Thursday, February 14, 2013
Who's the new No. 1?
By Luke Lapinski
In light of Nerlens Noel's unfortunate injury earlier this week, there's been a shakeup at the very top of many draft boards. Noel still has a bright NBA future, and likely won't drop too far when all is said and done. But it seems unlikely that he'll be picked No. 1 overall now -- partially because he wasn't the clear-cut, undisputed No. 1 in the first place, and partially because some other top tier players will still have the next month to showcase their skills to a national audience.
So who is the player most likely to be selected with the top pick in the NBA draft at this exact moment? Chad Ford believes the answer could be Kansas freshman Ben McLemore. In fact, the top five players on his updated big board are all first-year players (Noel slots in at No. 3). McLemore, in particular, has grown by leaps and bounds this season. He's shown the star potential teams crave early in the draft, and he clearly used his time as a redshirt freshman with the Jayhawks last season to hone his skills. It's paying off in a big way, as he's reached double figures in 22 of KU's 24 games this season, even breaking the 30-point barrier twice -- including earlier this week in a much-needed victory over rival Kansas State.
That win over the Wildcats served as a reminder of McLemore's ability to step up in big games, though it doesn't mean he's necessarily as consistent or assertive as scouts are hoping for just yet. But he's still getting better. And while he's no lock for No. 1 -- especially given the numerous opportunities for players to rise and fall at this time of year -- he's certainly one of the top options out there.