2013 NBA Draft: Biggest Soarers and Sinkers of Upcoming Class
There's no question about it—the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft is still up for grabs.
No change has been made yet to the top of our mock draft, but the trigger finger is getting itchier by the week.
Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams has put on two noticeable performances on national television, while Kentucky's Nerlens Noel has stepped up his efforts in his campaign to be named college basketball's defensive player of the year.
The rest of the Kentucky boys had weeks to forget, the Michigan crew was up and down and the mid-major prospects continue to remain consistent.
Stats updated as of January 22, 2013
30. Jeff Withey, Kansas, C, 7'0''
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Notable Stats: 13 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game, 4.3 blocks per game, 54.8% shooting
Against Kansas State on Tuesday, Jeff Withey actually went a game without blocking a shot for the first time all year, which he's earned the right to do.
Withey's instincts and timing help alter shots throughout a game, whether he's misdirecting them or simply contesting them.
At this point, we've seen that he can finish with both hands and block shots at a mesmerizing rate. Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli was taken No. 30 last year without any offensive skills. A defensive presence and target at the rim could be worthy of first round consideration depending on the needs of the teams drafting in that range.
29. Brandon Paul, Illinois, SG, 6'4''
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Notable Stats: 18 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, 3 assists per game, 41.8% shooting, 34.1% 3-point shooting
Brandon Paul has shot 4-of-24 from three-point range over the past four games, illustrating the downside that comes with ball-dominant perimeter scorers. His usage rate remains high, but his efficiency has been low, leading to three conference losses for Illinois without a consistent source of offense.
Paul won't have the freedom to use the dribble at his disposal as an NBA guard. He has to learn to adjust when his jumper isn't falling by creating easier opportunities for himself, acting as a facilitator or spotting up off the ball.
His scoring arsenal is too deep to ignore, though, and should get looks starting at the back of round one of the draft.
28. Lorenzo Brown, North Carolina State, PG, 6'5''
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Notable Stats: 12.8 points per game, 6.9 assists per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, 2.1 steals per game
On Tuesday against Wake Forest, Lorenzo Brown double-doubled for the third time in five games, and seems to have found his rhythm in the passing game.
Brown has all the makings of an effective backup point guard. He actually presents a physical mismatch at 6'5'' with smooth athleticism, and can handle the ball with the best of them.
His perimeter scoring game isn't as polished as his ability to create offense for teammates, which is what a second unit quarterback will be asked to do.
27. Victor Oladipo, Indiana, SG, 6'4''
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Notable Stats: 13.2 points per game, 5.9 rebounds per game, 66.4% shooting, 51.1% 3-point shooting, 2.2 steals per game
Victor Oladipo has made tremendous strides offensively, complementing his motor and athleticism with a skill set that's actually threatening. He's no longer just a defensive ball-stopper, but an explosive slasher and spot-up shooter.
He's in the midst of a remarkable streak, making 11 of his last 13 three-point attempts.
NBA playoff teams at the end of the first round might be interested in Oladipo's lockdown potential and contagious energy.
26. Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, C, 7'0''
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Notable Stats: 18 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, 65.7% shooting, 28.6% 3-point shooting
Kelly Olynyk scored 21 points in 19 minutes at Portland, completely taking advantage of his size and skill set. He scored 14 against Butler, including what should have been the two game-winning free-throws until Butler's Roosevelt Jones decided to change the ending of the story.
Olynyk is scoring with consistency, which helps diminish any notion that his strong play has been fluky.
Seven-footers are captivating even when they stink, but this one can actually play. There's no doubt that scouts have taken notice.
25. C.J. Leslie, North Carolina State, SF/PF, 6'8''
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Notable Stats: 15.3 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, 55.8% shooting
It's been an ugly week for C.J. Leslie and NC State, who lost two of three games to inferior teams.
Leslie got caught up in foul trouble in one loss and couldn't get his offense going in the other. His inconsistencies are the reason he's not playing in the NBA today. If he showed up every night last year, Leslie wouldn't have had to come back as a junior.
I still think he gets drafted in the first round, but it won't be at a position that reflects his talent. He's a high-risk, high-reward NBA prospect.
24. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan, SG, 6'5''
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Notable Stats: 16.4 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game, 2.6 assists per game, 48.5% shooting, 39.3% 3-point shooting
Tim Hardaway Jr. was lights-out against Minnesota, missing one shot in a 21-point performance.
Consistency is the name of the game for Hardaway, who shot just one-of-six from downtown in a loss to Ohio State in the previous game.
He's got the offensive repertoire of an NBA scoring guard, but he won't be given the freedom to fully use it if he can't make shots consistently.
