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Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 20 NBA Prospects

Jonathan WassermanFeatured Columnist IVAugust 28, 2016

Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 20 NBA Prospects

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    Nerlens Noel's injury sent a jolt toward the top of the 2013 NBA draft board.

    With his stock taking a hit, and a small hit at that, others inevitably must rise. While it's harsh to say that others might benefit from Noel's setback, someone has to.

    Though Noel will only be four months removed from the ACL tear come draft time, chances are he won't slip too far down the board. There just aren't many other attractive options at the top of the class.

    Victor Oladipo continues his surge up the board, while Michigan's Glenn Robinson III has fallen off it.

20. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia, 6'6'', SG

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    Stock Report:

    I've had my eye on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for almost two years now and have been waiting for him to justify a top-20 position. The day has come.

    He's scored at least 19 points in six of his last eight games, converting from long-range and attacking the rim in line drives.

    A 6'6'' off-guard with long arms and fluid athleticism, Caldwell-Pope's ability to shoot, defend and slash are all NBA-worthy.

    Remaining consistent will be his challenge moving forward.

19. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky, 6'5'', SG

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    Stock Report:

    Archie Goodwin is stuck in a gear that doesn't allow him to change directions, and it's limiting his scoring opportunities. He's got a tendency to go into full-speed-ahead mode and recklessly drive into traffic.

    He's scored in single digits in three of his last four games, and still has only made one three-pointer since Dec. 29.

    Goodwin is far from NBA-ready, and with a number of 2-guards in the 2013 draft class, Goodwin's stock appears to be on the decline.

18. Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, 6'5'', SF

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    Stock Report:

    Jamaal Franklin hasn't been shooting the ball that well, but his responsibilities at the NBA level project completely differently from what they are now.

    As a 6'5'' wing, Franklin is second in the Mountain West in rebounding at 9.3 per game, using his springs and athleticism to consistently make plays above the rim.

    He's only shooting 26.2 percent from behind the arc, but he shot over 32 percent in both of his previous seasons, so we know a jumper is in there somewhere.

    An NBA coach who calls on Franklin will ask him to make plays off the ball, as opposed to creating offense on it. He's one of the top athletes in the draft class and can contribute without possessing a refined skill set.

17. Trey Burke, Michigan, 6'0'', PG

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    Stock Report:

    Michigan has now lost three of its last four, but don't blame Trey Burke. He's protecting the ball and scoring it consistently, averaging 21 points per game in Michigan's three losses.

    He's now scored at least 15 points in 13 consecutive games. He's got that turn-the-corner speed to blow by defenders, and now that his pull-up jumper is falling, he's a constant threat with the ball in his hands.

    His stock is likely to remain steady until tournament time, when the microscope magnifies.


16. Rudy Gobert, France, 7'2'', PF

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    Stock Report: ↑

    The attached video is a highlight reel from one of Rudy Gobert's games last month. And what's pretty clear is that his length disrupts everything.

    A 7'2'' body and a 7'9'' wingspan mean he's four inches longer and four inches taller than Anthony Davis, yet possesses similar face-up mobility.

    He's obviously not nearly as skilled as someone like Davis, but anyone who can get up and down the floor with these types of measurements can be an asset in the NBA game.

    As some of America's prospects have begun to dig themselves a hole, Gobert's stock might rise due to process of elimination.

15. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0'', C

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    Stock Report:

    Willie Cauley-Stein will certainly get his opportunity now that Nerlens Noel is on the shelf for the rest of the year.

    He's now converted five field goals in three consecutive games. Just by standing there, he's a threat to grab a rebound, tip in a dunk or finish easily above the rim.

    Whether he's fundamentally sound is irrelevant at this point in his career. Cauley-Stein is able to contribute without being developed because of his elite physical tools for an NBA big man.

    He'll be tough to stop on the interior once he develops some go-to moves.

14. James McAdoo, North Carolina, 6'9'', SF/PF

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    Stock Report:

    James McAdoo has been struggling to finish in traffic, and he's starting to hear whispers that he's not NBA-ready.

    Athletically, he is. Even today, you won't find many natural power forwards who can defend McAdoo in a face-up situation on the perimeter. But it's when McAdoo takes it to the rack and has a seven-footer blocking the goal that he needs to embrace contact and finish strong. 

    McAdoo finished with nine points against Duke and six points against Miami, two teams with strong front lines.

    This was a week to forget for James McAdoo.

13. Isaiah Austin, Baylor, 7'1'', C

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    Stock Report:

    Isaiah Austin was a non-factor in Baylor's win over West Virginia, finishing with five points and one board after getting into foul trouble.

    It's the third time in his last four games he's come away scoring single digits. Prior to the West Virginia game, he had been rebounding at a high rate, so that's always a good sign from a kid who must prove he's capable of playing inside.

    He's still a work in progress as a half-court scorer and must find ways to get into scoring position other than spotting up on the perimeter.

    At 7'1'' with the skill set of a wing, his potential should land him a spot somewhere in the late lottery.

12. C.J. McCollum, Lehigh, 6'3'', PG/SG

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    Stock Report:

    It turns out C.J. McCollum's injury might be a blessing in disguise. While he sits out and lets his broken foot heal, others are being exposed and sliding down the board.

    McCollum offers a sense of reliability that younger, rawer prospects don't. Though he doesn't project as the 23.9-point-per-game scorer he is in college, McCollum is still the most polished combo guard in the class in terms of putting up points and managing a game.

11. Victor Oladipo, Indiana, 6'5'', SG

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Just when you thought Victor Oladipo couldn't go any crazier, he decided to go bananas on Ohio State. He finished with a career high of 26 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor.

    Oladipo has improved his ability to change directions at full speed and maintain the balance to get off a good look. It's helped him on the perimeter and finishing at the rim.

