Normally the Post-tournament Top 60 is pretty close to what my final top 60 will look like. This year I’m not sure that will be the case. Things have changed so much during the year and look like they’ll continue to do so. The tournament was a good one that provided a lot of surprises.
The strength of the draft remains the center position. There are a lot of promising centers in this draft. It’s a diverse group of young, veteran, defensive-minded and offensive-minded. None are perfect, but all are promising. I count 14 center prospects who are worthy of a first round pick. Most are young and have a wide career arc at this point, meaning there will be some tough choices. There are also a lot of good wing players, making this draft potentially very good, but also full of players with bust potential. It should play out something like the 2001 draft has.
Players are listed in order of how I would draft them, all other things being equal. I didn’t include players who seem highly unlikely to declare for the draft.
1. Nerlens Noel, C Kentucky: The best player available is a guy who wasn’t playing for a team that didn’t make the tournament. When Noel played he dominated defensively as few freshmen ever have. That makes him an easy choice as the top pick.
2. Otto Porter, SF Georgetown: Not the tournament he wanted, but the fact is he dragged a team with mediocre talent to a 2 seed. I moved him up to #2 because he’s probably the surest bet in the draft to become a star on some level.
3. Trey Burke, PG Michigan: I’m on board with this guy as the top PG prospect in the nation. His defensive numbers have been rising steadily all season. In March, when the competition was the most intense, Burke’s RSB40 was a perfectly respectable 6.9. His S40 was a solid 2.2. Add that to his superb offensive and passing numbers and Trey Burke is suddenly looking like a seriously good prospect.
4. Victor Oladipo, SG Indiana: I’ve had my little flirtation with Victor as a potential superstar, but that’s starting to cool. It isn’t just the low P40. In the loss to Syracuse, Oladipo showed no inclination to be the guy who carried the team on offense. Rather than taking the ball and trying to make something happen, he was content to sit back and let the likes of Sheehy and Watford take the lead. Wade, Jordan or other top SGs would have never fell back into a supporting role while their team was going down. There’s still a lot to like here. His main skills are great defense and super-efficient offense
5. Anthony Bennett, PF UNLV: He really isn’t my favorite type of player. He’s something of a tweener forward with poor defensive numbers. The best of such players was Glen Robinson. The biggest bust has been Michael Beasley.
6. Mitch McGary, PF-C Michigan: As a PF he grades out pretty well. Not so much as a center. He was the X-factor during the tournament that changed Michigan from a young, talented bunch to one of the best teams in the nation. I’ll kick him into the top 10 for now. Like his teammate Burke, he was a monster in 11 March games. Defense is still kind of weak, but everything else is solid.
7. Kelly Olynyk, C Gonzaga: For now I’m going to stick with Olynyk over the youngsters. Incredible offense and improved defense make him a pretty good prospect.
8. Willie Cauley–Stein, C Kentucky: He announced he’s going back to college next year and it should be a good situation for him if he does, what with all the young perimeter talent preparing to don Kentucky blue next year. I’ll keep him in the rankings for now, due to the fickle history of prospects making such decisions.
9. Cody Zeller, PF-C Indiana: Another good offense/weak defense player. Like Oladipo it was disappointing that he stepped aside rather than trying to take the game over in the loss to Syracuse. As is the case with every player it is best not to let one very visible game, be it good or bad, have too much effect on the evaluation process.
10. Isaiah Austin, PF-C Baylor: Austin’s freshman year has been very erratic and his overall numbers are unimpressive. But there were games when he was dominant. Considering his skill/size combination that makes him a worthwhile top 10 gamble.
11. Steven Adams, C Pitt: Strong defense, promising offense. He’s also flashed enough promise to spend a lottery pick.
12. Rudy Gobert and Lucas Noguiera: Because I still can’t see much of a difference here, I’m going to just keep them together. I find myself leaning toward Noguiera as a better prospect, because he’s been a better rebounder and passer. He also has more upside. Gobert has the size advantage. These are the only two foreign player who I consider draftworthy.
13. Jordan Adams, SG UCLA: The case could be made that Adams is the best SG prospect in college ball. The only weakness in his game is he didn’t shoot the trey that well, at .307. He’s also a very young freshman who won’t turn 19 until after the draft.
14. Michael Carter-Williams, PG Syracuse: What I like about Carter-Williams is he made some changes to his game during the year that made him a better player. He shot less, but more efficiently. He had fewer TOs. He’s still more athlete than basketball player.
