The 2013 NCAA tournament has actually provided more questions than answers as far as the top NBA draft prospects go with many dropping out early or failing to take over on the big stage. There have been a number of highly ranked teams eliminated early on and only 10 of our first-round prospects remain.
Now that we are at the business end of the tournament, there are only a few players that remain who can really impact their draft stock regardless of individual performances or team success. Three of the No. 1 seeds remain, Michigan has three star players shooting their draft stock up while Florida Gulf Coast, the unlikeliest of contenders, still remains after knocking off No.2 Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State back to back.
While it has yet to produce the highest quality basketball or amazing finishes that the NCAA tournament is renowned for, the remaining games leave plenty of storylines to be written and many opportunities to be grasped. Now, before the final run to the championship here is the Sweet 16 edition of the Hoops Habit 2013 NBA Mock Draft.
1. Charlotte Bobcats – Ben McLemore, SG
6’4”, 195 lbs, Kansas, Freshman
Extremely fortunate to retain his position atop this edition of the mock draft after an abysmal performance against North Carolina, Ben McLemore will get a chance to redeem himself when the Kansas Jayhawks take on Michigan in the Sweet 16. After a competitive first-round matchup against Western Kentucky, the Jayhawks were able to defeat the No. 8 seed, North Carolina, despite getting no production from their star shooting guard.
McLemore was 0-for-9 from the field and scored just two points for Kansas against North Carolina in one of the highest profile matchups in this year’s tournament. He was out of rhythm with his shot going 0-for-6 from downtown and failing to make an impact on a game that scouts would have been watching closely. His 11-point, six-rebound performance against Western Kentucky was significantly better, but he will need to turn things around quickly if he wants to remain in the discussion for the No. 1 pick.
With two of the next three selections getting eliminated in the second round of the tournament while the third recovers from major surgery, McLemore will at least get the chance for redemption in a huge Sweet 16 match up against a backcourt full of NBA prospects. While his stock is down after his showing so far, no one has done anything to overtake him at this stage.
2. Orlando Magic – Marcus Smart, PG
6’4”, 200 lbs, Oklahoma State, Freshman
Marcus Smart and the Oklahoma State Cowboys had an NCAA tournament to forget after being upset in the second round by No. 12 seed Oregon and Smart sustaining a wrist injury during the 68-55 loss.
Despite having an off shooting night going just 5-for-13 from the field, Smart was contributing all over the court for Oklahoma State. He finished with nine rebounds, four assists and five steals, all of which were team highs.
The Magic are still in the ideal draft position to find their lead guard of the future to join an outstanding young core. Despite the disappointing tournament appearance there would likely be few concerns in picking up the Oklahoma State freshman.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel, PF/C
6’11”, 216 lbs, Kentucky, Freshman
Nerlens Noel could do little but watch as his Kentucky teammates were eliminated in the first round of the NIT. The team has struggled significantly since losing their star center to a torn ACL and as he started his rehabilitation from surgery, the Wildcats again showed how much they relied on his presence.
Noel will get enough time to full recover before the start of the 2013-14 NBA season when he will make his rookie debut. The main question mark for NBA teams now will be how he recovers his athleticism after such a significant injury. The Cavaliers are in an ideal situation with Kyrie Irving leading a group of talented young players through their rebuilding phase, adding an interior defender like Noel to that group would only help speed up the process and he has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the league down the track.
4. Phoenix Suns – Shabazz Muhammad, SF
6’6”, 223 lbs, UCLA, Freshman
Another early lottery pick to only make a brief appearance in the 2013 NCAA tournament, Shabbaz Muhammad and the UCLA Bruins were defeated convincingly by the Minnesota Golden Gophers 83-63 in the second round.
Despite scoring 20 points for the Bruins, Muhammad was shooting poorly and did little else to help his team overcome what was a large deficit for the majority of the game. Muhammad shot just 6-for-18 including a miserable 0-for-6 from 3. He missed all seven of his shot attempts in the first half and scored mostly in a late run once the game was well out of reach.
Even with a disappointing NCAA appearance and now some talk of Muhammad actually being a year older than initially believed, the Suns are looking for star player qualities and Muhammad still possesses that potential.
5. Detroit Pistons – Otto Porter, SF
6’8”, 200 lbs, Georgetown, Sophomore
In a loss that had fans all over the country tearing up their brackets, Otto Porter and the Georgetown Hoyas provided the biggest surprise in the tournament thus far going down in the second round to the No. 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.
