The following 2013 NBA Draft rankings are based on an embarrassing amount of time watching game film combined with statistical analysis in preparation for a scouting position.
These are all the players I think are worth first-round consideration.
There are at least five players from each position listed, and only foreign players who played in the Nike Hoops Summit are included.
* Denotes multiple positions
|2||Erick Green||PG||Virginia Tech||6'3"||185||Senior|
|4||Nate Wolters||PG||South Dakota St.||6'5"||190||Senior|
|6||Shane Larkin||PG||Miami||6'0"||176||Sophomore (20)|
|9||Isaiah Caanan||PG/SG||Murray St.||6'0"||195||Senior|
Trey Burke, Sophomore, Michigan
Trey Burke is a winner. He's extremely quick and has the ball on a string. He possesses great vision, is deadly off the bounce and can pull up and knock down the mid-range jumper as well as the three. He plays the game at his pace and is nearly impossible to speed up, rarely committing turnovers.
Burke is very crafty, with all kinds of floaters in his arsenal along with the ability to adjust mid-air. He’s also quick with a very low dribble, making it next to impossible to take it from him. He’s a great finisher around the rim, using an array of fakes to throw off defenders. He has the ability to knock down fadeaway jumpers, and he’s really polished in all areas of the game.
He’s also an intense competitor, and he loves the big moment. Burke always has his finger on the pulse of the game, and instinctively knows what his team needs from him at any given time.
He’s ready to play right away. Adding strength should be his top priority. His size hurts him, but he's a great leader and overcomes it with heart. He’s an excellent shooter, but not as strong or as physical as Chris Paul. He's similar to Tony Parker, with deeper range.
Erick Green, Senior, Virginia Tech
Green is very quick and can score in a variety of ways. He led the nation in scoring in 2012-13. He has very good size for a point guard, and he’s extremely fast pushing the ball up the court. Green has a fierce competitive toughness about him that I like a lot, and he’s become a much better passer despite having teammates who can't make shots.
He’s also a good rebounder and defender, and he’s great off the dribble. He can get to the rim, pull up for a jumper off the dribble or knock down the open three. He makes great decisions. There’s not much he can’t do, and he would look a lot better with more talent surrounding him.
Green's team was decimated when Virginia Tech made the baffling decision to fire Seth Greenberg, just as the coach-turned-analyst was starting to reel in very good recruiting classes, including future Louisville star Montrezl Harrell. This set the program into a tailspin, leading to the departures of nearly all of the teams' good players. Green decided to stick it out until graduation, an admirable decision that will likely hurt his draft stock.
Finishing with his left is an area where Green needs to improve, but he has a lot of tools to work with. He also needs to get stronger. Green could end up being the biggest steal in the draft, as it seems no one is talking about taking him as a high draft choice. A good comparison is Jrue Holiday, but he could be a better decision-maker and shooter/scorer.
C.J. McCollum, Senior, Lehigh
McCollum broke on the scene in a big way against Duke in the tournament in 2012, and I’m a little surprised he didn’t turn pro. Then he broke his foot.
He’s a phenomenal ball handler and scorer, with a lethal outside shot and good vision. He made great decisions, trusted his teammates and shot a very high percentage, even though he played at a small school and was the major focus of every defense he faced. His assist numbers will be much higher when surrounded by better talent, and his shooting numbers will get even better when he’s not consistently forced to take tough shots.
A good comparison is Stephon Curry, and if he's anywhere close to that he’ll likely be a steal in the 2013 draft because of the injury.
Nate Wolters, Senior, South Dakota St.
Wolters has a Steve Nash-like ability to score and pass. He played on a very small and unknown team, but he had big games against all types of opponents. He is deadly from outside and off the dribble, and he has every shot in the book. He makes incredible passes in small windows, and he has the ball on a string. He needs to improve defensively, but his length and high basketball IQ allows him to play solid team defense. Wolters is an intense competitor, and he's always focused on winning. If he gets the opportunity he could end up being a steal.
Michael Carter-Williams, Sophomore, Syracuse
Carter-Williams nearly left Syracuse last season due to a lack of playing time. But luckily for the Orange, he decided to come back and lead them to the Final Four last season. He has great vision and was among the national leaders in assists, and he’s always capable of a triple-double.
