The 2013 NCAA tournament has concluded with Louisville being crowned national champions, bringing a fitting end to a thrilling college basketball season. Now it’s time to focus efforts on the upcoming NBA draft, an event less than three months away.
A number of players improved their stock tremendously during March Madness, a handful of others hurt theirs and most prospects wound up somewhere in between those two extremes.
Let’s take a look at our first top 30 big board of the collegiate offseason and get a glimpse of how the draft could shake out in late June.
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: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky (Remains No. 1)
One of the hardest types of players to find in the modern NBA is a big man with a motor.
Even though Noel is coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL, he’s an athletic, 6’11” shot blocker that plays solid defense and is willing to improve on both ends of the floor. For those reasons and his upside alone, he’s worth the No. 1 pick in 2013.
No. 2 Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State (Remains No. 2)
Smart is a big, 6’4” PG that has great athleticism, sets up his teammates, rebounds well and does all the little things to lead his team to victory on the floor.
He could surpass Noel as the top selection in June, depending on which franchise lands the coveted spot in the draft lottery.
No. 3: Ben McLemore, SG/SF, Kansas (Up from No. 4)
McLemore’s inconsistent play towards the end of the 2012-13 regular season and into the tournament has hurt his stock, but he’s still a top three player on our big board.
When this young man is on, he’s one of the most unstoppable players in the nation. If he can harness that talent and find a way to be more reliable, the sky is the limit for McLemore.
No. 4: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (Down from No. 3)
Burke led his team just short of a national championship on Monday evening, but can’t be faulted for his personal contributions during the Wolverines’ run through the NCAA tournament.
He proven that he’s a winner and is able to get things done despite his smallish (6’0”) stature. If the Michigan man works out well for teams, it wouldn’t be the least bit shocking to see him come off the board in the top five.
No. 5: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (Up from No. 6)
Porter is the top swingman in this class, although we’ve cooled a bit on him since he dominated the Big East regular-season stretch run with incredible scoring performances.
He’s likely not a go-to guy in the clutch, but his rebounding, defense, size and intangibles make him an elite prospect and a perfect player to have on a good team.
No. 6: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV (Down from No. 5)
Bennett is an intriguing combination of athleticism and strength, but his size leaves something to be desired if he’s truly going to play PF in the NBA.
It’ll be worth watching the draft to see where this young man lands and what position he would best fit for the organization that nabs him.
No. 7: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana (Remains No. 7)
Oladipo is one of the hardest workers in all of college basketball, which is a large reason why it would be a travesty if he were anything but a top 10 pick this June.
This Hoosiers' product is an elite defender, an efficient scorer and hard worker that will find success at any level of the game.
No. 8: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State (Remains No. 8)
Harris isn’t likely to come out after this freshman year, but he would be a surefire lottery pick if he did elect to.
The Spartans' young star can score on anyone, at any time, from anywhere on the court.
No. 9: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan (Up from No. 11)
Robinson’s upside is tremendous and the “Big Dog’s” son seems poised for greatness in the NBA.
He’s a legit scorer with great size and range for the SF position, although he has to get better by showing up against top-notch competition.
No. 10: Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse (Down from No. 9)
We love Carter-Wililams' facilitating ability and defensive capabilities, but his handle and shooting stroke are still an obvious concern.
Regardless, there are plenty of teams that have numerous scorers that would love to add someone who can simply get those guys the rock, making MCW a clear lottery pick.
No. 11: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana (Up from No. 12)
Zeller isn’t oozing upside, but the Indiana product is NBA ready and could contribute right off the bat.
He’s able to run the floor and score against smaller competition with ease, but has to bulk up before being able to handle the rigors of manning the 5 for big minutes on a nightly basis.
No. 12: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA (Down from No. 10)
Muhammad’s stock is plummeting now that its been revealed this young man is 20 years old instead of 19.
Scouts and general managers greatly value age and gaining a year has definitely reduced the Bruins' star’s upside and potential in their eyes.
No. 13: Alex Len, C, Maryland (Remains No. 13)
Len’s skills in the low post are amazing, but he is too hesitant to call for the rock and show them on a regular basis.
If he’s able to be more assertive and use his 7’1” frame to constantly draw defenders and drop buckets, the Terps' big man could become a star. If not, he’s likely going to be nothing more than a lottery bust.
No. 14: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh (Remains No. 14)
If McCollum can handle the transition to PG, there’s a ton of value to be found here towards the end of the lottery.
Regardless, as an undersized 2, this Mountain Hawks stud will find a way to make an impact in the NBA and could be one of the best scorers in this class when all is said and done.