Porter, who struggled with his offense shot just 5-for-17 in the shocking loss, but did provide some signs of why he will still be a highly coveted pick in the early stages of the 2013 draft. Porter had a game-high 11 rebounds to go along with his 13 points, he made two 3-pointers and also contributed three assists. He was, as always, working hard on both ends of the court, but neither he nor his teammates could generate any efficient offense, finishing the game with a miserable 37.5 percent shooting performance.
Aside from the early exit, Porter briefly showed the intangibles that impress scouts and would not have done significant damage to his draft stock. He is an ideal fit alongside the Pistons young core and Detroit would not let one disappointing performance undo the great things Porter has shown all season.
6. New Orleans Hornets – Trey Burke, PG
6’0”, 190 lbs, Michigan, Sophomore
Trey Burke and his Michigan Wolverines have been one of the most impressive teams through the early stages of the NCAA tournament and come into the Sweet 16 having won their first two games by an average of 20 points. They easily accounted for South Dakota State 71-56 before making a statement with a 78-53 blowout victory against the No. 5 seed VCU.
Burke had a miserable night individually against South Dakota State, scoring in single digits for the first time this season on just 2-for-12 shooting. Despite the poor shooting performance and Burke taking a hard fall that caused him to leave the court briefly with elbow soreness, the point guard displayed his ability to control the game and finished with seven assists.
Burke was back to his old self in the third round, totalling 18 points, seven assists, two steals and two rebounds as the Wolverines easily advanced through to the Sweet 16. He displayed a bit of everything, setting up teammates, hitting jumpers from the outside and getting to the rim, finishing with both hands. Burke is leading his young Michigan team deep into the tournament and as expected will likely shoot up draft boards leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft. The Hornets would be well served teaming up a guard with Burke’s abilities with franchise cornerstone Anthony Davis.
7. Sacramento Kings – Cody Zeller, PF/C
7’0”, 240 lbs, Indiana, Sophomore
Cody Zeller and the Indiana Hoosiers will make a return to the Sweet 16 after victories over the James Madison Dukes and the Temple Owls. The Hoosiers easily accounted for the Dukes with an 83-62 victory before a huge test against Temple where they needed some late heroics to win 58-52.
Zeller has been a solid contributor, averaging 28 minutes per game through the first two games, he was quiet yet efficient going 4-for-5 from the field against James Madison in an 11-point, six-rebound performance. He had 15 points against Temple, including an impressive 7-for-8 from the free-throw line, to go along with six rebounds and two assists.
With a number of upsets early on, Zeller and the Hoosiers have done enough to progress through to the Sweet 16 and he has done no harm to his draft stock despite having two relatively quiet performances. By adding Zeller, the Kings would form a young, imposing front court tandem with DeMarcus Cousins to build around going forward. With chemistry and attitude issues a concern in Sacramento, bringing in someone with Zeller’s leaderships qualities and low maintenance personality would be a great way to try and continue to turn the franchise around.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves – Victor Oladipo, SG
6’5”, 210 lbs, Indiana, Junior
Along with Zeller, Indiana’s star swingman Victor Oladipo has been instrumental in their early tournament success with two solid performances. He provided some big shots late against Temple which included a high-pressure 3-pointer to seal the win.
Oladipo was the best player on the floor against Temple, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds and going an impressive 7-for-12 from the field. Add that to a solid 11-point, six-rebound and three-assist game against James Madison, Oladipo has been one of the best performers through the first stages of the tournament.
With the Timberwolves’ need for a strong wing player to grow with their already impressive young core, as well as a desperate need for defensive minded players on the roster, they would be quick to snap up the versatile, defensive minded Oladipo if he was still on the board when their selection was on the board. Oladipo could add the athleticism and defensive intensity on the wings that Minnesota has been searching for.
9. Washington Wizards – Anthony Bennett, SF/PF
6’7”, 239 lbs, UNLV, Freshman
The UNLV Rebels were another surprising early-round exit in the NCAA tournament as they were defeated by the No. 12 seed California. UNLV was unable to deal with an impressive California defensive performance which held the Rebels to just 32.2 percent shooting.
Anthony Bennett was one of the few bright spots for UNLV and continues to impress with his recent performances despite the early departure from the tournament. Bennett had a team-high 15 points, 11 rebounds and two steals while getting to the free-throw line on 10 occasions, making seven. Bennett was exposed somewhat defensively against California’s frontcourt, especially reserve forward Robert Thurman, who went 6-for-6 in the post against Bennett, scoring 12 points in just 19 minutes.
