NBA AM: The Dented Can NBA Draft Class?
The Dented Can Draft Class?: With less than 20 games remaining for most NBA teams and with the March Madness tournament set to get underway next week a number of teams will start to focus more attention on the NBA Draft class than the playoff chase especially those teams with no shot at the post-season.
Some have labeled the 2013 NBA Draft class as weak, however a better term might be flat. While there does not appear to be a game changing super star in the ranks of the possible 2013 prospects, there are some quality players although most of the names at the top of the prospect list have some issues.
Let’s take a look at the projected top six:
Nerlens Noel – Kentucky – 6’11″ 216lbs
Nerlens underwent successful ACL surgery on Tuesday and is expected to miss at least eight months. Even without being able to workout for teams prior to the draft, or have any kind of productive offseason including likely missing training camp in 2013, Noel is likely going to declare for the NBA draft and he is likely in still contention for the top overall selection.
If that doesn’t illustrate the flatness of 2013 draft class almost nothing will.
Noel is the kind of player the draft is built around. He oozes potential. He is a big instinctual shot blocker who showed flashes of dominance in his time at a Kentucky. He is still very much a work-in-progress player and in all fairness staying at Kentucky for another year could do him wonders as a player. The problem is the names that could be in the 2014 NBA Draft class have far more star potential than Noel meaning staying another year could see him tumble significantly.
NBA teams drafting in the top three that would have considered Noel before the injury, will strongly consider him after it, mainly because no one would be drafting Noel for what he could do in year one of his career, it what he could be in year five of his career that’s appealing and an ACL injury doesn’t derail that.
Noel will be far enough a long in his recovery by the time NBA teams need to decide on where he’s picked to be comfortable with his surgery, so the odds that Noel gets drafted in the top of the draft even though he may not play, remains very high.
Ben McLemore – Kansas – 6’4″ 195lbs
Like many college athletes, McLemore has had a rough go of it coming from the poorest of poor situations and there are some concerns about the influence some people may have in his life.
McLemore has all the makings for a NBA success story, his game and his demeanor as a player make him super attractive, but more than a few NBA insiders say they need to get a better understanding of who is in his life and what kind of influence they would have if he were drafted into the NBA, especially with a high draft pick.
McLemore as a player is arguably one of the best in the nation, but a troubled and checkered past, that in all fairness have more to do with his family than him personally, have some wondering how teams will view him when a general manager’s job may be on the line if things go bad.
If there is one player that teams really want to get to know as a person it is McLemore, because his resume as player is amazing.
Shabazz Muhammad – UCLA – 6’6″ 223lbs
Coming into the college basketball season most had pegged Muhammad as the top overall pick. He is an electric scorer. He has flash and flare and his game looked to be a perfect translation to the NBA game.
The problem is almost none of that showed up at UCLA. Muhammad had a troubled college career to say the least and his impact on college basketball was negligible and that’s raised some serious doubts about what Muhammad can be to an NBA team. Is he a two guard? He doesn’t shoot nearly well enough to be a traditional NBA two. His game says small forward, but he’s not nearly big enough or strong enough to play the three in the NBA.
Teams are going to struggle to classify Muhammad and he’ll be labeled a tweener and that never bodes for a players draft stock.
In fairness to Muhammad he is a very smart player with a good basketball IQ. He can flat out score if you let him and he could be a far better pro than he was a college player, but there are questions surrounding him that are not easy to answer.
Cody Zeller – Indiana – 7’0″ 240lbs
Zeller could be the best player in college basketball. The problem is that’s almost a curse when it comes to the NBA game. Great college players have struggled to become great NBA players, mainly because the speed and physicality of the game is so different.
Zeller has a great skill set, so much so that he could have been a top 10 player last year.
With such a flat prospect class Zeller is going to get a lot of consideration in the top five and he is a better player today than he was last year, the problem hat will Haunt Zeller through the draft is how do teams view him as a NBA player, and early word is there are some concerns that he might not be nearly the explosive talent teams covet with a top five pick, and that his career trajectory could be fairly flat at the next level.
Zeller will get draft fairly high – maybe in the top three – the problem is his game doesn’t translate nearly as well as some others in the class and that could be a problem on draft night.
Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State – 6’4″ 200lbs
Could a point guard from Oklahoma State go first overall? Maybe. Marcus Smart is the best point guard in the country and with teams kicking themselves for passing on Damian Lillard; Smart is going to get a lot of looks from the top of the draft board.
Of the notable names on the prospect list, Smart has the least amount of luggage associated with him and with the NBA game being all about point guard play, Smart is going to be coveted.
The problem with Smart is the first thing he’ll tell you is he is a “Dwyane Wade-type” player; which he is. He is big strong and physical. He is an aggressive rebounder and can post up smaller guards.
