The NBA season is still quite a bit away (in late October) as is the college hoops season (in mid-November), but because we’re assuming you’re addicted to basketball and refuse to get help, we figure it’s never too early to look at the “upcoming” NBA draft.
For some reason, a large chunk of NBA fans seem to think that the 2013 NBA draft is “weak.” Although I can’t guarantee the 2013 draft will be anything special, the talent seems to be there for a nice — not 2003 or 1996 “nice,” mind you — list of players.
And it’s top-heavy, too, meaning the lottery picks might be worth holding onto for rebuilding teams.
This assessment could be wrong, though. Each and every one of these possible lottery picks could flame out, and 2013 would’ve been serious bad luck.
Because there’s two tales to every draft pick, I present to you a lottery mock draft, a short assessment of each player, and their best- and worst-case scenarios, exaggerated to the 14th power.
(Trust me, I almost majored in math.)
1. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
Shabazz is filled with potential. The dude is a versatile, solid 2-guard. At 6’6” and 220 pounds, Shabazz has the perfect frame to compete at any level, while also being pretty damn athletic. He’s a solid perimeter scorer and he’s got some serious ability to attack the basket. His defense is a bit shoddy though, and his three-point shot could use some work.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Kobe Bryant
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: Jamal Crawford
At the very least, ‘Bazz will be serviceable, and this is if he’s lazy as hell. People seem to think that the Kobe comparison is lofty and they’d rather compare him to James Harden. I’ll stick that in my “pretty dumb idea” box because James Harden is James Harden because he lacks athleticism but is super crafty.
2. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Noel is supposed to be a defensive monster in the paint. He’s a center (rightfully so, at 6’10”), but he’s a tad wiry right now. The dude is also a little raw on offense but he’s shown he has the basic framework down to absorb new post moves. Basically, he’s Anthony Davis filling in for Anthony Davis at Kentucky.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Kevin Garnett
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: 1992 Will Smith
Why 1992 Will Smith? Because flat-top.
3. Cody Zeller, Indiana
Cody is the opposite kind of center that Nerlens Noel is. He’s gorgeous to watch offensively, moves well in the paint, is crafty down low, and has a nice touch from the outside. He’s got a wide range of skills that allows him to be effective anywhere from the floor. He’s also a true 7-footer, although you’re coupling this with the fact that he’s more fit to play the four than he is the pivot.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Pau Gasol
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: Mark Madsen
Fun Fact: Did you know that Mark Madsen can’t dance?
4. Steven Adams, Pitt
“Another big man?” you ask. “That’s three out of four. Mark Madsen can’t dance but I do know my math.”
We know, big men dominating the top-four selections in the 2013 NBA draft seems odd, but it’s fair to note that big men are at a major premium right now. Especially one like Adams.
Because Adams has incredible amounts of potential, much of it unproved. The dude is from New Zealand, so he’s not out there playing with centers like Noel in prep games. That said, he’s still incredibly athletic and really high-energy. He’s another defensive big, but he’s still got quite a few offensive skills to hold his own, and his work ethic and personality is something scouts rave about.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Tim Duncan
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: Andrew Bogut
(Okay, so maybe we only said “Andrew Bogut” since New Zealanders hate Aussies.)
5. James Michael McAdoo, UNC
McAdoo’s an tweener. He’s 6’8” but plays closer to a power forward than he does to a small forward, meaning he’s more likely to bang inside and use sweet post moves rather than play out on the wing and slash to the basket if given the opportunity. He’s solid from the outside, mind you, but he’s not a true three the way you’d like him to be at his size in the NBA. He’s solid defensively, too, and he can handle the ball, but he’s not exactly a point forward.
Best-Case Scenario: James Worthy
Worst-Case Scenario: Joel Anthony
The James Worthy comparison is a tiring one, because it’s the first thing people think of when they see McAdoo. Of course, his demeanor and his work ethic are things that scouts love, even if it means he’s not seen as aggressive, so you’d have to figure he’s at least serviceable the way Joel Anthony is “serviceable.”