Bennett continues to display his relentless ability to chase down rebounds, a strong, athletic finishing ability and good mobility for a big man. The Wizards have been playing significantly better as of late and find themselves much further down the draft board than they were even just a week ago, however adding a player with Bennett’s potential and abilities to play alongside their impressive young back court would be a huge victory for Washington.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto) – Alex Len, C
7’1”, 255 lbs, Maryland, Sophomore
Maryland center Alex Len did not get the opportunity to compete in the NCAA tournament and instead was relegated to play in the NIT where the Terrapins have advanced through the first two rounds. He has been quiet in both outings, averaging 6.5 points, three rebounds and two blocks in just 17 minutes per game.
He will be looking for a big performance in his next NIT game and Maryland remains one of the favorites for the NIT title. A continued deep run and some more impressive statistical performances would help Len avoid a drop in the rankings after what is looking like a quiet finish to the season for him.
The Raptors have been on the slide as of late and that could not be better news for the Oklahoma City Thunder. In search of a young big man to add to their front court and potentially give them some financial flexibility with the contract of Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder would be quick to snap up Len if he was still on the board. His rebounding, shot blocking and ability to finish inside would be a welcome addition to a team that will continue to compete for an NBA title for the foreseeable future.
11. Philadelphia 76ers – Kelly Olynyk, C
7’0”, 238 lbs, Gonzaga, Junior
Gonzaga became the first No. 1 seed to be eliminated in this year’s NCAA tournament when they were upset by the No.9 seed Wichita State Shockers 76-70 in the third round. Gonzaga had narrowly escaped defeat against Southern University in the second round, but were unable to use that momentum to continue on in the tournament.
Kelly Olynyk was, as usual the go-to player on offense for the Bulldogs in both of their games. In the win over Southern, Olynyk scored an efficient 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting while pulling in 10 rebounds. He tried desperately to keep Gonzaga in the game against Wichita State with 26 points and nine rebounds, but was unable to convert a number of shots down the stretch, finishing just 8-for-22 from the field.
Little has changed for Olynyk’s draft stock after his tournament performance as he still displayed the offensive prowess that will see him taken in the lottery in the 2013 NBA Draft. The 76ers’ uncertainty around center Andrew Bynum will weigh on them all offseason but potentially adding a legitimate offensive threat in the front court would do wonders to help a team that often struggles to produce points.
With two huge victories in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament, the Michigan Wolverines and their impressive big three of Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III have put scouts on notice that perhaps they had been undervalued throughout the regular season.
Robinson has been especially impressive in his first two career NCAA tournament appearances, helping Michigan to convincing victories over South Dakota State and VCU. He started strong with a 21-point, six-rebound performance against South Dakota State where he shot an incredible 8-for-9 from the field including 3-for-3 from downtown. He followed that up in the blowout win against VCU with 14 points and nine rebounds on efficient 7-for-10 shooting.
Robinson is making an impact on this tournament and the longer Michigan stays in the more chances he will get to impress scouts. His ability to finish inside, convert his scoring chances and work hard on the glass will almost certainly ensure a lottery selection in the NBA draft. The Trail Blazers would form one of the most versatile, athletic and high-potential swingman combinations in the league by adding Robinson to the ever improving Nicolas Batum and the rest of the young Blazers’ core.
13. Dallas Mavericks – Michael Carter-Williams, PG
6’6”, 185 lbs, Syracuse, Sophomore
The Syracuse held off a late charge by the No. 12 seed California Golden Bears to advance to the Sweet 16. The66-60 victory was a stark contrast from the 81-34 blowout victory they had against Montana in the second round.
Michael Carter-Williams showed all the versatility and unique abilities that make him such an intriguing prospect in that opening game. He had just four points but filled up the stat sheet with nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals. He upped his offensive output in the game against California with 12 points, but he had just two rebounds to go along with three assists.
Carter-Williams continues to display an impressive range of skills from somebody his size and will get a huge chance to impress further when the Orange take on the No. 1 seed Indiana. The Mavericks need a playmaker and Carter-Williams’ unique combination of size and point guard skills give him a potentially high ceiling in the NBA.
14. Utah Jazz – Archie Goodwin, SG
6’5”, 195 lbs, Kentucky, Freshman
The Kentucky Wildcats endured a season-long hangover from last season’s national championship victory, which all came to ahead when they were not only left out of the NCAA tournament but then instantly defeated in the first round of the NIT by No.8 seed Robert Morris.
