2013 NBA Draft Big Board: Pre-March Madness Edition

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterMarch 17, 2013

2013 NBA Draft Big Board: Pre-March Madness Edition

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    With March Madness upon us, it's time to unleash our updated 2013 NBA draft big board.

    The big board is our ranking of the top prospects in America, and not necessarily a reflection of where they'll end up in the draft (the lottery might have something to say about that).

    We've set this big board up to highlight the top-10 players on the board, followed by different tiers representing each caliber of player.

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

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    What a year it's been for Kansas freshman Ben McLemore, who has emerged from the pack as the top prospect in the country.

    Averaging 16.4 points on 43.7 percent shooting from downtown, McLemore has flashed an elite complementary skill set with the ability to light it up from behind the arc and put points on the board without over-using his dribble.

    You won't find a more potent combination of athleticism and shooting accuracy, typically two strengths that don't go hand-in-hand.

    Over the course of the season, he's shown promise creating offense in the half court, which is an area that could propel him to star status once he reaches the next level.

    Either way, McLemore's shooting touch, explosiveness in the open floor and ability to play above the rim will present teams at the top of the lottery with an enticing two-way skill set they could add to their rotation.

2. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky, 6'11'', C

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    Even though Nerlens Noel tore his ACL, it shouldn't reflect on his future outlook as an NBA prospect.

    Before going down, Noel was leading the country in shot-blocking, living up to the hype as a dominant rim protector.

    And since he's 6'11'' with a massive 7'4'' wingspan, a strong upper body and unique athleticism for a center, there's no reason why his defensive skill set won't translate.

    Though raw offensively, he's shown the ability to create his own shot, but he still needs to improve the fluidity of his delivery in order to get cleaner looks in the post. Until then, he's an easy target to hit in the pick-and-roll game above the rim, while having the length and motor required for tip-ins on misses.

    Because of his potential defensive impact, he's likely the only one in the field capable of changing the culture of an organization. Some teams might hesitate to take an injured player with such a high draft pick, which only means someone could end up with a value selection outside the top three.

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

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    Otto Porter put himself on NBA radars after a stellar freshman year at Georgetown and then decided to turn up the volume. He improved in every facet of the game as an on-ball scorer, off-ball shooter, playmaker and defender.

    Porter raised his scoring average from 9.7 points to 16.3 and his three-point percentage from 22.6 percent to 42.7 percent.

    He's in scoring position whenever he's got the ball because of his versatility as a shot-creator and shot-maker. Whether it's attacking the rim, spotting up or fading away in the mid-range, Porter is capable of finishing offense whenever his look is clean.

    Though he may not project as a go-to option for points, Porter's mature two-way game makes him one of the better bets in the class as a surefire contributor at the next level.

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

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    Though Marcus Smart's 15.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 rebounds per game are impressive, no team is going to judge him based on his statistics at Oklahoma State.

    Smart is a floor general whose strengths can't be quantified. As a freshman, he's quarterbacked the Cowboys to a top-15 national ranking, acting as a scorer or facilitator based on whatever the situation calls for.

    He's a natural playmaker with an incredibly high basketball IQ, strong instincts and a motor that translates on both sides of the ball.

    Smart was built for the NBA, and teams targeting his services will know exactly what they're going to get if they select him.

    Anyone searching for a new lead guard should look no further than Marcus Smart, even if it means using a top-three pick.

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

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    Anthony Bennett was a highly-touted recruit, but nobody expected this type of impact at UNLV.

    Most draft boards didn't even have a mention of Bennett before the season without knowing his natural position or how his game would translate.

    We know now.

    He averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds on 53.8 percent shooting and 37.9 percent from downtown, posing as a lethal inside-outside offensive weapon.

    Though undersized for your prototypical power forward, he makes up for a few inches with brute strength and power. And with quick foot speed and agility, he's able to play on the wing as a face-up mismatch.

    Bennett's offensive versatility and exceptional athletic abilities give him star power in a draft that lacks just that. He's one of those guys whose measurements should be ignored and strengths should be highlighted.

    Teams looking for some life up front could target Bennett's services anywhere from No. 2 on down.

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

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    UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad no longer projects as the top prospect in the class, but his offensive game should still be attractive to teams in need of shot-making.

    Though not necessarily a go-to option for points, Muhammad does most of his damage as a complementary scorer, actively moving without the ball to put himself in position for a catch and open look.

    He averaged 17.8 points on 40 percent from downtown, demonstrating a soft feel for the rim inside the arc and an accurate touch behind it.

    Creating his own offense off the dribble will be the next step in his development, but his shooting touch on the perimeter and strength as an attacker should allow him to convert half-court scoring opportunities even without a refined skill set.

