The 2013 NBA draft is drawing nearer, as the second round of the playoffs is fully underway and only eight teams remain in contention for a championship.
Twenty-two other organizations are all actively working to improve in the offseason and most will utilize the draft as one major way to accomplish that goal.
Let’s take a closer look at the prospects that these NBA organizations should be closely eyeing. Here are my top 30 players throughout the college ranks and internationally.
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 on a curve.
No. 1: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky (Remains No. 1)
It seems that Noel has a great chance to become the top pick in the draft this year.
The flat-topped Wildcats star is still recovery from a torn ACL, but seems to be making a full recovery. His upside, athleticism, shot-blocking skills and—most importantly—motor are what make Noel an extremely valuable prospect.
No. 2: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas (Remains No. 2)
McLemore looks to be the best pure scorer in this class, but he has to become more consistent.
When this Kansas product is feeling it, he’s able to shoot the lights out from range and get to the basket at will. Unfortunately, he tends to go long stretches without impacting the game.
No. 3: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (Remains No. 3)
Porter has only shown small flashes of his ability to shoulder the scoring load, but he’s able to do everything else on the floor to help a team win.
In the NBA, the swingman will be expected to guard the top perimeter options, take open, efficient shots and clean the glass on both ends. He’s more than capable of doing this well, especially on a team that has a top-notch scorer to draw attention away.
No. 4: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (Up from No. 5)
Burke is still generating some buzz as a potential No. 1 pick, as his winning intangibles and leadership would make him a perfect point guard for a rebuilding club.
Regardless of where he is picked, Burke will make an impact with his scoring ability, knack for facilitating and strong desire to win games—as evidenced by his run to the national championship in 2013.
No. 5: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana (Down from No. 4)
Oladipo is the top energy guy in this draft, as he’s relentlessly running up and down the court, shutting his man down on defense and only calling for the ball and putting up shots when he is wide open.
That kind of attitude and impact is widely needed across the league, so expect the Indiana product to come off the board in the top half of the lottery.
No. 6: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV (Remains No. 6)
Bennett is a tweener that projects to play either the 3 or the 4 in the NBA, possibly both.
He’s strong enough to get into the paint and impose his will down there, but also skilled enough to take his man out to the three-point line and hoist up a shot or drive.
No. 7: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA (Remains No. 7)
Muhammad’s stock took a slight dip after his true age was revealed, but many teams are still going to count on him to become a productive scorer for them.
The UCLA star is great at finishing around the hoop and improving on his long-distance shots, but has a long way to go in terms of passing, rebounding, defending and more.
No. 8: Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse (Up from No. 9)
Carter-Williams is the top set-up artist in this class, as he’s a flashy passer that can use his long arms and big body to shield the ball from his defender and connect with a teammate.
He has to improve his jumper and ball-handling skills before he becomes a serious, big-minute PG in the NBA, but the upside is certainly there.
No. 9: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh (Up from No. 10)
McCollum may not have a defined position yet, but he will be able to make an impact with his elite scoring skills.
The guard projects as either an undersized 2 or a PG, likely coming off the bench to provide an instant spark on offense.
No. 10: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga (Up from No. 11)
Olynyk’s defensive abilities and athleticism are suspect, but the ‘Zags big man can score with his back to the basket or facing up, which is why a number of lottery teams should be intrigued with his abilities.
This is a prospect that will rise or fall dramatically based on his workouts leading up to the draft in June.
No. 11: Alex Len, C, Maryland (Down from No. 8)
Andy Katz @ESPNAndyKatz
Release states Alex Len won't be able to participate in any activity leading up to 2013 NBA draft June 27.5/3/2013, 7:08:26 PM
Len just underwent ankle surgery, an issue that will sideline him for four to six months as he recovers.
It’s going to hurt his stock in the short-term, but like Noel, I believe the Terps star will rebound and still wind up getting selected in the lottery.
No. 12: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville (Remains No. 12)
Dieng proved he has big-game chops with a dominant performance during the national championship game.
He’s still raw offensively, but the Cardinals big man can block shots, protect the rim, defend other bigs and do all the things that most teams are looking for in a center at this point in the draft.
No. 13: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia (Up from No. 15)
Saric is the top international prospect in the 2013 crop of talent, as the Croatian sensation is one of the better passers and has a natural feel for the game.
He has to work on his long-distance shot and bulk up before hitting the NBA hardwood, but the potential is certainly there.
No. 14: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia (Up from No.16)
Caldwell-Pope is a classic shooting guard who can pop threes, defend his position well, slash to the rim and handle the ball.
