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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. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

November 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Why Le’Bryan Nash could go top 3 or even #1 in the 2013 NBA draft

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Right now the #1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft is as up for grabs as its been for years. There is no consensus #1 pick like PF Anthony Davis, PG Kyrie Irving, PG John Wall have been in recent years. PF Nerlens Noel, SG/SF Shabazz Muhammad and PF/C Cody Zeller top the lists. Chad Ford of ESPN.com Noel 1st, Muhammad 2nd, Zeller 3rd. Draftexpress.com has Muhammad 1st, Noel 2nd and Zeller 3rd.

Nerlens’ Noel problem is that he is a very raw player offensively. I wrote about his weaknesses here. Cody Zeller is unlikely to go 1st because he isn’t a physically dominating force and has a small wingspan, which tends to hurt center prospects’ draft stock. Shabazz Muhammad is likely the frontrunner now that he’s been reinstated at UCLA. He’s a big, athletic SG/SF who plays hard and who has a nose for scoring the ball. That should translate to somewhere between an impact starter and all-star wing in the NBA.

But to me the big sleeper is SF Le’Bryan Nash. While currently projected just 25th on Chad Ford’s list and 17th on Draftexpress, his situation is unique in that he clearly had all the tools of a star, but just never put them together. He’s arguably the most physically gifted wing in the class with explosiveness, size and length. But what impresses me more is the talent he’s showing in skill and feel for the game. This is a video from last year (none of his impressive games from this year have been uploaded yet):

 

 

Watching this video it’s hard to believe he wasn’t a star last year. To go beside his physical tools, he clearly looks super smooth, craftily getting by his man off the dribble to finish at the rim and with a very nice looking post/turnaround jumper game. His jumpshot form also looks impressive.

And yet none of this showed up on the statsheet. Last year Nash averaged 13.3 pts per game, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.6 TOVs on a paltry 39.4% FG, 23.5% 3P, and .48 TS%. He gained the reputation of a knucklehead, a black hole and a losing player. Nash got called merely an athletic who had no idea how to play basketball. Yet that’s hard to believe watching what appears to be an excellent feel for the game and skill base in videos like the above, when he played well.

This brings us to this year where Nash has been one of the best players in the NCAA in his first 4 games. His statline is 19.0 pts, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.0 TOVs, on 45% FG and over .63 TS%, a stunning leap compared to last year. One reason his efficiency is so high is he’s been wrecking havoc getting to the FT line, averaging 11 FTA a game, up from 4.9 a game last year. He’s also converted on 86.4% of his FTs compared to a respectable 73.0% last year. Nash could simply be one of the many players that needed a year or more for his talent to come out.

Furthermore, his team is great. Oklahoma State is 4-0 and in their last game blew out #6 ranked North Carolina State. Helping the Cowboys is that they recruited another blue chip prospect in freshman PG/SG Marcus Smart, who’s getting buzz as a lottery pick next year himself. When an NCAA team has two lottery pick talents, that’s usually enough to win a ton of games. If he does this while putting up the elite stats he’s doing so far, this will cement Nash a star.

Le’Bryan Nash could be the #1 pick in the 2013 draft. He’s the type of prospect teams are looking to take top 3 in the draft. He has huge upside due to his physical tools and promising skill game. He screams dynamic player and talent and star upside. In a way, the appeal of taking Nash is similar to taking Shabazz Muhammad. Getting a core wing player and 20 point a game scorer is difficult. Teams will take potential stars over players they feel top out at solid players, every time. Shabazz being younger helps in comparison to Nash, but Nash could be better statistically this year if Shabazz is raw and could have a better team.

Keep your eye on Le’Bryan Nash and the Cowboys.

 

Written by jr.

November 21, 2012 at 1:56 pm