He has tremendous size for a point guard, which allows him to see over the defense and find the open man. It also leads to lots of rebounds. He has great length, speed and athleticism. Carter-Williams wreaks havoc in the passing lanes, and he can convert a turnover into a layup in no time. His shooting needs some work, but it will improve.
This guy has the potential to be a Rajon Rondo-type player, but five inches taller. Scary.
Does he have the competitive fire to be the best player and leader on a team? He's inconsistent in this area, but he is still young. I don't see the killer instinct in him that I want from my leader, but he's a very solid point guard. He has shrunk in the big moment before, but he’s delivered as well.
This was basically his first season playing college basketball, so there’s still a lot of room for growth. He's a risk, but his size and feel for the game make it one worth taking.
Shane Larkin, Sophomore, Miami
Shane Larkin was downright dominant at times in the ACC. He has all the skills you want in a point guard and clearly has a great athletic pedigree. He had the highest vertical jump at the combine, and with his phenomenal speed, quickness and ability to change speeds effectively, he's one of the most impressive athletes in this draft. His height is an issue, but he can definitely play at the NBA level.
Larkin has a great handle, plays under control and is a very good team leader. He's a shooter with deep range, and he has the ability to make off-balance shots, floaters, step-backs, and everything else you can imagine. He finishes well around the rim, and he's not afraid to take it in among the trees.
He's a backup to start his career, but I could definitely see him developing into a starter at some point. However, he may have a hard time defending bigger point guards.
Ray McCallum, Junior, Detroit
McCallum is a coach's son who was clearly taught all the fundamentals of basketball at a young age. He gives great effort on both ends, playing under control but with a competitive fire which I love. He has sneaky-good athleticism, and that combined with his tight handle allows him to easily get by his man.
He has very good vision and prefers to facilitate rather than score, but the lack of talent surrounding him at Detroit forced him to look for his own shot more than he typically would. He was a good shooter and finisher without much help, and he can at least be a very good backup in the league, with a potential to become a starter.
Pierre Jackson, Senior, Baylor
Jackson has explosive athleticism, top-notch speed and jumping ability with great ball handling skills. He also has great vision, finishes well around the rim and can knock down the three. He's very small, but he's a great competitor and always plays his heart out. I'm kind of surprised his team wasn't better this season, but there has to be a spot for him.
Jackson is probably a backup, but a good one. Isaiah Thomas? He'll draw a lot of Nate Robinson comparisons after Nate's breakout playoff performance, but he's more of a pure point guard who can take over if he needs to. He won't have the longest career, considering his athleticism is a major factor.
Isaiah Canaan, Senior, Murray State
Caanan is lightning-quick and can score from anywhere. He also has good vision and a relentless motor. He’s pretty short, but he’s extremely strong and isn’t afraid to challenge the big boys. This can get him in trouble at times and often results in turnovers.
He loves taking the big shot, and his will to win is tremendous. Caanan is very good on the defensive end as well, and he can definitely be a contributor in the NBA in some capacity. There's a chance he could become a starter, but he seems perfect for the “scoring and energy spark off the bench” role.
Dennis Schroeder, Germany
I only saw Schroeder at the Nike Hoops Summit, but I liked what I saw. He has great length, speed and quickness, and he showed a very nice handle in traffic. He's a pass-first point guard with tremendous vision, and he's great out of the pick-and-roll. He showed a nice mid-range game and the ability to knock down the three as well.
He was confident, aggressive, decisive and displayed a natural feel for the game. He finished well around the rim and made good decisions with the ball. Schroeder is an active defender whose length allows him to disrupt the passing lanes, and he's really solid in every aspect of the game. He needs to get stronger before he's ready to take the reigns for an NBA team, but he's still very young and has a lot of potential. I haven't seen much of him, however.
|1||Jamaal Franklin||SG||San Diego St.||6'5"||205||Junior|
|9||Tim Hardaway Jr||SG||Michigan||6'5"||205||Junior|
Jamaal Franklin, Junior, San Diego State
Franklin has one of the best motors in college basketball on both ends of the floor. He plays so hard because it's the only way he knows how. He’s extremely quick with tremendous athleticism, and he can often be seen throwing down monster dunks. He knows the game well and is very crafty. He finishes very well around the rim in a variety of ways.
