We're less than 24 hours away from this year's NCAA tournament, and draft boards are going to change over the next week. The tourney is where prospects seal their fate. Just one bad game could make a difference in their future.
Granted, some players are going to be lottery picks regardless of how they perform in the tournament. Guys like Shabazz Muhammad were electrifying enough during the regular season that teams would be silly to pass up on them because of a bad game at this point.
This means that NBA teams are putting their draft scouting into overdrive right now. Chances are that every game will be watched diligently, sometimes more than once. Certain players are prospects for a reason, and the tournament is where they'll get a chance to shine.
Hopefully, that will mean becoming a top pick in the draft come June.
*Draft order based on NBA standings as of Tuesday, March 19
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
Another day gone, another day that Charlotte needs a viable shooting guard. Fortunately, McLemore is just that.
The redshirt freshman averaged 16.4 points per game for the Jayhawks this season and shot an incredible 51 percent from the floor, plus 44 percent from long range. With his keen ability to hit threes and ever-improving off-the-dribble game, Charlotte would be wise to pick him and give point guard Kemba Walker a reliable go-to scorer.
2. Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
The best thing about Smart is his 6'4", 225-pound frame, which gives him the ability to play both guard positions with ease. Orlando already appears set at guard with Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson, but there's definitely room for improvement.
Smart has a great basketball IQ. He's a fine passer and great defender, and his scoring isn't bad either. In his sole season with the Cowboys, he averaged 15.4 points per game while also playing fine defense to the tune of 2.9 steals per contest. Once his long-range game improves, he's definitely going to be a force for the Magic in the very near future.
3. New Orleans Hornets: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Though a skinny 6'8" and 205 pounds, Porter is just the wing player that the Hornets need as they prepare to become the Pelicans. The sophomore did a fine job of improving his jump shot this season, not to mention stepping up as an excellent finisher for the Hoyas.
Porter averaged 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, plus 1.9 steals, while shooting 43 percent from long range. He also showed great prowess for creating his own opportunities. As New Orleans continues rebuilding, he's going to become a key piece of the puzzle.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Bennett, SF, UNLV
I look at Anthony Bennett, and I see a special player waiting to happen. He was instrumental in getting the Runnin' Rebels to the tourney this year. The freshman led the team with 16.1 points and 8.1 boards per game.
However, as high as Bennett's ceiling is, he's still something of a project player. He has shown a knack for hitting the occasional three, but his best weapon is still his post game. Once he can become more of a traditional wing 3, then he'll easily help the Cavs take a step forward.
5. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad, G/F, UCLA
The Pistons could use Muhammad in a couple of different roles, but that all depends on point guard and free agent-to-be Jose Calderon. If Calderon stays, Muhammad will play the 3 while Brandon Knight remains at the 2. Should Calderon leave, Knight will return to the point while Muhammad becomes his go-to guy on offense.
Regardless of where he plays, Muhammad is going to be a great addition for Detroit if he's available. He averaged 17.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest for the Bruins this year and definitely has the skill set to become one of the league's best scorers.
Once he can become a better on-ball defender, he'll be even more of a threat on the court.
6. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, G/F, Indiana
Phoenix needs offense, and Oladipo can provide plenty of it. His strong athleticism makes him an incredible slasher and explosive dunker. In his junior season with the Hoosiers, he averaged 13.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals while shooting a lights-out 60 percent from the field.
How well he'll do in his first season depends on which direction the Suns choose to go at the end of the regular season.
But one thing is certain: If Oladipo is going to be an impact player, he needs to learn how to create his own shot and improve his three-point shooting. Otherwise, bigger opposing defenders will eat him alive.
7. Washington Wizards: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
Washington has a fine backcourt tandem set for the near future in John Wall and Bradley Beal, but now they need a reliable big man who can help form a potentially deadly trio. Enter Zeller, who has the size to fill that void at 7'0" and 240 pounds.
He averaged 16.9 points and 8.2 boards this past season, not to mention shooting 57.3 percent from the field, but still needs to improve his overall athleticism.
Besides that, he can work both the high and low post and is one of the more complete big men in the draft pool. That alone is going to help him make an impact in DC almost immediately.
8. Sacramento Kings: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Nothing against DeMarcus Cousins, but something tells me that the new Kings ownership, be it a local group or one from Seattle, is not going to be willing to put up with his shenanigans. This means that though Len may not get starter's minutes in his rookie season, the team would be wise to bring him aboard.
The 7'1" sophomore averaged 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for the Terps this season, and plays an excellent high-post game. The man can also be explosive above the rim and has shown a great willingness to both improve and learn.
Based on the state of the team, the Kings couldn't ask for a better player.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
Don't let the fact that he played at a smaller school fool you. McCollum definitely has what it takes to be the reliable 2-guard that the 'Wolves need, even if he hasn't played since January due to a broken foot.
