Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEWARK, N.J. — The 2013 NBA Draft class is so weak that more than a half dozen prospects from the 2014 Draft class would go No. 1 this year.
That’s what an NBA GM told SNY.tv.
“It’s a historically weak draft that, as a result, you’re going to see a lot more guys putting their name in knowing they’ll go higher in this draft, even though they may not be ready, just because next year’s class has such incredible depth that they could actually play better and improve and drop their draft status next year,” said the GM who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to comment publicly on prospects.
The GM said that the 2014 draft class is so strong that he rattled off more than half a dozen players he would take No. 1 if they went this year: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, Andrew and Aaron Harrison and Noah Vonleh.
“I think conservatively there are probably seven guys in next year’s draft that would have a shot at going No. 1 in this year’s draft,” he said.
DraftExpress.com currently projects the top four picks in 2014 in this order: Wiggins, who remains uncommitted but is considering Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina; Randle, who is considering Kansas, Kentucky, Florida, N.C. State, Oklahoma and Texas; Andrew Harrison (Kentucky) and Gordon, who is mulling Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington.
Vonleh, who has signed with Indiana, is No. 10, and Aaron Harrison (Kentucky) is No. 12.
The Duke-bound Parker is not on the DraftExpress Mock draft board.
The GM said he would still take Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel No. 1 in 2013 despite his ACL tear because of his ability as a shot-blocker.
“I would, yeah,” he said, “because he has an elite skill at least. Very few of the guys in this draft have anything elite.
“He has one elite translatable skill.”
That skill may have been best manifested by the fact that Tennessee crushed Kentucky, 88-58, Saturday in the Wildcats’ first game without Noel.
The 6-10 Noel was averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks when he went down for the season.
After Noel, the GM said he would take Kansas freshman guard Ben McLemore, who is projected to go No. 2 by Draft Express.
“I like McLemore,” the GM said.
UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Maryland’s Alex Len are projected to 3-5 by Draft Express.
All three played well Saturday.
The 6-6 Muhammad went for 25 points and five rebounds in UCLA’s 88-80 win over Stanford.
The 7-foot Zeller had 19 points and nine rebounds in No. 1 Indiana’s 83-55 win over Purdue.
And the 7-1 Len also had 19 and nine as Maryland toppled No. 2 Duke, 83-81.
Said one veteran NBA scout who wasn’t at the game: “Still no consensus No. 1 right now if the draft were held tomorrow.”
Because the draft is so weak, players like Syracuse sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams are projected to go as lottery picks, as we detailed here.
Carter-Williams’s Syracuse teammate, Brandon Triche, went for a career-high 29 points in No. 6 Syracuse’s 76-65 victory over Seton Hall.
Triche said he was motivated by head coach Jim Boeheim.
“‘You need to be the best player on the team,'” said Boeheim, according to Triche.
Still, the 6-4 Triche isn’t even on the Draft Express board for 2013.
“He hasn’t gotten any better, just more aggressively hunts his own offense,” the GM said of Triche. “He doesn’t have a position. Not a point guard.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.