With the 2013 NBA Draft just over a month a way, prospects’ stocks are always rising and falling up until the day of the draft itself. Regardless, in a draft without any sure-fire superstars, here is a look at five players that have the highest ceiling.
1. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Noel has been to consensus number one pick in this year’s draft for some time now. Despite tearing his ACL just 24 games into his collegiate career, it is clear that he possesses the potential to be a game-changer.
At 6’11” with elite athleticism and the ability to block shots with either hand, Noel figures to be a difference-maker at the defensive end. Regardless of his lackluster post moves and footwork, his pure athleticism will allow for him to get easy points in catch-and-finish and pick-and-roll situations.
Defensively, his instincts and rotations are always on point. At Kentucky, he anchored the defense on a nightly basis, in a similar way to last year’s number one pick, Anthony Davis. Noel’s potential doesn’t necessarily mean that he will be a 20 point scorer consistently, but that he will protect the rim and change shots routinely.
With the Cleveland Cavaliers rumored to potentially trade the number one pick, if anybody does decide to make a move to take it off their hands, it will be for Noel. Noel’s ceiling is unmatched in the 2013 draft class.
2. Anthony Bennett, UNLV
At 6’8″, Bennett possesses the rare ability to score inside or out in various ways. Bennett can score inside with his quality face-up game and quickness or stretch the defense with his jump shot that has three-point range on it.
While anybody that has the skill set, size, and athleticism that Bennett possesses will be in the discussion of players with the highest upside, there will always be the possibility of the “tweener” label may define his career.
If Bennett can find the balance of using his ability to score inside and outside to exploit mismatches rather than relying on his perimeter game too heavily, he has the potential to be one of the most explosive players in the draft.
3. C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
McCollum was one of the most lethal perimeter scorers in all of college basketball a season ago. While the level of competition that he faced at Lehigh is questionable, the breakout of Damian Lillard from Weber State should help his cause.
McCollum averaged almost 24 points a game on 49% shooting from the floor in his senior season. At 6’3″ with a wingspan of 6’6″, the Lehigh combo guard established himself as one of the most dynamic draft prospects. He can score by getting to the rim off the bounce, pulling up for a mid-range jumper, or shooting the three, which he shot at an insane 51.6% clip in his senior year.
Anyone who can shoot the ball as efficiently as McCollum and still score in other ways will always have a high ceiling. His length makes him a mismatch for smaller guards, and his basketball IQ will help him transition into the NBA. McCollum has the potential to be a difference maker at the offensive end, possibly even becoming a go-to scorer with time.
4. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
At 6’6″, Carter-Williams’ size is remarkable for the point guard position. If that isn’t enough, he is the best floor general in this year’s draft. With the IQ to outsmart his opponent and the size to see over the top, Syracuse’s point guard learned to use both of those to his advantage in his sophomore season.
Not only is he a pass-first point guard with size that causes mismatches on a consistent basis, but Carter-Williams is one of the best on-ball defenders in the draft. With his length and quickness, he gives opposing point guards fits at that end of the court. His size also allows for him to guard multiple positions, including the other guard position and small forwards.
5. Rudy Gobert, France
Any time that you come across a prospect that is 7’2″ with a 7’9″ potential expect the word upside to be used frequently. When it comes to Gobert, it is his size and athleticism that make him so intriguing to NBA teams.
At his size, he is a difference-maker at both ends. He has shown that he is an impressive rebounding and shot-blocking prospect, although it is more than just his shot-blocking that makes him impressive defensively. Also, his athleticism coupled with that 7’9″ wingspan allows him to finish over the top of virtually anyone.
While his post skills are still raw offensively, he could be an immediate defensive game-changer. If Gobert can utilize his size and athleticism, and add a little bit more strength, the sky is the limit for this international prospect.