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.
The third time’s a charm as Miami Heat star player LeBron James took home his third Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Award in May of this year. James became the first player since Michael Jordan to win three consecutive MVP trophies. Including 85 first-place votes, he totaled 1,074 points from a panel of 121 voters that were made up of American and Canadian sportswriters, broadcasters and fan votes from NBA.com.
In order to achieve success in basketball or any sports, professional athletes must possess tough psychological attributes. Sport psychologists believe that peak performance requires not only physical ability but also psychological skills. Did you know that by spending 30 minutes of playing Partypoker online you could improve your psychological skills necessary to achieve success in your desired sport? Athletes possess good physical abilities and incredible mental toughness in order to defeat their opponents. By playing poker, you’re able to develop your focus and determination through a game that you enjoy playing.
According to licensed psychologist and avid poker player Dr. Stephen Bloomfield, poker is a competition in which stress and your responses to stress can make you successful in sport. Whether you’re a novice or a professional poker player joining the 2013 WPT Lucky Hearts Open in Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino-Hollywood, having tough mental skills allows you to handle stress and remain focused on the competition, as well as dealing with various distractions during the game. In basketball, players are exposed to personal fouls involving a player saying offensive things to distract his opponent. By playing poker, you develop a sense of concentration that allows you to maintain focused and resist external variables.
Aside from focus, another important psychological attribute you must develop is determination. With determination, all realistic personal goals can be attained such as grabbing the next championship title or making more rebounds than in your previous games. In poker, players are highly committed to win either by having the best hand or by bluffing their way to win the next big pot. By setting realistic long-term and short-term goals, you can achieve greater heights in poker, basketball, or any sport in which you participate.
Successful basketball players and professional athletes engage themselves in various brain training activities to strengthen their psychological attributes. If you learn how to manage your attention and to establish achievable goals, then you’re one step closer to becoming the next Most Valuable Player in NBA.
Going into the 2013 NCAA tournament I find myself fairly certain of one thing. That is Louisville and Florida playing in the championship game. I cannot remember ever feeling as confident in a tournament pick as I have in picking these two teams to meet in the 2013 championship. Predicting all the stuff that happens in the process of getting to that point is a little more difficult, but I make the effort.
I look for a few things when trying to predict the tournament winner. The first and most obvious is that the team is one of the very best in the nation. The next is that it’s a veteran team with a core that has been together at least a couple of years and preferably longer. The team should win their conference tournament. Finally I look for teams with quality big men. Other things are nice, particularly a coach who has a history of success. Those have been the easy to spot characteristics of recent NCAA champions. Kentucky was an exception last year, winning with so many freshmen. In the case of the Wildcats, their overall talent ended up trumping everything else. There are no Kentuckys this year.
The upsets on the first weekend are what the tournament is all about. Here are the games I see as potential shockers, listed in order of most likely to happen.
Belmont over Arizona: I doubt a lower seed has ever screamed “pick me” as loudly as the 2013 Belmont Bruins. This is a senior-laden team going to their third consecutive tournament. There’s very little chance such a team will suffer from a case of being just happy to be here. More likely, after consecutive round one exits, they’ll see this as their last chance to do something truly special as a Belmont Bruin and come out firing. Arizona, like the entire PAC-12, is a team in transition. They recovered nicely from a down year in 2012, but are still a work in progress. The team is good and won’t be an easy out, but is built with more of an eye toward 2014 than anything. Before the seedings came out I saw Belmont as a team likely to pull off a first round upset and Arizona as a likely round one upset victim. The fact that they’re squaring off makes this upset pick an easy one to make.
Minnesota over UCLA: UCLA is in a similar situation to Arizona. A nice recruiting year has gotten them back into the top 25, but it’s just one step. They’re still a young, inexperienced team that lacks quality bigs and has only one season playing together. It doesn’t help the Bruins that likely NBA draftee Jordan Adams will be out. Minnesota is a tough, veteran group that’s still standing following a rugged Big 10 season. They should prevail.
New Mexico State over Saint Louis: I’m not sure how Sim Bhullar, the Aggies 7’5” freshman center, slipped under my prospect radar all year. That has been fixed. I feel he’ll be a load for the small Billikens to handle. NMSU has gone 18-2 since a 6-8 start. They’re a young team, which is certainly a negative, but they really seem to be getting it together at the right time. Saint Louis is the type of small, scrappy, overachieving team that just doesn’t do well in the tournament. This looks like an upset to me. Take NMSU all the way to the Sweet 16.
St Mary’s over Memphis: The Gaels were not only shoved into a play-in game as an 11 seed, but more than any other team they had to endure talk radio gasbags across the country ranting against their inclusion as if it’s some sort of life and death tragedy. From what little I know about athletes I’m certain such things will put a chip on the collective shoulder of this team. That should give them enough of an edge to get them past a Memphis team that their pretty much in the same class as anyways. So how come the first round games don’t involve only 16 seeds? Can anyone answer that one for me?
San Diego State over Oklahoma: In the original post I made a mistake and put South Dakota State as beating Oklahoma. That won’t happen, because it’s San Diego State playing Oklahoma. I’m still going with the upset. Nate Wolters and the Jackrabbits will come up short against Michigan. Apologies for the original error.
Oregon over Oklahoma State: We all know a 12 beats a 5 every tournament. The Ducks are my #12 pick for 2013. While the Ducks are a PAC-12 team, they do have the size and experience edge on OSU that should swing this game their way.
Bucknell over Butler: Last year a small Missouri team was ousted by a small college team with a 7-footer headed for the NBA. A similar scenario is at play here. Butler is a good, well-coached team, but I don’t think they’ll have an answer for Bucknell’s Mike Muscala.
