With the NBA scouting combine complete and the post-lottery draft order set, it’s now crunch time for the many prospects hoping to get selected in next month’s event.
Some of these young men improved their stock after being measured and undergoing athletic testing in Chicago last week, while others are slipping down the big board and need to dominate at private workouts in order to get back into the rankings.
Let’s take a look at how our latest top-30 list of draft-eligible talent looks, provide some analysis for these potential picks and highlight a few potential landing spots for each.
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 testing, production in college (or overseas), measurements and NBA projections on a curve.
No. 1: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky (Remains No. 1)
Noel is still the top pick in this class, but he hurt his stock a bit by only tipping the scales at a paltry 206 pounds last week.
While some of that skinniness can be attributed to his injury, the simple fact remains that this young man must bulk up before he’s ready to play the 4, let alone the 5 at the NBA level.
Expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to exercise extreme caution and do their homework before selecting this high-upside prospect.
No. 2: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas (Remains No. 2)
McLemore’s stock remained steady at the combine, as he athletically tested and measured up to expectations.
The biggest knocks on his game—the inconsistent shooting and tendency to disappear for prolonged stretches—aren’t issues that tend to show up at an event like that. He shouldn’t come off the board later than No. 4 to the Charlotte Bobcats.
No. 3: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana (Up from from No. 6)
Oladipo proved that he’s a top-notch athlete and perfectly sized to play the 2 at the next level.
Most teams picking early in the lottery need a prospect that can impact the game without the ball in his hands, defend in an inspiring manner and hustle up and down the court with infectious energy.
This Hoosiers star certainly hits all those notes and may be one of the most important players in this class when all is said and done. The Cavs may consider Oladipo at No. 1, but he’ll likely head to Charlotte at No. 4 or Phoenix at No. 5.
No. 4: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (Down from No. 3)
Porter projects to be an ideal swingman for a franchise that already has other players shouldering the scoring load.
Due to his non-stop motor, penchant to bang for boards, defensive tendencies and ability to knock down open looks, he’d be a perfect fit with the Wizards at No. 3.
No. 5: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (Remains No. 5)
Burke is the top point guard in the class, as he brings a ton of different assets to the table.
The Michigan man is a proven winner (as evident by his Wolverines’ run to the national title game), a capable scorer and great facilitator. Those intangibles and pure point skills are exactly what the Orlando Magic need at No. 2.
No. 6: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV (Down from No. 4)
Bennett is a bit of a tweener, but his ability to play either the 3 or 4 could be beneficial for him in this draft.
Teams that aren’t afraid to gamble on an undersized PF will get a strong player with great range on his jumper, and the UNLV just needs to continue to work on his quickness to guard other SFs.
He could work with a number of lottery teams, including the Wizards at No. 3 and Detroit Pistons at No. 8.
No. 7: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh (Remains No. 7)
McCollum looked perfectly healthy at the combine, which is relieving since a foot injury cut his senior campaign short.
The sniper may be a bit undersized for a 2, but there’s hope he can handle the ball and make enough plays to run the point at the next level. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes, but the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 9 seem to be the best option.
No. 8: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana (Up from No. 15)
Zeller dominated in Chicago, proving to his doubters that he is a top-notch athlete with prototypical size for an NBA big man.
With that performance, he’s firmly back in the lottery and could come off the board as early as No. 6 when the New Orleans Pelicans pick, but seems to be a better selection for the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 11.
No. 9: Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse (Down from No. 8)
Carter-Williams has some issues to iron out, including poor handles and inability to shoot consistently, but has the best passing skills in this class and utilizes his 6’6” frame to lock down his man.
With plenty of organizations looking for a set-up man to help their stars get open looks, MCW should be a popular name on the short lists. Don’t sleep on the Sacramento Kings nabbing him at No. 7, while there should be no chance he slips past the Utah Jazz at No. 14.
No. 10: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia (Up from No. 13)
Saric is the top international prospect in this year’s draft class, although he may be a few years from being NBA ready.