That still does not take away from the fact that McCollum averaged 23.9 points per contest for the Mountain Hawks this season and shot an eye-popping 52 percent from long range. He's a great shooter with a keen ability for mixing up his attack, something that Minnesota is going to need down the stretch if they want to get back in contention.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Toronto): Nerlens Noel, PF, Kentucky
His torn ACL happened a long time ago, but it's still going to be enough of a concern that Noel's stock dips just a bit on draft day. OKC could use help in the middle. Noel can give them that despite being a natural power forward.
Noel has the size for that at 6'10" and 228 pounds. His work in the paint spoke for itself this year, to the tune of 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game, to be exact. That's far better than anything the slow-footed Kendrick Perkins can give.
GM Sam Presti will surely be grateful if Noel manages to fall to this position.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
With the Andrew Bynum experiment a complete and utter failure, the Sixers will look to the draft to find a dominant young center who can start contributing on defense immediately. Cauley-Stein has the size for the position at 7'0" and 244 pounds, and also the ability to be explosive above the rim as well as a solid post defender.
The only major mark against Cauley-Stein is that despite his size, he cannot create his own shot to save his life. This can be fixed with coaching, but Sixers fans expecting immediate results will be in for a rude awakening. Cauley-Stein's development is going to take time.
This means patience will be key, and Sixers management should not rush to make him a star.
12. Portland Trail Blazers: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
This is a bit of an unconventional pick, but Robinson has the extra bounce in his step that Portland would love to have off its bench. He averaged 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Wolverines and has proven to be a respectable athlete.
Robinson needs to prove that he can be more than just a dunker. He has the size of a shooting guard or a wing forward, and he must improve his overall scoring game in order to make an impact in the Rose City.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
Dallas needs help in the middle, as Chris Kaman has not brought the same electrifying presence that Tyson Chandler did in the 2011 championship season. Plumlee has good size for the 5 at 6'10", 235 pounds and proved to be a phenomenal leader for the Blue Devils in his senior season.
Along the way, he averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 boards and 1.5 blocks per game.
Plumlee's adjustment to the pros is going to take some time, but he has the determination and skill set to become a decent defensive center. He won't put up 20 and 10 a game regularly, but will make enough of an impact on defense to help Dallas head in the right direction.
14. Utah Jazz: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
The Jazz will need a feisty young point guard to run the offense and also score. Burke may not seem like much at just 6'0", 190 pounds, but he proved this season that he can be a great scoring point guard on the professional level.
Burke averaged 19.2 points and 6.7 assists per game. He shot 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from long range. His size is definitely something that could scare some scouts off, but he is a strong enough guard that he shouldn't have too much of a problem adjusting to the demands of the NBA.
Given how much help Utah needs at guard, he should start contributing immediately if GM Ted Lindsey opts not to re-sign Mo Williams.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
In the event that Brandon Jennings proves to be too expensive in restricted free agency, the Bucks are going to need someone to run the point. With Burke off the board, Carter-Williams is the best point man available.
He isn't as much of a scorer as Jennings. But he is easily one of the best passers and defenders in the draft. In his sophomore season, Carter-Williams posted 12 points, 7.7 assists and 2.7 steals per game.
A lot of who Milwaukee picks depends on who team management picks to coach the team next year, be it interim man Jim Boylan or someone else, but it still does not take away from the fact that a solid pass-first point guard is going to be needed on the roster whether Jennings returns or not.
16. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Miami Heat): Kelly Olynyk, F/C, Gonzaga
With their second pick in the first round, the Cavs will look to shore up the front line in taking Olynyk, who posted 17.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 65 percent from the field in his junior year.
His on-ball defense needs work, but Olynyk mans the post with authority and attacks the rim without hesitation. If he can prove to be durable and adjust to the NBA level quickly, then he could be doing some great things for the Cavs in the coming years.
17. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston): James McAdoo, F, North Carolina
Should Josh Smith leave via free agency, and it's definitely looking like that will happen, the Hawks will need an athletic forward to come in and start playing some defense. Thankfully, McAdoo fits that mold.
He isn't as strong a scorer as Smith, but his work on the inside makes him a viable option for any team seeking help there. McAdoo also averaged 7.4 boards per game this season and has solid size for the 4 at 6'9", 230 pounds.
His all-around game could use some improvement, but once McAdoo knows what type of player he's going to be on the NBA level and adjusts to that role accordingly, the possibilities will be endless.
18. Chicago Bulls: Markel Brown, G, Oklahoma State
Derrick Rose needs a go-to scorer that isn't named Rip Hamilton, and Brown should be available at this point in the draft. He's on the smaller side, but he averaged 15.3 points per game and shot 37 percent from three-point range last season.