He might be the best competitor in this draft. His shot has improved but it still needs a lot of work. Franklin has a great work ethic, so I expect him to do the necessary work to make it much better. He’s certainly not afraid of the big moment, and he thrives when most would shrink. His confidence is a big plus.
Franklin is also a great rebounder for his size and position. He's very strong and plays physical, aggressive defense. His decision-making was often questionable this year, but by the end of the season he was a big-time playmaker who was making the right play most of the time. He can be the facilitator of the offense from the shooting guard position.
There is no denying the talent is there. If he keeps working on his jumper, he could be a very good player in the NBA, possibly an All-Star. Few players have his athletic gifts combined with his competitive toughness, and I think he has Manu Ginobili-like potential.
Victor Oladipo, Junior, Indiana
Oladipo possesses incredible athleticism and quickness. He’s a menace on the defensive end of the floor and in transition, and he’s improved his offensive game drastically this season. He’s completely fearless when attacking the rim and can regularly be seen throwing down explosive dunks. He rebounded very well and wreaked havoc in the passing lanes and on the ball defensively for a very disciplined Indiana team. Oladipo also shot a sky-high percentage, mostly as a result of all the dunks and layups.
His energy is infectious, and his work ethic should make him a big contributor at the next level. I'm not sure I've ever seen someone play so hard at times, but the environment at Assembly Hall often sent that team into a frenzy. They were as well-coached and pumped up as I've ever seen, and they often dominated their opponent thoroughly.
For me, this actually hurts his value a little bit, only because there is no way he can play that crazily for an entire NBA season. College basketball is just different, and the grind of the NBA year should slightly reduce the impact of his all-out effort. I would think he even has the potential to burn out. He's not as skilled offensively as some of the other shooting guards, but he keeps improving and makes up for any skills he lacks with his strength, aggression and relentless motor.
It just won't be quite as effective in the NBA until he gets a little more skilled with the ball.
He's not a No. 1 option on offense, but he's a very solid role player who makes everyone around him better. A good comparison is Tony Allen, but Oladipo is a better shooter. He needs to work on his ball-handling to take the next step in his development. He appears to have an incredible drive to get better, so who knows how high his ceiling can be? He will be a solid starter at the least, making him the safe pick among this shooting guard class.
Archie Goodwin, Freshman, Kentucky
Archie has explosive speed and jumping ability, great size, length and athleticism, and he gets to the rim at will. Goodwin finishes extremely well off the drive in a wide variety of ways, and he’s a triple-double threat. He started the season shooting very well from the outside, but his percentage dropped dramatically in conference play. Archie is a disruptive defensive player, using his speed and length to break up the passing lanes.
He was being asked to handle the point guard position a lot in his freshman season at Kentucky, when in reality he’s probably a slashing shooting guard. Once Harrow came back he got a lot more work at shooting guard, and he seemed to struggle to find his identity a bit. Despite that, he always played extremely hard and never toned down his effort.
Goodwin is a scoring machine who’s extremely aggressive in his attack of the basket. He just can't shoot that well, yet. He's young. He makes some poor decisions. He needs to work on his passing, vision, and decision-making. He’s still out of control at times, but he’s got all the tools to be a great player at the next level eventually.
I love his competitive will and heart. Another year in college would have done him well, and I don't really like his decision to leave, but I'm sure he has his reasons. His experience playing the point should make him an even more dangerous weapon at some point, and I think he's one of the biggest wild cards in the draft. He reminds me of Dwyane Wade at times, or maybe Jamal Crawford, but he clearly isn’t ready yet.
He could be a steal, if you have a little time to wait. He could also lose confidence and never be all that good. High risk, high reward. The best move is probably to trade for him after a year or two, but by then it could be too late.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Sophomore, Georgia
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a wild card for me. I only saw Kentavious play a couple of times, and I was often disgusted by what I saw. He made a lot of bad decisions. He took the dumbest shots. Many were fadeaways with his foot on the three-point line. He would oftentimes make a really nice move, only to cut it short in a terrible position and take a bad shot with the defender right there.
He was so close to creating a great play, but he didn't follow through. His team lost a lot.