The problem for NBA teams is that’s the resume of a two guard in the NBA, not a playmaking point guard. The fact that Smart is a solid passer will help, but he is going to need to shake the same kind of ‘score-first” label that Lillard got in the draft process, but considering how well Lillard has worked out, Smart might get more consideration and if teams really fall in love, Smart going in the top three is not out of the question.
Anthony Bennett – UNLV – 6’7″ 239lbs
Bennett could be the crazy athlete of the 2013 NBA Draft class. He is undersized for the NBA power spot at a legit 6’7, but he has an impressive 7’1 wingspan and is great around the basket. Bennett could be the consolation prize player for a team outside of the top five.
With the emergence of players like Paul Millsap, who is undersized for his game, Bennett could get more consideration, but going anywhere from five to ten in the 2013 NBA draft is more likely.
Some have wondered if he could become a small forward at the next level, however he just doesn’t have the volume of outside shots to believe that’s a skill in the NBA, although if he focuses on that in the draft process he might get a team to bite that he could be a three man in the NBA.
Bennett is an attractive draft prospect for sure, but he is going to get dinged for his size and that could have him tumble a little to a team in the middle of the lottery. But when you consider explosiveness and ability to play at the rim are coveted in the NBA, Bennett does both almost as well as anyone in the draft class.
The 2013 NBA Draft is in 105 days, with the 2013 NBA Draft Combine being held on May 15 in Chicago, almost a two full weeks earlier than in past years.
A new wrinkle in the earlier Combine date is that players in college may have less prep time than in previous years because of exams and scholarship rules, it also means players will meet with teams at the combine before they know the draft order as the NBA Draft Lottery will be held on May 21st.
Based on the NBA standings today, the Charlotte Bobcats have the worst record in the NBA and have a 25 percent chance at landing the top overall pick. The Orlando Magic have the second worst record and a 19 percent chance at the top overall pick with the third worst Washington Wizards having a 13.8 percent chance at the top pick.
Historically the last team to win the top pick, with their own draft pick, while having the worst record was the Orlando Magic in 2004 when they drafted Dwight Howard.
Our friends at DraftExpress power the HOOPSWORLD Top 100 Prospects. Jonathan Givony and his team have recently updated the top 100 in advance of selection Sunday and there has been some movement in the top of the projected class. Take a look.
Trying to Find His Place: Maalik Wayns did the improbable going undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft, but made the opening day roster for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers released Wayns in January to avoid guaranteeing his deal. The Sixers re-signed Wayns on a 10-day contract but let him hit the open market after that deal expired.
Wayns signed with the LA Clippers on a similar ten-day deal and tells HOOPSWORLD he’s just trying to prove his worth in LA.
Trouble A Foot: With 3.9 seconds remaining and the ball in his hands Lakers guard Kobe Bryant pulled up for what could have be an overtime forcing jumpshot. The shot did not go down however Kobe did come down awkwardly twisting his left ankle. Not only did the Lakers lose the game 96-92 to the Atlanta Hawk, but it now appears they may have lost Bryant to what is being called a “severely sprained ankle”. X-Rays taken last night came back negative for a break and Bryant did leave Phillips Arena limping but without crutches.
Bryant took to twitter to take issue with the final play involving Hawks guard Dahntay Jones.
Jones responded on Twitter saying he was simply trying to contest the shot.
YouTube video of the play shows Bryant pulling up from the corner and kicking his leg out and making contact with Jones then falling awkwardly to the floor.
After the game a dejected Bryant had little to say, but did comment about the need to protect shooters, especially when they are in the air.
“First and foremost, I think officials really need to protect shooters,” Bryant said to reporters after the game. “You can contest shots, but you can’t walk underneath players, that’s dangerous for the shooter… He Jalen Rosed me.
“I don’t ever want to put that on somebody. I really don’t. I just think players need to be made conscious of it, and I think officials need to protect shooters, period.
“I’m always conscious of it. When I go to contest shots I’m always very conscious about making sure I don’t walk underneath them. It’s just a very, very dangerous play. Especially if I’m fading away, there’s no rhyme or reason why I should come down anywhere near somebody’s foot. ”
Bryant is listed as out indefinitely, a timeline he wouldn’t comment on, but did say he was upset that he would get to see Dahntay Jones again this season.
“I don’t know, I can’t get my mind past the fact that I gotta wait a year to get revenge.”
The Lakers are now 34-32 and face the Indiana Pacers in Indiana on Friday before returning home to face the Kings at Staples Center on Sunday.
The Lakers currently have a half a game lead on Utah for the 8th seed. The Jazz have lost 8 of their last ten games. The Dallas Mavericks are three games behind the Lakers and have won four straight.
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