Gottlieb Big Board: Otto Porter, Alex Len are 1-2
A look at Doug Gottlieb's top 20 players going into Thursday's NBA Draft.
With hours to go before the 2013 NBA Draft, a look at the top 20 players from my final big board. Why 20? No, I didn't run out of time. The fact is that most NBA general managers believe there is no difference between picks in the mid-20s and mid-40s, other than contract. The top 20 players in this draft are the ones who will matter, so here are mine:
1. Otto Porter , SF, Georgetown Hoyas -- Can play two positions, handles the ball well enough to be effective at either spot, not a pig as a scorer, goes right as well as left, shoots the ball and passes with similar vigor. Porter can board and is tough though he doesn't have an intense nasty side off the floor. A quiet leader who doesn't have baggage to speak of. If you look at several former Georgetown players, he might have some of the same strengths and limitations of Jeff Green, although he is a far better post player at this point in his development and seems to have a better killer instinct as a scorer. Cons include the fact that he has no true position and is likely more of a three than a four in the pros. He played a lot of zone or switching man in college, so some defensive principles are a bit foreign. He is not soft, but he isn't exactly a beast strength-wise. Overall, he's a trustworthy two-position player who is on an upward trajectory.
2. Alex Len , C, Maryland Terrapins -- A legitimate 7-foot center who played at a high level of competition before coming to the U.S., Len showed signs of dominance but disappeared at times and generally looked the part of a big man who was developing, playing hurt and lacked the complement of quality, consistent guard play.
3. Ben McLemore , SG, Kansas Jayhawks -- A tremendous shooter and scorer who will only get better playing next to a big-time point guard. McLemore can jump, jump-shoot and score in bunches in transition, but there is something inconsistent about his game that he needs to work out, quickly. His shot is pure, but there is something in his lack of demanding the ball that he has to overcome in order to be a star.
4. Trey Burke , PG, Michigan Wolverines -- Smallish, crafty but a leader who can make shots and plays for himself and others. Burke did make some poor decisions early in the Big Ten season, but he grew emotionally late in the year and it showed, as the Wolverines nearly pulled off the upset in the national championship game.
5. Anthony Bennett , PF, UNLV Rebels -- A super talented four-man with a three-man's height. Bennett can do most anything on the floor, although he never plays defense at all. I would not put him on a young team. But if someone he respects mentors him, he might be able to reach his potential. Bennett is only a good pick on a team that will demand that he plays defense and plays the four. He is not a bad kid, just acts like a teenager in that he thinks the game starts and ends when he has the ball. He is Larry Johnson minus the inherent toughness and maturity that LJ possessed coming out of UNLV, but he is a far better perimeter player than LJ was at this stage.
6. Cody Zeller , PF, Indiana Hoosiers -- A very fine athlete who played out of position in college. Zeller makes shots, will improve as a shooter and compete to start at power forward in a year or so. Zeller was exactly what he was billed at IU. He should be a solid rotation player who becomes a starter in two years or less.
7. C.J. McCollum , PG, Lehigh Mountain Hawks -- Combo guard who makes shots, has no baggage and plays bigger in big games. He could be similar to George Hill and/or Steph Curry, and keep in mind that Curry rarely played the point until his final season at Davidson. Is he explosive? Not really, but he makes buckets and good decisions and will be a rotation combo at worst. McCollum has a super-high basketball IQ, something so many lack at the guard spot, especially the combos.
8. Steven Adams , C, Pittsburgh Panthers -- A massive athlete with untapped potential, Adams was under-utilized at Pitt due to the Panthers' frontcourt depth and lack of creative guards. Additionally, Pitt brings guys along slowly. Had he stayed, Adams would have emerged in year two. Adams comes from a basketball family, he has great hands and feet, and while he doesn't guard the rim like Nerlens Noel, he has the body to defend in the low post and the feet to guard ball screens. There is risk that he won't develop offensively, but his jumper is decent from 15 and in. Right now, I think the reward is very high.
8. Nerlens Noel , C, Kentucky Wildcats -- A great athlete with no position. He can switch ball screens when healthy and defend the rim. The comparisons to Anthony Davis are frankly unfair -- he is not nearly the ball handler/shooter that Davis was last year.