He also showed glimpses of brilliance. He flashed an ability to get to the free-throw line and knock them down. He's a powerful finisher around the rim. He has a very nice shot when he takes quality ones, and he makes some of the ones he shouldn't take. He's strong and athletic and does good work on the boards.
His team and his numbers got better late in the year, so maybe he can learn what he needs to. He's still very young, but there's big potential here.
He really impressed me when he made nearly every shot at the combine. His numbers were huge this season. He's super athletic. He's big. He's a great scorer. He rebounds. He plays very tough active defense. He's very competitive and hates to lose. If someone teaches him to be a great team player and improve his shot selection, he could be an All-Star. But from all I've seen, he has a lot of work to do.
KCP is a gamble, but in a draft where nothing is certain, he could pay off big. He nearly made every shot. And it looked easy and under control.
Ben McLemore, Freshman, Kansas
McLemore has tremendous length and athleticism, and the ability to finish powerfully at the rim. He’s an elite three-point shooter with deep range. He’s solid off the dribble, with explosive quickness and elevation. His ball-handling has room for improvement, but the problem may be a lack of aggression. He’s tough and disruptive on defense, with his long arms making it easy to block the passing lanes and pressure the ball. He plays with consistently good effort and hustle.
He's shown a tendency to disappear offensively on the road and in big games, however. He started the season off on a tear and even hit a huge shot in crunch time, but ever since, he seemed to run away from the big moments. This is very disturbing, as it seems he often has trouble asserting himself when he's not feeding off the energy of the home crowd.
He’s getting Ray Allen comparisons, and it’s hard to disagree that he has that kind of ability. I've dropped him at times because of his unwillingness to be aggressive and assertive, but I later learned that he was under tremendous personal stress, and he's still young. It seems he's had a rough upbringing, so I'd make sure to have people there to help him with the transition to the life of an NBA player. This is a complicated case.
He has a dazzling skill set, but I'm worried that he has the mentality of a complementary player rather than a star. There's a possibility that he'll become more aggressive once he gets more experience, but it seems more likely that he'll be a solid piece to the puzzle, but not the centerpiece. He'll likely be picked too high for what he'll end up giving, but he should eventually be a starter. Crazy talent.
Shabazz Muhammad, Freshman, UCLA
Muhammad is a scoring machine who can put the ball in the hole. He's extremely deadly off the catch-and-shoot, but he runs into trouble when he attempts to put the ball on the floor. He has a wide variety of shots, floaters and putbacks, but his lack of quickness bothers me. He came into the season out of shape, but he lost the extra weight quickly and started moving much better.
I just think he's going to have trouble creating his own shots, as he wasn't really able to do it at UCLA. He possesses a tremendous will to win, and his effort and competitive drive are very positive attributes. He wants to play defense, but his lack of explosiveness just doesn't allow him to be that good. I don’t have him ranked as high as most, but his work ethic could lead to big improvements.
I just don't see him as a star. He will be drafted way too high based on the hype coming out of high school, and there's a chance he could be a massive disappointment. He'll likely end up being a nice role player who can score the ball.
Allen Crabbe, Junior, California
Allen Crabbe has the skill set to be a star in the NBA. He can score in every way imaginable, as he possesses every kind of shot in the book. He's deadly from anywhere on the court when open, and he moves extremely well without the ball (comes off screens like Reggie Miller). He can finish with either hand from as far out as the free-throw line, and his length allows him to get shots off in the presence of larger defenders.
However, his attitude and effort are big question marks for me. Crabbe could often be seen openly showing frustration with his teammates, and he has a tendency to sulk when things aren't going well. He allows his defense to suffer when this happens, and he too often chooses cherry-picking over helping out on the boards. He's worth taking a chance on if you can afford it, but he's high risk/reward. He could be the kind of player who tears a team apart or just can't play because of his defense, or he might just be an All-Star. The culture of the team he goes to will probably decide which direction his career takes.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Junior, SG Michigan
Hardaway Jr. is an explosive athlete with a great three-point shot. He can make all types of shots and finishes very well around the rim. He's extremely long and can lock down on defense, but right now I see him as a solid sub off the bench. He's just not always consistent. Sometimes he completely disappears. And when he's not on offensively, his defensive effort can suffer with it.
