble.
Goodwin's physical tools and feel for the game are built for the NBA, and should carry him through his career as a scorer at the pro level.
High Riser Alert—8. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State—6'4'' PG/SG
Notable Stats: 14.3 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game, 4.9 assists per game, 2.6 steals per game
The Cowboys lost two straight games, but don't blame Marcus Smart. He put up 23 points and six assists against Gonzaga and 25 points at Kansas State, while his supporting cast chose not to give their support.
He's starting to heat up from downtown after a rough start behind the arc, nailing nine three-pointers over his last four games.
Smart's appeal stems from his ability to make his teammates better by executing plays that go undocumented on box scores. He can score at a high level, yet can maintain a pass-first mentality as a lead guard and orchestrator.
It's possible a general manager seeks Smart out to be the future floor general of his team.
9. Isaiah Austin, Baylor—7'0'' C
Notable Stats: 14.9 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game, 52.9 percent shooting, 37.1 percent from three-point line
Isaiah Austin is starting to get comfortable in his surroundings. He's now scored at least 17 points in three straight games, including 5-of-10 from downtown over the stretch.
Speaking of stretch, Austin's ridiculous wingspan makes his shot incontestable on the perimeter. His release point is as high as you'll see from a player operating 25 feet from the basket.
He's got a great feel for the rim from from every spot on the floor and possesses a rare mobility for someone with his size and length.
Delivering his moves with more speed and decisiveness will make him a more dominant offensive player, but that will come with added reps as he continues to figure out his role in the game.
High Riser Alert—10. Trey Burke, Michigan—6'0'' PG
Notable Stats: 18.2 points per game, 7.5 assists per game, 54.6 percent shooting, 40.6 percent from three-point line
Trey Burke is starting to make the case for top-point-guard-in-the-class honors, after slicing through Iowa's defense for 19 points and 12 assists.
Starting NBA point guards typically share three specific tools in their arsenals: a pull-up jumper off the dribble, turn-the-corner speed and quickness and the ability to confidently run the offense. Burke excels in all three of these areas.
The more Michigan wins, the better it reflects on Burke, who's handling both scoring and distributing duties for arguably the most dynamic offense in the country.
His size limits his ceiling, but that shouldn't matter in a draft class that lacks star power to begin with. Burke is a value pick anywhere outside the lottery.
11. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse—6'6'' PG
Notable Stats: 11.7 points per game, 9.8 assists per game, 4.9 rebounds per game, 3.1 steals per game
Michael Carter-Williams struggled in Syracuse's win at South Florida, finishing 1-of-13 from the floor despite nine boards and five assists.
We're starting to get spoiled with Carter-Williams' production, but this is the second time this year he's had trouble converting his own offense. A few weeks back he shot 3-of-17 in a loss to Temple, forcing tough shots and consistently coming up short on longer jumpers.
However none of this reflects negatively on his ability to make plays, which is ultimately what gives him appeal as a lottery prospect. With the vision to see it happen and the physical tools to execute, Carter-Williams presents a mismatch to every one of his defensive assignments.
12. Mason Plumlee, Duke—7'0'' C
Notable Stats: 17.7 points per game, 11.4 rebounds per game, 61.6 percent shooting, 1.6 blocks per game
Mason Plumlee's production was bound to tail off eventually, which is fine, except for one category in particular: free-throw shooting.
The off-scoring days are acceptable, as defenses have begun to take his opportunities away. But what seemed like a promising adjustment at the foul line has suddenly taken a turn for the worse.
He only shot 52.8 percent from the stripe as a junior, and up until recently, he was shooting over 70 percent as a senior. But over his last seven games, Plumlee is just 28-of-53—the same 52.8 percent he shot last year.
Because of his size, athleticism and aggressiveness at the rim, sometimes the only way to slow Plumlee down is to put him on the line. If he's making them, he becomes a weapon you feed the ball to.
