A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Draft Prospect Friday: Very early 2013 NBA Draft Big Board

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I’m going to be updating this list a handful of times this year, but here are my rankings with what I’ve seen so far, of the 2013 draft prospects. I have included my 33pt grades for each prospect though they are flexible to be changed as I learn more about the prospects:

Superstar talent grades

1. C Alex Len (Maryland) –  Physical impact grade: 9, Skill grade: 9, Feel for the Game grade: 9. Total: 27

Len has a shocking lead over the rest of the gap in my grades. I’m planning on a longer article on him later, but right now Len appears to be the full package. Physically he’s a legit 7-7’1 footer with a wide frame, plus athleticism to run the floor and play over the rim has been a dominant shot-blocker in college so far. But it’s his skill and feel for the game for a big guy that makes him special. He looks extremely comfortable in the post and has outside range that looks great, in both cases his height will help him release shots at a difficult to guard range. He is a tremendously smooth player offensively and has a high defensive IQ. Len’s combination of athleticism, skill and feel for the game for a wide bodied 7 footer reminds me of Pau Gasol and even a bit of Tim Duncan.

All-star talent grades

2. C Cody Zeller (Indiana) – Physical impact grade: 5, Skill grade: 7, Feel for the Game grade: 10. Total: 22

Cody has much of the same strengths as Len. He has a tremendous feel for the game/basketball IQ and has an inside/outside skill level. The big difference is Cody’s physical tools are lesser. Cody is skinnier and has a brutally short 6’8 wingspan for a 6’11+ player, which hurts his defensive potential at C and will make it more difficult for him to find space to release his shots.  Nevertheless, Cody is still a skilled post player with great touch and a developing outside game. He’s also a notably more explosive athlete than his brother Tyler, which should help him create a speed mismatch against opponents. I’d say there’s a good chance Zeller falls in mock drafts over the year and ends up a steal in the 6-10 range of the draft, similar to Greg Monroe and Brook Lopez, two other skilled Cs who weren’t physically imposing.

3. SF Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State) – Physical impact grade: 8, Skill grade: 5, Feel for the Game grade: 8. Total: 21 – Le’Bryan Nash reminds me a lot of Rudy Gay. He’s both explosive and strong for a SF, has a smooth feel for the game and has a promising looking perimeter shooting game. This combination should make him a good bet to score 20 points a game in the NBA. With his improved production this year I expect him to shoot up draft boards. Nash may have top 2 upside in the draft if his skill/shooting game takes a leap forward to match his physical tools and feel for the game.

4. C Steven Adams (Pittsburgh) – Physical impact grade: 9, Skill grade: 4, Feel for the Game grade: 7. Total: 20 – Steven Adams is extremely physically imposing, mixing size and mobility. He has an ideal NBA body for a center. He also appears to have a very solid feel for the game and awareness level on the court. His biggest concern is skill, right now he looks relegated to clean up points around the basket off broken players or offensive rebounds. However his combination of size, athleticism and feel for the game make him a likely blue chip starting C in the NBA. I don’t see him being a star barring a leap in offensive ability, but he can be a healthy version of Andrew Bogut if he turns out.

5. SF Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) – Physical impact grade: 7, Skill grade: 6, Feel for the Game grade: 7. Total: 20 – Shabazz Muhammad is a hard player to get a read upon because he didn’t look nearly as athletic in his first 2 UCLA games as I had expected after his high school career – but reportedly, he’s still working himself into shape. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll get more explosive, but his physical impact score could really go up or down from his ranking. Shabazz does appear to have a solid shooting game (especially within 10 feet) and has a solid awareness level/feel for the game, which should make him a solid bet on the wing for an NBA team regardless of how he does physically. Perhaps Shabazz’s destiny is to be a Luol Deng type of player in the NBA.

6. SF Alex Poythress (Kentucky) – Physical impact grade: 9, Skill grade: 3, Feel for the Game grade: 8. Total: 20 – Alex Poythress is doing a total Michael Kidd-Gilchrist impersonation right now, from his mix of size/explosiveness physically to his strong IQ and feel for the game – and like MKG, his biggest concern is perimeter polish. Poythress reportedly doesn’t have the insane motor Kidd-Gilchrist did, but talent wise I see him right in the vicinity of MKG’s.

7. SF Otto Porter (Georgetown) – Physical impact grade: 6, Skill grade: 5, Feel for the Game grade: 9. Total: 20 – Otto Porter is a strong all around prospect at SF. His biggest strength is feel for the game, he appears to have a terrific sense of the court and this has allowed him to play as a facilitator for Georgetown. Physically he has legitimate size at 6’8+ and can get to the basket. His biggest question mark is whether he will be a consistent shooter and perimeter finesse ability in the NBA, but if he can make a dent in that area he has all-star potential as a versatile all around wing like Andre Iguodala.

Impact starter talent grades

8. SF Kyle Anderson (UCLA) – Physical impact grade: 3, Skill grade: 4, Feel for the Game grade: 11. Total: 19 – Kyle Anderson is one of the most unique prospects in the draft due to his strengths and weaknesses – He is essentially a SF version of Andre Miller. His feel for the game is truly otherworldly, being aware of the whole court and playing essentially like a 6’9 PG. The rest of his talents are lacking. Physically he is a great ballhandler which will allow him to get into the paint even if his explosiveness is lacking. His career will almost surely come down to how strong a shooter he is. He can hit shots but is not a consistent threat at it. With a strong shooting game he would have all-star potential.

9. PF James McAdoo (North Carolina) – Physical impact grade: 6, Skill grade: 5, Feel for the Game grade: 8. Total: 19 – James McAdoo is the classic SF/PF tweener of this draft. If he was two inches taller he may have been a #1 pick due to his explosiveness, strength, feel for the game and developing perimeter game for a PF. However being short for a PF can kill some careers, just as Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams. McAdoo is very hard to grade for this reason because he can either use his physical tools to dominate physically in the NBA despite his size like players such as Blake Griffin have done at a similar size, or he can end up floating as a PF who plays like a SF like a Williams. Likewise his perimeter game looks like can get much better, but he hasn’t proven his proficiency in that area yet. As a result I give him a grade of 19, but if he reaches his upside he can be one of the best prospects in the draft.

10. PF/C Isaiah Austin (Baylor) – Physical impact grade: 2, Skill grade: 8, Feel for the Game grade: 8. Total: 18 – Isaiah Austin is sort of the Donatas Motiejunas of this draft. He has an extremely nice skill level for a big out to the 3pt line and is a smooth player with a strong feel for the game. However, he has an extremely thin frame that is pushed off the block easily and looks likely to be a perimeter big only in the NBA. I expect him to be a stretch PF long term in the NBA, but may have trouble guarding his a position.

Written by jr.

November 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm

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