Regardless, a general manager looking to take a gamble on a potential star would be foolish to pass up this Croatian in the late lottery. He possesses a high IQ and is one of the better passing swingman we’ve seen in a while.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks, picking No. 12 and 13—respectively, are both options for this 19-year-old project.
No. 11: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA (Down from No. 9)
Any franchise looking for a scorer should look no further than Muhammad. While his upside is a bit limited and he doesn’t seem to be much more than a point producer, his ability to generate buckets is valuable skill in the Association.
The UCLA star is a bit of a wildcard this year, as he could land in the top-three—likely with Washington—or outside of the lottery, but he shouldn’t fall past the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 15.
No. 12: Alex Len, C, Maryland (Remains No. 12)
Len hasn’t participated in any pre-draft workouts and will not be able to due to ankle surgery. It hasn’t impacted his stock much, considering most scouts already had a good enough look at this offensive-minded big man.
Even with the injury, the Wizards may take a look at No. 3, the Pelicans should highly consider him at No. 6 and the Maryland star’s floor is the Thunder at No. 12.
No. 13: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville (Down from No. 11)
Dieng is a bit older at age 23 and doesn’t have the upside some of these other big men do, but he’ll be ready to contribute on Day 1.
His offensive game clearly needs some polish, but the Cardinals pivot can block shots, protect the rim, defend his position and even pass at a high level out of the post.
The lottery may be a bit of stretch for this national title-winner, but he’s an option for the Thunder at No. 12, Boston Celtics at No. 16 and Chicago Bulls at No. 20.
No. 14: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia (Remains No.14)
The “three-and-D” off-guard is a dying breed in the modern NBA, which is why there should be a handful of suitors clamoring for a chance to nab KCP come June.
This Georgia star can create his own shot, fire away from anywhere on the court and possesses the athleticism to shut down his man on defense.
He could go as early as No. 10 to the Portland Trail Blazers, although it’s a bit more likely the Atlanta Hawks grab him at No. 16 or 17. Chicago will not let him past No. 20, as he’s an ideal fit in the backcourt with Derrick Rose.
No. 15: Steve Adams, C, Pittsburgh (Up from No. 29)
Adams did himself a huge favor by showing up at the combine and proving to scouts that he’s not a clumsy, foreign seven-footer that has bust written on his forehead.
He was dominating the competition in athletic tests, measured out above expectations, interviewed well and now looks to be a firm lottery pick.
The Pitt star looks to be a strong option for Portland at No. 10, Philly at 11, OKC at 12 and Dallas at 13.
No. 16: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga (Down from No. 10)
Olynyk showed some pretty unimpressive athleticism and short arms at the combine, but no one was drafting him based on his ability to jump out of the gym or touch his toes standing up.
The ‘Zags star can simply score the basketball and uses an impressive array of face-up and low-post moves to get his buckets. Don’t be surprised if the Hawks use one of their picks on him, the Brooklyn Nets take a stab at No. 22 or the Indiana Pacers grab him at No. 23.
No. 17: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke (Remains No. 17)
Plumlee isn’t going to be a star in the NBA, but he’s a solid garbage man that will clean up the glass, work hard on defense and gain extra possessions for his team.
He’s looking like a perfect member of the Hawks, although the Celtics at No. 16 and Nets at No. 22 should be interested.
No. 18: Allen Crabbe, SG, California (Up from No. 22)
Crabbe is a bona fide sniper that can shoot the lights out.
He has the size to get his jumper off over anyone and should be a decent defender when he’s motivated. Don’t be shocked if the Bucks nab him at No. 15, although his long-range gunning will be coveted by numerous organizations.
No. 19: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany (Up from No. 20)
Schroeder put himself on the map at the Nike Hoops Summit a few weeks ago and has held steady as a possible mid-to-late first-rounder.
The German can get into the lane with ease and is a skilled finisher around the hoop, although he’s more than capable of passing it to the open man for an easy shot.
