With the April 28 deadline looming to declare for the 2013 NBA draft, a number of top prospects have either elected to return to school or announced their intention to become eligible for the pros.
While quite a few of the players on this big board—as recently as last week—opted to return to school (Marcus Smart, Gary Harris, Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, etc.), there’s still plenty of talented prospects to be found on this list.
Let’s take a look at our highly reorganized and restructured big board for the top 30 talents that are eligible for the upcoming draft.
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, C, Kentucky (Remains No. 1)
The Kentucky star is becoming the consensus No. 1 selection in this draft, even though he’s been sidelined since mid-February with a torn left ACL.
Noel is a rare big man that possesses a motor that just doesn’t quit, boundless athleticism, incredible shot-blocking ability and everything else—aside from a developed offensive game—that teams atop the draft are looking for.
No. 2: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas (Up from No. 3)
McLemore is an extremely gifted scorer, but has to work on becoming more consistent. Once he figures out how to get it going and stays aggressive for the duration of a contest, he will become unstoppable.
It may take some time, but this sweet-shooting 2-guard should become a franchise player.
No. 3: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (Up from No. 5)
Porter’s versatility and dominance in all facets of the game make him an intriguing prospect early in the lottery.
He may not ever become a 20-plus points-per-game scorer, but he’s a nice second or third option that can defend the perimeter, rebound well for his position, give 100 percent effort on every play and more.
No. 4: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV (Remains No. 4)
Bennett may be the definition of a tweener, but with the NBA leaning towards smaller lineups, he’s the perfect power forward to have.
The UNLV product has range out to the three-point line, athleticism to guard the quicker forwards and strength to outmuscle anyone in the paint when he desires to do so.
No. 5: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (Up from No. 6)
Burke may not be the prototypical point guard in terms of height, but he’s a proven winner, dangerous scorer and gifted passer. Any team that needs an upgrade at the position would be downright foolish to pass him up, especially now that Marcus Smart is heading back to Oklahoma State.
The Wolverines' star has all the tools and intangibles to succeed at the next level, so we’ll actually be surprised if he falls later in the lottery or doesn’t pan out as a player.
No. 6: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana (Down from No. 7)
Oladipo is an interesting prospect, as—unlike most other shooting guards—he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to impact the game.
The Hoosiers stud will relentlessly hound his man on defense, take efficient shots from the perimeter, knife his way to the cup and play with energy that inspires teammates. He’s an excellent glue guy that should have contending teams exploring trade options to move up and nab him.
No. 7: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse (Up from No. 10)
MCW may not be the most gifted ball-handler, scorer or jump shooter, but at 6’6”, he projects as one of the better defenders at the position and an excellent facilitator to boot.
Expect a team that doesn’t need a flurry of offensive output from the 1 to take a hard look at this Orangeman, as he brings a lot to the table and has a ton of upside.
No. 8: Alex Len, C, Maryland (Up from No. 11)
Len is a boom-or-bust prospect that could become one of the more dominant offensive-minded centers in the league, or a bench player that barely scratches his potential and winds up bouncing around the D-League.
If he develops his unique low-post game and gets more aggressive, he’ll turn out to be the former. Should he fail to improve and neglects to call for the ball in the paint, his NBA career will be unmemorable to say the least.
No. 9: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA (Up from No. 12)
Muhammad’s ability to put the ball through the bottom of the net will keep him in the lottery, but his stock is taking a beating after the Los Angeles Times found out the prospect is 20 years old, not 19 as previously reported.
The UCLA star may not have as much upside, but he’s still worth a look in the top half of the 2013 draft—especially for scoring-starved organizations.
No. 10: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh (Up from No. 15)
Speaking of scorers, McCollum may wind up as the top bucket-generator in this draft class when all is said and done.
Depending on where he lands, the Mountain Hawks' star could wind up playing the 1 as a ball-dominant 1 or off of it as an undersized 2. Either way, he’s going to put up and make a ton of shots.
No. 11: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana (Up from No. 13)
Zeller will need to bulk up to play in the paint regularly in the Association, but he’s a skilled finisher around the rim and can run the court like a deer.
While he’s likely not going to wind up becoming a star, he’s a safe pick for a team not looking to take a huge risk in the latter stage of the lottery.
No. 12: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville (Up from No. 18)
During March Madness, Dieng proved to scouts and general managers that he’s no longer just a raw talent with upside.
The big man showed that he has the skills to come through in the clutch, the athleticism to protect the rim and a blossoming offensive game that’s worth taking a chance on developing.
No. 13: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga (Up from No. 17)
The Gonzaga star has to prove himself against top-notch competition, as the Bulldogs were bounced early from the 2013 NCAA tourney and Olynyk missed a chance to improve his stock.
This offensive-minded big may be lacking in athleticism, but he has a back-to-the-basket and face-up game that will allow him to score on most anyone in the NBA. His defense is what will determine where he is drafted.
