As we inch closer to the 2013 NBA draft, more and more rumors will naturally sprout up like a high school prospect going through a growth spurt.
Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel has been penciled in at No. 1 overall for much of the year by draft experts, but recent rumors have made things interesting.
Two prospects in particular have soared up draft boards, hailing from New Mexico and Greece.
Here's a look at some of the latest buzz surrounding the 2013 NBA draft, complete with analysis.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Moving Up Draft Boards?
According to Chad Ford of ESPN.com (subscription required), Greek small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo boosted his stock at the Eurocamp recently.
Ford wrote, "Antetokounmpo clearly has tremendous upside, and based on the feedback I heard, really helped himself. Some scouts believe he won't get past the (Atlanta) Hawks on draft night."
The news doesn't surprise me, since I've been touting the Greek for a long time now. I've had him going near the middle of the first round for a while, with the Cleveland Cavaliers taking him at No. 19 overall in my latest mock draft. The Hawks have the No. 17 and No. 18 overall picks this year.
Antetokounmpo is undoubtedly a project, and the competition he faced in Greece has been compared to Division III basketball in the United States, but the tools are there. The 6'9" forward has been compared to Scottie Pippen in terms of his skill set. He's extremely fluid driving into the lane and has shown nice passing and vision.
It will be awhile before the 18-year-old can contribute at the NBA level, but—with some work—he could be a difference-maker in the pros down the road.
Tony Snell Gaining?
New Mexico's Tony Snell is reportedly a lock in the first round, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
Spears tweeted on Tuesday:
Snell is a rather polarizing prospect. On one hand, he has incredible athleticism and size—he ranked second among all participants in lane agility testing at the combine and is over 6'7" with shoes. On the other hand, he was inconsistent at New Mexico—he shot 42 percent from the field in his senior season.
Snell's fluid shooting stroke may alleviate some concerns. He also ranked second in shooting drills on Day 1 of the combine.
It appears as if at least one team in the first round believes it can work with Snell to become more consistent. Joe Kaiser of ESPN.com (subscription required) speculated that the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz (No. 21), Los Angeles Clippers (No. 25) and Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 26) could be interested in drafting Snell.
Right now, I'm thinking that the Hawks will draft Antetokounmpo and a big man. In that sense, I could see the Cavaliers or Jazz snatching Snell up. I think the Clippers are out of the question, since I expect them to trade Eric Bledsoe for a shooting guard and draft a backup point guard. The Timberwolves could be in play for Snell.
Alex Len in Play at No. 1 Overall?
According to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, Maryland center Alex Len could be a top-six pick this year. In fact, he could possibly go No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He's seriously in the mix with the Cavs for the No. 1 pick, with some sources indicating the Cavs could be moving his direction (I'm told Noel, Porter and Oladipo are the others). The Bobcats are also very high on Len, as are the Suns and Pelicans.
Make no mistake about it, Len has a boatload of potential. The 7'1" big man has a variety of skills, including an inside-outside offensive game, passing, rebounding and shot-blocking. He's also very athletic for his size.
As Ford wrote, "Teams feel like he has better size, is more polished offensively and could have a bigger upside than (Kentucky center Nerlens) Noel."
In terms of rebounding and shot-blocking, I'd give the edge to Noel, but Len is a more well-rounded prospect. Plus, Noel measured in at a staggering 206 pounds at the combine, which is incredibly thin, even for a power forward. Noel is also coming off a torn ACL.
I think the buzz surrounding Len is real, and I wouldn't be surprised if he were selected at No. 1 overall by the Cavaliers this year.
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