Brown will likely need some time to adjust to the NBA as well as his role as a go-to guy, but he definitely has what it takes to become a solid right-hand man.
19. Boston Celtics: Rudy Gobert, C, France
Gobert has the size for the 5 at 7'1", 230 pounds. But chances are he won't be in the NBA for at least a year.
Fortunately for him, this will give him time to hone his offense in France as well as develop more of a balanced game. At that point, he can come to Boston and be part of the bright future of this new young Celtics team.
20. Atlanta Hawks: Doug McDermott, G/F, Creighton
Atlanta is also going to need a jolt on offense in this draft, and McDermott practically wrote the book on that. He posted 23.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game his junior year.
His percentages, however, are what set him apart from the rest of the pack. McDermott made 56 percent of his attempts from the field this year and a deadly 50 percent from long range. This man just has an eye for making shots from anywhere on the floor, a la Chandler Parsons of the Houston Rockets, and Hawks GM Danny Ferry would be wise to consider bringing him aboard.
21. Utah Jazz (from Golden State Warriors): Dario Saric, F, Croatia
Saric has decent size at 6'10" and 225 pounds and can play either the 3 or the 4. He plays the post well while also showcasing a decent jump shot. His skill set is reminiscent of a young Andrei Kirilenko, only less athletic.
It's going to take him some time to adjust to the NBA's style of play, but he should become a solid option for Utah whenever he does crack the rotation.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
The Nets could use a solid young punch off the bench, and Goodwin's slashing nature would be perfect for that role. He averaged 14.1 points per game for Kentucky this year.
He has a lot of work to do with both his free-throw shooting and overall offensive game, but just watch him once he develops a mid-range jumper and three-point shot. At that point, he'll become an incredible spark in the Nets' bright future.
23. New York Knicks: Isaiah Canaan, PG, Murray State
It's been clear all season long that the Knicks need a young point man who can come in when Raymond Felton needs a rest. Canaan would be the perfect man for this job.
He's on the smaller side at 6'1" and 195 pounds, but he averaged 21.8 points and 4.3 assists per game in his senior season with the Racers. He also posted 1.5 steals and made 37 percent of his shots from long range.
He'll need some time to adjust to the NBA level. Once he becomes less trigger-happy with his three-pointer and balances out every aspect of his game, he'll be a welcome addition to the Knicks' lineup.
24. Indiana Pacers: Isaiah Austin, F/C, Baylor
The Pacers will need a reliable 4 should David West leave in free agency, and Austin has the size to play both positions. In his sole year with the Bears, he posted 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
However, Austin is a project player who will require lots of patience. Not only does he need to beef up in the weight room, but he must also learn to develop his interior game and not use his jump shot so often. If and when he improves those skills, then Indiana's interior defense could become all the more dangerous.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
Lob City could use a player who can be both a great scorer and an incredible dunker. Hardaway Jr. fits the bill perfectly. He averaged 14.8 points per game and shot 37 percent from downtown for the Wolverines this season, and has also shown the ability to do fine work above the rim.
If Los Angeles can land him, it would give impending free agent Chris Paul plenty of reason to stay and continue the Lob City tradition.
26. Denver Nuggets: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
In George Karl's dribble-drive offense, there's always room for another shooter. Enter Caldwell-Pope, who averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 boards per game for the Bulldogs this year.
He has the perfect shooting guard's build at 6'5", 205 pounds, and his natural scoring touch will definitely be a big help on a young Nuggets team looking to regularly contend for a title.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis): Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas
There's no such thing as too much defense, and Minnesota will grab plenty of that in Tony Mitchell. He averaged 13 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game for the Mean Green his sophomore year.
Once he can develop a better jumper, he's going to be one heck of a complete player.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Erick Green, G, Virginia Tech
The Thunder will look to take care of offense with their late first-round pick. You can't do much better than Erick Green at this point. His Hokies may have had a bad year, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he led the nation in scoring with 25 points per game, shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 39 percent from long range.
This man can flat-out score. On a fast and dangerous OKC team, he's going to be a perfect fit once he adjusts.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Nogueira is a raw talent who has a lot of work to do if he's going to make an impact in the NBA, but he has the size to be a potentially special player. The Spurs would be a perfect fit for him for one reason: head coach Gregg Popovich.
This man has shown a knack for getting the best out of young players some left on the back burner, like Patty Mills and Gary Neal.
30. Phoenix Suns (from LA Lakers): Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Phoenix could also use a more reliable big man. While Withey isn't much of an athlete despite his 7'0", 235-pound frame, it's hard to ignore his 13.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game. He's incredibly raw and will need a lot of time in the D-League before he can start getting significant minutes in Phoenix.
But one thing is certain: Once his game is developed, he could turn into one of the game's most best centers.