Archie Goodwin was the lone Wildcat that managed to impress in the team’s brief NIT appearance, he led the team in scoring and rebounding with 18 and seven, while shooting an efficient 5-for-8 from the field. He also continued to show his ability to get into the lane and draw contact by making eight trips to the free-throw line and converting them all.
There has been some discussion that Goodwin could potentially return to Kentucky next season with the disappointing end to his freshman year. However, with an impressive incoming crop of players including the Harrison twins in the backcourt, Goodwin would see his role and minutes diminish before coming out in a much stronger draft class next season. A team like the Jazz will look past Kentucky’s disappointing 2012-13 season and select Goodwin based on his offensive creativity, size at the guard position and ability to finish strong in the paint.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Mason Plumlee, PF
6’11”, 240 lbs, Duke, Senior
Mason Plumlee and the Duke Blue Devils continue to be one of the most consistent NCAA tournament performers with yet another trip to the round of 16 after victories over Albany and a hard-fought third-round victory over No. 7 seed Creighton.
Plumlee has been as impressive as ever through the first two games and continues to impress with his leadership. The senior big man had an outstanding first up performance against Albany with 23 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals on 9-for-11 shooting. He followed that up with a 10-point, five-rebound performance in a 66-50 win over Creighton.
Plumlee is proving again to be one of the most productive players in college basketball and his ability to score inside, rebound the ball and his ongoing willingness to improve will ensure a top 20 selection regardless of how Dukes tournament finishes from this point.
16. Phoenix Suns (via L.A. Lakers) – James Michael McAdoo, SF/PF
6’9”, 226 lbs, North Carolina, Sophomore
The North Carolina Tar Heels were tested against the No.9 seed Villanova Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA tournament with a competitive 78-71 victory. The celebration was short lived, however, with the Tar Heels being no match for the No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks in the third round, going down convincingly 70-58.
James Michael McAdoo seemingly had a huge opportunity to improve his draft stock in this tournament but remains one of the biggest question marks in the draft after his two appearances. He was solid against Villanova with 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting to go along with four rebounds but was then disappointing in his biggest chance to shine against the top ranked Jayhawks. He finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four steals but shot an abysmal 5-for-19 from the floor and could not find his offense all game.
The talent and potential remains there, but McAdoo failed to capitalize on his opportunity in the NCAA tournament. A team like Phoenix who is lacking star power and is able to take a chance of McAdoo’s potential will still select him in the top 20, but will need to be patient as he adjusts to an even higher level of competition.
17. Boston Celtics – Willie Cauley-Stein, C
7’0”, 245 lbs, Kentucky, Freshman
Willie Cauley-Stein was initially seen as a long-term project, even at the college level, but with the injury to center Nerlens Noel he was given the opportunity to start in Kentucky and can likely capitalize on a weak draft class despite the disappointing results of the team.
Cauley-Stein was quiet in Kentucky’s brief appearance in the NIT with just nine points and four rebounds in his 36 minutes of game time. He still shows a high level of activity defensively and considering the raw nature of his talent the progress he has shown in one season has been far more positive than anything else.
The Boston Celtics will continue to rebuild around point guard Rajon Rondo and Cauley-Stein’s interior presence, finishing ability and incredible speed down the court would be put on full display alongside a talented passer such as Rondo. With a young center prospect in Fab Melo already on the roster, the Celtics could develop both under the tutelage of Kevin Garnett and allow them to fight it out for position on the depth chart.
18. Chicago Bulls – Jeff Withey, C
7’0”, 235 lbs, Kansas, Senior
As the Kansas Jayhawks have progressed through to the Sweet 16, senior big man Jeff Withey has led from the front and has the team’s best performer in both games thus far. Kansas was tested against the No. 16 seed Western Kentucky in round two but quickly rebounded with a convincing 70-58 victory over North Carolina in round three.
Withey has been outstanding thus far in the tournament and his extensive experience in big games is shining through. Against Western Kentucky, Withey scored 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and seven blocked shots. Against the Tar Heels, Withey was even more impressive with a huge 16-rebound performance as well as 16 points and five blocked shots.
Withey continues to show that despite his limited athleticism and a lower potential ceiling than his more athletic counterparts, he is one of college basketball’s most consistent and productive big men. The Bulls would love to add Withey’s rebounding and shot blocking abilities off the bench to replace the defensive impact former back up Omer Asik took with him to Houston.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Alex Poythress, SF/PF
6’8”, 239 lbs, Kentucky, Freshman
It’s all about potential with Alex Poythress as he once again failed to impose himself against lesser competition as Kentucky fell to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT. It has been a struggle all season long for Poythress and Kentucky, as the 6’8” forward seemingly has all the tools to dominate this level of competition, but has rarely done so.
