2013 NBA Draft: 5 Prospects with Most All-Star Potential
The NBA draft is an annual guessing game, with multi-million dollar gambles being stirred in a pot with the most consequential decision-making an organization can ever go through.
Nobody knows who will succeed and who will fail. "Sure things" don't exist in real life when we're talking about players in their late teens and early 20s.
They may have dominated overseas or absolutely smoked the collegiate ranks, but the NBA is the fastest, harshest basketball league in the world, and there's nothing to prepare prospects for its relentless pace until they're actively engaged in it.
Here are five players from this year's draft class (expected to be one of the poorest in recent memory) who have a relatively solid chance at proving their worth at the NBA level and making whichever team that selected them feel more clever than its competition.
Information used in this article can be found at DraftExpress.com.
5. Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
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Shooting guards who can actually score on their own have become a rarity in today's NBA.
Kentavius Caldwell-Pope has the size and quickness to match up well with guys who'll be guarding him once he's drafted, and his ability to put the ball in the hoop will make him incredibly valuable.
Caldwell-Pope's shooting line last season at the University of Georgia was phenomenal. He knocked down 50.5 percent of his shots from the floor, 37.7 percent of his three-pointers and 79.7 percent of his free throws.
Those numbers were all vastly improved from his previous season (especially from behind the three-point line, where he shot just 30.4 percent), and at just 20 years old, it's easy to imagine him only getting better from year to year as he continues to display confidence away from the ball.
Catching and shooting without putting the ball on the floor is an increasingly vital skill that guards absolutely need to possess if they want to play big minutes in the NBA. Caldwell-Pope appears more than ready.
He's also long enough (6'8" wingspan, which is as long as Klay Thompson) to have an impact on the defensive end, which is another crucial area that perimeter players need to excel in if they want to see their role expanded.
4. Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
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As we've seen throughout the NBA these last few years, having a tenacious defender who's able to pressure point guards 90 feet from the basket while also holding his own in the half-court (running through screens, not over helping away from the ball, never getting beat off the dribble, etc.) is immensely helpful.
These players arguably impact the game more than anyone else because they're able to showcase their skill set on a nightly basis. A really great jump-shooter will still miss half his shots, but a defender who disrupts the flow of an opposing offense is continuously productive.
The only thing that should slow him down is either his coach or his own tired legs. Tony Allen and Avery Bradley are two wonderful examples of this type of player, and if Victor Oladipo is able to join their company, his future in the NBA is more than bright.
What makes Oladipo a lottery pick, though, is what he brings on the offensive end. He can get into the paint off the dribble and finish at the rim. He is able to knock down open shots from the corner (a skill he's probably working on in a gym somewhere right now) and is an explosive finisher in transition.
The individual defense should translate once he arrives at the next level, but if his offense comes along too, Oladipo will eventually become a special NBA player.
3. C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh
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C.J. McCollum might be the best shooter in this draft. The sample size is a little small (12 games), but last season, he shot an insane 51.6 percent from behind the three-point line on over five attempts per game.
That type of accuracy combined with such a high volume of shots makes general managers and head coaches drool because it opens up the floor for everything else—driving lanes, passing opportunities, etc.—and forces the defense to play McCollum's team in ways it'd prefer not to while he's on the floor.
If McCollum is able to combine his precision with a respectable first step that allows him to regularly stab at the defense's heart, his impact on an offense will be more than encouraging.
2. Alex Len, C, Maryland
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Despite being the most visible characteristic all scouts are looking for, size can't be taught. When feline nimbleness, quickness and coordination are combined in one basketball player who's also very tall, the result is typically a franchise pillar.
Alex Len is one of those rare commodities, standing at 7'1" with a 7'4" wingspan. In his two seasons at the University of Maryland, the 20-year-old Len has proven to have boundless potential.
More than likely, he'll one day find himself as a reliable post presence in a league severely lacking the breed, and his athleticism that is demonstrated while protecting the rim instantly doubles his on-court value.
Len is so young with so much space for improvement, and in just a few short years, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him regularly dominate opposing centers with myriad low post moves. By the time he hits his prime, Len could easily be an All-Star-caliber big man.
1. Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
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There is a bundle of shooting guards in this draft class who figure to be hit-or-miss as NBA players. They could easily struggle if not selected into the right situation and are thrust into a role that's too big for their individual skill set.
Ben McLemore is the one shooting guard in this draft who doesn't fall within that category. He's strong, can shoot (again, a huge plus as offenses need spacing in order to function) and has potential to initiate offense for others on top of scoring for himself.
In his one season at the University of Kansas, the 20-year-old McLemore shot just under 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the three-point line.
If he's a pick-and-roll threat, a spot-up shooter and someone who can take his man off the dribble, McLemore should be the first player in his class to make an All-Star team.