The 2013 NCAA tournament field is set and the games are about to begin, making this the perfect time to take a look at the latest NBA draft big board.
Over the next few weeks, stocks are going to dramatically rise and fall based on March Madness performances. This list will serve as reference point to see how each prospect graded out prior to the Big Dance and how much their play during the tourney impacted where they could fall in June’s draft.
Let’s take a look at the latest Top-30 big board and see where the best players are standing as of March 19.
Last week’s big board can be found here. Please note this is not a mock draft, but an overall ranking based on grade. Grade for each prospect is based on athletic ability, production in college (or overseas), measurements and NBA projections.
No. 1: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas (Remains No. 1)
McLemore projects to be best scorer in this draft and may wind up becoming a 20-plus PPG contributor in the NBA.
While shooting guards hardly come off the board first (the last time was back in 1971 when Austin Carr was selected), this Jayhawks stud looks to be the franchise player that many teams at the top of the lottery need.
No. 2 Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State (Remains No. 2)
Smart is the top point guard in this class due to his combination of size (6’4”), athleticism and skills.
The Pokes star can carry the scoring load for stretches, facilitate like a pure PG, rebound well for his position and isn’t afraid to accept a leadership role despite his young age.
No. 3: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (Remains No. 3)
Porter has risen up the big board steadily and has solidified his status as the best small forward available in 2013.
The Hoyas swingman is an efficient scorer that plays intense defense and has a nice all-around game. He does all the little things out on the court and should immediately contribute to the organization that drafts him.
No. 4: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky (Remains No. 4)
Noel suffered a season-ending injury in the middle of his freshman season with the Wildcats, but it should have little impact on where he winds up being drafted in June
The big man is perhaps the best defender in the class due to his athleticism and shot-blocking capabilities, plus he possesses a great motor—a trait hardly found in NBA big men that is certainly worth a Top-Five pick.
As long as his recovery from the torn ACL goes as planned, there’s no holding this flat-topped star back.
No. 5: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV (Up from No. 7)
Bennett is a bit undersized to man the 4 in the NBA, but makes up for that by being one of the strongest players in the nation. Couple that with his improving finesse moves around the hoop and a shooting range that extends to the three-point line and you are looking at an elite “tweener” prospect.
Whether the UNLV product winds up at SF or PF in the NBA will depend on which team takes him, but we’d bet he finds success no matter where he is slotted in the lineup.
No. 6: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA (Remains No. 6)
Don’t sleep on Muhammad putting together an epic NCAA tournament run and boosting his stock through the roof.
This elite scorer may not have the prototypical height of a modern small forward, but he’s always hustling and has the frame to take a beating on his way to the cup. If he can get hot for a stretch and lead the Bruins on a deep run, Muhammad is a lock for the Top Five.
No. 7: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana (Down from No. 5)
There are certainly issues with Oladipo’s game, but he makes up for any shortcomings with his incredible work ethic and non-stop motor.
If he develops his jumper into a consistent weapon and becomes a more reliable scorer, this Hoosiers guard could become one of the best players not only in this class, but also in the entire NBA.
He’s already projected to be one of the top defenders in the league and could soon become an all-around force.
No. 8: Alex Len, C, Maryland (Up from No. 10)
Len possesses a variety of moves in the low post that just aren’t that common in today’s Association.
He’s a throwback player that could confuse defenders and score a lot of points in the paint—even as a rookie.
The Terps star has been hindered by poor guard play, making him seem less effective than he could eventually be on team with a facilitator who knows how to throw an entry pass and draw defenders away.
No. 9: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State (Down from No. 8)
Harris is an offensive dynamo that has risen to the occasion time and time again.
The Spartans don’t often employ freshmen as the centerpiece of their squad, but Harris is simply too good to not play and should continue with his explosive scoring ways after being selected in the lottery.
No. 10: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana (Down from No. 9)
Zeller doesn’t ever project to become a star at the next level, but he’s a talented big with a high basketball IQ and the ability to run the floor like a deer.
Expect a veteran team that needs immediate assistance in the frontcourt to take a chance on this Hoosiers star come June.
No. 11: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga (Up from No. 17)
Olynyk has been another rapid riser up the big board and should only go higher as he leads his No. 1 seeded Bulldogs through the Big Dance.
He’s a polished offensive force with a bevy of low-post moves and the tendency to make good things happen when he receives the rock.
While his athleticism is suspect, there’s no denying this Gonzaga big man’s production.
No. 12: Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse (Remains No. 12)
Despite all the knocks on Carter-Williams' atrocious jump shot and inconsistent handle, he’s been an instrumental part of a good Orange team and is arguably the best facilitator in the class.
There have been plenty of instances of point guards that struggle to shoot being drafted, eventually working on their jumper and becoming stars in the NBA. It’s something easy for coaches fix, while teaching natural court vision isn’t quite as feasible.
No. 13: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (Down from No. 11)
Burke earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors for his excellent 2012-13 campaign, leading the Wolverines to a respectable record with his scoring abilities and pinpoint passing.
However, at 6’0" with a slender build, there are some serious doubts that this young man can continue his frenetic, aggressive style against stronger, bigger defenders in the NBA. It’ll be interesting to see if he can prove these detractors wrong.
