March is finally here and the madness is just a few weeks away from beginning.
With the regular season winding down and the conference tournament seedings becoming finalized, this is a perfect time to evaluate the top NBA prospects.
Obviously, things are going to change a lot depending on who shines under the bright lights during college basketball’s most thrilling month, but it’s never too early to start getting a feel for who is likely to come off the board in June.
Let’s take a look at our latest Top 30 list and see how the prospects have shuffled since last week.
Last week’s big board can be found here. Please note this is not a mock draft, but an overall ranking based on grade.
No. 1: Ben McLemore, SF, Kansas (Remains No. 1)
McLemore may not be having the best string of games lately, but he’s still the top prospect on our big board.
Fortunately, the Jayhawks freshman has plenty of time left to get things together in time to make a good run in the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.
Should he excel there, McLemore will have fans, scouts and general managers instantly forgetting his mediocre end to the 2012-13 regular season.
No. 2: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State (Remains No. 2)
At 6’4”, 225 pounds, there is no doubting that Smart possesses the prototypical size teams are looking for in a elite point guard these days.
He’s certainly prone to off days, but that’s to be expected of a freshman PG trying to both facilitate and shoulder the scoring load.
If Smart develops properly for a squad that direly needs a player at his position, this kid could become an All-Star in the near future.
No. 3: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky (Remains No. 3)
Noel is likely a surefire top-five pick, even if he’s not going to be fully healthy for quite some time.
Before going down with a torn ACL, the Wildcats star displayed the motor required to become a successful big man in the NBA—even if his offense is still years away from being ready for the pros.
No. 4: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (Up from No. 6)
Porter has been steadily rising up our draft board after some awesome scoring performances in the clutch.
Couple that with his intense defense, above average rebounding, great work ethic and hustle, and you are looking at a top-notch prospect in the 2013 class.
The Hoyas star can do it all and has recently proved he is capable of coming up big in crunch time, making him a player to watch in the tournament and a potential candidate to sky even higher up in the draft.
No. 5: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana (Down from No. 4)
Oladipo is staying steady at the top and it’s unlikely he’s going to fall down anytime soon.
The Hoosiers guard is an all-around elite prospect and has the motor that teams covet when selecting early in the lottery.
Don’t sleep on this kid going earlier than expected in June.
No. 6: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV (Down from No. 5)
Bennett would probably be a consensus No. 1 pick if not for his 6’8” height, but undersized 4’s have been doing just fine in the modern NBA.
The UNLV star is able to score in the paint with pure strength, easily bang for boards, has range out to the three-point line and is a terrific defender.
No. 7: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA (Remains No. 7)
Muhammad has been slipping down the rankings since preseason, but it’s not for his lack of effort.
There are concerns about his 6’5” stature if he is going to play the 3, but he makes up for the inches he’s missing with scoring ability and motor. We believe the Bruins stud has a chance to become a 20 PPG guy at the next level.
No. 8: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State (Up from No. 16)
Harris is another 2 that is quickly working his way up to the top of the big board due to his all-around skills.
Coach Tom Izzo trusts this youngster to generate points, guard elite perimeter opponents and win games for the Spartans. If that translates to the Association, Harris will become a star.
No. 9: Alex Len, C, Maryland (Down from No. 8)
Len is struggling at times, but when he gets the rock consistently and in a position to score, he’s going to put up points in a hurry.
He has the most polished post game of any big man prospect in this class, and that array of moves isn’t going to disappear when he’s drafted.
No. 10: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana (Down from No. 9)
Zeller has steadily slid down the draft board, but shouldn’t wind up below this barring an awful March Madness performance.
He’s a solid player that can run the court, play decent defense and possesses a great 6’11” frame, but needs to bulk up and prove he’s going to be more than a bench guy at best in the NBA.
No. 11: Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse (Down from No. 10)
Carter-Williams needs to get back on track if he’s going to become a lottery pick in 2013.
The ‘Cuse guard has struggled to set up teammates lately—his best strength—and still has major issues with shooting and handling the rock.
No. 12: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke (Down from No. 11)
Plumlee may not be a dominant big at the next level, but he reminds us a bit of a Kris Humphries type that can grab boards, hustle every minute he’s on the floor and get easy buckets from working hard.
He’s likely never going to develop into a franchise player, but Plumlee could conceivably contribute on a nightly basis for a winning organization.
No. 13: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky (Down from No. 12)
Cauley-Stein is getting a serious chance to prove his worth to scouts now that he’s taken over Nerlens Noel’s minutes in Lexington.
He’s been up and down since the ACL tear heard ‘round the world, but is starting to round into form.
No. 14: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh (Up from No. 17)
McCollum hasn’t played due to a foot injury, but evaluating front offices can just roll the tape to see how skilled this electrifying guard really is.