15. Marcus Smart, PG Oklahoma State: As is the case with a lot of the big guys, drafting Smart is a gamble. His freshman year he showed some promise and his ceiling is pretty high. He’s already a great defender. As a PG he’s an inefficient scorer with shaky passing skills. High ceiling to be sure, but right now he’s just another Iman Shumpert.
16. Eric Moreland, PF Oregon State: There are some obvious issues here, the biggest being he has to get bulkier. There’s also the question of why he struggled to stand out on a very mediocre team. You can’t ignore how productive he was however, and the fact that similar players have a solid history of success.
17. Alex Len, C Maryland: He remains similar to the freshmen bigs. His talent is obvious, but his numbers say career backup. He’d be an upside draft pick, but could offer a big payoff.
18. Kyle Anderson, SF UCLA: I remain a fan of this guy even though his offense has been terrible all year. The UCLA guys are group I’m going to need a little more time to wrap my head around.
19. Jeff Withey, C Kansas: Withey looks like more of a sure thing to become a useful player than most of the freshmen bigs. Upside is limited.
20. Gorgui Dieng, C Lousiville: I feel Dieng will slowly move up the ladder as the evaluation process drags on and he could even find himself in the lottery. His numbers aren’t great, but the success of Louisville started last year when he was able to cut his fouls down and stay on the court longer. Championship teams usually produce at least one solid NBA player regardless of stats. Dieng is the Cardinal most likely to be that guy.
21. Ben McLemore, SG Kansas: There are two problems with McLemore as a prospect. The first is the sub 20.0 P40. While this is a big deal, the fact that he’s a freshman makes it less so. The fact that he’s a 21 year-old redshirt freshman makes it more problematic. The other is the 1.24 S40. This is an extremely low number for any SG prospect and is the main reason I have him down here near the bottom of round one. In his defense, he does have one of the better B40 numbers for SGs, 0.84. That suggests his defense will be good enough, as does the fact that he’s a good rebounder for a SG. But it’s hard for me to put him ahead of the likes of Oladipo, Adams and even Caldwell-Pope, let alone in the top 3 overall, when these huge question marks are out there.
22. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Georgia: Numbers took a tumble in March as he shot more often with much less efficiency. He remains a decent SG prospect.
23. PJ Hairston, SG North Carolina: Starting in February, Hairston started to live up to his hype as a top 15 prospect. The 2013 SG class is becoming an intriguing group.
24. Reggie Bullock, SF North Carolina: He had a great start, but took a backseat when Hairston emerged. He remains a solid SF prospect.
25. James Ennis, G-F Long Beach State: Ennis and Bullock are two of the many SF prospects who are under the radar. They’ll be bargains once teams have depleted all the promising young centers and guards.
26. Khem Birch, PF UNLV: Birch is a great shot blocker and that’s always good. His other numbers are decent.
27. Mike Muscala, C Bucknell: Multi-skilled center. His low 2-point pct. is a big negative.
28. CJ McCollum, G Lehigh: The injury probably won’t hurt his stock that much, because he had put himself on the map last year. I see him as a decent 3rd guard, but after Damian Lillard’s surprising rookie year I may be rethinking small college guards.
29. Nate Wolters, G South Dakota State: What I said for McCollum also applies to Wolters.
30. Shane Larkin, PG Miami: Larkin hits all the statistical benchmarks, other than P40, which is a good thing for a young player. He’s small and isn’t exactly dominating, which projects him as something less than an NBA starter.
31. Cory Jefferson, PF Baylor: The one big void in the 2013 draft is the PF position. That void could see a player like Jefferson rising up the boards.
32. Adreian Payne, PF-C Michigan State: Payne has improved quite a bit during the year and is now one of the better PFs available.
33. Robert Covington, SF Tennessee State: Another bargain SF. Covington posted first round numbers last year, but was slowed by injury this year.
34. Zeke Marshall, C Akron: He’s always been a good shot blocker, which of course is the single most important thing any center prospect can do.
35. Doug McDermott, F Creighton: Low ASB SF. Such players are one of the stories of this draft. McDermott is an extreme such player, finishing in single digits in both steals and blocks. What makes him a prospect is he’s hit 49% of his 3-pointers for 2 years running now. He’s also a good enough rebounder that it isn’t crazy to think of him as a stretch 4.
36. Glenn Robinson III, SF Michigan: A low ASB40 SF. I pushed him up the board because of Michigan’s tournament success. It’s part of my process of wrapping my head around this team. I also wanted to bunch him with the other low ASB40 SFs. He isn’t a great prospect though. Teams looking for a SF best wait until round 2 and when players like Bullock, Ennis and Covington will be bargains.
