Big Board: Top 30 prospects

Chad Ford ranks his top 30 prospects for the 2013 NBA draft

Originally Published: January 16, 2013
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Muhammad/Noel/McLemoreUS PresswireIs Shabazz Muhammad, Nerlens Noel or Ben McLemore the best NBA prospect?

All season long we have kept tabs on the draft stocks of the top 100 prospects for the 2013 NBA draft. This Top 100 ranking is a reflection of the consensus of NBA scouts and general managers about a player's relative value in the draft.

Now, as a new feature for this season, I have broken out the top 30 prospects -- the same number of players that will be taken in the first round of the 2013 NBA draft -- and evaluated their stocks as they stand right at this moment. We will be updating this Big Board throughout college basketball season, tracking player movement and stock fluctuation as well as giving you the latest intel from NBA scouts.

It is important to note that this Big Board is not a mock draft. In a mock draft we don't tell you where a player should go, but rather, what each team in the draft would likely do with its pick. We'll start doing our first mock draft through our Mock Draft Lottery Machine in a few more weeks, and start doing a full first-round mock draft sometime near the end of the college season.

While we've been doing a Big Board informally for years, we've finally decided to put together a formal bi-monthly Big Board to give Insiders even more information leading up to the draft.

So here it is, our first Big Board of 2013 -- a ranking of the top 30 NBA draft prospects right now.


1
Nerlens Noel
SCHOOL: Kentucky
CLASS: Fr.
HT/WT: 6-11, 215
POS: C
10.8 ppg
9.3 rpg
3.7 bpg

Unlike the last few drafts, there is no consensus No. 1 pick in the draft. Very likely, the team with the top pick will make the selection based on need, which makes it very difficult for us to predict who will be No. 1 until the night of the lottery. But Noel has been atop our Top 100 since it debuted the day after the draft. I think he still deserves the spot. His numbers haven't blown you away, and the Wildcats are struggling, but Noel has proven to be an athletic rebounder and shot blocker, a better than advertised passer and an emerging offensive force on the block, and he has shown a very good motor. While Noel doesn't project to be a star, he could be an all-defensive player in the NBA someday.

2
Shabazz Muhammad
SCHOOL: UCLA
CLASS: Fr.
HT/WT: 6-6, 225
POS: SF
18.2 ppg
4.9 rpg
45 3p%

After a shaky start, Muhammad is starting to find his groove. He's overcome a shoulder injury, lost weight and is starting to show scouts why he was ranked by many as a potential No. 1 pick. What encourages scouts the most about his game is his fearlessness and leadership. He is as hard of a worker as anyone on this board. When you combine that motor with his offensive arsenal and athletic abilities, he has a chance to be a 20-point-per-night scorer in the NBA someday.

3
Ben McLemore
SCHOOL: Kansas
CLASS: Fr.
HT/WT: 6-5, 195
POS: SG
16.4 ppg
5.4 rpg
44 3p%

No one has risen faster or higher on this board than McLemore. A signature performance last week against Iowa State during which he dropped 33 points, went 6-for-6 from 3 and hit a game-winning bank shot to force overtime announced his arrival as a legitimate candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. While he currently sits at No. 3 on our Board, he keeps making a stronger and stronger argument each week that he's the best pro prospect in college basketball.


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Chad Ford | email

Senior Writer, NBA Insider