Things have changed since we published Mock 1.0 on April 1. The NCAA field is down to four teams, and a couple of the players in our Top 30 have decided to return to school or wait another year in Europe (Darko Saric).
Hence, Mock 1.0.1.
With the playoff picture coming into sharper focus, most of the lottery-bound teams are devoting a considerable amount of their scouting resources to scouting prospects.
And while this is not a strong draft at the top, there is depth overall in the top 30. With respect to big men, it is one of the deeper drafts in recent memory.
Of the last three draft classes, only Paul George of the Pacers and Kyrie Irving of the Cavaliers have made an All-Star roster. The days of getting instant impact rookies are fading. While teams in the high lottery always hope to find a franchise player, the likelihood of doing so is rare. Teams in the mid-to-late lottery have a better chance of getting an impact player via trade or free agency than with a pick from 5-14.
With one final weekend of the college basketball season and only a handful of prospects left playing, the overall stock of players is pretty much set – with a few exceptions – until the NBA Combine and pre-draft workouts begin. As a note, Nigerian-born Greek wing Giannis Adetokunbo could be this year’s Bismack Biyombo.
The deadline to enter the NBA draft is less than a month away and there will undoubtedly be a few surprises in terms of who enters the draft and who does not. Here is the current Big Board and Mock Draft based purely on rankings. Obviously, things will change after the draft lottery once we know who is picking where.
1. Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky (Freshman)
The Kentucky big has seen his stock solidify as the top overall prospect even since his ACL injury. Nearly every other prospect in the mix to be the top pick saw their stock falter with uneven March performances, while Noel helped himself despite not playing. Before the injury, Noel was the top prospect on my board and nothing has changed after. Nearly a lock to be the top pick.
2. Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State (Freshman)
While other prospects could unseat Smart as the runner-up to Noel, only Smart has the upside and potential to warrant top-pick consideration. Smart is very intriguing as a prospect if the team that takes him lets him play point guard. As a PG, Smart could be a mismatch nightmare for opponents. Smart has the physical skills to make an impact like Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook, but his jumper remains too inconsistent and he must take better care of the basketball.
3. Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas (Freshman)
Unfortunately, McLemore failed to deliver the March performance many expected, or at the very least, hoped for. After a nightmare first week, McLemore rebounded to have a nice performance against Michigan in an overtime loss. McLemore is a great complementary scorer but never showed the dominance to be an alpha dog. In my opinion, McLemore is the top player on the second tier of this draft class.
4. Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (Sophomore)
Porter was excellent all season and had some sensational performances for the Hoyas. While Georgetown was disposed of in an opening-round loss to Florida Gulf Coast, the small forward did not hurt his stock. For any lottery team in need of help on the perimeter Porter offers a smooth scoring wing. Porter in not an elite athlete or defender but has the length and potential to be pesky on that end of the court in the NBA.
5. Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV (Freshman)
Bennett has a bit of an up-and-down freshman campaign. There was a point where Bennett was among the best players in the country, but teams clearly adjusted to the Runnin’ Rebels and targeted Bennett. As a prospect Bennett, has a very advanced post game and is not afraid of contact. The biggest issue with Bennett as a prospect is his size; he is shorter than ideal for a PF, but his wingspan will help offset any disadvantages.
6. Alex Len, C, Maryland
Len had the type of season where he was brilliant at times, then seemed to vanish. At his best Len is a special center on the offensive end and a solid rebounder and shot blocker. His fans say his numbers were suppressed by poor guard play at Maryland, while skeptics say Len just was not dominant enough to command the ball. Len could benefit greatly from pre-draft workouts and the fall of Cody Zeller’s stock.