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

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    Still the most polished offensive big man in the country, Cody Zeller had another strong year at Indiana, yet he hasn't shown he's added to his offensive arsenal.

    Zeller averaged 16.9 points and 8.2 rebounds on 57.3 percent shooting, converting post offense at an excellent rate using an array of go-to and counter moves to get himself half-court buckets.

    He's also shown he's capable of playing facing the basket, with a soft touch on his mid-range jumper that he just didn't use enough. Zeller will need to develop this outside stroke, as his lack of strength could be a problem for him going up against more physical defenders inside at the next level.

    But at 6'11'' with an advanced offensive repertoire in the post, Zeller can offer teams a skill set that has become harder and harder to find.

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

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    Victor Oladipo's jump up the board is a reflection of his offensive improvement and expanded scoring repertoire.

    He raised his field-goal percentage 47.1 percent to 59.9 percent and his three-point percentage from 20.8 percent to 44.3 percent.

    Oladipo has maintained his active motor, which gets him a few easy baskets every game. But now with a more advanced handle and the ability to create, Oladipo has begun generating his own offense in the half court without having to be set up.

    Oladipo's lock-down defensive tools and efficiency as a finisher should give him added appeal as a complementary playmaker.

    There's just no risk here. Worse comes to worst, a team finds an elite perimeter defender and slasher off the ball. If he never leaves the basement floor, expect a player in the form of Tony Allen.

9. Alex Len, Maryland, 7'0'', C

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    Most of Alex Len's upside has been flashed in small doses and isolated situations.

    His numbers aren't overwhelming at 12 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, but he's shown the ability to create his own shot in the post when the limited opportunities present themselves.

    He's 7'1" with fluid athleticism and mobility, so you won't find many centers who are capable of contesting his shot when he turns over the shoulder. He's also demonstrated a soft touch on his mid-range jumper and the foot speed to attack his defender off the dribble.

    However, Len only attempted 8.6 shot attempts per game, which is a reflection on his lack of drive and Maryland's poor offensive execution in the half court.

    It could be a few years before he's NBA-ready, both physically and fundamentally, but this type of size, athleticism and talent doesn't just grow on trees.

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

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    Trey Burke returned as a sophomore to improve his NBA draft stock. And in the wise words of Borat, the result has been a great success.

    Burke averaged 19.2 points and 6.7 assists per game while leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.

    His dribble creativity is the driving force behind his offense. Burke has been deadly off ball screens thanks to a reliable pull-up jump shot and a hesitation dribble that causes motion sickness.

    Burke's weaknesses are mostly associated with his size, which, at only 6'0'' with an average wingspan, makes it difficult to finish in traffic at the rim.

    But between his leadership qualities at the position, improved perimeter game, lighting quickness and top-notch ball security, Burke isn't a kid I'd be willing to bet against.

Potential Lottery Picks

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    Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, PG

    Carter Williams' appeal as a prospect stems from his unique physical tools for the position, standing 6'6'' with long arms and fluid athleticism. He's a natural point guard who can set the table for teammates but needs work on his jumper and decision-making as a ball-dominator. The reward here is high if he hits his ceiling.

     

    Mason Plumlee, Duke, C

    Mason Plumlee improved his post game over last summer, and it's made him more of a threat with the ball in his hands. At 7'0'' with elite athleticism, he was already a prospect to watch based on his physical attributes. But now teams can target him expecting to get more than just catching and finishing or buckets in transition.

     

    Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, C

    Kelly Olynyk tore up the West Coast like he was bored with it. After redshirting last season, he came back to Gonzaga with an advanced offensive skill set and one that couldn't be contained by opposing front lines. His offensive talent, seven-foot size and deceptive mobility make up for his athletic limitations.

     

    Isaiah Austin, Baylor, PF

    You won't find too many 7'1'' athletes who can play on the perimeter, which is what makes Isaiah Austin such an appealing NBA prospect. He's got a smooth post game and a reliable three-ball, yet he must prove he's capable of playing on the interior with stronger big men at the next level.

     

    C.J. McCollum, Lehigh, PG/SG

    C.J. McCollum broke his foot in January but was second in the country in scoring before going down. He's a dazzling ball-handler and is lights out on the perimeter but needs to prove to scouts he's capable of running an NBA offense. Otherwise, he's more likely to fill a role as a scorer off the bench.

     

    Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, C

    Willie Cauley-Stein is a long-term project, though he has flashed monstrous upside in a limited role at Kentucky. That role expanded when Nerlens Noel went down, which allowed him to show his physical dominance as a finisher, rebounder and rim protector. Cauley-Stein's selling point at the draft will be his huge potential down the road.