Boston will be interested at No. 16, Chicago is a good spot at No. 20 and the New York Knicks cannot let him past No. 24.
No. 20: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Down from No. 16)
Withey is another older player that doesn’t have a high ceiling, but should be a regular contributor in the Association.
He’s capable of defending his position, protecting the rim and sending back shots that go up anywhere near him. That’s the type of player the Nets (No. 22) need behind Brook Lopez, although he could come off the board earlier.
No. 21: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State (Up from No. 26)
Franklin is a freakish athlete that is one of the best rebounding guard prospects we’ve ever seen.
The guy jumps out of the gym and is a jumper away from being a fixture on the team that drafts him, which may be the Hawks (No. 17 and 18), Bulls (20), Los Angeles Clippers (25) or Denver Nuggets (27).
No. 22: Sergey Karasev, SG, Russia (Down from No. 18)
This Russian sniper is arguably one of the top long-range shooters in the 2013 class, which makes him an instant asset coming off a bench.
He’d fit in perfectly with the Timberwolves at No. 26, as the team boasts two other players from his home country—Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved.
No. 23: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami (Unranked last week)
Larkin blew up at the combine, proving to onlookers that he’s a freakish athlete that deserves to be picked in the first round of the draft.
If the Jazz hasn’t addressed their PG situation by the time they pick for a second time (No. 21), the Miami star should be the slam-dunk selection. The Clips and Knicks are both options if he sneaks past Utah.
No. 24: Glen Rice Jr., SG, D-League (Down from No. 19)
Rice’s stock dipped at the combine, as he didn’t seem to be the same lights-out shooter he was during his D-League championship run with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
That definitely hurts his projections as a possible swingman that could play the 2 as well as the 3, but he may mesh with the Cavs at No. 19, San Antonio Spurs at No. 28 or Suns at No. 30.
No. 25: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan (Down from No. 21)
Hardaway Jr. is someone that could throw up a shot from anywhere in the arena and have a good chance of making it. He proved that in Chicago and showed a fire to boot, wowing talent evaluators with his interviews and hustle in every single event.
It wouldn’t be that much of a stretch if the Knicks make a move for him to replace J.R. Smith, although the Pacers, T-Wolves and Nuggets are all great landing destinations as well.
No. 26: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece (Down from No. 23)
Not much is known about this international man of mystery, but he could be an elite point forward with his crazy long arms and immense athleticism. He could also be a bust that never makes it to American shores to play in an NBA game.
A team with nothing to lose—such as the OKC Thunder at No. 29---will likely make a play on this young man and let him develop overseas until he’s ready.
No. 27: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas (Remains No. 27)
Mitchell is an athletic beast that can guard either forward position and bang for rebounds with the best of them.
He has to work on his scoring touch, but the upside is certainly still there. As holders of the last pick in the first round, the Suns are an ideal candidate to snag this underrated prospect.
No. 28: Tony Snell, SF, New Mexico (Unranked last week)
Snell’s performance at the combine turned a lot of heads, meaning he could sneak into the first round come June 27.
The New Mexico star has one of the sweetest strokes and grades out as one of the top athletes in this crop of talent. Denver (27), San Antonio (28) and Phoenix (30) should all take a close look at this young man.
No. 29: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil (Down from No. 25)
Noguiera is inconsistent as they come, but his upside is undeniable.
The big man excels down in the post and uses his superior size to grab boards and score points. He has some polishing to do on both ends of the court, but may go as early as No. 19 to Cleveland.
No. 30: Rudy Gobert, PF, France (Remains No. 30)
At the combine, Gobert showed that his athleticism is subpar and only thing going for him is height and reach at this juncture.
While some teams may try to mold his big body into something resembling a serviceable PF or C, it’s unlikely to happen and this Frenchman seems like a major bust. However, he could still go as early as No. 12 to OKC, is an option at No. 19 with Cleveland and any franchise after that needing a big will give him a look.