23. Isaiah Canaan, Murray State, PG, 6'0''
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Notable Stats: 21.5 points per game, 4.3 assists per game, 46.4% shooting, 41.1% 3-point shooting
Isaiah Canaan decided to switch his style up a little bit and revert to playmaking duties as a facilitator. Those who question his true position need to question their understanding of his role at Murray State.
He scores because he has to, but there's no doubt that his game translates to NBA point guard play.
Canaan has picked up 15 dimes over the past two games. Write yourself a note to check out the OVC conference tournament this year. Isaiah Canaan will be the main act.
22. Doug McDermott, Creighton, SF, 6'8''
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Notable Stats: 24.1 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, 56.5% shooting, 52.5% 3-point shooting
We're looking at some legendary shooting from Doug McDermott, who has now made 10 of his last 14 three-point attempts.
McDermott could be worth a first round look just as a specialist. Steve Novak and Kyle Korver (another Creighton product) have earned lucrative contracts and regular minutes just by catching and shooting from behind the arc.
The fact that McDermott can score inside and in-between is only a plus.
He's shooting 52.5 percent from downtown in what's been an epic season from long-range.
21. Alex Poythress, Kentucky, SF, 6'8''
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Notable Stats: 12.7 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, 62.1% shooting
Alex Poythress is some kind of athlete, but we're still unsure just how good he is at basketball.
He fouled out after taking just three shots in Kentucky's loss to Alabama. Poythress is scoring all of his points off finishes or line-drive takes to the rack, without creating many of his own.
Poythress has to find a way to differentiate himself as a prospect and give teams a reason to use a valuable draft pick on him.
20. Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, SG/SF, 6'5"
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Notable Stats: 18.1 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game, 41.6% shooting, 26.2% 3-point shooting
Jamaal Franklin is struggling with his long-range ball, making just two of 12 attempts over the past two games. It doesn't help his cause that San Diego State lost both of them.
But it just makes his identity that clearer. Franklin is best used off the ball, finishing slashes in the half-court, joining fast breaks in transition and making the occasional spot-up three-point jumper. This will be his role at the next level, instead of being forced to create his own offense, as he is now.
Franklin's athleticism is sure to wow scouts during testing at the NBA draft combine in June.
19. Tony Mitchell, North Texas, SF/PF, 6'8''
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Notable Stats: 14.4 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game, 2.7 blocks per game, 45.1% shooting, 29.2% 3-point shooting
It's been a weird week for Tony Mitchell, who was held scoreless against Florida International before dropping 24 on Florida Atlantic.
Mitchell's bizarre drop-off in production and inconsistencies throughout the year have led to mixed reactions from scouts.
At first glance, you see elite athleticism in an NBA body that can move, shake, defend and score. And at second glance, you see a North Texas team that's 8-12 in the Sun Belt conference, with Mitchell as a non-factor in the outcomes of games.
His upside is worth a look in the lottery, but most shoppers might hesitate with so many uncertainties about the product.
18. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, C, 7'0''
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Notable Stats: 7.6 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, 62.1% shooting, 1.9 blocks per game
Willie Cauley-Stein had a knee operation last week to help clear up a problem that he developed in high school.
It's not the most pleasant news from an NBA draft standpoint, as nobody wants a kid with a preexisting knee injury.
However, the operation is considered minor, and is expected to eliminate the pain he's recently been feeling. Assuming he returns to full strength without any lingering issues, consider this just a hurdle in his pursuit of a lottery bid.
17. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky, SG, 6'5''
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Notable Stats: 14.6 points per game, 5 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game, 43.1% shooting, 29.7% 3-point shooting
Archie Goodwin makes a few plays every night that make you slap your head or cover your eyes. Sometimes he just plays too fast for his own legs and develops tunnel vision when going into attack mode.
His jumper is being exposed, as he's shown inconsistent mechanics when rising and firing on the perimeter. He's only made one three-pointer the entire month of January.
Goodwin has a lot of raw talent, but is uncertain how to channel it. He's got the potential to slip, but also offers value as a pick outside the lottery because of his explosive athleticism and ability to finish above the rim.
16. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, SF, 6'6''
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Notable Stats: 12.1 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, 57.7% shooting, 38.9% 3-point shooting
Glenn Robinson III has been quiet, which is a result of the ball being in the hands of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. for the majority of Michigan's possessions.
Robinson's appeal as a prospect has been flashed on individual plays rather than stretches of the season. He's a dynamic athlete with fitting size for a wing, who can finish on the perimeter or above the rim. He's converting the limited scoring opportunities that come his way, which is all you can ask of a freshman playing amongst upperclassmen.
He should return to school, but I think he leaves for the NBA with his boys after the season.