No. 14: Alex Poythress, SF, Kentucky (Up from No. 15)
While Poythress may be too raw to conceivably contribute to a roster right now, his upside is too much to ignore.
The swingman has a perfect mix of size, athleticism and raw skills that franchises desire, but his heart and IQ are questionable. He reminds us a bit of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, without the relentless motor.
No. 15: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke (Down from No. 14)
Plumlee’s an intriguing talent, as he’s never going to become a star—but he’s still likely worthy of a lottery pick.
Because he can impact a game without the ball in his hands, guard bigs well, hustles on every possession and does all the little things to help get a “W,” we foresee a contending team that needs a glue guy plucking the Blue Devils senior off the board.
No. 16: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh (Remains No. 16)
While McCollum hasn’t had a chance to shine due to a foot injury, the tape will still show he’s one of the best pure scorers in this draft class.
He orchestrated an upset of Duke in last year’s NCAA tournament and could have success similar to Damian Lillard, a small school product that had no problem translating his electrifying talents to the next level.
No. 17: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia (Up from No. 18)
This young man is getting a lot of people excited with his performances overseas. He’s a born playmaker that makes everyone on the court around him better, and there’s plenty of room for him to grow both physically and talent-wise.
He may not be ready to insert into a starting lineup for a few years, but down the road could become the next international star.
No. 18: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky (Down from No. 13)
Cauley-Stein has had a chance to show his stuff with Noel out of the picture, but hasn’t displayed much more than was expected.
We already knew he was a raw, athletic shot-blocker—which is exactly what he showed us as the starting center for the Wildcats.
No. 19: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky (Remains No. 19)
Goodwin isn’t much of a shooter, but he can carve his way to the basket at will and has the pure athletic abilities to contain some of the faster and more agile guards in the league.
He’s worth a mid-to-late first-round flier for his potential to guard the likes of Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose alone and could eventually develop into a dynamic player himself.
No. 20: Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor (Remains No. 20)
Austin oozes with upside, but he seems to want to man the 3 despite a seven-foot frame and lack of the true skills to live out on the perimeter.
He has to bulk up and get down low occasionally, as he could become a top-notch stretch 4. Until he adds some weight and strength, he’s going to be a non-factor.
No. 21: Rudy Gobert, PF/C, France (Up from No. 22)
This gangly Frenchman is drawing attention for his massive height (7’1”) and even bigger wingspan (7’9”).
Whether or not he actually has the talent to go along with that remains to be seen, but we’ll get a chance to see how he works out closer to the draft this June.
No. 22: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State (Down from No. 21)
Franklin is a pure athlete that can jump out of the gym and is a freakish rebounder for a shooting guard.
However, his scoring ability leaves something to be desired and he will never be much more than a role player until he adds a consistent jumper to his arsenal.
No. 23: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan (Remains No. 23)
This NBA legacy player has shown the ability to fill it up from time-to-time, but hasn’t done so consistently and usually not against the best competition.
Until he finds a way to get it done against top-flight opponents—which could happen during the 2013 NCAA tournament—we’re not sold on this youngster becoming a star in the Association.
No. 24: James Michael McAdoo, PF, UNC (Remains No. 24)
Here’s another prospect that could drastically improve his stock back to preseason levels by putting together a solid stretch during March Madness.
McAdoo has found a new role as a starting center in North Carolina’s small ball lineup and is finally starting to avoid the bone-headed mistakes and poor play that dropped him from the lottery to the late-first on our big board.
No. 25: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Remains from No. 25)
Withey is a seven-foot shot-blocker that can play great defense, but has limited offensive capabilities.
He projects to be a role player at the NBA level, which isn’t such a bad thing if he comes off the board after 20 or so picks.
No. 26: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville (Unranked last week)
Dieng is rounding into form and has helped lead the Cardinals to the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tourney.
If he keeps up this level of play, he’s going to get selected in the first round and could make an impact as an athletic, defensive-minded pivot.
No. 27: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA (Up from No. 28)
Don’t sleep on Anderson coming off the board much earlier than this in June.
The Bruins forward is one of the most intriguing prospects in the class and will be watched very closely during the Big Dance. He’s a gifted passer and plays at his own deliberate pace, which is strangely effective.
Should he impress, there’s a chance Anderson shoots up to the lottery.
No. 28: Allen Crabbe, SG, California (Down from No. 26)
Crabbe is a gifted scorer that could come off the bench to provide instant offense in his rookie season and eventually develop into a starter.
He can get buckets from anywhere in the gym and has no fear of taking—and making—the biggest shots.
No. 29: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas (Remains No. 29)
As an athletic prospect that has shown flashes of incredible scoring talent, we still consider Mitchell a first-round pick.
However, his sophomore season with the Mean Green was awful, and he played down to the level of competition at the school. He still has a lot of upside, but may benefit from staying another year and actually dominating, as his abilities suggest he should.
No. 30: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia (Remains No. 30)
Caldwell-Pope is an above-average shooter and athlete.
When all is said and done, he could become one of the better scorers in the class and surprise everyone who passed on him in the 2013 draft.