37. Shabazz Muhammad, SF UCLA: Another low ASB40 SF. He’s also an inefficient scorer with an A/TO barely over 0.5. The only thing keeping him on the top 60 is the possibility that the Howland effect suppressed his numbers.
38. Alex Poythress, F Kentucky: The last of the low ASB40 SFs, unless you want to add Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas to the list. To recap, such players rarely make it. The intriguing thing about Robinson III, Muhammad and Poythress is all have flashed some stellar, even dominant offensive skills.
39. Ed Daniel, PF Murray State: Good energy guy who could probably help an NBA team. Not on the level of Faried or Millsap as a small college PF prospect though.
40. Taylor Smith, F Stephen F. Austin: Great PF numbers, with SG size. If he can add some bulk he might become a good energy guy.
41. DJ Seeley, G CS-Fullerton: All things considered, he’s my favorite candidate to become a decent sniper/defender. The scoring percentages are over .500 and .400. His S40 is 2.4. He could probably handle the point in a pinch. He also comes with the usual reservations 5th-year seniors bring.
42. Tony Mitchell, PF North Texas: He has declared, so we’ll see what happens. The good includes great defensive numbers and a stellar all-around season in 2012. The bad is he fell apart this year when the spotlight was on.
43. DJ Cooper, PG Ohio: Has the potential to become a solid reserve PG.
44. Reginald Buckner, PF Mississippi: He remains one of my favorite bargain picks in the draft even though his 2-point pct. fell under .600 for the year. He’s one of the best defenders available.
45. Archie Goodwin, SG Kentucky: I have never really looked at the question of whether it’s best for a player to join a basketball superpower as part of a top recruiting class or go to a lesser team where he might have more chances to stand out. In Goodwin’s case, I suspect there were better choices than Kentucky.
46. Lorenzo Brown, PG North Carolina State: A player you draft with the hope he can eventually learn to shoot. If that happens, he’ll be a pretty good NBA player.
47. Andre Roberson, F Colorado: A great rebounder/defender with spotty scoring abilities. While I was very intrigued with his potential coming into this year that has waned as his offense just didn’t improve.
48. Maurice Kemp, SF East Carolina: He got himself back into the top 60 with a strong finish that led ECU to the CIT championship. Stats are great, but he’s only done it for one season, is thin at 180 lbs and has struggled from behind the arc.
49. Solomon Hill, SF Arizona: Another solid, well-rounded SF. I’d like him better if he grabbed more rebounds.
50. Jackie Carmichael, PF Illinois State: Wrapping up a decent career. He’s good enough to stick as an inside reserve in the right situation.
51. Leonard Washington, F Wyoming: He brings enough good things that he’s worth a look. That’s a common thread with all the small college PFs this year. None really excite me as prospects, but there are a lot of decent ones out there who are worth a look. There will be enough good PFs available in round 2 and the UFA market that it would be silly to burn a first rounder on the likes of Mason Plumlee or James Michael McAdoo.
52. Trevor Mbakwe, PF Minnesota: Basic tough inside guy. Age and off-court issues are there.
53. Alex Oriakhi, PF-C Missouri: The transfer was a good thing for him. I like his numbers, but because of his so-so 3 seasons at UConn some time and thought is required before I move him up too far.
54. Arselan Kazemi, PF Oregon: The best rebounder available.
55. Jarred Berggren, PF–C Wisconsin: He might be the top stretch big available. He knocks down the trey, plays defense and rebounds adequately.
56. Patric Young, PF-C Florida: A strong February had him as a bubble first rounder. A weak March has him back in his usual spot.
57. Mason Plumlee, PF-C Duke: There’s some potential here as an energy guy.
58. Gregory Echnique, C Creighton: Great per minute numbers and a .657 2-point pct. That makes him something of a prospect. The fact that he’s a low-minute player is a negative.
59. Tony Johnson, PG Lafayette: Johnson is the type of player us statheads will like more than we should. He’s a super-efficient scorer with a decent RSB40, A40 and A-TO. That usually makes for a solid PG prospect. The negatives are he’s small, has a low P40 (17.1), and he didn’t emerge as any sort of a prospect until his senior season while playing in the Patriot League. He has shown enough that he’s a decent prospect to become a useful reserve.
60. Jamaal Franklin, SG San Diego State: He has a lot of talent, but is also inefficient, TO-prone and looks more like a forward than a guard.