He was on a very good Michigan team with a lot of options, but at the end of the year he looked like the fourth-best player on the team. He showed flashes of brilliance at times, but I'm not completely convinced.
Paul is lightning-quick with a huge vertical and has the ability to score off the dribble or from outside. He can be a great defender as well, but his defense tends to follow the direction of his offense. Paul has shown the ability to completely take over a game, scoring inside and out while also flying around on defense. However, he’s also shown a tendency to settle for the deep three, and when his shot isn’t falling, the rest of his game drops off substantially. The fact that this was still happening in his senior year is concerning, but he can definitely help a team.
Vander Blue, Junior, Marquette
Vander Blue was always extremely quick with explosive athleticism, but he started to take his game to a much higher level late last season. He's always been a great defender with tremendous anticipation, but the addition of a good handle, a consistent floater and a mid-range game made him a much more well-rounded player. He really took control of his Marquette team around the midway point of the season, and he displayed a clutch mentality and desire to get better as the season went on.
He has a fiery, competitive will that led to several game-winners last season, including in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. Blue is an effective slasher who finishes extremely well at the rim, and I look for him to continue to improve his shot as his career progresses. He should definitely make a rotation for an NBA team eventually.
|3||Deshaun Thomas||SG/SF||Ohio St||6'7"||225||Junior|
Otto Porter, Sophomore, Georgetown
Porter is an extremely long small forward with the vision of a point guard. He plays hard all the time, gets to loose balls, goes up strong and can knock down the open mid-range jumper. He also shot 42 percent from three-point range. He's not afraid to take the big shot, and he’s a total team player.
Porter is a versatile defender as well, with a deep understanding of team defense and just knowing where to be on the court. His game at Syracuse this season was the stuff of legends.
Georgetown really struggled offensively this season, and while I’m not sure its method of offense is really suited to making anyone look good, Porter still found a way to be very effective. I don't think he's a No. 1 option, but he's a solid No. 2 or No. 3 in a starting rotation and an all-around great contributor. Good comparisons could be Nicolas Batum and Luol Deng.
Livio Jean-Charles, France
I've heard Jean-Charles talked about as a second-round pick, and since I've only seen him play in the Nike Hoops Summit, he's a huge wild card for me. Going just by what I saw in that game, he's not only a first-round pick, but he should potentially be a lottery pick.
Jean-Charles was extremely active in that game, setting lots of great screens and playing with an intense, competitive fire. He was always in the right place and finished everything around the rim. He has a sky-high basketball IQ.
He was a really tough defender. He contested shots at the rim, aggressively attacked the offense, got in the passing lanes, boxed out hard and played great help defense. He also flashed a good-looking mid-range jumper. It's a small sample size, and it was against high school kids, but I was very impressed by what I saw. And he's only 19.
DeShaun Thomas, Junior, Ohio State
Thomas seemed to hold back in the 2011-12 season to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes, but this year he was the focal point. He can score in every way imaginable, and he showed that by leading the Big Ten in scoring. Thomas finds a way to get his points every night with a wide variety of three-pointers, floaters, mid-range jumpers and buckets around the rim. Thomas could stand to improve his quickness, ball handling and defense, and if he does he could be very good.
He played much harder as the season went along, and I love his will to win. He looks really slow at times, but so does Paul Pierce. His defense can't be that bad, as Ohio State was arguably the best defensive team in the country. Thomas loves the big moment, and he had his Buckeye team playing better than I thought they could.
I like Thomas more than most it seems. He could be a steal if he falls.
James Southerland, Senior, Syracuse
Southerland is deadly from three-point range, and his size, length and high release allow him to get his shot off with ease. His decision-making can be questionable at times, and he has a tendency to get in foul trouble, but he has a lot of good attributes that will translate well. His length makes him a solid defender and rebounder. He's a classic fit at the small forward position for a team looking to stretch the floor.
Andre Roberson, Sophomore, Colorado
Roberson is a great rebounder. He's very long and athletic and plays with tremendous hustle and effort. He has a knack for being in the right place. He's a versatile defender who can guard four different positions, and his relentless motor makes him effective against all types of players.