His body of work is outstanding and it should help him become a lottery pick in 2013.
No. 15: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (Down from No. 13)
We know you guys hate to hear it, but Burke is a fringe lottery prospect because of his diminutive size and mediocre athleticism.
He’s one of the best players in college basketball right now, but his shot at continuing that successful run in the NBA is hamstringed by his 6’0”, 190-pound frame.
No. 16: Alex Poythress, SF, Kentucky (Down from No. 15)
Poythress’ problems are in the hustle department, as the Wildcats swingman clearly has the athleticism and size to contribute at the next level.
He’s prone to taking minutes off, checking out of games and lacking on defense, despite possessing the capability to dominate every second he’s on the hardwood.
No. 17: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia (Up from No. 21)
Saric is only 18 years old and isn’t exactly dominating in Europe, but he’s an immensely skilled passer with long arms and an intrinsic knowledge of the game.
Don’t sleep on Saric coming off the board early to a deep team that can afford the luxury of developing this raw prospect.
No. 18: Rudy Gobert, PF, France (Down from No. 19)
Speaking of long arms, Gobert and his 7’9” wingspan are making ripples across the pond, as the Frenchman is on the radar of many NBA teams for his massive potential.
He may be a few years off from contributing in the Association, but the deeper teams will give this guy a serious look.
No. 19: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State (Down from No. 18)
Until Franklin is consistently knocking down outside shots, he’s an intriguing but troubling prospect.
He clearly has the athleticism to excel (9.1 rebounds per game despite his 6’5” size shows that), but may not be able to do much outside the paint aside from defend.
No. 20: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga (Up from No. 24)
Olynyk is extremely skilled offensively and he isn’t afraid to post up anyone in order to get easy buckets.
Whether that translates to the NBA or not remains to be seen, but we’re betting this seven-footer out of Gonzaga will be able to carve out a nice career for himself as an offensive-minded center.
No. 21: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky (Down from No. 20)
Goodwin is arguably the top athlete in the class, but he’s quite a raw basketball prospect.
He’s not a great shooter, he’s prone to putting his head down when handling the rock and relies too much on his leaping ability to do anything.
Once he begins to see the game and slows down at the right times, Goodwin has a chance to become special.
No. 22: Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor (Down from No. 14)
Austin is a decent prospect, but his unwillingness to accept the fact that he should be playing down low due to his seven-foot size is maddening.
The Bears star simply doesn’t have the talent or speed to play the 3 at the NBA level and would be absolutely decimated out there, meaning he has to severely bulk up and accept that he could become a top-flight stretch 4.
No. 23: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan (Down from No. 22)
Robinson’s NBA pedigree and knack for scoring make him an interesting pick late in the first round, but he hasn’t shown enough against quality defenders.
The freshman has to become more consistent to warrant an earlier draft selection.
No. 24: James Michael McAdoo, PF, UNC (Up from No. 25)
It’ll be interesting to see if McAdoo comes out after absolutely falling apart in his sophomore season.
He was considered a lottery pick at the outset of the 2013 season, but has proven he’s not worth more than a late first-round flier at this point, and could benefit from returning to Chapel Hill for a junior campaign.
No. 25: Patric Young, C, Florida (Up from No. 26)
Young is an athletic player who has been lighting it up for the Gators, but we’re still not sold on his NBA potential.
The guy will certainly find a home on a roster, but it’s unlikely he ever becomes more than a backup.
No. 26: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Up from No. 27)
Withey’s seven-foot size, shot-blocking skills and defensive intensity make him an intriguing prospect for a team like the Miami Heat.
He’s probably not going to ever turn into a scoring threat, but a franchise that doesn’t need him to generate buckets may be surprised at Withey’s contributions in other areas.
No. 27: BJ Young, PG, Arkansas (Up from No. 28)
Young grades out as a backup guard that can bring energy off the bench, as he’s too selfish to play the 1 and too small to play the 2.
As long as he’s putting the ball through the hoop, an organization will find room for his abilities on its roster.
No. 28: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA (Up from No. 29).
“Slow-Mo” is a strange prospect because of his great height, awesome passing ability and unique, deliberate approach to the game.
There really aren’t any players in the modern NBA to compare this kid to, meaning he could wind up anywhere from superstar to bust.
No. 29: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas (Down from No. 23)
Mitchell is falling apart, which is ridiculous considering the level of competition his Mean Green faces on a regular basis.
Unless he finishes strong and puts together a dominant game or two, we suspect this 6’8” swingman will return to school for another year.
No. 30: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh (Remains No. 30)
Adams is a cut-and-dry big that can defend and not much more right now.
If his raw skills ever develop, he may be a steal in the late first-round.
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