Creighton over Duke: This is a projected round 2 matchup. The Blue Jays have the look of a team that could surprise with a nice run. They have that size/experience combination that works well in the tournament. They have a likely first round draftee and possible Wooden award winner in McDermott. Duke is a good team that’s capable of a nice run, but they’re also a team that has had their share of problems in early rounds of recent tournaments. I feel Creighton will have what it takes to knock them off.
More 2013 Tournament thoughts
The selection committee didn’t do Gonzaga any favors. After round one the Zags’ worst case scenario is a very good Pitt team that’s wildly under rated as an 8th seed. Following that is always tough Wisconsin. Should they get past the Badgers, waiting for them will be an Ohio State team that might be playing better than any team in the country right now. Gonzaga burst onto the national scene in the ’99 tournament as a surprise Elite 8 team. Since then they’ve been a tournament regular, but haven’t advanced past the Sweet 16. This year is their best ever chance to do that. I feel these Zags will have what it takes to make their first Final 4, mainly because I don’t see that any potential opponent has the size to stop Olynyk. It won’t be an easy road though.
Indiana and Kansas both face a tough round 2 matchup. For the Hoosiers it’s the winner of NC State/Temple. Both are big, veteran teams that have played in multiple tournaments. Following that the Hoosiers have Syracuse or UNLV, two teams talented enough to beat any team in the nation on any given day. Kansas is looking at the North Carolina/Villanova winner. Both are scrappy teams that are hard to put away. Carolina particularly brings unneeded drama for the Jayhawks.
Syracuse is a tempting Final 4 choice. They have as much quality size and NBA-level talent as any team in the tournament. That and they’re the team that won’t stop jumping off the brackets and into my mind as a team I should be watching. But when I see them playing Indiana, visions of Victor Oladipo abusing Michael Carter-Williams keep coming up, so I have to go with the Hoosiers.
I have no clue what to make of Miami. Any team that wins both the ACC regular season and tournament is a good team, even in what was a down year for the conference. They lack any serious pro prospects. They do have several good college players and more quality size than most teams. They’re one of the oldest teams in the tournament, but have no tournament experience. My best guess is they hit the Sweet 16 before a very good Marquette team eliminates them.
The 2-4 seeds I see as no threat would be Saint Louis, Kansas State, New Mexico, Michigan and Georgetown. All but New Mexico suffer from the lack of size and/or experience that typically sinks such teams. In the case of the Lobos, they’re just seeded too high at #3. For all these teams I see the Sweet 16 being as far as they advance.
First Round winners: I guess it’s really the second round and the play-in games are the first round, but whatever…Louisville, Missouri, Oregon, New Mexico State, St. Mary’s, Michigan State, Creighton, Duke, Gonzaga, Pitt, Wisconsin, Kansas State, Belmont, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Kansas, North Carolina, VCU, Michigan, Minnesota, Florida, San Diego State, Georgetown, Indiana, North Carolina State, UNLV, Syracuse, Bucknell, Marquette, Illinois, Miami.
Sweet 16: Lousiville, New Mexico State, Michigan State, Creighton, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Ohio State, Kansas, VCU, Florida, Georgetown, Indiana, Syracuse, Marquette, Miami.
Elite 8: Louisville, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Kansas, Florida, Indiana, Marquette.
Final 4: Louisville, Gonzaga, Florida, Indiana.
Championship: Florida over Louisville. I give the Gators a slight edge for a few reasons. The first is I just like their talent better. I give Young and Murphy a slight edge over Dieng and Behanan inside. I feel the veteran Gator backcourt will deal with the Cardinal defense adequately enough. The fact that Louisville is a bad 3-point shooting team scares me. I know Florida finished the season with some conference losses. The same thing happened in ’06 and ’07 when the Gators won back-to-back titles. The scary thing about picking Florida is that they lost their conference championship game. That’s a bad sign, but one I’m going to overlook, because the coach seems like a guy who plays every game with an eye on getting his team ready for the tournament. The bottom line is the way this season has played out so far reminds me of the way ’06 and ’07 did for the Gators. That’s enough to make the Florida Gators my pick as the 2013 NCAA champion.
The passing of Jerry Buss last month brought to mind one of the things that made the Lakers great during his reign. Great teams draft potential superstars. I can think of three examples where the Buss Lakers went outside the box during the draft. The Lakers drafted Vlade Divac at #26 in 1989 when foreign players were viewed skeptically. Kobe Bryant was one of the great bargains ever at #13 in 1996 when drafting HS players was a new thing. In 2005 the Lakers drafted Andrew Bynum at #10, because when you draft a talented young big, the potential payoff is much bigger. In each case any intelligent redraft would put each player in the top 3 of their respective drafts. Each pick was something of a gamble at the time, but offered a huge payoff. Even Buss’s first draft selection with the Lakers, Magic Johnson, was something of a gamble at the time. There had never been a 6’8” PG in the NBA and the Lakers already had a solid young PG in Norm Nixon. A “safer” pick at the time may have been PF David Greenwood. Greenwood was the type of inside grinder who seemed like a perfect fit on the 47-win Lakers of ’79 that lacked inside toughness. The Lakers went for the potential superstar instead and the rest is history.
Teams need to keep this in mind with the 2013 draft. There’s a lot of upside in this draft, but very little in the way of sure things. It remains an extremely hard one to figure out. Typically things are pretty well set at this point. This year things are still kind of muddled as we head into the conference tournaments. The main reason for this is the freshmen bigs. As inconsistent as the likes of Steven Adams, Willie Cauley-Stein and Isaiah Austin have been, all have flashed signs of brilliance. It’s hard to pass on talented 7-footers and the surprising success of Andre Drummond will make it even more difficult this year. In addition to the young bigs we have Victor Oladipo and Otto Porter, who both show signs of NBA superstardom, but also might be nothing more than very good role players. If Marcus Smart, Kyle Anderson and Michael Carter-Williams ever figure the offensive part of the game out all are potential top picks. Cody Zeller and Anthony Bennett could also put themselves into the top pick discussion should they finish strong. I’m hoping the tournament clears things up somewhat.