15. James McAdoo, North Carolina, SF/PF, 6'9''
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Notable Stats: 14.7 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, 45.4% shooting
James McAdoo had his best game in a while in a win over Maryland, finishing shots on the way to the hoop instead of fading away from it.
He's tough to contain when he's effectively using his physical tools, which are elite for a player who can play facing the rim.
Think about the way Thaddeus Young impacts the Philadelphia 76ers offense, and that's the type of contribution you can expect from McAdoo at the next level.
14. Rudy Gobert, Cholet, PF/C, 7'2''
Rudy Gobert had one of his best games of the year statistically on Monday, finishing with 16 points and six boards (via RealGM). It's noteworthy because it's only the fifth time all year that he's scored in double figures.
Gobert is shaped in the form of JaVale McGee, with a long, lanky—yet athletically mobile—body. He's strictly an off-the-ball contributor who can make plays above the rim in the half-court or transition.
If there is a team out there who doesn't trust any American prospects, they might reach on Gobert anywhere outside the first five picks.
13. Isaiah Austin, Baylor, PF/C, 7'0''
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Notable Stats: 14.3 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game, 1.4 blocks per game, 50.3% shooting, 37.2% 3-point shooting
Isaiah Austin is rebounding the ball despite having the strength of a raw spaghetti stick. He grabbed 14 boards and blocked five shots in a good win over Oklahoma State. It's important for him to excel in these categories to ease the concern scouts might have over his ability to play inside.
He's become a deadly enough threat from behind the arc that defenses have to guard him on the perimeter, which stretches the floor and creates spacing for the offense.
I can't picture Austin leaving the mid-to-late lottery range with the upside and mismatch he offers offensively.
12. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, PG/SG, 6'4''
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Notable Stats: 13.2 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game, 4.5 assists per game, 2.7 steals per game, 40.6% shooting, 30.4% 3-point shooting
Marcus Smart is being asked to set the table, cook the meal and serve it, all while his teammates stand around and watch.
Smart is the type of guy who'd be at his best when surrounded by superior talent. As a traffic controller, he does a nice job of putting his teammates in position to make plays. The right teammates would have a field day with Smart orchestrating the offense, which is what gives him appeal as an NBA prospect.
He's got a mature, two-way game that's built for the next level. Scouts who have followed his career from high school will have already taken note of this before he ever played a game at Oklahoma State.
11. Mason Plumlee, Duke, C, 7'0''
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Notable Stats: 17.4 points per game, 11.5 rebounds per game, 59.1% shooting, 1.7 blocks per game
Mason Plumlee double-doubled in his only game of the week, an easy Blue Devils victory over Georgia Tech.
Plumlee presents teams with a reliable package, but his ceiling hasn't yet been determined. Questions remain whether he can be an offensive option in the post, or if he'll just be relegated to running the floor, finishing above the rim and protecting the basket on the defensive side of the ball.
Either way, he's still 7'0'' and can fly down the court or leap above traffic. Whether or not he develops offensively, he'll still possess the ability to impact the game off the ball.
10. C.J. McCollum, Lehigh, PG/SG, 6'3''
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Notable Stats: 23.9 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game, 2.9 assists per game, 49.5 percent shooting, 51.6 percent 3pt
C.J. McCollum remains sidelined after breaking his foot against VCU, but his stock's heart continues to beat.
He's arguably the most complete offensive threat in the entire draft pool. His upside will depend on whether he can be a full-time point guard, or a part-time scorer.
9. Trey Burke, Michigan, PG, 6'0''
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Notable Stats: 18.0 points per game, 7.2 assists per game, 50.8% shooting, 40.0% 3-point shooting, 1.9 turnovers per game
The Wolverines earned a strong win in Minnesota, which reflected brightly on point guard Trey Burke. He added another one-turnover gem to his resume, along with nine assists and 18 points.
Burke has so many likable qualities that it allows you to ignore the fact that he's only 6'0''. He's shooting the ball well, he keeps it secure and he leads with confidence and effort.
In a draft with so many question marks, all it takes is one team to fall in love and reach for a guy they're targeting.
8. Otto Porter, Georgetown, SF, 6'8''
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Notable Stats: 14.6 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game, 51.5% shooting, 45% 3-point shooting
Otto Porter has been the motor that's propelled Georgetown's offense for the last two weeks. He's averaging 19.7 points and 9.2 boards over the past four games, connecting from the perimeter and finishing at the rim.
Porter's presence is ubiquitous, as his impact is felt on every possession. His NBA frame, fluid mobility and feel for the game allow him to thrive in whatever role he's given on any particular night.
He's this draft class's ultimate glue-guy or utility man.
7. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, PG, 6'6''
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Notable Stats: 12.3 points per game, 9.2 assists per game, 37.6% shooting, 28.2% 3-point shooting
Michael Carter-Williams had a pretty wild week. He was a disaster in the first half against Louisville, turning the ball over and looking vulnerable to the pressure Louisville puts on opposing backcourts.
But he bounced back down the stretch, using his length to come up with a steal and athleticism to finish on a game-winning break.
Carter-Williams followed the Louisville game by taking control of his team's offense late in the second half against Cincinnati, nailing a few clutch three-pointers and allowing Syracuse to escape with a win.
His shaky ball-handling skills have been exposed, but his confidence seems immune to rattling. Just the overall intrigue he presents as a 6'6'' athletic point guard could be worth a look in the top ten.
6. Alex Len, Maryland, C, 7'1''
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Notable Stats: 13.5 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, 1.9 blocks per game, 54.4% shooting
Alex Len tipped in the game-winning bucket to beat NC State, putting that monstrous length and 7'1'' frame on full display for scouts to see.
Most schools just don't have anyone who can match up physically with what Len brings to the table, which is why it's so ludicrous that he's not getting routine touches.
Because of his size and the space he takes up, he's a threat to score anytime he gets the ball within 10 feet of the rim.
With nobody holding a firm grip on the top few spots, Len is a sleeper candidate to rise up and steal one. A bigger offensive role would improve those chances.
5. Anthony Bennett, UNLV, SF/PF, 6'7''
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Notable Stats: 18.5 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game, 56.2% shooting, 40% 3-point shooting
Teams have begun game-planning for Anthony Bennett, who's been held to just 18 total points on 15 combined shot-attempts over the past two games.
Opponents are going at him on defense, trying to foul him out of the game and keeping him away from the hoop, where he's physically overwhelming.
Weeks like these won't impact his stock too much, but they could turn some people off who were thinking about Bennett as a No. 1 overall option.
4. Cody Zeller, Indiana, C, 6'11''
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Notable Stats: 17.2 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, 1.3 blocks per game, 62.5% shooting
Cody Zeller played well in Indiana's only game of the week, having his way with Northwestern's uninspiring team defense.
Many have questioned Zeller as a top-five pick, and it's easy to see where they're coming from. He looks like the perfect candidate to excel in college and flop in the NBA.
But the only time elite talent doesn't transfer is when there are physical limitations with that particular player. At 6'11'' with excellent athleticism, Cody Zeller doesn't fall into that category.
He's not a franchise-changer, but he offers a rare source of post scoring that's tough to find around the league.
3. Ben McLemore, Kansas, SG, 6'5''
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Notable Stats: 16.1 points per game, 51.0% shooting, 44.6% 3-point shooting
Ben McLemore quieted down after his 33-point outburst against Iowa State, but it's not like he's cooling off.
Kansas' sharpshooter and most potent offensive weapon is five for his last nine three-point attempts, while shooting above 50 percent from floor in each of his last three games.
Without the freedom or concentrated skill set to create off the dribble, his scoring opportunities have been limited. But his abilities to complement ball-dominators and convert from every spot on the floor make him an attractive No. 2 or No. 3 scoring option at the next level.
2. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky, C, 6'11''
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Notable Stats: 10.7 points per game, 9.4 rebounds per game, 4.2 blocks per game, 57.8% shooting
It turns out that whole "shot-blocking" rumor out of high school wasn't such a myth after all.
Nerlens Noel is a machine out there, covering ground from the weak-side low block to the strong-side high post. Noel has at least six swats in each of his last four games, totaling 27 rejections over a 141-minute span (one block every 5.2 minutes).
His recovery speed is abnormal. He challenges one guy's shot at point A before blocking another one's at point B. Between his quickness, athleticism, length and timing, rarely do opponents get uncontested layups.
Offensively he's shown the ability to create separation in the post, he just doesn't get many opportunities or the space to do so.
Noel is adjusting, reacting and improving as a rim protector. He's moved up to No. 2 on our board because of his ability to shrink the size of the goal he's defending.
1. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, SG/SF, 6'6''
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Notable Stats: 17.9 points per game, 5.1 rebounds per game, 46.9% shooting, 45.8% 3-point shooting
Shabazz Muhammad remains No. 1 on our board despite his shakiest week yet at UCLA. Oregon laid the smackdown on Muhammad, completely taking him out of his comfort zone without ever letting him find it.
He still figures out a few ways to score each game that make you shake your head in amazement, with such an incredible blend of size and power to complement agility and finesse.
While there are a number of qualities about his game that you can criticize, you can't knock the hustle. Muhammad looks determined to score on every possession, running wild around the half-court to free himself up and get the ball from a teammate.
The ice beneath him is certainly getting thinner, but it doesn't change his overall potential.