In 27 minutes against Robert Morris, Poythress scored six points and grabbed just two rebounds as last season’s NCAA champions made an embarrassing end to a disappointing season. In a weak draft class and with a number of stars joining the Kentucky program next season, Poythress is still likely to declare, as he is almost certainly a first-round selection, but it is obvious he could use another season or two in the NCAA to develop his game and confidence.
With back-to-back picks, the Hawks can afford to take a chance on a young player with Poythress’ potential. There is uncertainty around the future of forward Josh Smith in Atlanta and while Poythress is still a raw freshman at this point, he possesses many of the unique and athletic gifts that Smith does on a basketball court.
20. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston) – Rudy Gobert, C
7’1”, 235 lbs, France
At this stage, Rudy Gobert has to be moving up on team’s draft boards not because of any recent performances but simply because many of the NCAA’s best players have done themselves no favors winding up the season or failing to meet expectations in the tournament.
Gobert’s impressive measurements will likely continue to bolster his chances of a lottery selection once the draft combines and team workouts begin. For now the young French center takes a back seat to March Madness but come June he may well have moved himself ahead of his more well known American counterparts.
The Hawks have been searching for an interior presence to allow Al Horford to spend more time at the power forward position. Obviously still a young prospect but Gobert offers a rare combination of height and length that is ideal for the center position in the NBA, if he can continue to develop his skills and add some more weight to his frame he could be a steal in the later stages of this draft. The Hawks would love to have an imposing interior rim protecting presence and Gobert may offer them the best and cheapest option in the off-season.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State) – C.J. McCollum, PG
6’3”, 190 lbs, Lehigh, Senior
Still recovering from injury, Lehigh senior C.J. McCollum can do nothing right now other than focus on his rehabilitation and recovery to ensure he will be able to fully participate in the events leading up to draft day. Thankfully for McCollum he has shown enough throughout his NCAA career that missing the end of the 2012-13 NCAA season will not do too much harm to his draft stock as scouts have had ample opportunity to see the scoring combo guard in action.
The Jazz are in need of back court help to build around their young prospects up front. McCollum is primarily a scorer but has shown the ability to create for others and has the mentality of a leader. He is the best guard left available on the board and with two back court selections in the same draft the Jazz will look to bring along the guard prospects slowly as they have done with their young front court players.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Tony Mitchell, SF/PF
6’8”, 235 lbs, North Texas, Sophomore
Despite not having the opportunity to impress in a postseason tournament, North Texas big man Tony Mitchell had an impressive finish to the 2012-13 NCAA season. With double-double performances in each of his final three games, Mitchell continued to display his relentless ability to rebound the ball and an offensive game that continues to expand.
The Brooklyn Nets have searched for an answer at the power forward position all season using Kris Humphries, Andray Blatche and most recent Reggie Evans as starters at different points of the season. Mitchell offers the rebounding prowess needed next to center Brook Lopez but also brings a more versatile offensive game than the likes of Humphries or Evans.
23. Indiana Pacers – Myck Kabongo, PG
6’1”, 180 lbs, Texas, Sophomore
Myck Kabongo and the Texas Longhorns finished what was a disappointing season with a first round 73-72 loss in the CBI tournament against Houston.
Other than a poor shooting night going just 5-for-13 from the floor, Kabongo produced a solid performance despite the disappointing outcome for the team. He had 17 points, four rebounds, four steals and six assists with zero turnovers in 34 minutes. His ability to run the offense and set up teammates with his exceptional passing remains a perfect fit for the Pacers who lack a true pass first point guard on their roster.
The early-tournament dominance of the Michigan Wolverines will only help the draft stock of their three star prospects. The one who may benefit the most is junior shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who has impressed early on and will have a marquee matchup in the Sweet 16 with potential No. 1 pick Ben McLemore and Kansas.
The Wolverines have taken care of their opposition through their first two games by an average of 20 points, while Hardaway has been consistently showing the ability to score, run the offense and work defensively. In the second round against Southern Dakota State, Hardaway scored 21 points which included an impressive 5-for-7 from 3-point range. He was slightly more contained against VCU but still managed to score 14 points to go along with three assists while shooting 3-for-5 from downtown.