For this top 60 I decided to omit any players who seem extremely unlikely to declare for the draft. This being small college underclassmen like Bernard Thompson and Alan Williams and very low minute freshmen like Brice Johnson. This way the focus stays on the 2013 draft. Players are listed in order of how I would draft them all other things being equal.
1. Nerlens Noel, C Kentucky: I’m really pulling for the Bobcats win the lottery, because I like the paradox of Michael Jordan deciding on whether or not to draft a Kentucky center coming off knee surgery. MJ should ignore any old grudges he might be harboring and draft Noel. The injury shouldn’t change Noel’s status as the top overall pick. Players have come back strong from torn ACLs before. Noel is a young freshman who was going to involve some developmental time anyway. Leading up to the injury, the most impressive thing about Noel is how much he improved his offense since his college career started. Starting in January he hit .644 on 2-pointers, improved his blocks and kept all his other numbers steady. Nerlens Noel remains a potential NBA superstar. The injury is a setback, but it should keep a team from drafting this guy
2. Victor Oladipo, SG Indiana: I’m going to keep him at #2 for now. I’m still in the process of wrapping my head around what we have here. He’s a great defender and his scoring efficiency has been otherworldly for a SG. His numbers have the impressive look of some of the great SGs ever. The big negative is he has yet to prove he’s the big time scorer that all great SGs have been.
3. Anthony Bennett, PF UNLV: His defensive numbers rebounded after heading downward in January. That puts him ahead of the inconsistent young centers.
4. Otto Porter, SF Georgetown: Otto Porter should get the Wooden award. He has taken a team that suffered a significant loss when Whittington was ruled ineligible and has them on the verge of a top seed. He has improved his numbers during a tough Big East schedule, which is an impossibly difficult task. Porter has the look of a star NBA SF. In this muddled draft he’s about as sure a thing as there is.
5. Kelly Olynyk, C Gonzaga: So what happened in the past month that possessed me to move a guy from the round one bubble to the top 5? He started playing much better defense. He was at 1.2 B40 in November and December and improved to 2.9 in February. That number is still a tad low, but good enough that it makes Kelly Olynyk and darn good prospect when combined with his unstoppable offense.
6. Willie Cauley-Stein, C Kentucky: Cauley-Stein does the two most important center things very well. He hits well over 60% on 2-pointers and blocks well over 3 shots per 40 minutes. That’s what nudges him ahead of Adams and Austin.
7. Steven Adams, C Pitt: Good prospect, but his offense hasn’t been steady like Cauley-Stein’s. What I like best about Adams is his defense has improved during the season. Improvement is good, because it shows a player is learning, adjusting and doing what’s necessary to get to the next level.
8. Isaiah Austin, PF-C Baylor: His rookie year has been a two steps forward/one step back process. He started slowly, but in late December and January he had a stretch where he was looking real good. In February he backslid a little. The fact that we’ve seen flashes of brilliance in this multi-skilled 7-footer is good and keeps him in the lottery. Austin is a project, but the payoff could be huge.
9. Cody Zeller, PF-C Indiana: Zeller remains a good offense/weak defense type with enough upside that he’s a top 10 mainstay.
10. Alex Len, C Maryland: I dropped Len too far last month. He really should be listed with the other frosh centers, as he’s the same age as most of them and has posted stats that show similar promise.
11. Rudy Gobert and Lucas Noguiera: I’m just going to repeat what I’ve been saying about these two all season. Similar players. Both are incredibly efficient inside scorers and good shot blockers. Both come up short as rebounders. Both seem likely to be lottery picks. In a very deep group of center prospects either one could drop or rise to near the top.
12. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Georgia: It’s time to put this guy on the list of top SGs. His 3-pointer, a weakness coming to the season, has been improving all year to the point where he’s consistently at 40%. I never root against a prospect, but going into the season I was sort of hoping to be able to use the clever nickname “Can’tplayvious Caldwell-Pope” to describe him. He’s been so good that I can’t do that now. Opportunity missed. He’s KCP and is on pace to be a pretty good NBA SG.
13. Kyle Anderson, SF UCLA: It’s been rare for a freshman SF to post non-scoring numbers as impressive as Anderson’s have been. His scoring has been weak, but has steadily improved. I have no problem keeping him in the lottery for now, but eventually he’ll need to score the basketball.
14. Jordan Adams, SG UCLA: Of the UCLA trio of perimeter freshman, Adams has gone unnoticed following a fast start. His numbers are just too good to ignore though. Another factor to consider with Adams is that UCLA guards drafted by the NBA have consistently outdone their college stats during the Howland era. That group includes Farmar, Afflalo, Westbrook and Collison. Adams has posted better stats than any of those four.
15. Marcus Smart, PG Oklahoma State: I decided to move Smart ahead of Carter-Williams, despite the fact that Carter-Williams had a much better month. Smart is more than 2 years younger than MCW and that’s a pretty big deal. Like Kyle Anderson, he does need to get the offense going at an efficient level a lot more consistently than it has been.
16. Michael Carter-Williams, PG Syracuse: In January he was erratic and there was a temptation to write him off. In February he shot the ball less frequently and more efficiently, which is a good sign.
17. Reggie Bullock, SF North Carolina: Bullock is making the most of his chance to be the star. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s finally getting an opportunity or if he just improved that much. Either way he’s posted great numbers for a SF prospect. It’s possible that 5 years from now we’ll all be wondering what Roy Williams was thinking by playing Bullock in a supporting role to Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller.