No. 15: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke (Up from No. 16)
Good teams need great glue guys like Plumlee.
No one is expecting this Blue Devil to attain superstardom, but he could contribute solid minutes on a nightly basis to a contending team because of his willingness to work hard, bang for boards, defend and gather extra possessions for his side. That alone makes him worth a lottery selection.
No. 16: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga (Down from No. 15)
Olynyk missed his chance to shoot up into the top 10 by being eliminated from the Big Dance by the Cinderella Wichita State Shockers, but his value has remained high enough to warrant a mid-first selection.
The Zags' star is an offensive dynamo that can score around the bucket and draw his defender outside the paint with his shooting touch. He does need to prove his athleticism a bit, as many are skeptical he will be able to guard quicker and more agile NBA bigs on a regular basis.
No. 17: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State (Remains No. 17)
Franklin is a jump shot short of being a complete weapon, but he’s well worth the risk in the middle of the first round.
This freakish athlete is an elite rebounder and has a high ceiling, making him an ideal selection for a deep team that can afford to develop the Aztecs' product on the bench.
No. 18: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia (Remains No. 18)
Don’t expect Saric to make shockwaves in the NBA during the 2013-14 campaign, but he’s a name you will likely hear against in a few years.
This youngster is a bit away from being ready to jump to the Association, but flashes immense promise with his scoring and facilitating abilities in Europe.
No. 19: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia (Unranked last week)
Caldwell-Pope is a prototypical shooting guard with range, athleticism, size and skill.
He’s starting to gain momentum as a legit first-rounder and could come off the board inside the top 20 this June.
No. 20: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan (Up from No. 24)
Hardaway Jr. is a sniper that isn’t afraid to pull up and take a shot from anywhere on the court.
He possesses elite size and touch, but the Wolverines' star needs to prove himself a bit more consistent before he garners more than late first-round consideration.
No. 21: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Remains No. 21)
Withey is a tall shot blocker with solid defensive capabilities, making him an ideal center for a team that doesn’t need scoring from the pivot spot.
If he lands with a team like Miami, expect this Jayhawks senior to carve out a productive NBA career.
No. 22: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville (Up from No. 28)
Dieng boosted his stock with a great showing during the 2013 national championship game, dropping eight points, grabbing eight boards, dishing six assists and blocking three shots.
He’s a do-it-all big man with great athleticism, court vision and size. Don’t sleep on him continuing to soar up the big boards over the next few months.
No. 23: Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor (Remains No. 23)
Austin isn’t ready to play in the NBA yet, but it would be tough for a number of teams to overlook his immense upside.
This rail-thin seven-footer has to bulk up before playing in the big leagues, but his ball handling, shooting ability and speed make him a must-watch prospect.
No. 24: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton (Up from No. 27)
McDermott is a born scorer that can get his buckets in any number of ways.
He is adept at coming off screens and using his teammates to find openings to rise and fire from. Many contenders could use a sniper like this to spread the floor and stretch defenses thin.
No. 25: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky (Down from No. 22)
Goodwin is a high-upside SG that has to develop a jump shot before he can make any ripples in the NBA.
He’s worth a flier in the late first for his defensive potential and athletic abilities alone and could work his way up to becoming a great player if he pans out on offense.
No. 26: James Michael McAdoo, PF, UNC (Remains No. 26)
McAdoo may not be the lottery prospect he was at the beginning of the season, but this sophomore forward did display a talent for playing in the post during the 2012-13 campaign.
It’ll be interesting to see which position he winds up playing in the NBA, but don’t think McAdoo won’t be out to prove some doubters wrong.
No. 27: Patric Young, C, Florida (Up from No. 29)
Young is a great athlete and decent rebounder for a big, making him an interesting backup prospect for quite a few organizations.
We’re not sold on Young becoming a starter in this league, but he’ll be able to soak minutes and contribute.
No. 28: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas (Up from No. 30)
Mitchell was once though of as an elite scorer and top-notch lottery prospect, but he’s since struggled against mediocre competition at North Texas.
If this Mean Green star is going to atone his career, he’s going to have to keep rebounding and defending while working on his scoring abilities.
No. 29: Rudy Gobert, PF/C, France (Down from No. 25)
Gobert looks like nothing more than a big body with long arms that could protect the rim for a few minutes per night. Regardless, many teams would likely jump at his upside and he could wind up coming off the board far before the end of the first round.
No. 30: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh (Unranked last week)
Adams is a somewhat skilled big man that could eventually soak some minutes for an NBA team, but he’s going to need time in the D-League to develop and get to that point.