He didn’t find much team success at Georgia, but the prospect would be perfect for a number of teams looking for a great off-guard to put next to a young point in the backcourt.
No. 15: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana (Down from No. 13)
Zeller’s upside is severely limited compared to some of these other prospects, but the big man is NBA-ready and could contribute from day one of his rookie season.
The Hoosiers star is great at finishing around the rim and runs the court like a deer, two assets that will make him playable early on in the Association.
No. 16: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke (Down from No. 14)
Every time Plumlee steps on the court, he’s bringing his lunch pail.
The Duke big man works relentlessly for extra possessions and to help his team win, which is why he should come off the board just after the lottery.
No. 17: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Up from No. 18)
Withey may not be able to provide the sort of offense in the low post that some teams are looking for, but he should be able to carve out a long career with his niche skills.
He’s a legit seven-footer than can block shots, protect the rim, defend other pivots and rebound well. That should get him 15 to 20 minutes per night for a long time.
No. 18: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State (Down from No. 17)
Franklin may be one of the most athletic prospects in this class, which helps make him perhaps the best rebounder on the perimeter in the draft.
He has to work on his unreliable jumper, but this young man could eventually become a star.
No. 19: Sergey Karasev, SG, Russia (Remains No. 19)
Karasev is quickly shooting up the big boards for his elite shooting ability.
Any wing player that can hit the open three and has the upside to defend well is going to receive heavy consideration in this draft, which is why the Russian could come off the board right after the lottery.
No. 20: Glen Rice Jr., SG, D-League (Remains No. 20)
Rice Jr. is vying to become the first D-Leaguer to get selected in the first round of the NBA draft.
He certainly deserves the honor, as Rice is lighting up the scoreboard and is an underrated passer and rebounder at the 3.
No. 21: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany (Remains No. 21)
Schroeder dominated the Nike Hoops Summit and proved that he has the perfect mix of size, penetrating abilities, facilitating skills and finishing moves to fall in the first round of this draft.
While teams may be leery of giving the keys of their offense to an unproven prospect, this kid has upside and should be able to contribute serious minutes in the near future.
No. 22: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan (Up from No. 23)
Hardaway Jr. is a streaky shooter that loves to fire away from deep, stretching defenses and causing havoc from 20-plus feet out.
He has to improve his handle and work on his shot selection, but this Michigan product could soon be a big NBA star—especially if he has the green light to fire up the rock coming off the bench.
No. 23: Allen Crabbe, SG, California (Down from No. 22)
Crabbe is another deadeye marksman that will make the opposition pay if they don’t stay home on him.
With the NBA trending towards efficient three-point shots and looks right at the basket, a sniper like Crabbe can be a major asset.
No. 24: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece (Remains No. 24)
Adetokunbo is generating a lot of hype, as the “Greek Freak” shows immense promise and ridiculous passing talents for a 6’9” prospect.
It could take him years to add the bulk required to play on a nightly basis in the NBA, but there is no doubting that this young man has one of the highest ceilings in the draft and he could wind up in the lottery come June.
No. 25: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas (Remains No. 25)
Kabongo may remind you of Rajon Rondo after watching him play, as the athletic point guard loves to knife into the paint and dish it out to an open teammate or take an easy, uncontested layup.
He has to improve upon his shooting, but there should be a place for this Longhorns product in the NBA.
No. 26: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami (Unranked last week)
Larkin’s lack of traditional size may hurt him, but he’s an undeniably skilled ball-handler that can shoot beyond the NBA three-point arc.
Those types of abilities in a weak draft class will surely get him selected in the late-first round.
No. 27: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas (Remains No. 27)
Mitchell is a freakishly athletic prospect that can defend both forward spots and rebound well.
He has a long way to go to live up to his potential and hype as a scorer, but he’s worth a flier towards the end of the first round.
No. 28: Steve Adams, C, Pittsburgh (Up from No. 29)
Adams is a big body that can likely defend quality centers one-on-one.
Besides that he brings nothing to the table and it’s going to take years for him to develop an offensive game that will allow him to stay on the court for more than a few token minutes.
No. 29: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky (Down from No. 28)
Goodwin is a shooting guard that can’t shoot and dribbles with reckless abandon.
He has to hone those weaknesses into strengths, which may be an impossible task.
No. 30: Rudy Gobert, PF, France (Remains No. 30)
Gobert’s huge size and wingspan is quite intriguing, but it’s hard to see him making an impact on American soil.
He’s probably going to remain in Europe as a tantalizing piece of trade bait for a contending team.
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