No. 14: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke (Up from No. 16)
Plumlee is not going to wow anyone with dazzling scoring or incredible shot-blocking, but the Blue Devils senior does a bit of everything well and projects as a blue-collar big man that works relentlessly to help his team win.
No. 15: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia (Up from No. 21)
Caldwell-Pope is a great all-around prospect that can not only shoot the lights out, but also defend his position, get to the hoop and dominate with his athletic abilities.
He’s slowly moving up big boards as it becomes more apparent that Georgia’s irrelevance during his tenure is more a result of poor play from his teammates than his own performance.
No. 16: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State (Up from No. 19)
Franklin is one of the most gifted athletes we have ever seen, which is why this young man is such a ridiculous rebounder for the position.
He has to hone his jumper in order to become a real asset, but is worth the risk in the middle of the first round.
No. 17: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia (Up from No. 20)
Saric is a special talent that can clearly score and rebound well for his position, but also looks to be the best passing forward with a naturally high basketball I.Q.
He may be a few years away from regular NBA contributions, although he is certainly worth monitoring as a high-upside international phenom.
No. 18: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Up from No. 23)
Withey may never become an offensive juggernaut, but the Jayhawks' big man can protect the rim and defend his position.
Considering there is a lack of seven-footers in the league that can do these two simple things well, the KU senior should have a long NBA career ahead of him.
No. 19: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan (Up from No. 22)
The Wolverines will miss Hardaway Jr.’s ability to spot up and fire from anywhere on the court. He added another dimension to the team’s offense and was always a threat to score.
He’ll be taking his talents to the next level, where he should be a lights-out shooter coming off a bench until he takes the time to develop his handle and improve his shot selection.
No. 20: Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor (Up from No. 24)
Austin oozes upside, but isn’t going to be contributing in the league until he bulks up.
He has the skills of a 3 with the body of a severely underweight center, so this seven-footer needs to add muscle and weight until he can at least come in and soak minutes as a stretch 4.
No. 21: Glen Rice Jr., SG, D-League (Unranked last week)
This former Georgia Tech player took his talents to the NBA D-League, where he is absolutely lighting it up for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
That production, coupled with his upside and raw talent, should have at least one GM ready to pull the trigger in the late first round—especially with such a weak crop of talent available.
No. 22: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton (Up from No. 25)
The Bluejays' star is definitely going to carve out a niche for himself as a gifted shooter that understands how to come off screens and get an open look at the basket.
There are tons of front offices that would love to add McDermott’s range and dynamic scoring ability to the roster.
No. 23: Allen Crabbe, SG, California (Unranked last week)
Crabbe is a sniper that isn’t afraid to pull up from anywhere in the gym and uncoil for a long-range shot. Fortunately, he’s quite accurate and often finds his shots hitting the bottom of the net.
He looks like an excellent prospect for a franchise that wants to bolster its bench. The Cal product could get a good look from any squad that needs a sixth man.
No. 24: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky (Up from No. 26)
Right now, Goodwin takes more off the table than he actually brings to it.
He’s an atrocious shooter that plays with a reckless abandonment. However, he’s one of the more gifted athletes in the class and his upside is undeniable. If he’s able to work on his jumper and learn to play at more than one speed, he could become a real asset in the NBA.
No. 25: Sergey Karasev, SG, Russia (Unranked last week)
Karasev is an interesting international player due to his length (6’7”), facilitating abilities, ball-handling skills, three-point shooting and more.
He looks incredible in the Russian League, but struggled against the USA at the Nike Hoops Summit, hitting just 1-of-6 three-point attempts and scoring just seven points in 25 minutes of play. Karasev will need to show more to sneak into the first round.
No. 26: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas (Up from No. 28)
Kabongo is a gifted player that reminds me a bit of Rajon Rondo.
The Texas product loves to use his immense athleticism to get into the lane and either finish with a flashy layup or, preferably, kick it out to a wide-open teammate for the dime. If he’s able to do that at the next level consistently, he’ll be a steal this late.
No. 27: Rudy Gobert, PF, France (Up from No. 30)
Gobert is a tall, long-armed big man that has a ton of upside but needs plenty of time to develop.
He could be a Eurostash player whose rights change hands quite a few times before he ever even makes it onto American soil.
No. 28: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas (Up from No. 29)
Mitchell may not ever pan out as the scorer many took him to be during his early years as a prospect, but he’s a hyper-athletic forward that can rebound well and defend the 3 and 4.
That kind of production and upside will get him selected in the late-first round, even if he didn’t contribute much during his time with the Mean Green.
No. 29: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece (Unranked last week)
“The Greek Freak” is flying up draft boards and could wind up being selected much higher than this when all is said and done.
He’s a 6’10” stud that seems to have point guard passing and ball-handling skills, elite athleticism and great shooting ability. Don’t be surprised if he makes a Bismack Biyombo-like leap into the lottery.
No. 30: Steve Adams, C, Pittsburgh (Unranked last week)
Adams could be a decent defender at the next level, but his raw offensive game and poor feel for the game suggests he should have remained in college for another few seasons.