DimeMag

Fast 5: Tracking This Year’s NBA Draft Class, Vol. 3

Each Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2013 NBA Draft are faring in college and overseas. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…

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The fluidity of the NBA Draft has been in full force over the past week. For the most part, the prospects are not being properly evaluated based on a full body of work; instead we live in a vacuum world that re-evaluates everything on a weekly basis to second guess what we already know. Be wary of Big Boards and Mock Drafts in December, they change to for the sake of change.

Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.

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ONE: What Do We Know?
The senior class is talented and deep with quality NBA prospects, which has actually been a common trend in recent years. Typically, at least over the course of the last five NBA Drafts, there are an average of 5.4 seniors (27 total) taken in the first round. Those are numbers during the one-and-done era showing that upperclassmen still have value, particularly towards the back third of the first round.

Winning teams want experienced, polished players that can come in and make an immediate impact.

This year the group is led by Mason Plumlee and C.J. McCollum, but others have stood out in Jeff Withey, Rodney Williams, Brandon Paul, Kenny Boynton Jr. and Nate Wolters. All of these seniors have a shot at the first round with Plumlee and McCollum being discussed as lottery picks. Staying in school still has its benefits to an athlete.

TWO: What Do We Not Know?
With the upperclassmen it is a little easier to decipher who is staying and who is going to declare. For seniors it is not even a debate. On the other hand, the underclassmen are a bit more perplexing this year without a dominant star in the draft class. That might make a mid-level guy think he can declare and play well enough in workouts to boost his stock.

A lot of freshmen this year could very easily declare early and head to the next level. The standouts so far are Archie Goodwin, Anthony Bennett, Marcus Smart, Shabazz Muhammad, Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress. All of those prospects have showed a skill set or a level of athleticism that will translate to the next level. Most could use a second year, but they all seem (as of today) as safe bets to declare.

Then you have Isaiah Austin, Kyle Anderson, Rodney Purvis, Ricardo Ledo, Rasheed Sulaimon and others that are on the fringe. Who will declare? That will not be decided until April, but the wheels are turning as to what this group of freshmen will look like at the next level.

THREE: Stock Rising
If you are a star for the Kentucky Wildcats ,your odds at going No. 1 in the NBA Draft are currently at 66.67 percent (two out of three) in the John Calipari era. This year there are a few Wildcats that have a shot at No. 1 and the most unlikely of the three has risen to the point that some feel he is now in consideration. Archie Goodwin is one of the better guards in the country, having played some one early. He’s now back to his more natural two spot. Since Ryan Harrow has returned to the team moving Goodwin back to his traditional slot on the line-up, Goodwin has averaged 14.2 points and 5.2 assists a game. He is shooting the ball well from two (50 percent), three (almost 47 percent) and getting to the free throw line (7.2 attempts per game) at a high rate.

FOUR: Stock Falling
Coming in as a freshman, it was unfair to expect Steven Adams to be great, at least right away for the Pittsburgh Panthers. He is a defensive-oriented athlete at the center position, but has struggled to have that translate for full games early on. The system at Pittsburgh does no favors for anyone and that has been part of the trouble for Adams. He has the potential to be an impact defender, something he has only shown in spurts, but that is where Adams’ focus needs to become the NBA prospect he was to start the year.

FIVE: Quick Hitter
The evolution of a player through four years of college is not as common as it used to be. In the past, great NBA players like Grant Hill, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash and Andre Miller all played four years of college ball to perfect their craft.

That is exactly what Mason Plumlee is doing currently for the Duke Blue Devils with his four-year career. As a freshman and a sophomore, he was highly touted, but came back after a below average two years. The work he put into his game and the patience he has had allowed Mike Krzyzewski to mold his game. Now, Plumlee is the man on a very good team.

Plumlee has always been a great athlete, even compared to the likes of Chris Bosh with his style, but he has become his own style of prospect this year. On offense he scores around the rim staying true to his skill-set, and on the defensive end he cleans up the glass defending his position well.

Because he is a senior, the odds of being a top-five pick are slim, despite playing at that level right now.

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Top 5 SFs Right Now

1. Shabazz Muhammad: 6-5, 225 pounds – Fresh., UCLA
Stats: 17.8 PPG, 1.0 APG, 4.8 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 48 percent FG, 47.6 percent 3PT
After to speaking with three different scouts this week, the general opinion is that Muhammad is going to be a good, above average wing in the NBA, but his limitations are starting to surface.

2. Anthony Bennett: 6-7, 239 pounds – Fresh., UNLV
Stats: 19.3 PPG, 1.3 APG, 8.3 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 54.3 percent FG, 28.0 percent 3PT
The Larry Johnson comparisons are out and he is doing a good job living up to them with the strength he plays with. Bennett may be a four at the next level, but has the size to play both the three and the four.

3. Otto Porter: 6-8, 200 pounds – Soph., Georgetown
Stats: 12.9 PPG, 3.2 APG, 7.1 RPG, 2.2 SPG, 51.1 percent FG, 36.8 percent 3PT
He is a five tool prospect that can do a little bit of everything. The system at Georgetown masks some of his athleticism, but Porter is the full package on the wing.

4. Alex Poythress: 6-8, 215 pounds – Fresh., Kentucky
Stats: 15.0 PPG, 0.5 APG, 6.3 RPG, 3.8 SPG, 65.2 percent FG, 45.5 percent 3PT (5-11)
Poythress is another tweener that may be a four in the NBA, but has the ability with his defensive strength and athleticism to play multiple positions.

5. Dario Saric: 6-10, 223 pounds – INT., Croatia (1994)
Stats: 6.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 36.4 percent FG, 16.7 percent 3PT
As an international prospect, he is more of an unknown to the casual fan, but Saric is another combo forward with ball skills that allow him to run an offense. He has been labeled the next great international player for three years and this may be the year he comes over.

The small forward or the three is a tough position to evaluate because there are a lot of big, strong twos, and undersized, weaker fours that are forced to play here in college. This group is not any different, but has two or three prospects with the potential to sneak up to the No. 1 overall pick.

Who will be this year’s biggest bust?

Follow Kristofer on Twitter at @NBADraftInsider.

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