18. Eric Moreland, PF Oregon State: Moreland is a player whose numbers are too good to ignore. The fact that he’s the 6th leading scorer on a sub-.500 team is a huge negative. I tend to veer pessimistic on players from non-tournament teams, which also hurts Moreland’s stock in my view. But there have been few players with the combination of rebounding, shot blocking and scoring efficiency stats that Moreland has posted this year. The vast majority of such players experienced long NBA careers.
19. Trey Burke, PG Michigan: I find myself liking Burke a lot more than I probably should. He has the low RSB and that’s always a bad sign. Darren Collison is the only recent PG prospect to post a low RSB40 and go on to become a solid NBA player. Brandon Knight and Avery Bradley may also break through, but history suggests such players are reserves at best. Meanwhile there have been first round PGs with low RSBs like Jonny Flynn, Jimmer Fredette, Austin Rivers and Kendall Marshall who have all struggled. Burke is a better player than all those guys and I would look at his high end as more like a Collison. The thing to remember about Collison though is he’s on his 3rd team in 4 season, so it’s hard to call Burke a potential NBA starter.
20. Jeff Withey, C Kansas: Where a lot of this draft’s center prospects have a pretty wide range in the direction their careers might go, Withey is more of a certainty. His high end is a decent NBA reserve whose strength is defense.
21. Ben McLemore, SG Kansas: I’m having trouble warming to him as easily as others have. While he doesn’t score with anywhere near Oladipo’s efficiency, he is a pretty good scorer. In February he dropped below 20.0 P40 which has always been a bad thing for SG prospects. I wouldn’t mind the low P40 so much if he were posting the dominant defensive stats like Oladipo, but his S40 has been dropping to dangerously low levels too.
22. Mitch McGary, PF-C Michigan: A freshman who has played something less than starter minutes, but has been pretty impressive as a rebounder and defender.
23. Khem Birch, PF UNLV: Birch has been pretty solid, especially as a defender. He could be moved up about 10 spots based on stats. I remain leery of him because of his untidy exit from Pitt a year ago. The more he just shuts up and plays, the more distant a memory that becomes. But such incidents just aren’t a good sign.
24. Mike Muscala, C Bucknell: A center with as many skills as Muscala has should be able to find a role with some team. He’s one of the best rebounders in college ball. He’s a good shot blocker. He’s the best passing big man available this year. He can hit a 3-pointer. The downside is his 2-point pct. has never been much better than 50%. That’s a big negative for any center prospect, no matter what other skills he brings.
25. Patric Young, PF-C Florida: Young’s rebounding and shot blocking numbers have improved enough that he’s now a pretty good prospect.
26. Nate Wolters, G South Dakota State: Wolters has been killing it the past couple of months after starting the season in something of a slump. That and the fact he can play the point makes him the lead jackrabbit in a strong group of small college guard prospects this year.
27. Cory Jefferson, PF Baylor: I’ve been running hot and cold on Jefferson in what has been a bust out year for him. I knocked him down a tad too much in January and now I’m not sure why. Perhaps because of the struggles of his team or his age. Now I feel he’s a legit first rounder with solid, if unspectacular PF numbers.
28. Andre Roberson, F Colorado: Another player I like more than I probably should. Roberson has some dominant numbers, but has never been a big time scorer. He does have 3-point range and great defensive skills, which is a nice combination to bring to the NBA of the twenty-teens.
29. DJ Seeley, G CS-Fullerton: Seeley has made himself a decent prospect in his final college season. He’s a good combo guard who has the potential to become a useful NBA sniper/defender. The fact that it took him this long, he’s 23 years old, and his career included a transfer is a negative. But based solely on his numbers there are few guards who are better prospects.
30. James Ennis, G-F Long Beach State: Statistically he’s been as good as any SF in the country. I’m always leery of players who emerge as seniors, so his draft case will require further research before I shove him too far up the list. But like Seeley he’s a very good prospect based solely on statistics from the 2012-13 season.
31. Doug McDermott, F Creighton: His scoring prowess will get him drafted. His inability to do anything else will keep his NBA role limited.
32. 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.
33. Tony Mitchell, PF North Texas: I’m not sure what happened to the player he was last year. I don’t know if he got lazy or if the mighty Sun Belt conference figured him out. But the player who looked like a lottery pick last year is gone. In his place is a marginal prospect worth a look once round 2 starts based on his defensive skills and his great freshman year. Mitchell is a reminder of what should be called a Clifford Rozier rule with prospects. That a transfer is not a good thing for a prospect to have on his resume no matter how good the stats look.
34. Shabazz Muhammad, SF UCLA: His low ASB40 has actually improved a tad, but is still nowhere near where it needs to be. I can forgive the low numbers a little bit, due to the Ben Howland factor, but Muhammad’s are too ridiculously low to think a different system would have mattered. Players like Muhammad stick around the league only as 3-point specialists.
35. Lorenzo Brown, PG North Carolina State: Similar prospect to Smart and Carter-Williams in that his ceiling is pretty high. What knocks him down to 2nd round status is he’s a junior, but is the age of most seniors, 22. His numbers aren’t quite on the level of the other two and his high TOs are a concern. He’s a gamble that might pay off, but that becomes more unlikely as time passes.
36. Ed Daniel, PF Murray State: Daniel may get some buzz as another Faried going into the draft. He has the silly hair, but he isn’t as good as Faried. He might become a useful bench energy player though.
37. CJ McCollum, G Lehigh: The fact that he was killing it from behind the arc before the injury really helps his prospects, because that had been a weakness coming in. He brings a scorer’s mentality that should make him a good 3rd guard. I don’t see much evidence he can handle the point, but I said the same thing about Damian Lillard last year.
