Welcome to the Latest Edition of the PickandPopDiaries NBA Draft big board! This is my biggest yet, 40 prospects deep. Tomorrow, fellow blogger Evan Javel will have out the first of our Mock Drafts. This list is how I look at players NBA skill sets, not the order of the draft, as each team has their own needs. Enjoy, comment, and come back for more as we get ready for the postseason and the NBA Draft.
1. Ben McLemore, Kansas SG 6-5
By this point I’m sure everyone is familiar with the Kansas star freshman. McLemore’s combination of incredible athleticism, a sweet shooting stroke and strong defense have us all thinking he could be a future all star. His inconsistencies though have left some doubt about his place atop the draft board, but I believe his skill set and good health should place him above Noel for most teams. Games like his monster effort against West Virginia on March 2nd when he dropped 36 on 12-15 shooting including 5-6 from deep speak to his potential. His 2 point, 0-9 from the field performance in Kansas’ 3rd round win in the tourney vs UNC show his inconsistencies.
2. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky PF/C 6-11
An ACL tear has not limited his value much at all on NBA draft boards. The shot blocking phenom has incredible athleticism and energy. He will likely never be a big time scorer at the next level, but what he brings to a team is far more valuable than that. If he could shoot well, I’d compare him to KG. He has incredible passion and plays the game as hard as anyone. Any team that drafts him will be making a great choice, he could easily go number 1.
This kid does everything well. He is a safe pick and will excel on the next level. I see a lot of Rudy Gay in his game, but I believe he can score more efficiently.
4. Marcus Smart, Ok. St PG 6-4
The versatile Smart has as much potential as anyone, but I just haven’t seen the consistency and shooting stroke that screams franchise player from the PG position. I think he could be a similar player to Tyreke Evans, which is not a bad thing, but I believe not worthy of the top overall pick. He does possess incredible passing, court vision and handle so regardless he will be a major asset on the next level.
5. Anthony Bennett, UNLV PF 6-8
I love AB and if he was 6-10 he would likely go number one, but as an undersized power forward, he will have his hands full at the next level. He has excellent ball handling for his size, great agility and instincts, but he needs to improve both his shooting and conditioning to be a star. He could be the next Paul Milsap and an offensive force on the next level. I do worry about his defense.
6. Victor Oladipo, Indiana SG 6-5
OLA-DIPO! That chant never got old for me this season as this athletic freak took the NCAA by storm. A first team All American, he is a dominant wing defender, a terrific driver and finisher at the rim and a solid shooter. If he can become a knock down shooter, which is possible with his pretty shooting stroke, he could be 20-25 point a game scorer.
7. Shabazz Muhammed, UCLA SG/SF 6-6
Well Bazz is one year older than we all thought and that hurts him by pushing him out of top 5 consideration. He struggles defensively and getting his teammates involved, but he can score with the best of them. He should be able to come into the league and be a double digit scorer right away.
8. Cody Zeller, Indiana PF/C 6-11
You couldn’t ask for a more polished big man. He does everything well, has great footwork and absolutely flies up and down the court. He needs to get stronger, much stronger, but he comes in ready to play big minutes right away.
9. Trey Burke, Michigan PG 6-0
This kid has heart to go along with his amazing skill set. He isn’t the fastest or strongest, both of which he will work on, but he just knows how to play on both ends of the floor. He is the heart of Wolverines and the likely national player of the year. I would love to have a warrior like this on my team.
10. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse PG 6-5
The best passer in this class, MCW has risen to new heights in the tourney. He now is finally looking like the scorer we all thought he could be, dominating the paint as a PG. He may need one year to adjust and add some strength as well as adjusting to man-to-man defense (the Cuse run a zone) but as a point guard prospect in this class I don’t think he’s far behind Smart.
11. Alex Len, Maryland C 7-1
Well, his guards are not very good and don’t get him looks in good scoring position, but the polished big man can score from about anywhere. He will need to add considerable strength, but a Brook Lopez comp is not out of the question if things go well for him.
12. Glen Robinson III, Michigan SF 6-6
He doesn’t get enough looks in the Michigan offense and I thought about placing him hire on this list, but for now I’ll keep him late lottery. He can shoot, pass, and handle well. He has great athleticism and length which he combines with intelligent play. He doesn’t always show up, but as I said, I believe that is more a factor of playing on such a stacked team. If he gets stronger (do I say this for everyone?) and handle the physicality of NBA SFs than he will be a steal this late.
13. Gary Harris, Mich. St. SG 6-4
A great athlete with an NBA body, the only downsides to this player is that he is not a great shooter yet and he is little undersized. He can get to the rim and finish in a variety of ways from 15 feet in. A solid player, not a star.
14. Mason Plumlee, Duke PF 6-10
Plumlee is made for the NBA with his speed and leaping ability. I think he will flourish with a double double average within a couple seasons. If he gets picked up by a running team like Houston or Golden State or plays with an elite point guard he will be a monster.
15. Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga C 7-0
The smooth big man from Canada can score in any way. Back to the basket, face up, or on the break the man can just score. He isn’t an elite rebounder or shot blocker but he does know how to play. His big-time improvement this year gives me hope he can be a good pro. And yes, he needs to add strength to play in the post in the NBA.
16. CJ McCollum, Lehigh SG 6-3
A true scorer with good handle, he comes in NBA ready. A nice player to add if he slips to a playoff caliber team.