13. C.J. McCollum, Lehigh—6'3'' PG/SG
Notable Stats: 23.9 points per game, 2.9 assists per game, five rebounds per game, 51.6 percent from three-point line
C.J. McCollum's college career might have ended after breaking his foot against VCU, but it shouldn't derail or damage his future in the NBA.
Scouts have already seen what McCollum is capable of. Before the injury, he was second in the nation in scoring. As a junior, he dropped 30 points on the No. 2 seed Duke to knock them out of the NCAA tournament.
He's a floor general with takeover capabilities, and can manage a game as a scorer and facilitator. McCollum has NBA-starter potential, and whether or not he returns at full-strength in time for the combine and predraft workouts, he'll remain in consideration for a lottery selection.
14. Otto Porter, Georgetown—6'8'' SF
Notable Stats: 12.8 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, 2.8 assists per game, 39.3 percent from three-point line, 1.9 steals per game, 1.4 blocks per game
Otto Porter was barely visible in Georgetown's loss to Pittsburgh, but to his credit, neither were any of his teammates.
Because Porter is someone who complements others, he's vulnerable to putting up offensive duds. He's not an advanced shot-creator; rather, he's someone who knows when to drift to space for jumpers, slash off the ball and finish in traffic or transition.
Porter's nine-point, three-rebound performance was just a blip on the radar for one of the most reliable prospects in the 2013 draft class. He's unlikely to surge into the top seven, but anywhere past the mid-lotto is fair game.
Big Faller—15. James McAdoo, North Carolina—6'9'' SF/PF
Notable Stats: 14.5 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, 46.3 percent shooting, 1.5 steals per game
James McAdoo was a non-factor once again in another disappointing North Carolina loss—this time to Virginia. He shot 4-of-9 and coughed it up four times without playing much of a factor at all.
He's creating shots for himself—the problem is none of them are easy. McAdoo has no perception of when to force a baseline fade-away jumper, when to move the ball or when to attack the rim.
McAdoo focuses too much on creating separation to get his shot off without considering the level of difficulty of the eventual shot attempt.
He hasn't even attempted a three-pointer this season. Developing a stretch-game would add to his scoring opportunities and not force him to rely on creating tough shots on the move.
He's still one of the most physically advanced prospects in the class and is just waiting for this basketball thing to click before he takes the next step in his development.
16. Rudy Gobert, France—7'2'' PF/C
Notable Stats (Cholet): 7.7 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, 1.9 blocks per game, 77.1 percent shooting
As you can see from the numbers, Rudy Gobert isn't out there to score 25 points and grab 10 boards. His appeal is attributed to his physical tools, where he offers an unprecedented 7'9'' wingspan to go with a 7'2'' body that runs the floor and plays above the rim.
He's a disruptive presence regardless of whether he's scoring or rebounding, based solely on the space he occupies. Until he gets in the gym with other NBA prospects, Gobert will be projected to land anywhere in the early to mid-first round.
Big Faller—17. Alex Poythress, Kentucky—6'8'' SF
Notable Stats: 14 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, 64.2 percent shooting, 40 percent from three-point line
Alex Poythress was a non-factor in Kentucky's loss to Louisville, finishing with seven points on four shots attempted.
His knock all year has been the inability to create his own shot, which leads to offensive invisibility and limited scoring opportunities.
The good news for Poythress is that he's a top-notch athlete with NBA strength who can contribute points without using his dribble. It's a skill set that every team needs somewhere in their lineup. It just may not be worth using a top ten pick on.
18. Tony Mitchell, North Texas—6'8'' SF/PF
Notable Stats: 14.8 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, 2.6 blocks per game, 32 percent from three-point line
The name of the game for Tony Mitchell is playing above the rim. He's unguardable up there. Mitchell had his best game of the year in a win over Troy, when he finished with 29 points and 15 boards, converting eight two-point field goals, one three-pointer and 10 made free-throws. It was a complete offensive performance to go along with four blocks on defense.
Mitchell will need to stay aggressive and refrain from settling on the perimeter, where is elite athleticism serves no purpose.
19. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky—7'0'' C
Notable Stats: 7.8 points per game, 5.9 rebounds per game, 61.6 percent shooting, 2.1 blocks per game
Willie Cauley-Stein got 22 minutes against Eastern Michigan and finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. It was another productive and efficient outing for Cauley-Stein, who's making the most out of his opportunities by utilizing his unique size and physical tools.
He hasn't missed more than two shots in a game since December 4, which just goes to show how efficient he really is.
With a whole new team of recruits coming into Kentucky for next season, Cauley-Stein should look to get out and continue his development with pros in the NBA.
20. Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State—6'5'' SF
Notable Stats: 17.2 points per game, 9.9 rebounds per game, 1.5 steals per game, 44.6 percent shooting
Jamaal Franklin followed up a quiet scoring game in a loss to Arizona with an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double in a win over Cal State Bakersfield.
His big rebounding numbers are a reflection of his activity level, which remains high because of his motor, athleticism, hops and length.
Franklin continues to flash NBA tools that can be used in a complementary role at the next level.
21. Doug McDermott, Creighton—6'7'' SF
Notable Stats: 22.6 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game, 55.1 percent shooting, 49.3 percent from three-point line
He's just making it look routine at this point. Doug McDermott scored 25 points in a win over a pesky Indiana State team, converting nine field goals from practically nine different spots on the floor.
McDermott is one of those guys you just don't feel comfortable betting against. He doesn't have the quickness, strength or explosiveness of your typical NBA small forward, but none of that really matters if you can't put the ball through the hole.
And that's what McDermott does as well as any player in college basketball. He's shooting an absurd 49.3 percent from behind the arc on 4.3 attempts per game, and has appeal as a long-range specialist in a role off the bench.
22. Isaiah Canaan, Murray State—6'1'' PG
Notable Stats: 21.4 points per game, 3.7 assists per game, 41.9 percent from three-point line
Isaiah Canaan went for 28 points in a win over Southeast Missouri State, playing his fearless style of ball attacking the rim and lighting up the perimeter.
Canaan is built like a tank and stays low to the ground, making it tough for defenders to knock him off balance. Because of his NBA three-point range and quickness off the bounce, defenses have to game-plan for how they want to play him.
Every time I watch Canaan, I can't help but think of Raymond Felton, who presents a similar skill set with nearly an identical physical build.
23. High Riser Alert—20. Lorenzo Brown, North Carolina State—6'5'' PG
Notable Stats: 12.5 points per game, 6.4 assists per game, 4.1 rebounds per game, 2.3 steals per game
After a slow start, Lorenzo Brown looks like the orchestrator he was hyped up to be entering his junior year.
He's racked up at least eight assists in three of his last four games, and his confidence is glaringly higher than it was earlier this year.
Brown has the size to see over defenses, the dribble creativity to create gaps and the quickness to penetrate them.
He looks like a poor man's version of Rajon Rondo, keeping his head on a swivel and using clever fakes and dribbles to manipulate the defense. He's an athletic finisher who can avoid traffic in the air, and has a soft touch on his floater when attacking the lane from the perimeter.
Brown is a true pass-first point guard with unteachable instincts, ideal size and terrific ball-handling skills for an NBA prospect. He looks to be on track to compete for a first-round bid, and will really benefit from some NC State wins and a nice run into March.
24. C.J. Leslie, North Carolina State—6'8'' SF/PF
Notable Stats: 15.4 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, 58.3 percent shooting
The more aggressive C.J. Leslie is, the better he plays. He went for 33 points against St. Bonaventure, getting to the line 18 times and making 10-of-13 field-goal attempts.
Against Boston College, he only finished with seven field-goal attempts getting lost in the shuffle.
Leslie's agility and above-the-rim athleticism are best used when facing the basket at the high and low blocks. When defenses take this away he struggles to adjust.
He's more than just an athlete, possessing lottery-caliber talent and natural scoring instincts, but he's stuck between positions lacking the strength of an NBA-4 and the perimeter skills of a 3.
Leslie offers high reward if he figures out how to exploit his strengths, which is what's keeping him in the first round.