38. Gorgui Dieng, C Lousiville: Dieng’s numbers aren’t impressive, but I can’t shake the notion that he’s better than his numbers.
39. Alex Poythress, F Kentucky: He’s like Muhammad and McDermott in that his painfully low ASB40 should take him out of any top prospect discussion. Like Muhammad that number has improved slightly, but nowhere near enough. While the ASB improved slightly, the impressive scoring efficiency he flashed early on has disappeared. In his defense I’ll say that Kentucky probably hasn’t been an easy place for a freshman to play this year. They were a group of players thrown together with high expectations, following a championship team. That couldn’t have been an easy thing to step into. I can’t say whether the circumstances affected the numbers of players like Poythress and Goodwin.
40. Robert Covington, SF Tennessee State: He’s been playing better since his return from surgery, but still isn’t scoring at the efficiency he was last year. I would have liked to have seen him play better, but I think the drop in efficiency can be blamed on the injury. He’s a SF who has proven to be an effective scorer from inside and out, with solid defensive numbers. He could be a bargain in round 2.
41. Taylor Smith, F Stephen F. Austin: Smith has become prominent enough that I no longer get “Did you mean Taylor Swift?” when I google him. Smith is a senior getting big minutes in division 1 for the first time. He’s hitting over 70% on 2-pointers for two years running now. He has great defensive and rebounding numbers. Problem is he’s 6’6” 215 and looks more like an undersized small college PF than anything. His stats are reminiscent of recent small college surprises Millsap and Faried. His lack of bulk will be a problem though.
42. DJ Cooper, PG Ohio: Cooper’s solid senior season has made him an intriguing sleeper. The PGs in the 2013 draft are shaping up as a flakey bunch. They’re talented, but each one comes with a red flag. Any team looking for PG help in the draft may do well to go big in round one and take a round 2 flyer on a player like Cooper.
43. Reginald Buckner, PF Mississippi: Buckner can boast the PF statistical trifecta of a 2PP over .600, R40 over 10.0 and B40 over 3.0. Such players have a decent history of success. He isn’t much of a scorer and that’s always a negative, but big guys who can defend, rebound and put in easy layups always have a place.
44. Solomon Hill, SF Arizona: Nice all-around player who doesn’t score that often. I like Hill better than some of the other low-scoring/multi-talented SFs, because Hill has 3-point range which is becoming almost a necessity for such players
45. Ray McCallum, G Detroit: After the success of Damian Lillard, I expect small college guards to get a little more attention this year. McCallum is right there with the better known McCollum and Wolters. He’s more of a PG than the other two and that should help his case. The biggest negative is that he isn’t a super high volume scorer like McCollum, Wolters and most small college guards who made the successful jump to the NBA in the past.
46. Allen Crabbe, SG California: Crabbe, a junior, has always been a decent scorer. This year his defense has improved enough that he’s a decent NBA prospect.
47. Mason Plumlee, PF-C Duke: I see Plumlee as an energy player and not much more than that. The fact that his defensive numbers are weak makes him a big risk in round 1, where most mocks have him projected.
48. Jordan Bachynski, C Arizona State: He’s a great shot blocker and that’s a good skill to have. His high turnovers make him a risk.
49. Fuquan Edwin, SG Seton Hall: Edwin has that defense/sniper potential that has been a big thing for NBA wings lately. The other part of that equation is low turnovers and that’s an area Edwin has struggled with.
50. Jackie Carmichael, PF Illinois State: Carmichael is a strong rebounder/defender with substandard offensive numbers. There are no concerns with size, age or a transfer that some of the other 3rd tier PF prospects bring. There’s little about him that blows me away either.
51. Leonard Washington, F Wyoming: Going through the PF checklist, Washington looks pretty solid. He’s a good rebounder and defender who has hit over 60% of his 2-pointers for 2 seasons now. There are some worries though. He’s a 5th-year senior with a transfer in his past. He launches way too many 3-pointers, 78 at a .176 clip this year. He’s smallish for a PF, at 6’7” 230. Any team that can accentuate his positives while eliminating the negatives could make a decent player out of this Mr. In Between.
52. Archie Goodwin, SG Kentucky: His numbers are pretty terrible for a prospect, but at some point I have to nod to his youth and skills and say that drafting such a player has more potential payoff than drafting an undersized 5th-year senior who is coming off the best year of a so-so career. A recent successful precedent here is Lance Stephenson, who came out after an unimpressive freshman season and is now a solid reserve with the Pacers.
53. Glenn Robinson III, SF Michigan: Take what I said for Goodwin above and sprinkle in the ASB40 comments I made about Muhammad and Poythress and you’ll get an idea of how I feel about Robinson III.
54. Trevor Mbakwe, PF Minnesota: He just keeps coming up as a decent prospect. He’s older than the 5th-year seniors on the list and has those off court issues, but his numbers remain solid for a PF prospect. The fact that Cody Zeller had his worst game against this guy doesn’t hurt either.
55. Alex Oriakhi, PF-C Missouri: At UConn he was something of an afterthought for 3 seasons. His stats were OK, but not good enough that I’d take him seriously. As a senior at Missouri he’s hitting 60% of his FGs, getting to the line more often and rebounding better than ever.
56. Terell Parks, PF Western Illinois: He’s listed as a PF-C. In college that usually means he’s an undersized center. He’s 6’8” which means he’s a PF in the NBA. His numbers are solid, particularly on defense, which is the single most important skill for a big guy to bring.
57. Arselan Kazemi, PF Oregon: While Anthony Bennett is the only true PF worthy of the lottery, the 2013 draft should feature a lot of PFs that are good late round 2 gambles. Kazemi makes the list because he’s one of the nation’s top rebounders.
