All in all, the ACL injury suffered by Kentucky power forward Nerlens Noel could have been worse?ask around among NBA personnel men, and most are still high on Noel?s potential. Still, most near the top of the draft figure to be scared off enough to knock Noel out of his perch as one of the Top 3 players who figured to be taken in June. Here?s how things are shaping up:
Zeller has a polished all-around game for a sophomore, and would have been a lottery pick if he had come out last year. One problem with going back to school is that scouts will parse his game a little more closely and find flaws, and the opinion here has been that the fluctuations in his stock would even out as the year went on. With Noel?s injury, Zeller is the best player available.Next
McLemore?s outstanding freshman season has caused his stock to soar, and he is a candidate to be the top pick. He will have competition from Shabazz Muhammad as the top shooting guard in this draft, but McLemore is more explosive as an athlete.Next
Porter has good size and the kind of all-around game scouts like to see at small forward. Washington has been showing some promise lately, and a guy with Porter?s versatility would be an ideal fit at a position of need. It doesn?t hurt that he is a Georgetown guy, either.Next
If you?re lamenting the disappearance of the big man in the NBA, don?t blame Len. He is a legit center, with a very effective post game. I have talked to more than one personnel man who thinks Len could be the top pick in this draft, and while he might not have the upside of a guy like Noel, you can pencil him in as a starter in the league for a long time.Next
Like McLemore, Shabazz has the potential to develop into a star scorer. That is something the Suns, who tried to sign Eric Gordon in the offseason, are sorely lacking. Shabazz?s shooting has been a pleasant surprise, which has eased some scouts? worries.Next
The Hornets would like a point guard, but there?s a chance that Smart?a combo guard?does too much of what Austin Rivers, last year?s No. 10 pick, does. Maybe, but Smart does it better. The Hornets might have to eventually move the disappointing Eric Gordon, so loading up at guard is not a bad idea.Next
He can?t shoot (37.0 percent from the field, 29.9 percent from the 3-point line), and that?s the big knock on Carter-Williams. But he is such a deft playmaker for a team lacking at the point guard spot that the Kings might have to take a gamble on him.
One negative you hear on Poythress is that he doesn?t have the perimeter game you want out of a small forward, which is where he will play in the NBA (he is 6-7). But Poythress has been very efficient with the ball, and for the rebuilding Pistons?who traded Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye?this is a natural fit.Next
It?s hard to imagine a better position for Noel to wind up in, right? Coming back from a knee injury, landing with a team that is already built around Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, with Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones waiting in the wings?it would be the perfect mix for both OKC, which needs to find ways to go small more effectively, and for Noel.Next
McCollum is a polished, versatile scorer who was having a fantastic season in all phases of the game before he broke his foot in January. That has not helped his draft status, of course, but it hasn?t caused a nosedive, either. The feeling is McCollum still can be an impact player.Next
If you shoot 64.5 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from the 3-point line on one of the nation?s best college teams, you?re going to grab some attention. In a draft that is still sorting itself out, Oladipo has gotten himself into the first round, and is even a lottery prospect.Next
Cauley-Stein is very raw, but he has legitimate size and should take on more of a role with Noel out. His numbers are not impressive, but he has been playing well lately and as a center with potential, he is turning heads.Next
He has a power-forward game in a small-forward body, and if not for that, Bennett would be a Top-5 pick. As it stands, he could still go that high?he has been that impressive?but scouts are getting leery on tweeners.Next
The Bobcats need help at just about every position, but they?re particularly suspect in the frontcourt. Assuming they win the No. 1 pick and hold on to Portland?s pick (it is Top 12 protected), they?ll have a chance to bolster their weak big-man contingent.