First Rounders

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    James Michael McAdoo, UNC, SF/PF

    Many have fallen off the McAdoo bangwagon, which is silly considering his age and long-term promise. He's incredibly versatile yet still raw offensively. He's shown the ability to create half-court offense but must do a better job at converting it efficiently, as well as improving his decision-making with the ball in his hands. He could be a steal if he slips too far.

     

    Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6'6''

    Robinson III has flashed his upside in isolated situations given his limited role in Michigan's offense. He's a superb athlete for the wing position and projects as a two-way small forward who can score off the ball as a finisher at the rim, spot-up threat on the perimeter and mid-range assassin once his accuracy improves.

     

    Rudy Gobert, France, PF

    At 7'2'' with a 7'9'' wingspan, his measurements, along with his mobility and athleticism, paint a picture of a prospect that we haven't seen before. Though awfully skinny without a refined offensive game, the only question is how his game will translate. The intrigue alone could justify a mid-first round pick.

     

    Alex Poythress, Kentucky, SF

    Poythress won't generate first-round attention based on the year he had at Kentucky. Interested teams will take into account his ceiling if he reaches it, which is rather high thanks to his top-shelf athleticism and frontcourt versatility. He's got plenty of work to do as a shot-creator, which would give him more purpose out on the floor.

     

    Archie Goodwin, Kentucky, SG

    Though Archie Goodwin put points on the board, he didn't do so very efficiently as a freshman. He's an explosive athlete and an aggressive attacker, but he's still a raw product who needs to expand his offensive game. There's long-term potential based on his physical tools, which is the only reason a team would consider using a mid-first rounder on him.

     

    Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, SF

    Franklin's athletic abilities contribute to the second-highest rebounding averaging in the Mountain West despite his 6'5'' size. He's an off-ball playmaker with an improving on-ball scoring repertoire. Franklin could end up being big-time if his three-ball becomes a reliable offensive weapon.

Back-End First Rounders

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    Doug McDermott, Creighton, SF

    One of the nation's most lethal scorers, Doug McDermott's appeal as an NBA prospect stems from his ridiculously accurate 49.7 percent three-point stroke. He lacks the athleticism most volume scorers need for their production to translate, but McDermott's ability to splash the nets from all over the court makes him a strong candidate to fill a specialist's role.

     

    Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan, SG

    Considering Tim Hardaway Jr.'s game is predicated on perimeter offense, it's a good thing he improved his three-point clip by approximately nine percentage points as a junior. He's got NBA-caliber athleticism, which helps him finish above the rim, but the fact that's he's now a reliable shot-maker from outside should allow teams to feel comfortable targeting him in the mid-to-late first round.

     

    Isaiah Canaan, Murray State, PG

    Canaan is your consummate floor general who's always at his best when the pressure is highest. Though he lacks upward explosiveness as a finisher at the rim, he's shot over 40 percent from downtown in three of his four years in college. Teams looking for a gritty point guard who can shoot with range and break down the defense should give Canaan looks at the end of Round 1.

     

    Tony Mitchell, North Texas, SF/PF

    Tony Mitchell has had an incredibly underwhelming sophomore season, which is strange considering how good he was a freshman. Teams might be worried that he's a little big of a tweener, but Mitchell's elite athleticism and offensive versatility could be too appetizing to pass on if he slips this far down the board.

     

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia, SG

    The 6'6'' Caldwell-Pope was recently named the SEC Player of the Year, after single-handedly torching opposing defenses with the long-ball and attack game. He's got ideal size for the position at the next level, and with deep NBA range, he should offer teams a two-way package of perimeter defense and accurate shot-making.

Potential Second-Round Steals

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    Lorenzo Brown, NC State, PG

    With plenty of point guards projected to declare and not enough job openings at the next level, one of them is bound to slip. Lorenzo Brown led the ACC in assists and is one of the few pure, pass-first facilitators in the field. With 6'5'' size and NBA athleticism, he could end up being a steal if he improves his jumper and decision-making.

     

    Brandon Paul, Illinois, SG

    Paul is an explosive athlete with a go-to scoring repertoire yet is slightly undersized for the natural off-guard position. There's no doubting he can put the ball in the hole. The only question is whether or not he can play off the ball at the next level, which is what he'll have to do to earn a spot in an NBA rotation.

     

    Myck Kabongo, Texas, PG

    Myck Kabongo missed the majority of the year after being suspended by the NCAA, so it was tough for him to show scouts that he's improved from one year to the next.  there's upside with Kabongo, who was originally a highly-touted recruit, because of his ball-on-a-string handle and break-down abilities. He should return to school to improve his stock, but if he declares, someone might end up with a future starter at the cost of a second-round pick.

     

    Nate Wolters, South Dakota State, PG

    NBA radars picked up Wolters last year, and his 22.7-point per game average has kept him relevant as a senior. Wolters' ability to make shots off the dribble and create scoring opportunities for teammates is what gives him appeal as a backup NBA point guard. Though not the most athletic prospect, his 6'4'' size helps make up for his other physical limitations.

