These days, the NBA draft is as much about potential as it is overall talent and ability.
While the No. 1 pick typically possesses a significant amount of both, 2013 may be the exception. Some are calling it a weak draft class, but others have come to its defense, claiming the lack of a can't-miss player like Anthony Davis makes this summer's group look less talented than it actually is.
Either way, several teams will draft purely on potential Thursday night, opting to select players who have the two things you can't teach: size and athleticism.
Here we'll highlight three centers poised to become long-term NBA projects.
Rudy Gobert, France, C
There may not be a bigger project in the 2013 NBA draft than Rudy Gobert. At 7'2" with a 7'9" wingspan, the 21-year-old has more than enough size to catch the attention of NBA scouts and coaches, but his lack of polish in the post is a legitimate concern.
Plus, Gobert isn't quite as athletic as some of the other rim-protecting centers in this class.
Like most young big men getting set to enter the league, Gobert will need to spend significant time in the weight room in order to bulk up and add much-needed strength to his frame.
But measurables are meaningful to front office decision-makers, as CSNNW.com reporter Chris Haynes explains:
Gobert's size should easily translate to defensive success at the next level. But the same can't be said for his offense. The Frenchman will need to work tirelessly to develop some go-to moves down low in order to make a name for himself in the NBA.
Steven Adams, Pittsburgh, C
One of the top centers set to enter the NBA this summer, Steven Adams has the size, athleticism and defensive ability to compete at a high level for a very long time. Unfortunately, he has improve on the offensive end before he can be relied upon night in and night out.
Adams averaged 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and two blocked shots per game for the Panthers in 2012-13 as a freshman. Although he shot 57 percent from the field, he averaged just three made field goals per game, and most of his baskets came from dunks and layups.
Plus, veteran NBA frontcourt defenders aren't nearly as easy to score on around the basket.
Adams was also just a 44 percent shooter at the foul line, which points to his lack of consistency. According to ESPN Insider (subscription required), Adams' jump shot has been looking strong in some pre-draft workouts.
But the question is whether it will translate to in-game success at the next level.
Lucas Nogueira, Brazil, C
Another 7-foot center to keep an eye on this summer is Brazil's Lucas Nogueira. While the 20-year-old is an excellent shot-blocker thanks to his 7'6" wingspan, both his discipline and his energy seem to come and go during games.
Nogueira can also play a bit recklessly at times, as pointed out by SaltCityHoops.com's Andy Larsen:
In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Chad Ford (subscription required) has the Utah Jazz selecting Nogueira at No. 14 overall. While the move would make sense for Utah considering both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are free agents this summer, there are tons of question marks on the offensive end when it comes to Nogueira.
Bigs like Kelly Olynyk and Mason Plumlee would be better low-post replacements right away given their offensive prowess.
Nogueira is a long-term project without a doubt. He has obvious potential and a bright future ahead of him, but he needs time and coaching in order to develop into a consistent performer in an NBA rotation.
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