17. Steven Adams, Pitt C 7-0
A project big no doubt, but you cannot teach size and athleticism. He is strong and plays with great energy too. I think he should stay, but as the youngest of 18 children, family pressures are likely to push him into the draft.
18. Dario Saric, Croatia, SF 6-10
He is a very skilled wing player who can handle and dish the rock. Great court vision and rebounding are combined with a below average jump shot. He needs work, but with a good shooting stroke could be a star.
19. Jeff Withey, Kansas C 7-0
The dominant shot blocker from Kansas should have a long prosperous NBA career. He is not a great rebounder, but can finish at the rim and will be active on both ends. I really like this pick for any NBA playoff team.
20. Jammal Franklin, San Diego St. SG 6-5
A terrific rebounder and slasher, Franklin is also a great defensive player. While he does not have star potential, he screams glue guy for a playoff team.
21. Rudy Gobert, France PF/C 7-1
He has a massive 7’9″ wingspan to go along with great athleticism. He doesn’t have great strength or a polished offensive game, but as a project he an intriguing one.
22. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky SG 6-5
Goodwin looked out of control for most of the season with wild drives and scoring very inefficiently most of the time. He does however have great ability. More seasoning would be nice, but he is a first round pick right now.
23. Gorgui Dieng, Louisville C 6-11
A good rebounder and shot blocker, I think he should be a quality big man at the next level. A post up game could make him a very dangerous player. Another of the quality bigs that will be available at the end of the first round in this draft.
24. Isiah Austin, Baylor SF/PF 7-0
While he is super skilled and tall, he just hasn’t had any consistency this year. I believe he should stay, but a team will bite on him in the first if he goes.
25. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia SG 6-5
Great shooter, defender and overall athlete his big weakness is moving with the ball. He could be a really good pro.
26. Shane Larkin, Miami PG 5-11
I hope he stays, but Larkin can handle the ball, shoot well and is a solid passer. I think he could be Jameer Nelson 2.0 if he works on his finishing ability at the rim
27. Tony Mitchell, North Texas PF 6-8
A freak athlete who can do everything well, yet just doesn’t most games. If he gets his motor right, I think he could be Kenyon Martin.
28. James Michael-McAdoo, UNC PF 6-9
He is a great athlete, but a constant disappointment. Maybe the challenge and coaching of the NBA level could get him to finally play to his potential.
29. Mitch McGary, Michigan, PF/C 6-10
McGary is a huge body who came in as the second highest rated prospect out of high school last year. He has had a monster tourney, but from watching him for the full year I believe he can score and rebound at the NBA level, but may get taken to school on defense. His best comp is Nikola Pekovic if he maxes his potential.
30. Allen Crabbe, Cal SG/SF 6-6
The PAC-12 player of the year is a just a great scorer with deep range on his jump shot. He goes after loose balls and is a good rebounder for his position. He is not particularly athletic or strong, but he seems to be able to get off his shot regardless and can stick with his man on defense. I could see him being a sneaky pick and turning into a Kevin Martin type player.
31. Patrick Young, Florida C 6-9
He didn’t seem to get better this year, but I believe he can still be a quality defensive minded big man. A quality shot blocker, he needs to improve his rebounding and touch around the rim. He will be a nice pickup for a team if he slides into the second round.
32. Russ Smith, Louisville PG/SG 6-0
A flat-out shooter and slasher, Smith can and loves to score. He seems to work hard and could be a sixth man type scorer in the mold of Ben Gordon if he is able to get his shot off against the bigger NBA players. He does have a nice step back which should be his go to at the next level.
33. Myck Kabongo, Texas PG/SG 6-1
Another good undersized scorer and point guard, Myck, who sat out much of the year due to a BS suspension by the NCAA looks to be a sleeper pick. He can pass and handle well, has nice range on his shot, is a scrappy defender and doesn’t make too many turnovers. I love this pick at the end of the first for a team like San Antonio or Miami.
34. Lucas Nogueira, Brazil PF/C 6-11
Athletic shot blocker who has a lot of effort in his game is a project offensively. He is also very weak, but a team could draft him and hold him overseas for a couple years to bulk up before coming over.
35. Adreian Payne, Mich St. PF/C 6-9
An Athletic freak, Payne is a really smooth athlete and looks comfortable as a high post player. He will block shots and fight for rebounds. Another player I think should get some looks at the end of the first or be a steal in the second.
36. CJ Leslie, NC State PF 6-9
I have loved Leslie since he came to NC State. He would be a nice backup power forward as he can run on the break, fight for boards and will mix it up on D. Needs to add strength to bang with NBA bigs, but this is a skilled man.
37. Doug McDermit, Creighton PF 6-8
A pure scorer and back to back All American, Dougie needs to get in much better shape to play in the NBA. If he puts in the hard work, he could be a Keith Van Horn type (offensively skilled, limited on D).
38. Nate Wolters, South Dakota St. PG 6-3
He did it all for his Jack Rabbits, Wolters is a great scorer and ball handler. I don’t think he has the speed to be good NBA defender but I think he can score at any level.
39. PJ Hairston, UNC SG 6-5
Strong guard who can shoot from three and take it the whole. He plays with a lot of grit and heart which is great to watch but he is not a great ball handler and lacks the knock down elbow jumper. I have heard he had weight issues in the past, but I believe with NBA conditioning that should not be a problem.
40. Reggie Bullock, UNC SF 6-6
Great shooter and scorer in general, Bullock needs to add strength to play D. I think he could be a nice end of the bench shooter.