     

    Mike Muscala, Bucknell, PF/C

    Mike Muscala's dominance at the mid-major level has been too impressive to ignore. At 19 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, he's shown an NBA-ready skill set and a desire to hit the glass. He's 6'11'' with an advanced offensive repertoire, so there's no reason it shouldn't translate. It wouldn't be too surprising if he hears his name called earlier.

     

    Erick Green, Virgina Tech, SG

    Green led the country in scoring at 25 points per game, doing so with efficiency and consistency throughout his senior year. At 6'4'', he's got adequate size, though he could struggle finishing at the rim without much muscle to his frame. Still, Green's incredible shot-making ability in both the mid- and long-range could be a valuable asset to bring off an NBA bench. Improving as a facilitator would maximize his value as a prospect.

     

    Allen Crabbe, California, SG

    Allen Crabbe knows how to generate his own offense in the half court, averaging over 18 points a game for California as a junior. At 6'6'', he's got excellent size for a scoring wing and a shooting touch that's lethal on the perimeter. He provides solid value in the second round as a polished scorer with NBA-caliber physical tools.

Safe Second-Round Bets

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    Ryan Kelly, Duke, PF

    You know what you're going to get with Ryan Kelly. Though not much of an athlete, he's got 6'11'' size and a deadly three-point stroke. Teams looking for reliability and a stretch-4 up front could target Kelly anywhere in the second round knowing just what he'll bring to the table.

     

    Pierre Jackson, Baylor, PG

    Jackson won't be the scorer he is in college, nor will he have a chance to be a starting NBA point guard. But his off-the-charts speed, quickness and break-down abilities should be coveted by a team in need of life and tempo in the backcourt. If Nate Robinson can find a job year after year, Pierre Jackson should be a safe bet to land somewhere in a limited role as well.

     

    Jeff Withey, Kansas, C

    Jeff Withey isn't going to take over offensively, but his ability to protect the rim makes him a safe backup option. Given that he's 7'0'' with long arms, quick feet and elite shot-blocking instincts, there's no reason why his defensive impact shouldn't translate from one level to the next.

     

    Patric Young, Florida, PF/C

    When Young gets drafted, teams will give him one responsibility at the next level: provide a physical presence. Young doesn't have to create offense or score in the post. He'll be asked to finish at the rim, pick up a few fouls, protect the paint and rebound the ball. He's as a strong and built as anyone in the field, and despite lacking a refined offensive game, his physical tools should translate on the interior.

     

    Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State, SF

    As long as teams don't give him too much responsibility, Deshaun Thomas is a safe bet as a perimeter-oriented specialist. He's a defensive liability at the 3, but if a team is looking for someone can consistently knock down shots, Thomas' services can be targeted to fill a limited role as a shooter.

     

    Reggie Bullock, UNC, SF

    Reggie Bullock has the ideal build and size for an NBA small forward and the perimeter game to go with it. Worst comes worst, a team lands a three-point specialist who can defend the perimeter and slash towards the bucket.

Back-End Secound Rounds, Undrafted Free Agents

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    Robert Covington, Tennessee State, SF

    At 6'9'', Covington's appeal as a prospect is related to his three-point stroke and size as a stretch-forward. He's regressed somewhat as a senior, seeing his percentages dip across the board, which is what could make him a value pick at the end of the second round in a buy-low opportunity. He's averaged at least 17 points per game in back-to-back years.

     

    Ray McCallum, Detroit, PG

    McCallum has been on NBA radars since high school and is finally experiencing that breakout year that everybody was waiting for. McCallum is solid in every department without being great in any one. He passes the eye test, but only time will tell if he passes the play test at the next level.

     

    James Southerland, Syracuse, SF

    James Southerland announced himself as a legitimate NBA prospect after a Big East tournament in which he nailed 19 threes in a four-game stretch. There aren't any questions about his role at the next level—he'll be considered a specialist. The only question is whether or not a team will feel inclined to use a draft pick on one.

     

    Richard Howell, NC State, PF

    Howell is a double-double machine with the body and physical nature of an NBA power forward. He's a strong rebounder with the ability to finish at the rim and has flashed potential in the mid-range as a pick-and-pop threat. The only thing holding him back is his athleticism, as he's strictly an under-the-rim forward lacking upward explosiveness.

     

    Erik Murphy, Florida, PF

    Murphy has been huge for Florida and now presents NBA teams with a potential stretch-4 package for the next level. At 6'10'', his ability to spot up from three takes an opposing frontcourt defender away from the rim, which improves the offensive spacing. If Murphy doesn't get drafted, he'll surely get camp invites from multiple teams.