With March Madness in our sights, and plenty of lottery teams directing their focus to next year, we're taking our first look at the next year's crop of talent. I just took Chad Ford's current Top 10 and ran projections on their Draftability Index scores. Of course, there is plenty of time for things to change, and our official numbers and rankings are still aways off, but as The Break is upon us, its a great time to dive into things. Without further adieu...
(If you're just joining us, here's how DI works Welcome to the Index )
1) Ben McLemore - Kansas
Projected DI - .88
McLemore is putting together a really nice season for a Freshman and is someone I'd feel good about taking within the Top 10; the kid can clearly shoot but hasn't produced enough in the facets of the game for me to feel comfortable taking him quite as high as Ford would.
2) Anthony Bennett - UNLV
Projected DI - .82
Very skilled and very athletic; another guy I could see on targeting on the edge of the lottery. He looks a lot like Millsap and Faried physically, but my one reservation would be the fairly ordinary rebound numbers. At 6'7, I'd feel much better if he were putting up 10-11 boards on his mid-major competition as opposed to 7.5
3) Nerlens Noel - Kentucky
Projected DI - 1.89
The devastating knee injury suffered by Noel last week is a goddamn shame, but if I were in possession of the first pick next June, provided the docs gave me the A-OK, Noel would still be my guy. He's a rebounding, shot-blocking machine, has yet to grow into his body, and can do more with the ball in his hand than Davis could last year. If he's on the court, I have a really, really, really hard time seeing this kid busitng.
4) Marcus Smart - Oklahoma State
Projected DI - 3.18
I had seen a couple OK State games this year and came away really impressed with Smart. I knew he was a hotshot recruit and given DI's penchant for favoring big, quick point guards, figured he'd score pretty well. When I ran said numbers, I had to do it again. I thought I'd done it wrong. Smart is the highest scoring point guard I've ever seen on this thing, and he's a freshman. Easy #2 pick in the draft, I really can't see why not...
5) Shabazz Muhammad - UCLA
Projected DI - .16
So everyone is great, huh? Well...not so fast. Muhammed certainly looks the part, and seems to have some considerable offensive ability, but the rest of his nightly lines have been criminally suspect given just what a great athlete he is. 4.5 Rebounds per game, less than 1 assist, less than 1 steal, 1 BLOCKED SHOT ALL SEASON! What? This guy might be my Austin Rivers this year, that's just gross. One last slam, and why I'd never look at Muhammad. The kid is an absolute black hole. Why bring that on to a young, presumably bad team? You've got to pass.
6) Alex Len - Maryland
Projected DI - .26
We have one of these every year, the tall, reasonably agile guy who hasn't done anything. For every one of these bigs that actually develop into a difference-maker, there are at least three or four that don't. I'm in no position to guarantee Len will be in the larger camp, but there's just no evidence here of future returns. We aren't going there.
7) Otto Porter - Georgetown
Projected DI - .97
A freshman who came out of nowhere, Porter is tall, long, a plus rebounder, and is showing a nice shot from distance. What is there not to like? Porter is not exceptionally quick, and will have to show he can actually guard NBA Small Forwards to validate the faith we have in him. At worst, you're going to get a guy who can come off the bench and gun a little bit. Lottery worthy.
8) Cody Zeller - Indiana
Projected DI - .61
This is almost the exact grade earned by brother Tyler, and we weren't too excited about his prospects either. Much like Tyler, we expect that Cody will have a long and basically competent career, but he has no dominant qualities, and will need to paired with the right players around him to thrive at the next level. I'm not taking him within the Top 20.
9) Michael Carter-Williams - Syracuse
Projected DI - 1.03
Carter-Williams' grade confirms what I see when I watch him. Perhaps not a spectacular prospect, MCW is a large, athletic, and well-rounded point guard and likely one of the safer choices in the entire draft.
10) Victor Oladipo - Indiana
Projected DI - 1.01
Victor is looking like my third favorite prospect in this batch of players. An extremely active and athletic defender, almost always does something smart when he's got the ball in his hand. He's a treat to watch. People are going to get picky because he neither a pure PG nor SG, but we've seen time and time again how little that matters. DI says 'you are what you can defend'. Oladipo can handle both guard spots and we're buying.