    He's now one of the more complete prospects in all of college basketball, and should generate attention at the back end of the lottery.

10. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, 6'6", PG

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    Stock Report:

    In what was a bad loss at Connecticut, Michael Carter-Williams finished with four turnovers and one assist. Not a good look.

    He did score 15 points, and overall has been doing a much better job of finishing plays.

    It's also difficult to ignore how effective his wingspan is defensively. He's picked up 10 steals over the past two games, and leads the Big East in that department.

    Carter-Williams' goal should be to balance scoring with distributing, like he did against St. John's when he went for 17 points and eight assists.

    There are still concerns over his ball-handling, but Carter-Williams is a unique point guard with big-time potential.

9. Alex Len, Maryland, 7'1'', C

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    Stock Report:

    Alex Len has now gone five straight games without taking more than seven shots. Yes, a lot of it has to do with the system that he's in, but Len struggles to put himself in scoring position.

    The only time Len looks to attack is when he's isolated with his back to the basket in the post. He needs to expand his game and get comfortable facing the rim and attacking head-on.

    Len is great when he's got space to operate down low, but that opportunity just rarely presents itself.

    He finished with nine points in Maryland's loss to Virginia, his third time in five games scoring in single digits.

8. Mason Plumlee, Duke, 7'0'', PF/C

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    Stock Report:

    If you watched the second half of the Duke-North Carolina game, you saw Mason Plumlee succeed with the jump hook twice as a featured scorer in the post.

    It's a move he's been working on for the past year, and one that shows scouts he's more than just an off-ball finisher.

    He's averaging 22.3 points and 10 rebounds over his last three games, and that's not including the 32 he dropped on Wake Forest two weeks back.

    Teams looking for an athletic center who can contribute right away will look no further than Plumlee after the top five are gone.

7. Otto Porter, Georgetown, 6'8'', SF

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Otto Porter is scoring at a high rate for someone who doesn't project as a scorer at the next level.

    He's now scored at least 17 points in eight of Georgetown's last nine games. Porter finishes plays with regularity and is becoming lethal as a spot-up threat on the perimeter. He's knocking down 44.3 percent of his attempts from downtown, up dramatically from the 22.6 percent he shot last year.

    There really aren't many question marks surrounding Porter's transition. He's got an NBA frame and motor with tremendous length and basketball instincts. Porter is likely to play a long time in the pros as a valued reserve, and that could go a long way in a draft like this one.

6. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6'4'', PG/SG

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Marcus Smart doesn't get enough credit for just how good he is defensively. Smart currently leads the Big 12 in steals per game, playing passing lanes and disrupting ball-handlers' comfort zones.

    He's bullying defenders on offense, and has now scored at least 21 points in three of his last five games.

    Smart is one of the most intelligent playmakers of any prospect in the class and has the ability to contribute as both a scorer and an orchestrator.

    He's one of the few pass-first combo guards in the game.

5. Anthony Bennett, UNLV, 6'7'', SF/PF

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    Stock Report:

    Anthony Bennett got stuck in foul trouble against Air Force and finished with a season low of eight points in a humiliating loss to an inferior team.

    It won't affect his stock, as he averaged 19 points over his previous three games.

    Bennett remains one of few prospects who packs high reward if his potential is ever reached. He should remain a top-10 prospect for the remainder of the year.

4. Cody Zeller, Indiana, 6'11'', PF/C

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    Stock Report:

    It's getting harder and harder to knock Cody Zeller, as he's improving in all the areas where he struggled as a freshman.

    Zeller has gotten to the line 22 times over the past two games, and though his rebounding numbers tend to fluctuate, he's raised his average from 6.6 to 8.2 per game.

    He was fairly dominant in Indiana's beatdown of Ohio State, finishing with 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

    A team drafting at the top in need of a true post scorer will likely have had its eyes on Zeller since November. He's easily the most polished offensive big man in the 2013 NBA draft class.

3. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky, 7'0'', C

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    Stock Report: ↓

    Sometimes, life is just unfair. Nerlens Noel's stock takes a hit by default after tearing his ACL. He will likely miss the majority of his rookie year, assuming it takes place in 2013.

    Because he's only 18 years old, and others like Al Jefferson, David West, Kyle Lowry and Jamal Crawford have come back and thrived after suffering the same injury, a torn ACL shouldn't cause Noel to slip too far down the board.

    Unless the right team lands the top overall pick, chances are Noel slips a spot or two in the draft.

    After picks No. 1 and No. 2, he becomes a value selection for a team who has the patience to let him recover.

2. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, 6'6'', SG/SF

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    Stock Report: 

    Shabazz Muhammad's stock remains steady after another week of consistent scoring. Prior to scoring just 13 against California on Thursday, he scored in the 17-to-23-point range in five straight games.

    Think about this: Since Dec. 15, Muhammad has only scored below 15 points in four games. He just has a knack for getting points and knows where to find them.

    A team looking for a consistent scoring presence it can rely on for routine points should be considering Muhammad somewhere at the top of the draft.

    The eventual lottery will decide whether he's a better draft-day option than an injured Nerlens Noel.

1. Ben McLemore, Kansas, 6'5'', SG

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Though Ben McLemore automatically benefits from Nerlens Noel's setback, he did help himself by dropping 30 on Kansas State.

    It was the second time this year he's scored at least 30 points, and he did it in Ben McLemore signature fashion. He finished with six threes, three twos and a perfect 6-of-6 from the stripe.

    The best thing going for McLemore is that he's a surefire NBA contributor. Even if he doesn't reach his ceiling, his three-point stroke, athleticism and ability to finish with consistency can all be used in an NBA rotation.

    A little certainty might be all a team needs to take McLemore No. 1 in this year's weak field of draft prospects.

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