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An NBA Draft To Remember?

In a draft with no consensus number one overall pick it seems more teams are trying to trade up or out than ever before.  The problem getting these deals done, however, is a 2013 NBA draft pick just doesn’t have the same cachet as in prior years or next year.  In the end, a buyer’s market for draft picks should help teams wishing to trade out be more reasonable in their demands and there could be even more draft day trades than usual tonight.

Each year the NBA invites top draft prospects to await their selection in the Green Room.  These players are expected to be taken by teams holding lottery picks and most years the NBA gets it right.  The 13 invites for 2013 are:

Nerlens Noel, Kentucky Freshman

Nerlens Noel is often shown going first overall in mock drafts, but the 6’ 11” center is as thin as a rail, was pushed around in the paint as a college freshman and is going to miss the start of the NBA season rehabbing a torn ACL.  A great shot blocker with a high ceiling on defense, Noel hasn’t developed any reliable offensive skills as yet.  In another draft, he would be labeled a long term prospect.  It might not be fair, but he does remind one of Hasheem Thabeet.  In this draft, however, it is possible he is taken first or second or third or later.

Ben McLemore, Kansas Freshman

This freshman shooting guard is 20 years old already and is considered something of a late bloomer.  Being older than your peers helps with the perception of having a greater upside, but there is no denying that this young man can shoot the basketball.  An excellent free throw and long range shooter with a 42” max vertical leap makes Ben McLemore an intriguing prospect.  McLemore is often labeled as the player with the greatest upside in this draft.

Otto Porter, Georgetown Sophomore

Otto Porter is a solid eight months younger than McLemore, but looks to be one of the most NBA ready prospects in this year’s draft.  At 6’ 8.5”, he has great size for the small forward position.  In great shape, Porter is long, athletic, plays solid defense, is a good outside shooter and can play effectively off the ball.  Perhaps the safest pick in this draft, Potter is exactly what the Cavaliers need for next season.

Alex Len, Maryland Sophomore

Alex Len of Antratsit, Ukraine missed 10 games as a freshman due to the all too frequent bizarre NCAA rulings about European’s amateur status, but as a sophomore, he came ready to play, added weight and strength and looked great.  A 7’ 1” center with a big wingspan, good hands and agility, Len can play both the pick-and-roll and back-to-the-basket games and was able to score over defensive centers like Noel.  In this draft, Len may have shown enough to grab the top overall pick.

Victor Oladipo, Indiana Junior

The 21-year-old wing Victor Oladipo made his reputation at the defensive end of the floor with his ability to guard multiple positions, rebound, block shots and grab steals.  However, as a junior, he discovered how to hit the long ball and sunk 44.1 percent of his three-point attempts.  It is easy to see why scouts are high on Oladipo.  At 6’ 4” tall, he has a 6’ 9” wingspan, a 42” max vertical leap and he was a lot stronger than his peers.  Oladipo could be an impact shooting guard at the NBA level fairly quickly.

Trey Burke, Michigan Sophomore

An athletic scoring point guard from a big-time program, Trey Burke would normally get the nod as the best point guard in this draft and in all fairness, he probably is.  Unlike many young athletic players that thrive only in transition, Burke was good in half court sets and can run the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop commonly used in the NBA.  As a scorer, Burke was on par with Damian Lillard’s last season at Webber State.  As a passer, Burke had an outstanding assist to turnover ratio.  Burke is an excellent pick for a team looking to add a point guard of the future.

Anthony Bennett, UNLV Freshman

Another Canadian is expected to be selected in the lottery this season, the undersized power forward Anthony Bennett has impressed NBA teams.  At 6’ 7” and 239 lbs, Bennett may be more suited to the combo forward role and may have to transition to small forward at the next level, but the 20-year-old has a 7’ 1” wingspan and was able to use his superior strength and athleticism to be an effective post player and rebounder.  Already a good jump shooter, the NBA has more than enough successful undersized power forwards and combo forwards with similar skill-sets to keep the interest in Bennett very high.

C.J. McCollum, Lehigh Senior

If Damian Lillard can do it, why can’t C.J. McCollum.  Another small school senior point guard that proved he could be effective over four college seasons.  At 6’ 3” tall with a 6’ 6” wingspan and a 38.5” max vertical leap, McCollum could be a combo guard or even a straight shooting guard in the NBA.  He shot 51.6 percent from three-point range last season and got to the free throw line over six times per game.  McCollum’s game may have more Monta Ellis than pure point guard in it and that should be more than enough to make him a high pick on Thursday night.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia Sophomore

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope doesn’t have the explosive vertical leap of players expected to go earlier in the draft, but the 6’ 5.5” shooting guard is much quicker than average and has the potential to be a good defender.  Caldwell-Pope benefited from a high usage rate on a weak team, but he was effective at generating his own shot and wasn’t shy about launching them from deep.

Steven Adams, Pittsburgh Freshman

Steve Adams is the ideal NBA rookie center at 7’ tall in shoes and 255 lbs out of college.  Solid reach, good athleticism and strength, but in need of development because at just 19-years-old, he hasn’t been able to put in the time required to learn the fundamental skills required to play the position.  A raw prospect, it will take time for Adams to learn how to use his natural talents.

Cody Zeller, Indiana Sophomore

Cody Zeller is another young seven-footer with excellent natural gifts for some NBA team to develop.  Zeller has the combination of size, athleticism and speed that attracts NBA scouts, the only knock on his game is the apparent lack of progress from his freshman season.  Zeller should have entered the draft last year.

Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Sophomore

Michael Carter-Williams is a 6’ 5.75” point guard who was an inefficient scorer that turned the ball over far too often.  He will get drafted, however, for his exceptional size, excellent athleticism and strong one-on-one play.  Considered an unselfish player, Carter-Williams is a prospect worth developing.  The NBA draft is all about projecting what a player could be and one can’t teach what Carter-Williams brings to the table.

Sergey Karasev, Triumph Moscow

Sergey Karasev’s inclusion in the Green Room is interesting as the international forward was not made available for private workouts prior to the draft and could go anywhere from nine to twenty-nine, but at just 19-years-old, Karasev was a go-to scorer in the VTB United league and EuroCup playing against other professionals.  Every team with a lottery draft pick should have made the effort to watch him play in person last season.

Notable omissions from the Green Room include Gonzaga Junior Kelly Olynyk from Scarborough (Toronto), Canada and UCLA Freshman Shabazz Muhammad.

There is no consensus as to which prospect will be taken first overall, but the Green Room invites do provide a very good indication of the likely lottery picks.  This draft does have talent.  It just doesn’t have the obvious future superstar and that issue, as much as team needs and pending luxury changes, should drive activity during tonight’s draft.

Stephen Brotherston has covered the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Center since 2009.  A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.

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