NBA Draft 2013: Biggest Risks to Avoid at All Costs

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IJune 26, 2013

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 04:  Nerlens Noel #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats dunks the ball during the game against the Samford Bulldogs at Rupp Arena on December 4, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Potential can be a nasty word when looking to draft a future NBA star. 

The 2013 NBA draft class features a few prospects that will likely be drafted solely because of what teams believe they will do, rather than what they've done thus far in their college careers.

While there is certainly an inherent risk associated with every single draft pick, some prospects bring more risk to the table than others. 

The following players have too many red flags attached to their names to risk an early first-round pick. 


Nerlens Noel: Too Risky for a Top-5 Pick

Noel is a polarizing player in draftnik circles. 

It's easy to see how people could fall in love with his potential. Dominant big men are rare in the NBA, and some believe Noel has the height, length and athleticism to potentially develop into one in the future.

That said, Noel isn't worth a high pick. 

Forget for a moment that Noel is currently recovering from an ACL injury. Even before his injury, the athletic big man out of Kentucky was a risky player to consider at the top of the draft. 

The teenager has proven to be one of the most dynamic defenders to come out of college in some time, averaging 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game. That said, his length and athleticism are most evident when he's rotating to the ball, rather than when he's defending strong post players inside.

Size and strength (or lack thereof) will always be an issue for Noel. At the NBA Scouting Combine, Noel measured in at 6'10" without shoes but weighed in at just 206 pounds, according to

We all saw how easily Roy Hibbert was able to move Chris Bosh in the Eastern Conference Finals this season, and Bosh is bulky compared to Noel, at 235 pounds.

Noel's freakish athleticism won't mean squat when he's going up against the NBA's top centers—he'll get absolutely dominated inside.

The biggest reason to avoid taking Noel early in the draft, however, is that he doesn't have enough skill as a post-up offensive weapon—he doesn't know how to use his length and athleticism to create points.

Even if Noel never has another injury in his career, he doesn't have the size or overall game to become a dominant big man in the NBA.


Shabazz Muhammad: Too Risky for a Top-15 Pick

Muhammad is a player some see as a potential top-10 pick, while others believe he could slide into the second round. 

Count me among the latter—he could easily slide into Round 2. 

A player who can get red-hot from the field, Muhammad is viewed as a potential big-time scorer at the next level by those who believe he'll be picked up early in the draft.

The thing about the former Bruin that gives me pause, however, is that he is maddeningly inconsistent and goes cold for long stretches of time. 

In his lone season with UCLA, Muhammad shot just 44.3 percent from the floor and just 37.7 percent from behind the arc. These are decent numbers, but hardly impressive enough to launch him into the top 10, if his shooting is the biggest thing he has to offer.

Compared to some of the other top guard/forward prospects, Muhammad doesn't stand out. 

Looking at his overall game, Muhammad's ability to score points in bunches is his best attribute. He rarely looks to distribute the ball and isn't a dynamic defender, averaging just 0.8 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.1 blocks per game.

Going up against the top shooting guards and small forwards in the NBA, Muhammad will get torched on both ends of the court. I see him potentially becoming a sixth man type of player in the NBA, and I'll frankly be shocked if he ever becomes a dynamic starter.


Mason Plumlee: Too Risky as a Top-20 Pick

Plumlee will never become an NBA starter.

If he reaches his full potential, Plumlee will become a solid bench player, but he could just as easily become a permanent benchwarmer.

Looking at his four-year career at Duke, it appears as if Plumlee has already hit his ceiling. 

He isn't going to get much bigger or stronger, isn't a powerful defender or post presence on the offensive end and doesn't have exceptional range with his jump shot. 

That said, the former Blue Devils center does a lot of little things well, and he is more pro-ready than many of the other big men coming out this season. He will be able to step in and contribute meaningful minutes from Day 1. 

But Plumlee will never become a star—he's going to be a role player at the next level, and teams will be able to find players with more upside in the first 20 picks.


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