UNLV's Anthony Bennett
The 2013 NBA draft is right around the corner as both the NCAA tournament and NBA regular season come to a finish. This time of year is crucial for draft prospects who are trying to enhance their stock with a quality finish to the season.
The tournament can prove to be a great way to showcase one’s talent and ability to win like it has for so many others in the past. However, a poor March Madness showing could leave a bad impression on NBA front offices and a slide down the draft board.
This NBA draft isn’t as loaded with star players as we’ve seen in recent years, but there are plenty of high-caliber guys to be picked. Here are some of the top-rated draft prospects that have fallen down draft boards due to a subpar finish to the season.
Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana
Coming into the 2013 season, Cody Zeller was regarded as one of the highest-rated prospects in all the country. The Hoosiers center had a decent all-around year and received plenty of attention as his team was highly ranked for most of the season.
Zeller was a key component to Indiana’s success, averaging more than 16 points and eight rebounds per game. However, his play towards the end of the season and in the tournament was far from extraordinary.
Indiana was bounced from the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16 by a Syracuse team that emphasized defense. Zeller accounted for only 10 points in that game, shooting an awful 27 percent from the field.
Cody Zeller’s draft stock is definitely sliding, but that shouldn’t affect him too much; there is always a need in the NBA for quality big-man play, so Zeller should still be a top-10 pick.
Shabazz Muhammad, F, UCLA
Another player who saw his draft stock slip is UCLA forward Shabazz Muhammad. All year, Muhammad was considered a top player who would be at the top of this upcoming draft.
Muhammad had a solid year for the Bruins, averaging nearly 18 points and five boards per game. His team, however, was bounced in the first round of the tournament, partly due to a subpar showing by their leader.
Although he scored 20 points, Muhammad was only 6-of-18 from the field, including 0-of-6 from deep. He also struggled toward the end of the year, shooting less than 39 percent in the final three games.
Because of his sheer skill, Muhammad will be selected high in this year’s draft regardless of how his year ended. However, we’ll see if his miscues move him out of the top 10.
Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV
Anthony Bennett was one of the most exciting freshmen in college basketball. The UNLV forward averaged 16 points and eight rebounds in 2013 and led his team to a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The season didn’t end so well for Bennett and the Rebels as they were upset in the first round by No. 12 California. Bennett scored just 15 points on 36 percent shooting and almost seemed like a non-factor in the game when his team needed him most.
According to ESPN’s Andy Katz, Bennett will contend for a position within the top five of the draft despite a minor late-season shoulder injury and suspect play down the stretch.