9. Victor Oladipo , SG, Indiana Hoosiers -- Oladipo is an excellent competitor and a phenomenal athlete, but he is a 6-4 two-guard who lacks the ball handling/scoring skills to make much of an impact on offense. Defensively, he can be a menace, but how does one value that?
10. Michael Carter-Williams , PG, Syracuse Orange -- MCW can't shoot and usually doesn't care. He is a good, not great passer. And while teams are infatuated with his size and vision, he is a blank slate at the most important defensive position on the floor.
11. Shane Larkin , PG, Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes -- Larkin was the reason why Miami was so good this year. He is a tremendous ball screen guard and athlete. Larkin can run a team, needs to improve his shooting and is a good-not-great passer. If you can hide him for a year or two, he should develop into a starting point guard.
12. Allen Crabbe , SG, California Golden Bears -- The closest thing to Rip Hamilton this draft has to offer. Crabbe is bigger and more athletic than teams thought, and he played vs. three defenders much of this season. Crabbe has deep range and will thrive not being the go-to guy. He is not a good defender and has to learn angles, but his length will help him a ton.
13. Tony Snell , SG, New Mexico Lobos -- A jack-of-all-trades wing who is on an upward trajectory. Snell can guard the point and the 3 effectively. Though he can move well without the ball, he has no scoring ego, which is good as he will never be a star. Went to the same high school as Kawhi Leonard and has a lot of the same characteristics as a competitor.
14. Reggie Bullock , SG, North Carolina Tar Heels -- Bullock can flat-out score and defend. He can be a shot nut and does tend to react defensively to how his offensive game is going. But off the bench, you need some shooting and he has NBA range, size, ego and a good body.
15. Kelly Olynyk , C, Gonzaga Bulldogs -- A mechanical low-post scorer, Olynyk might be measured in how he moves in the low post, but at least he has low post moves. KO is terrific as a trail shooter, catches and jump-shoots the "pock pass" off a ball screen like he's running a clinic and has a strong base. While he plays below the rim, his skill has a place over the raw athleticism of others.
16. Isaiah Canaan , PG, Murray State Racers -- Caanan won't be immediately ready to run a team at the NBA level, but he is a better shooter than the similarly-styled Isaiah Thomas (Kings) and can flat-out score off the bench. Caanan is uber quick and has deep range. His style of picking up 94 feet and defending, as well as his ability to change the pace of a game, is ideal as a backup point.
17. Mason Plumlee , C, Duke Blue Devils -- Plumlee doesn't really have much low-post game, but he can screen and catch a lob, is a very good vertical athlete and has an NBA body. Is he a starter? Probably not, but he brings value as a rim-protecting five-man who doesn't need the ball to just play.
18. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope , SG, Georgia Bulldogs -- A good scorer who needs to work on his handle and his body to be a starter in the NBA. Pope doesn't do much poorly but also doesn't have the offensive game of his counterparts at the two-guard spot. He can disappear when defended. Pope does score with ease and will be better with a point guard, something he didn't have at Georgia.
19. Shabazz Muhammad , SF, UCLA Bruins -- An undersized, average athlete at the three, Muhammad can score inside and out and, if he develops a right hand, will play in the league for 10 years. He has to learn to compete without the ball and play both ends. But make no mistake about it, the kid can score.
20. Tony Mitchell , PF, North Texas Mean Green -- Very athletic big forward who can do a little of everything, and maybe nothing great. Mitchell can make an impact, but it will take him a while to adjust to the level of competition and he has to be rewired in terms of his work ethic. Mitchell is a lottery talent who should eventually be a three-man but isn't a consistent enough shooter to make that leap just yet.
Doug Gottlieb is a college basketball analyst for CBS Sports. A former player at Notre Dame and Oklahoma State, Gottlieb is 10th in NCAA history in assists. Watch Doug on Lead Off, weeknights at midnight ET on CBS Sports Network, and listen to him on CBS Sports Radio weekdays from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. Follow Doug on Twitter @GottliebShow.
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