NBA Draft 2013: Latest Big Board and Top 30 Projections for Week of Dec. 25

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIDecember 25, 2012

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 22:  Nerlens Noel #3 of the Ketnucky Wildcats celebrates during the game against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Rupp Arena on December 22, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

There may not be a ton of star power or depth in the 2013 NBA draft class, but there are definitely some intriguing prospects at the top of all the big boards.

With so much of the college season left to play, much is yet to be determined. Many of the prospects figure to be one-and-dones, and their development over the course of the year will go a long way in determining whether they land in the pros.

But here is a look at the projected top 30 picks for the week of December 25.


1. Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky (Remains No. 1)

Noel averages a ridiculous 3.7 blocks per game and also 2.7 steals, which is a nod to his defensive prowess. He can cover the court extremely quickly and has the athleticism at 7'0" to be able to take his opponents off the dribble on the offensive end.

With so much offensive upside and elite defensive skills, Noel should be an immediate, massive upgrade over any lower-end team's center.

There is a reason he has topped this big board since the beginning.


2. Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA (Remains No. 2)

A turbulent start to his collegiate career has been stabilized after a suspension and an ankle injury held him back early.

As Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times reports, improved conditioning, continual maturity and adjusting his game have helped Muhammad emerge as the Bruins' leading scorer in 2012-13 to this point.

Concerns lurk about his outside shooting consistency, but Muhammad has stroked it well from the outside so far in making three-pointers at nearly 48 percent.


3. Alex Len, C, Maryland (Remains No. 3)

Len is 7'1" and 255 pounds—size that will make him an instant factor as a pro. Thanks to a strong opening performance against Kentucky with 23 points and 12 rebounds, Len's stock is rising rapidly.

There has been a clear improvement in the Terrapins center's play as a sophomore, and he seems like a virtual lock as a high lottery pick at this point.


4. Alex Poythress, SF, Kentucky (Remains No. 4)

The highly touted Wildcats freshman has been remarkably efficient on offense (14.5 PPG, .649 FG%, .455 3P%). Poythress weighs nearly 240 pounds to fill out his 6'7" frame, which would be outstanding size for an NBA small forward.

Another plus is that Poythress rebounds extremely well, averaging 6.5 boards per game despite playing alongside Noel and 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein.


5. Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas (Up from No. 10)

Head coach Bill Self has said that McLemore is the most talented freshman he's ever had during his tenure with the Jayhawks. That's high praise to say the least.

McLemore's game-high 22 points at Ohio State proved he can live up to the hype on a big stage and was an early statement that he belongs in the thick of the lottery conversation.

There is still room for McLemore to fill out his 6'5" frame, but once he does, he will have great size as an NBA 2-guard. With a top-10 scoring defense, McLemore will be able to focus on doing what he does best—filling it up.


6. Cody Zeller, C/PF, Indiana (Down from No. 5)

The move down one slot is more due to McLemore's exceptional performance on Saturday than Zeller's own shortcomings.

Zeller has the ability to run the floor and get back on defense while providing everything imaginable from an offensive standpoint. He can take his man off the dribble, post up or hit shots comfortably from 15 feet out.

Lack of a killer instinct on the boards so far, though, has hurt his stock a little bit—only adding to concerns about how Zeller's strength will translate to the next level.


7. Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV (Down from No. 6)

In a week where Bennett averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in two contests, it's hard to knock him down a peg. He also made five out of nine three-pointers, and if he can continue improving form beyond the arc, Bennett could become all the more dangerous.


8. Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (Remains No. 8)

There's so much versatility and upside with Porter on both ends of the court that he will be impossible to pass up in the top 10. The only reason he falls is because of McLemore's strong showing this past weekend.


9. Rudy Gobert, C, France (Up from No. 12)

Taking a chance on a European-based player is frequently risky. But how about a legitimate 7-footer with a 7'9" wingspan (h/t and a constantly improving offensive game?

Gobert is already a fantastic shot-blocker with his incredibly long arms and surprising quickness. It will be difficult for teams to pass on even as a developmental prospect.


10. Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky (Down from No. 7)

For just a 6'4", 195-pounder, Goodwin is an exceptional rebounder at his position, pulling down 5.5 boards per contest for the Wildcats.

Goodwin is an explosive scorer, but struggled to find his stroke against Marshall and has shown a tendency to turn the ball over frequently in recent games. With such a strong supporting cast around him, that shouldn't happen.


11. Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke (Up from No. 13)

A double-double machine, Plumlee isn't the biggest, strongest power forward prospect at 6'10" and 235 pounds. But what Plumlee lacks in size he makes up for with finesse, basketball IQ and the footwork to position himself properly in the paint.

The difference between Plumlee's offensive skills has been night and day during his senior year, and he should be a lock to be picked in the middle of the first round.


12. Isaiah Austin, C/PF, Baylor (Down from No. 11)

That 5-of-15 showing against BYU should only be a case of growing pains for Austin, who has limitless potential. He did have five blocks in that game and is a towering presence at 7'1" with fantastic physical gifts.

Austin has to begin using the unique athleticism he has for his size in the post more frequently, rather than settling for multiple outside shots and three-point attempts in every outing.

13. Michael Carter-Williams, PG/SG, Syracuse (Down from No. 9)

A big letdown performance on a national stage in the Orange's upset loss to Temple puts Carter-Williams down the draft boards this week.

Going 3-of-17 is not what a star player should be doing, and the Syracuse PG is only shooting 37 percent from the floor in his sophomore season.

That said, Carter-Williams has to be considered the best pure point guard in the draft. He averages 10.3 assists and is a proven exceptional perimeter defender, shown by his 3.4 steals-per-game average.

14. C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh (Remains No. 14)

After leading his team to a shocking upset over Duke in the NCAA Tournament last year, McCollum has not grown complacent as a senior. The NBA is clearly on his mind, as he's started off 2012-13 on a torrid shooting pace.

Posting 50-plus percent shooting from the field overall and beyond the arc is impressive regardless of the competition.

The fact that he is a combo guard is actually a good thing in McCollum's case, and he should fill in as a 2-guard and be an instant, big-time scorer.

15. James McAdoo, PF/SF, North Carolina (Remains No. 15)

The dynamic UNC forward laid an absolute egg on the offensive end against the Texas Longhorns. However, McAdoo also had six steals in that game, which helped to offset his five turnovers.

Although he has struggled a little bit to adapt to his increased role for the Tar Heels, McAdoo should be in better draft shape with a strong finish to the season. A UNC run in March would help his cause immensely.

16. Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State (Stays at No. 16)

What an awful start to the year for Smart. Shooting just 35 percent from the field and under 28 percent from distance was not exactly what the Cowboys thought they were getting in one of the nation's most prized point guard recruits.

Despite the erratic shooting and early tendency to turn it over, Smart has a chance to redeem himself once the conference slate is underway.


17. Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia (Up from No. 17)

He's only 18 years old, but with an impressive swingman's skill set at 6'10", there is little Saric can't do on a basketball court already.

Some team may be willing to gamble on him in the middle of the draft, keeping in mind he won't be pro-ready for another year or two. If his potential is any indication, though, Saric will be worth the long-term investment as a big-time scorer, solid rebounder and strong distributor.

18. Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas (Up from No. 20)

The overhanging suspension for Kabongo (h/t ESPN) is really clouding the ability to judge how he will be in the pros. Having not played a single game his sophomore season, Kabongo is a total mystery and will remain so until the Longhorns' 24th contest.

Combine that with an inconsistent freshman year, and all there really is to go on is Kabongo's room for growth. He was expected to take a big leap this season but hasn't gotten the chance to yet.


19. Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Up from No. 25)

It's hard to ignore Withey's performance at Ohio State, despite the lack of interior presence from the Buckeyes.

Withey is a front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year, and anyone who says he doesn't have a strong enough offensive game need look no further than his average of 14 points per game to know he's improved in that regard.

20. Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State (Up from No. 23)

His three-point shooting hasn't been great, but Harris is a pure 2-guard with plenty of upside and explosive scoring ability.

Even only one year under head coach Tom Izzo should give this Spartan standout a great chance to be an immediate success in the NBA. More consistency will lead the incredibly athletic Harris to vault up draft boards in the coming weeks.

21. Tony Mitchell, SF/PF, North Texas (Down from No. 18)

There really haven't been mind-blowing numbers put up by Mitchell for the Mean Green, which has to make him a liability as a prospect at the pro level.

Expectations are through the roof for Mitchell after how good he was his freshman year, but in 2012-13 his shooting percentages have dipped significantly across the board. He must bounce back to secure his place in the first round, or else his draft stock will continue to fall.


22. Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh (Remains No. 22)

So raw and so unpolished on the offensive end, Adams could use another year in college to develop his skills. But his flashes of brilliance, particularly on the defensive end, could land him in the first round of this year's draft anyway. 

Adams is a project player, but is nevertheless 7'0" with tantalizing upside that a strong organization would have a hard time passing on in the latter part of the first round.


23. Andre Roberson, SF, Colorado (unranked last week)

Any team could use a marquee role player, and this jack-of-all-trades prospect is just that.

Roberson is a small forward but averages 11.9 points and 11.9 rebounds for the Buffs. With supreme effort and hustle at both ends of the floor, the junior should shoot up to the first round with sustained consistency.

The only downside is his 50 percent shooting from the free-throw line.


24. Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (Up from No. 26)

Burke has been the driving force for the No. 2 Wolverines. He shoots better than 50 percent from the field in leading Michigan with 17.4 points per contest, and is an efficient, disciplined distributor. That is evident in his 7.1 assists-per-game average against just two turnovers.

Not much not to like about a disciplined, fundamentally sound point guard at the end of the first round, and a deep NCAA tournament run would give his resume even more credibility.


25. B.J. Young, PG, Arkansas (Down from No. 19)

The production simply hasn't been there for the shoot-first point guard. His game seems to fit the mold of where the position is going in the NBA, but his numbers have been very lackluster as a sophomore.

There is still plenty of time to turn it around, but Young's over-dribbling and penchant for turnovers are hurting his draft stock at the moment.

26. C.J. Leslie, SF/PF, North Carolina State (Up from No. 27)

Leslie is a bit of a so-called tweener, which makes him hard to project at the pro level.

However, he will have had three years under his belt of facing top-notch competition with the Wolfpack in the ACC.

Some crafty post moves have been added to Leslie's arsenal as a junior, which should push him into the end of the first round.


27. Le'Bryan Nash, SF, Oklahoma State (Down from No. 24)

Although he's had a bit of a disappointing start to his college career considering his physical gifts, Nash still has room to improve before his sophomore year is over.

With outstanding size for a 3 and a strong post game that could allow him to play 4 in a small lineup, he would be a big asset as a bench player in his rookie NBA campaign.

Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky (Up from No. 28)

There's plenty to be excited about for Cauley-Stein, who may play second fiddle to Noel among the Wildcat big men but has been very productive to date in his freshman campaign.

Although, it would be interesting to see how he would fare as the literal big man on campus with another year in Lexington while many of his other teammates are likely to declare after the season.


29. Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA (Up from No. 30)

There's not much substance for Anderson, a tweener between the shooting guard and small forward spots, but he does a little bit of everything for the Bruins.

Anderson may be too raw to come out in this year's draft, but he does average 8.8 rebounds, four assists and nearly two steals per contest despite his lackluster shooting numbers.

30. Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton (Unranked last week)

The Jays star is an absolute lights-out shooter, bringing to mind Creighton alum and NBA sharpshooter Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks.

McDermott's three-point attempts per game have increased by more than one from a year ago to 4.6, and he's shooting better than 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Although his athleticism isn't great, he would be a great value pick for a contender late in the first round looking to shore up some bench scoring.


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