Hardaway is taking his opportunity and showing that he has the ability and the shooting range to become a first-round NBA prospect. His ability to handle the ball and initiate the offense sets him apart from other shooters in the NCAA and will be a big factor in teams’ assessment of him as a pro.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis) – Isaiah Austin, C
7’1”, 220 lbs, Baylor, Freshman
As Baylor continues to progress through the NIT, Isaiah Austin continues to display his development offensively as well as his impressive interior defensive abilities. The Bears defeated Long Beach State in the first round with a 112-66 demolition while they survived a tough game with Arizona State to advance past the second round with an 89-86 victory.
On both occasions, Austin scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds to go along with two and three blocks, respectively. He shot better than 50 percent in both contests with an impressive 6-for-9 including a 3-pointer against Arizona State. His immense size and length is bound to have scouts intrigued and he has displayed enough ability to assume he has a high ceiling, even at the NBA level if he continues to develop.
26. Los Angeles Clippers – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG
6’5”, 205 lbs, Georgia, Sophomore
His team may have had a disappointing end to the season but Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ensured that he had one last big game to leave an impression with scouts. In the team’s final game of the season, Caldwell-Pope exploded against LSU with a 32-point, 13-rebound performance that, despite losing the game 68-63 will go a long way in resulting in a first round selection for the streaky shooting guard.
Caldwell-Pope is a scorer first and foremost and this will be his calling card to get into the NBA. Countless teams have instant offense guards coming off their benches and there is already a defined niche for players with Caldwell-Pope’s skillset.
With Chris Paul at the helm and Blake Griffin taking up space inside, the Clippers will always need shooters and Caldwell-Pope could learn the instant offense ways of an NBA sixth man from one of the best in the business in Jamal Crawford.
27. Denver Nuggets – Dario Saric, SF/PF
6’10”, 225 lbs, Croatia
The Denver Nuggets are possibly the deepest team in the league and are already struggling to find time for all of their young talent. If they choose to keep this pick making a long-term investment on a multi-talented, high-potential young international such as Dario Saric would make perfect sense.
Saric has the fundamental abilities and competitiveness to come over and play in the NBA right away, but if a deep team like Denver can afford to leave him overseas to further develop he could potentially be an impact player in a couple of seasons when he eventually makes his way to the U.S.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder – Gorgui Dieng, C
6’11”, 245 lbs, Louisville, Junior
The Louisville Cardinals entered the NCAA tournament as the championship favorites and have done nothing to convince us otherwise with two convincing victories through their first two games. The Cardinals easily dispatched the No. 16 seed North Carolina A&T 79-48 before another convincing vitory in the third round with an 82-56 victory over the No. 8 seed Colorado State.
Having to play an average of just 23 minutes per contest through the first two games, Dieng has been as effective and productive as ever in limited time. He is yet to miss a shot in the NCAA tournament going a perfect 9-for-9 through two games thus far to go along with a 10-point, five-rebound average that is bound to increase as the games get harder.
An experienced NCAA campaigner with solid defensive abilities and strong rebounding, Dieng should be able to immediately help as a role player in the NBA.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Lucas Nogueira, C
7’0”, 220 lbs, Brazil
The San Antonio Spurs have long had a tradition of success when it comes to drafting international players and with an athletic seven footer available this late in the draft, no one would be surprised to see them take a chance on Brazilian Lucas Noguira.
A raw athlete still learning the game, the Spurs could use their scouts, coaches and development system to work with Nogueira over a number of seasons before even entertaining the thought of bringing him to the NBA, much like they did with now starting center Tiago Splitter. Nogueira has rare athletic gifts and as San Antonio continues to prepare for life after Tim Duncan, having someone like Nogeueira waiting in the wings could prove invaluable.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Miami) – Allen Crabbe, SF
6’6”, 210lbs, California, Junior
It was a mixed bag for Allen Crabbe and his California teammates in the 2013 NCAA tournament as they caused a second-round upset over No. 5 seed UNLV before being sent home by the Syracuse Orange.
Allen Crabbe was a catalyst in the teams’ victory over UNLV where he scored 19 points to go along with nine rebounds and four assists. His stock was seemingly on the rise before he ran into the stifling defense of Syracuse who held him to just eight points on 3-for-9 shooting as California went down 66-60.
Projected as a borderline first rounder, Crabbe joins a long list of prospects who could find themselves anywhere from No. 25 to No. 40 on NBA draft boards. The Cavaliers need for outside shooters to surround Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters with may be enough for the Cavaliers to take a chance on the California junior.
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