58. Aaron Craft, PG Ohio State: His numbers took a big dive this year as he attempted more FGs and got more involved in the offense. That pushed him out of the first couple of top 60s. But he remains a decent passer and a great defender. He keeps coming up huge as a defender in big games. He’s never put it all together as a complete PG prospect, but he has shown enough skills at different times in his 3 years that he has to be mentioned.
59. Gregory Echnique, Creighton: He’s always been a player with great per minute stats, which of course has made him one of my favorites. February was a really bad month for him though. I still like him a lot as a pick in the second round.
60. Elias Harris, F Gonzaga: There are a lot of directions I could go with #60. Pierre Jackson, Tony Johnson, Jamaal Franklin, Carrick Felix, Chris Udofia, Brandon Davies, Keith Rendleman and Jordan Henriquez would all be worthy of the mention I just gave them. I could go for some shock value and mention one of two Johnny-come-latelies from LSU, Andrew del Piero and Charles Carmouche. I think Harris is the best choice though. He plays on the nation’s top ranked team and has been a solid 4-year starter. He hasn’t always been consistent, but definitely has the skills to be a decent NBA stretch 4.
The 2013 draft is shaping up as a pretty good draft overall. The strength is centers, which is a great thing as the NBA is in a perpetual shortage of quality big men. It also means the draft is going to be top heavy in big men, because they’re more valuable players. The draft will be similar to 2012 in that there is one guy who stands out, followed by a muddled group starting at #2. Like last year the top guy is a freshman center playing for Kentucky. The important thing is that while Anthony Davis > Nerlens Noel, the rest of the 2013 class > 2012 class. The 2012 class was Davis followed by a bunch of players who would have been good picks starting at about #20. The 2013 draft looks pretty deep with solid prospects. There are players I like who didn’t make the list. This is a welcome change from the last couple of drafts where I was reaching to find 60 players I liked at this point.
Another difference this January is the list is almost as muddled now as it was at the beginning of January. This is a time when a top 10 should be taking shape. Noel is a pretty solid #1, but after him things could change a lot in the next month. Players are listed in order of how I would draft them, all other things being equal, based on stats through 1/31/13
1. Nerlens Noel, C Kentucky: Noel is good and improving. He toys with opponents on defense. As freshmen centers go, he’s a great passer. His offense is getting better. Noel is an easy choice as the top pick.
2. Victor Oladipo, SG Indiana: Settling on a #2 is tough with this class. A month ago I had Michael Carter-Williams here and he had a very erratic January. Oladipo is equally shaky as the 2nd pick. He’s a junior who has posted some nice numbers his first couple of years, but hasn’t really broken out offensively until this year. Typically when juniors or seniors play over their career norms it’s a hot streak that cools off by January. That’s what happened with the likes of Fuquan Edwin and Jack Cooley. This January Oladipo got better. He was already a dominant defender, but this year his offense has been out of this world. He’s hitting .687 on 2-pointers and over .500 on treys. He’s the 2nd leading scorer on the top ranked team in the country. The pace he’s on puts him at on track to become an NBA star. The fact that he’s kept it going well into the Big 10 schedule means we have to take him seriously.
3. Otto Porter, SF Georgetown: A solid player who might even be better than his numbers suggest, as the Georgetown system has suppressed statistics in the past.
4. Isaiah Austin, PF-C Baylor: Austin stepped up his game nicely in January. Rather than a 7-footer playing a small man’s game, he started to rebound like a stud and blocked shots at a higher rate. His offense still needs work. Talented, productive 7-footers are rare and Austin looks like he becoming one of those. That makes him a top 5 pick.
5. Steven Adams, C Pitt: A solid freshman who just keeps chugging along. He’s been posting solid, if unspectacular numbers and has shown steady improvement.
6. Willie Cauley-Stein, C Kentucky: Cauley-Stein was playing great until an injury sidelined him for a few weeks. He and Noel might be the best pair of center prospects on the same team since Horford and Noah.
7. Cody Zeller, PF-C Indiana: Zeller’s rebounding has been much improved and that makes him a better prospect than ever. His offense slipped a little, but is still pretty solid. Still waiting to see the 3-point prowess he’s rumored to possess. He grades out much better as a PF than a center.
8. Kyle Anderson, SF UCLA: Anderson has posted excellent numbers in every category other than scoring. In general I give young prospects a break on offense, as it is historically the easiest skill to develop. Anderson’s offensive improvement has been a case of one step forward, one step back. Because SFs with this much ability are rare and valuable, he remains in the lottery
9. Michael Carter-Williams, PG Syracuse: Remains a dominant passer and defender. His already shaky offense fell off the table in January. Right now I’m willing to buy into his potential. I’d like to see him shoot less and concentrate on playmaking and defense. He’s leading one of the most talented rosters in the country, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
10. Anthony Bennett, PF UNLV: Bennett is a great scorer from inside and out and solid rebounder, but a weak defender. In general these players don’t make great pros. The best such player has been Glenn Robinson, a notable recent bust is Michael Beasley.
11. Marcus Smart, PG Oklahoma State: Smart is in the same boat as Anderson and Carter-Williams. He shows signs of dominance, but has to improve his offense before he’s a complete prospect. As a freshman he’s still a solid prospect. If he’s still the same player as a junior, not so much.
12. Rudy Gobert and Lucas Noguiera: A couple of foreign centers. Similar players. Both are incredibly efficient inside scorers and good shot blockers. Both come up short as rebounders. Both seem likely to be lottery picks. Right now I like the 4 freshmen centers in my top 6 and Zeller better than both these guys, but that could change. What’s news is that the impressive 2013 center class extends overseas.
13. Trey Burke, PG Michigan: Burke’s defensive numbers improved in January. This is a big deal, because as a passer and scorer there are few better PGs in the country. If he continues to crank the defensive numbers upward he could become the top PG available.
