Kentucky Wildcats' center Nerlens Noel looks to be the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft despite the gruesome knee injury, but there are plenty of other prospects who look poised to be difference makers next season in the NBA.
Just as guys like Damian Lillard, Dion Waiters and Harrison Barnes showed this season, rookies can definitely have an impact on an NBA franchise—just ask Mark Jackson and the Golden State Warriors.
While I think Noel will be a key piece for whichever NBA team that drafts him in 2013, I decided to highlight three other players at different positions who I feel will have a big effect on their team come the 2013-14 campaign.
Let's take a look at the potential difference makers from the 2013 rookie class in the NBA next season.
Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
Freshman shooting guard Ben McLemore will be the first shooting guard off the board in the draft and could potentially surface as the No. 1 overall pick over Noel if the lottery team is already set at the center position.
I'm usually not too high on freshmen coming into the NBA as rookies and finding success, but McLemore looks like he has all of the skills and mental buildup to be an effective scorer next season.
NBA scout says Ben McLemore is a better version of Ray Allen http://t.co/euM6WyhMs9 #NBA2013-4-12 00:17:22
McLemore averaged 15.9 points per game for the Jayhawks last season, shooting 49 percent from the field and an impressive 42 percent from three-point territory. The 6'5" guard also added more than five rebounds and two assists per game, making him one of the most lethal players in the draft and the type of player who can immediately bolster an NBA roster next season.
At 6'5", McLemore has decent size and great athleticism to defend opposing NBA guards as well.
Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
The nation saw the clutch playmaking abilities of Michigan point guard Trey Burke throughout the 2013 NCAA tournament and he'll be bringing those talents to the NBA in the 2013-14 season.
Burke is Chad Ford's No. 5 prospect and best-ranked point guard for the upcoming draft after averaging 18.6 points and 6.7 assists per game this season as a Wolverine—numbers that earned him the AP College Basketball Player of the Year award.
The point guard shot a respectable 38 percent from downtown this past season and will enter the 2013 NBA draft with two years of collegiate play under his belt, after averaging 14.8 points and 4.6 assists per game as a freshman.
Throughout the NCAA tournament, Burke proved he has the guts and skill set to play in the NBA by leading Michigan all the way to the championship game versus Louisville.
Ford even goes as far as to say that Burke has potential to be a No. 1 overall pick if the fit is right.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Trey Burke: will try to become the 1st Michigan player drafted in 1st round since Jamal Crawford (2000)2013-4-14 20:38:34
I think it's safe to say Michigan will be seeing one of its former stars drafted in the first round this year (h/t ESPN Stats & Info).
Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown
Georgetown forward Otto Porter Jr. is arguably the most complete player in the 2013 NBA draft.
The Big East Player of the Year averaged 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and nearly a block per game this season while shooting 42 percent from three-point range.
The 6'8" small forward's 2012-13 season was highlighted by a dominant showing against Syracuse on Feb. 23—a win for the Hoyas—in which Porter Jr. dropped 33 points and recorded eight rebounds and five steals.
Porter Jr. gets it done in all facets of the game and has two years of experience on his resume, which is why Chad Ford has him ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in the nation and his best small forward of the 2013 class.
Aside from his scoring abilities, Porter Jr. brings an elite defensive game to the table, making him a valuable asset to any NBA team looking for a player who gives a 100-percent effort on both sides of the floor.
Look for Porter to be a top-five pick in the 2013 NBA draft and a difference maker in the NBA next season.
Follow me on Twitter: Follow @Pete_Schauer