His offense is well behind his defense, however. He can hit the three, but it's not very consistent. He's an aggressive player, but everything about his offensive game needs work. He doesn't finish all that well around the basket, and he turned the ball over a little too much, but I love his work ethic. He's a bit of a project, but I expect him to get much better and eventually become a valuable role player.
|4||Brandon Davies||PF||BYU||6'10"||235||Senior (21)|
|5||Richard Howell||PF||N.C. State||6'8"||257||Senior|
Anthony Bennett, Freshman, UNLV
Bennett is a complete beast. He came into college with the body and game to excel right away, and he’s the most polished freshman big in the country. Bennett has great post moves, a surprisingly good jump shot with three-point range and very good ball handling skills for a big man. He’s a tremendous rebounder who uses his strength and length very well, and he takes every opportunity to thrown down a monster jam with his elite athleticism.
He passes effectively out of a double team. He sets great screens and understands how to clear out the lane for his teammates. He even makes his free throws.
Bennett played extremely hard at the beginning of the year, but later on he was pretty lazy on the defensive end. This could have been the result of playing on a selfish team, as you know he had to be getting frustrated when his playing hard was negated by the careless play of teammates. He also has asthma, and I'm not sure if that was affecting his effort or not.
His motor at times was concerning, and he made some questionable decisions, but that's how his team played, so maybe the culture will dictate his play. Foul trouble and an injury certainly played a part in some of it.
Since he showed great effort early in the year, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk any lazy play up to him being a freshman frustrated with his team or an injury. If you need a big man, he has to be a consideration. He's undersized, but I don't care. He has extreme length. Think Zach Randolph without all the early issues and much more athleticism. He's got a chance to be great, if he has the desire.
Cody Zeller, Sophomore, Indiana
Zeller is much more aggressive than his older brother, Tyler, making him tougher in the paint and in transition. He's an incredible athlete at that size. He plays a little like Tyler Hansbrough with more length and athleticism, but without the proven jumper. While he has more length than Hansbrough, he still has short arms for a 7-footer, so he doesn’t rebound as well as you’d like.
Zeller was too tentative at some times, but played too fast and out of control at others. This usually happened when he wasn't overwhelmingly the tallest guy out there. Many of his baskets came by him beating his man down the floor for a dunk in transition. This won’t happen often at the next level, so I’m just not sure he’s going to be as good as most people think in the NBA.
He’s a smart kid and an extremely hard worker, and I'm sure he will continue to improve. He's a very good team player who was well-coached in college, but he often struggled against length. This could be a major problem in the NBA, considering he'll be up against extremely long players on a nightly basis. He'll go too high, and if his confidence gets rattled he could have a hard time for a while.
On the flip side, if he gets a lot stronger and shows a nice mid-range game he could be very good.
Mason Plumlee, Senior, Duke
Plumlee has great size and athleticism, but he sometimes looks lost out there. However, effort is never a question with him. He usually dominates the boards, and he finishes well around the rim, often with huge dunks. His effort results in lots of loose balls and easy buckets, but he needs to develop the rest of his game to be a big factor at the next level. His athleticism is impressive, but it can only carry him so far.
He has a nice running hook but not a whole lot else. He needs to work on his mid-range jumper and develop more moves and counters in the post. He's shown the capability to disappear against high-level competition and at other times against mediocre players. But he's also been dominant more often than not.
He did improve his free-throw shooting drastically this season, showing very good mental toughness and giving the impression that he will get better. He started to pass the ball very well toward the end of the year, showing an ability to survey the defense and make the right decision. He appears to be a fierce competitor who will continually work on his game, and even though he has a lot to work on, I think he can be very good. If nothing else, his rebounding will translate.
Brandon Davies, Senior, BYU
Davies is a great passer and an intelligent team player. He has a very nice mid-range jumper and is a solid finisher around the rim, but he has a tendency to play soft at times. I'd like to see him rebound a little better, but he does a decent job on the boards. He's a solid defender who communicates well and knows where to be on the floor. He'll need to add strength and get tougher to compete at the next level, but he's certainly capable.
Richard Howell, Senior, N.C. State
Howell is a junkyard dog. He's extremely strong and rebounds well against everybody. He was stuck on a dysfunctional-at-times N.C. State team, but he was by far the most consistent player on the squad. He gives great effort every game, and his offensive skills continued to improve as the season progressed. He began to develop a little mid-range jumper, and he's added some solid post moves to his arsenal.