14. Ben McLemore, SG Kansas: Comparing the top 2 SGs, Oladipo has much better numbers than McClemore and is only 9 months older. That makes Oladipo the much better prospect. That isn’t a knock on McClemore, a solid SG prospect himself. It’s just that decent SGs are so plentiful that only potential stars should be drafted in the top 5.
15. Mitch McGary, PF-C Michigan: Another Michigan guy whose stock improved in January thanks to improved numbers on defense.
16. Eric Moreland, PF Oregon State: A player with very strong numbers. Moreland is a strong rebounder and shot blocker who has been hitting over .600 on 2-pointers and even has flashed some 3-point ability. He’s also only the 5th-leading scorer on a .500 team, which makes me wonder if his numbers are something of a fluke. Because this isn’t a great year for forwards in general and PFs in particular, a player like Moreland could stand out.
17. Jeff Withey, C Kansas: A great shot blocker. His other numbers aren’t special, but there are no red flags either.
18. BJ Young, G Arkansas: A talented player who has regressed some following a promising freshman year. He’s more of a PG this year after playing more SG as a freshman. His 3-pointer hasn’t been falling, but that isn’t a huge concern.
19. Alex Len, C Maryland: Len really fell off in January after a great start. His age is closer to that of a freshman, so he has a little more upside than the typical soph.
20. Fuquan Edwin, SG Seton Hall: Edwin has faded but he’s still a top notch defender who can drill the 3-pointer. That’s a nice combination for a SG to bring.
21. Andre Roberson, F Colorado: A player with a lot of skills. He’s one of the best rebounders in the nation. While he’s SF size that’s still a lot better than being one of the worst rebounders in the nation. He’s a solid defender and is hitting .406 on 3-pointers. The problem is he’s a low volume scorer and that has always been a big negative for prospects.
22. Tony Mitchell, PF North Texas: Mitchell has really slid following his break out as a freshman last year. He’s still a strong rebounder and dominant defender, which are both good things. He can shoot the 3-pointer better than most big guys and that also helps his case. But he also is hitting barely over .500 on 2-pointers, while playing for a sub-.500 team in a conference that could charitably be called mid-major. Those are a couple of big negatives.
23. Briante Weber, PG VCU: I mentioned Weber as a player to watch a month ago. He had posted dominant defensive and passing numbers, with very little offense. He had a poor January. I still feel he’s a player to watch because he’s incredibly dominant as a defender and dominance is what carries over to the next level.
24. Brice Johnson, F North Carolina: A young player with some impressive numbers. Johnson is raw and needs to put on a lot of bulk. Could go either way at this point.
25. Alex Poythress, F Kentucky: A wildly efficient scorer with pathetic defensive numbers, no passing skills and high turnovers. Generally that’s a bad combination for a prospect. The problem for Poythress is it’s incredibly difficult to improve on weak defensive numbers. I rate him high because of his youth and incredibly efficiency numbers.
26. Jordan Adams, SG UCLA: He has fallen off the radar since Muhammad arrived and became the top option. His numbers are still pretty strong for a frosh SG though.
27. Jordan Bachynski, C Arizona State: I could see a team talking themselves into this guy ahead of Withey. He’s a great shot blocker who improved his offense. He’s also old for a prospect and turns the ball over too often.
28. Kelly Olynyk, C Gonzaga: He’s something of an evil twin to Bachynski and Withey. His offense has been incredible, while his defense is lacking. All 3 look like they could become useful pieces in a center rotation.
29. Shawn Long, PF Louisiana-Lafayette: PF is the weakest position in the 2013 draft. Long is one of the more impressive ones out there. He has flashed some nice skills in his first college season, but his inside offense is weak.
30. Gorgui Dieng, C Lousiville: I like Dieng more subjectively than objectively. I’m impressed more by his defense whenever I watch him play and by the fact that his improvement is what fueled Louisville’s run to the final four last year. His numbers are good, but not great for a center prospect and he’s 23. Like the other older centers in this draft I see his high end as that of an effective part of an NBA center rotation.
31. Mike Muscala, C Bucknell: Another good, multi-skilled center. Muscala can hit an outside shot, rebounds well and defends adequately. The fact that he’s a weak inside scorer playing in a small conference is a pretty big negative. Still his many skills make him another potentially useful center rotation guy.
32. Reggie Bullock, SF North Carolina: Bullock is having something of a break out year. This was a top 20 prospect stuck in a supporting role his first two seasons, so his emergence isn’t all that surprising.
33. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Georgia: Sophomore who meets all the SG benchmarks. The biggest thing for KCP will be keep the efficiency at this level, or even improve on it. That was a weakness last year.
34. Doug McDermott, F Creighton: A great scorer, but his weak defensive numbers are a big red flag. Because he’s such a great scorer, I could see him becoming a useful NBA gunner if nothing else. But prospects with an unbelievable offense/incredibly weak defense skill set typically don’t make much of a ripple.
35. James Ennis, G-F Long Beach State: Ennis could be a player to watch. A senior who spent his first couple of seasons at junior college. Ennis joined a senior-laden team in 2012 as a junior and didn’t stand out. This year he’s taken a lead role on the 49ers and has been very impressive.
36. Derrick Marks, G Boise State: A solid combo guard. Because he’s just a sophomore there is some potential for improvement. His high steals are his most impressive statistic.
37. CJ McCollum, G Lehigh: Out for the season, which is a tough break. I doubt it will affect his draft stock much, because he put himself on the map last year with an impressive tournament performance in the win over Duke. As a prospect he’s OK, but not great. I will say that small college guards have been a tough group for me to get a feel for the past few years. I hit on Jeremy Lin, but missed on Damian Lillard. McCallum is a good defender, but has never hit over .500 on 2-pointers and that’s a huge negative.