6. Rudy Gobert, France
Gobert is an international dude, so we won’t get to see him at the collegiate level in 2012-13. That said, scouting reports love the center’s length — he has a 7’9” wingspan! — and knock him for his scrawny feel, while calling him raw on offense. Additionally, his athleticism is a total plus, especially for a big guy.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Pau Gasol (Again?)
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: Darko Milicic
Ew. Darko? Milicic? Darko Milicic?
7. Kyle Anderson, UCLA
Kyle Anderson is easily one of the most under-the-radar draft prospects that was a top-five recruit out of high school in recent memory. There’s a reason: He’s an odd-ball, basketball-wise. He’s a 6’9” small forward that excels when he’s running the court and playing the point. His court-vision is ridiculous and although he’s slow and lacking in athleticism, he has a knack to get buckets and, more importantly, set up other players for open shots.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Magic Johnson
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: 2010-11 Hedo Turkoglu
No one wants to say that this kid could be the next Magic Johnson, but this kid could be the next Magic Johnson …
8. Ryan Harrow, Kentucky
Harrow is a quick-as-hell point guard that has the ability to find his teammates while also having a knack for putting up points, potentially in bunches. The kid has a high basketball IQ and has some really sick handles. Of course, his perimeter scoring needs work and he forces shots more often than you’d like.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Allen Iverson
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: Stephon Marbury, after he was Stephon Marbury
The Allen Iverson comparison is cheap, but when you think “sexy handles” don’t you think of Allen Iverson immediately?
9. Tony Mitchell, North Texas
Mitchell is another forward tweener that can either player small forward or power forward, but can’t seem to fit either. He’s got a nice frame to him, and has a nose for blocking shots. At the same time, though, he has the ability to score from the perimeter and play some solid perimeter defense. He can be pretty clumsy with his ball-handling, though.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Lamar Odom
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: Drew Gooden
10. Otto Porter, Georgetown
Porter is an incredibly raw player that plays within himself. He’s got all the tangibles — he’s a 6’8” small forward with a 7’1” wingspan and has the frame to support more than his billed weight of 205 pounds — and all the intangibles. He is a hustler and is solid defensively. What he lacks, though, are skills that are remedied by extreme amounts of sweat. He’s an awful shooter from anything further than 10 feet.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Rudy Gay
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: Trevor Ariza, without a shot
For the Rudy Gay comparison to come to fruition, Porter needs to work on a lot.
11. Adonis Thomas, Memphis
Thomas is a 6’6” small forward whose primary strength is, well, strength. He plays a tad bigger than he is — scouts tend to think he plays more like a power forward, and at 240 pounds, it’d be tough to disagree. He’s erally damn athletic, though, and though his outside shot is lacking, he can score around the basket.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Charles Barkley
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: Chuck Hayes
Barkley was very athletic but really tough and inside-oriented his entire career.
12. Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse
Christmas is a 6’9” power forward that has very solid athleticism but is incredibly raw on offense. He can’t score all that well, and he tends to check out of games. He can dunk, though, and explosively, and scouts love his quickness.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Serge Ibaka
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: Kwame Brown
He’s very Ibaka-like in that he doesn’t defend amazingly great 1-on-1 but likes to roam and block shots.
13. Alex Len, Maryland
Len is a very skilled offensive player with decent — not great — athleticism for a guy who measures in at 7’1”. He moves fluidly, can shoot from the perimeter, and can finish around the basket, while also having soft enough hands and solid enough court-vision to pass out of the post. He’s scrawny, though, and the kid needs to bulk up.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Vlade Divac
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: Michael Olowokandi
We were about to say Pau Gasol, but we used that one too many times already.
14. Josh Smith, UCLA
Smith is an extremely skilled player in the paint and is as true of an offensive center you can get. He has some sweet post moves and can finish well around the basket, especially since he’s 6’11”. He’s also strong as hell and can bully his way for position down low and can use that strength to finish around the basket. His weight has been his primary concern at UCLA and he may not be an NBA draftee unless he gets that together.
Exaggerated Best-Case Scenario: Shaquille O’Neal
Exaggerated Worst-Case Scenario: Eddy Curry
Smith is very close to Eddy Curry territory at this point.