He's undersized in terms of height, but he makes up for it in strength, toughness and heart. There's definitely a spot for someone like that.
Nerlens Noel, Freshman, Kentucky
Noel is extremely long and athletic, blocks tons of shots and has good instincts on defense, although he could use more discipline on pump fakes. He's like a video game character out there a lot of the time, swatting or altering nearly every shot from the opposition. He was leading the nation in blocks before his injury, and he was also top-25 in steals. He’s a great rebounder and a phenomenal passing big man.
He finishes pretty well around the rim, and he’s elite in the air. If he’s close to the basket, look out, as he takes the ball aggressively to the rim. His hands need some work, and he doesn't shoot much, and therefore his entire offensive game is still pretty raw. From everything I’ve heard and seen, he has a great work ethic with extreme focus and intensity, so I expect him to improve in all areas and possibly be something we’ve rarely seen at the next level.
Noel tore his ACL, but he seems to have the ability and will to come back from it even stronger. He'll need to add a lot of weight to compete with NBA centers, but I have no doubt he'll do whatever it takes. Injury risk has to be a consideration.
Kelly Olynyk, Junior, Gonzaga
Olynyk made an unbelievable improvement following his redshirt season. His skill set is unique among 7-footers, as he seems more like a guard at times. He’s a great mid-range shooter with three-point range, a deft passer with exceptional vision and he has a crafty inside game with great touch. His aggressive play results in lots of free throws, and he knocks them down. He gives amazing effort, always hustling and usually first to the loose ball. He thrives on physical play.
He’s a very smart player and generally makes the right decision. He finishes extremely well around the rim and knows when to kick it back out. Olynyk plays with fire and intensity, but it seems he’s still often overlooked. This is probably related to how he looks and for whom he played. He should definitely be one of the top big men off the board.
He doesn't rebound as well as you'd like, but he competes very hard. He will be a unique player at the next level, but he has a chance to also be very good.
Steven Adams, Freshman, Pittsburgh
From what I hear, Adams was playing against both men and women in his league in New Zealand before he came to the States. That explains why he looked a little out of place for much of what I saw in his season at Pitt. I did notice signs of improvement toward the end, and I just have this feeling that Adams is going to be good. He was shooting from mid-range extremely well at the combine, and he's extremely strong and physical. He seems like a fierce competitor, but I haven't seen him all that much.
He didn't even play that much for a large part of the season. But he's huge. And athletic. And he's fast. His defense was his best asset during his freshman year.
He was a very good shot blocker and position defender. If he displays the touch he showed on the jumpers around the rim, he could be scary good. The learning curve from New Zealand was steep, but he's climbing quickly. There aren't a lot of great centers in the league, and he could be one of the better ones eventually. It might take a few years, but I think he's a good gamble.
Alex Len, Sophomore, Maryland
Len came onto the scene with authority in a dominating performance against Nerlens Noel early this season. In that game he showed the ability to dominate inside and on the glass and even knock down the mid-range jumper. He’s since struggled to replicate that kind of performance, and he tends to play too tentatively. I think that was often because he was in foul trouble, or scared of it, and also because he wasn't strong enough. He needs to add a lot of muscle in his lower body.
He was really downright ordinary more often than not. However, he’s got great hands and runs the court well for someone so big, and he still has lots of room for improvement. He’s added a substantial amount of weight, but he needs to add more to match the physicality of the pro game.
His size and skill set will seduce many scouts, but I’m not sold. He has to show that he can bring his game on a nightly basis, not just when he has a matchup that will draw national attention. With some added strength and the confidence that comes with it, he could be very good. Roy Hibbert comes to mind, but he's got a ways to go before he gets there.
Jeff Withey, Senior, Kansas
Withey is very long with tremendous timing on blocks. He made a drastic improvement offensively, as he now has a nice mid-range game and is finishing better around the rim. He's still not as tough as I'd like, but he rebounds well and definitely has a major impact on the game. I don't know if he'll be a starter in the NBA, but there's a spot for him somewhere. If he continues to work hard, he could definitely develop into a major defensive presence.