38. Nate Wolters, G South Dakota State: In the same boat as McCollum. He’s a superstar at the small college level. He might be able to make the jump, but his numbers, while good, don’t have the look of a surefire star.
39. Archie Goodwin, SG Kentucky: He had a very inefficient January, but is still young and talented. The biggest concern is a low number of steals. He could be in a tough spot should he return to Kentucky next year. Three top HS perimeter players have committed to joining the Wildcats as freshmen next year and Goodwin may not get as many offensive looks as he has as a freshman.
40. Shabazz Muhammad, SF-SG UCLA: This is more of a nod to his hype as much as anything. As a prospect Muhammad is becoming Harrison Barnes. He’s a high-volume scorer with little in the way of other skills and unimpressive efficiency. Like Barnes he seems likely to be drafted in the top 10. If that happens he is going to get the opportunity to succeed that most players won’t, which is a huge advantage. It is also very possible he’ll plummet in the mocks like Perry Jones III did last year. Either way he’s currently wildly overhyped as a prospect and not a player who should be drafted in the top 5.
41. Carrick Felix, G-F Arizona State: An impressive player, but I’m not sure where he fits as a prospect. At 6’6” 195, he’s SG size but is more impressive as a SF prospect. He scores very efficiently, but not often enough. He’s a solid defender and is 3-pointer is falling at an acceptable rate for the first time in his career. I like the fact that he made serious improvement as a senior. That’s always a great sign for a prospect.
42. Nick Johnson, G Arizona: He’s a good defender and has shown potential as both a PG and a scorer. It looks like there’s some potential here as an NBA sniper/defender, but he needs to score more often before I consider him much of a prospect.
43. Jamaal Franklin, SG San Diego State: Talented, but erratic as a scorer.
44. James Southerland, SF Syracuse: His breakout senior season was derailed by an academic suspension. He might be returning soon and if plays at the same level upon return, he’s a decent prospect who will move up the list.
45. Reginald Buckner, PF Mississippi: He reminds me of Taj Gibson statistically. He doesn’t score much, but is very efficient when he does. He’s a decent rebounder and a good shot blocker. Definitely worth a look in round 2.
46. DJ Seeley, G CS-Fullerton: Fifth-year senior who has been lighting it up. He’s a good candidate to become a useful sniper/defender.
47. Zeke Marshall, C Akron: Marshall has gone full circle from over rated to under rated. He came to Akron with some high expectations. He was a good college player, but never looked like a much of a prospect his first three seasons. He slowly fell off the prospect radar. Now he’s playing the best basketball of his career and should be getting noticed again.
48. Khem Birch, PF UNLV: Transferred after his freshman season at Pitt didn’t go so well. He’s playing well and has put himself back on the prospect map. A transfer is something of a red flag to begin with. In Birch’s case, the fact that he blasted ex-teammates on his way out makes that flag a little bit redder. If he continues his solid play at UNLV and gets along with teammates, we can assume he and Pitt were just a bad match and it is better for both sides that he’s out.
49. Gregory Echenique, C Creighton: Echenique has surpassed every important benchmark for centers the past couple of seasons and is on pace to do the same this year. He’s short at 6’9” and is a 5th-year senior. But he looks like he has what it takes to be a useful inside banger.
50. Lorenzo Brown, PG North Carolina State: Brown is like Michael Carter-Williams and Marcus Smart, only older and not as dominant. His defense and passing are solid, but his offense is too inefficient.
51. Alan Williams, PF UCSB: A sophomore who is flashing some Faried-type of potential as an energy guy. His offense needs a lot of work, but he’s one to watch.
52. DJ Cooper, PG Ohio: Cooper spent 3 years as a good passing/solid defense/inefficient offense PG. This year he’s shooting less and hitting over .500 on 2-pointers for the first time in his career. It’s possible the coaching change at Ohio had a positive effect on his numbers. If he keeps this up, he’ll move up the list. Small player whose high end is probably an NBA reserve.
53. Bernard Thompson, SG Florida Gulf Coast: As is the case with Alan Williams at #48, Thompson is an unheralded sophomore posting some impressive numbers. Should both players continue at this level and make some improvements, they’ll shoot up the list. Such players could go either way at this point. I like to mention these guys, but should add the warning that one bad month could knock them back into oblivion.
54. Robert Covington, SF Tennessee State: Last year Covington looked like a first-rounder. This year he has struggled and just returned after missing 10 games to knee surgery. If we blame this year on the knee and look at his junior numbers, Covington would be a bargain this late.
55. Ray McCallum, G Detroit: McCallum is just a notch behind fellow small college combos McCollum and Wolters. In May I’ll sort out their prospectworthiness in more detail.
56. Mason Plumlee, C Duke: Plumlee has some potential as an energy player. The fact that he’s older than a typical senior and isn’t much of a shot blocker knocks him down to round 2.
57. Leonard Washington, F Wyoming: Combo forward whose making a case for himself in his 5th-year senior season.
58. Ed Daniel, PF Murray State: An undersized PF some team could talk themselves into as a Faried type. His strong senior season has moved him past Jamelle Hagins as the top undersized small college PF.
59. Tony Johnson, PG: A senior who is worth mentioning. He doesn’t score much, which is never a good thing for a small college point guard. He is a good passer with strong defensive numbers. As a scorer he’s always been very efficient. He seems to have the skills to become a useful reserve.
60. Arselan Kazemi, PF Oregon: A great rebounder and ball hawk. What concerns me is he doesn’t block many shots. Such a skill has always been a staple of great energy players. Still any player who is one of the top per minute rebounders in the nation who hits close to 60% of his FGs and has more steals than most guards is worth a look.