2013 NBA Draft preview
Nerlens Noel (left) is the projected No. 1 draft pick despite his injury in his freshman year with the University of Kentucky. Photo courtesy sportsillustrated.com
This year's NBA draft is considered one of the weakest draft classes ever by many basketball writers and analysts. The reasoning for the skeptical belief is based on many factors: the "One-and-Done" rule, too much control by head coaches and an overall boring and sloppy quality of play throughout the season.
What the casual basketball fans do not realize is that there are plenty of gems out there. It is just a matter of teams doing proper scouting and research to avoid drafting a bust.
Take, for example, last year's draft. Damian Lilliard, a 6-foot-3-inch point guard from little known Weber State University has taken the NBA by storm with his quickness, athleticism, defense and scoring ability. The Portland Trail Blazers' decision to draft him 10th overall shows that, just because your games are not televised regularly on CBS and ESPN, does not mean that you do not have the potential to make a significant impact in the league, as is the case with Lilliard, who is front runner for Rookie of the Year.
Another steal from last year's draft came when the Golden State Warriors selected Harrison Barnes seventh overall. The 6-foot-8-inch small forward from the University of North Carolina was slammed by critics - notably ESPN's Chad Ford - for his scoring ability, leadership and failure to live up to the high media expectations placed on him in high school, where he was mentioned in the same breath as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
Barnes has developed into a solid player for the Warriors. He has started in all 82 games, averaging 9.3 points per game and shooting 36 percent from three point territory. His contributions have helped break the franchises' losing streak by helping them clinch the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs - their first playoff appearance in six years.
And although he may never reach the heights of Bryant and James, then again, who really can?
For the 2013 NBA Draft, there are a variety of talented players, coming in different shapes, sizes and positions. Even though the parody that occurred this past season might have been dreadful to watch (to the University of Kentucky, Georgetown University and University of California, Los Angeles fans), it has been essential in giving players, who usually do not get the spotlight or were not recruited heavily out of high school, an audition for NBA scouts. Players like Anthony Bennett of University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Jamaal Franklin of San Diego State were able to capture the spotlight and put themselves in the draft picture with their outstanding play.
Although like any draft, the general manager's decision is a crap shoot. You never know what you are getting: a James or a Derrick Coleman. As much as fans like to think in hindsight when they call for the head of their franchises' basketball operations executive, what they fail to realize is the amount of time and personnel invested in order to select and develop a superstar. The process is never acknowledged or respected by the fan base, who strictly use the eye test.
Here are the top five prospects of this year's draft:
1. Nerlens Noel (Kentucky University) - Projected as the No. 1 pick, Noel has been praised for his defense, shot blocking ability and athleticism. His injury during the regular season has left NBA executives puzzled on whether or not he will be the next Hakeem Olajuwon or a Greg Oden.
2. Trey Burke (University of Michigan) - Burke made a name for himself, not only for sweeping the player of the year award honors, but his outstanding and clutch play throughout the NCAA Tournament, taking a staggering Michigan team and leading them all the way to the National Championship. Size and strength are questions for whether he can handle the guard position in the NBA.
3. Ben McLemore (University of Kansas) - He is arguably one of the most talented athletes in this year's draft. However, it is not a good sign when your coach is questioning your leadership ability during the NCAA Tournament.
4. Otto Porter (Georgetown University) - The Big East Player of the Year has the size and strength to play at the next level. On the other hand, his ability to be a consistent scorer and defender at the next level remain in doubt.
5. Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) - He remains as the most polarizing player in this year's draft. Nobody can question his scoring ability. People do question him on his one-dimensional style and ability to be a good teammate. He only had 27 assists in 35 games and refused to acknowledge fellow teammate Larry Drew II when he hit the game winner against Washington. And allegations of lying about your age do not help, either.
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