High Riser Alert—25. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan—6'5'' SG
Notable Stats: 16.4 points per game, 5 rebounds per game, 2.9 assists per game, 40 percent from three-point line
Tim Hardaway Jr. is showing off the full offensive repertoire, creating separation in the mid-range, spotting up from downtown and finishing with authority above the the rim.
He's a triple-threat offensive player, and it's translating to points on a regular basis. He went for 19 points, five boards and five assists against Iowa and 21 points on 6-of-8 in a win over Northwestern.
Between those games, Hardaway shot a combined 7-of-10 from downtown. This was an area that was considered a weakness before the year, and now he's up to 40 percent shooting from behind the arc.
With Michigan rolling and Hardaway's production remaining consistent, he's found a way into our 2013 first-round mock draft.
High Riser Alert—26. Brandon Paul, Illinois—6'4'' SG
Notable Stats: 18.5 points per game, 5.1 rebounds per game, 37.6 percent from three-point line, 3.5 assists per game
Brandon Paul scored 19 points in a blowout over Ohio State, flashing his perimeter-scoring potential as the team's top option.
He's creating offense off the dribble by shooting over ball screens and attacking the rim. Paul is one of the more complete scorers in college basketball and is establishing himself as a premier go-to player in the Big Ten.
When Paul is in the zone, expect points to follow in bunches.
Big Faller—27. LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State—6'7'' SF
Notable Stats: 13.8 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, 41.5 percent shooting, 25 percent 3pt
LeBryan Nash has now put up single-digit scoring numbers in three consecutive games, and to nobody's surprise, his team has lost two of them.
Nash is supposed to be the go-to option and leader of this unit. This just isn't a good look for someone who will be selling himself to NBA franchises as a scorer worthy of isolation play calls.
He's taken two total free throws over his last three games, an inexcusable number for someone with his physical tools and skill set.
Nash must stay aggressive and look to continuously attack the basket, instead of settling on the perimeter for off-balance jumpers.
28. Jeff Withey, Kansas—7'0'' C
Notable Stats: 13.4 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, 5.2 blocks per game, 55.8 percent shooting
Jeff Withey's deceptive shot-blocking tactics played a major role in Kansas' win over Temple. He swatted nine shots to go along with 11 boards and eight points, once again controlling the paint on both sides of the ball.
Withey isn't much of an athlete, which says a lot about his timing. He's light on his feet inside and anticipates at an extremely high level.
He's finishing with both hands at the rim, and is starting to solidify himself as a legitimate first-round prospect.
High Riser Alert—29. Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga—7'0'' C
Notable Stats: 17.1 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game, 67.5 percent shooting, 33.3 percent from three-point line
Relatively unknown entering the year, Kelly Olynyk redshirted last season instead of playing behind Robert Sacre, who now plays for the Lakers.
Olynyk has remained incredibly productive (17.1 points per game) while maintaining consistency (scored in double-figures in all but one game) and efficiency (67.5 percent shooting) for one of the top teams in the country.
He's fresh off a 33-point, 10-rebound game over Santa Clara, after putting up back-to-back 21-point performances in strong wins over Oklahoma State and Baylor.
With NBA-center size, Olynyk has a soft touch at the rim and out to 25 feet away. He's capable of playing minutes as a stretch-5, and has the countermoves inside to score at the low block.
Seven-footers who can play inside and out are worth looks in the first round. B.J. Mullens went No. 24 overall presenting a similar offensive package.
30. Rodney Williams, Minnesota—6'7'' SF
Notable Stats: 12.9 points per game, six rebounds per game, 54.9 percent shooting, 1.4 blocks per game
Rodney Williams has helped the Minnesota Gophers land a Top 10 ranking, after beating Michigan State in a statement win at home.
Williams scored 15 points, making most of his plays off the ball displaying the athleticism that could probably allow him to play whatever sport he wants.
His perimeter game is shaky and he's limited off the dribble, but it's what he can do without the ball that will attract NBA attention.