Most Athletic: Victor Oladipo
There were certainly a number of viable candidates in a year where 10 players hit the 40-inch mark in max vert testing. Certainly Oladipo’s teammate, Cody Zeller left many surprised with just how well he tested athletically. Still, as far as raw athleticism, strength and speed while using said tools in a game setting; this is what gets Oladipo this title. Victor finally put it all together this season and that led him to his current position as a lottery lock.
Strongest Player: Steven Adams
Would be easy to give this to Trevor Mbakwe, who posted a fantastic 21 bench reps at the combine. While Adams, had 5 fewer, keep in mind that this kid is still only 19 years old. His physical tools are incredibly rare and the strength he could bring to the table is what makes him such a tantalizing prospect. He is raw and will take time to contribute, but he has all of the capability to be the type of starting center that makes life exceedingly difficult for opposing post players.
Fastest Player: Shane Larkin
The son of a former MLB All-Star, Larkin had a huge sophomore season spring boarding a leap to the NBA. Shane was great as a game manager and showed solid shooting, however his speed was shown as being a reason this small PG made such a giant impact. His ability to put pressure on the ball and play someone the entire length of the floor is rocketing Larkin up the draft board.
Least Athletic: DeShaun Thomas
One would at least expect Thomas to put up a faster lane agility mark than former teammate Jared Sullinger. Well, Thomas’ 12.94 was the bottom mark at this years NBA Draft combine and his athleticism scores left a lot to be desired. As much as test scores need to be taken with a grain of salt, his certainly was a larger grain than most.
Longest Player: Rudy Gobert
Well, this one was won in a landslide. In a year with a number of freakish wingspans, Gobert’s 7-8.5 was the talk of the first day of the combine. His 9-7 standing reach was also a record of the modern NBA Combine. His insane length is what makes Gobert one of the more talked about prospects in this year’s draft.
Best Shooter: Ben McLemore
Not only did McLemore shoot 42% from three-point range as a redshirt freshman, his 87% mark from the foul line is very impressive. With picturesque shooting mechanics that have some comparing him to Ray Allen, McLemore has a chance to be one of the more dangerous shooters in the NBA. Some may question whether he has a killer instinct and his ability to create off the dribble can use some work. One thing you can’t question is that McLemore has incredible potential as a shooter with his athletic ability making him a very tough cover, even at the next level.
Best Ball Handler: CJ McCollum
Lehigh’s eye opening upset of Duke in the 2012 NCAA Tournament put CJ McCollum fully on display. He can shoot lights out and what makes him a truly dangerous, high-level scorer is his ability to get to the rack. When a draft prospect is from a smaller conference, most will try to look at his games against larger non-conference opponents. McCollum has dribbled through these teams with flying colors and his handles certainly helped.
Best Passer: Michael Carter-Williams
Carter-Williams averaged almost 10 apg over the Orangemen’s non-conference games. His creativity is visible and his height gives him a great sightline to find his teammates. His shooting definitely can use some work and as well as his decision-making. Nonetheless, Carter-Williams is a great passer and a true PG while having fantastic size for the position.
Best Defender: Nerlens Noel
His shot-blocking prowess was well documented before he even played a college game. However he was also incredibly active in the passing lanes, an overall pest whose potential on the defensive end of the floor has kept him at the top of most draft boards despite his ACL tear. With a number of players who figure to contribute as defensive specialists, Noel’s potential on this end of the floor is unmatched by any 2013 prospect.
Best Rebounder: Andre Roberson
Roberson’s nose for the ball and ability to grind on the boards is rare. He was the 2nd leading rebounder in the NCAA and this quality was what makes some believe he can be on the floor without having a “true position”. His ball skills and range need major work, but his defense and rebounding could make him a potential rotation role guy at an early stage of his career.
Best Post Skills: Kelly Olynyk
Not too many standouts as far as back-to-the-basket scorers, but Olynyk’s touch and scoring package are very impressive for a 7-footer. Olynyk used his redshirt season in 2011-12 to gain some weight and work on his game close to the basket. The long hours made him into an All-American and gave this always-talented player NBA value. No center in this years draft has Olynyk’s ability to score close to the basket.
Best Competitor: Trey Burke
In Burke’s two years at Michigan, he did seemingly whatever it took to get his team the W. Hitting huge shots was his modus operandi, with his 30 footer to send the Kansas game to OT in the Sweet 16 was the crown jewel of this years NCAA Tournament. Burke won most player of the year awards, for good reason. His will to win was inspirational and while every NBA Draft is filled with competitors, Burke is a major stand out in this particular class.
Most Versatile: Otto Porter
Porter just seems to scream “basketball player” as opposed to being locked down to one position. While some may classify him as a SF, he could possibly see time at guard due to his ball skills and at PF due to his size and rebounding. Ultimately, he will spend his time at the 3, but he can do a lot of things on the basketball court that make him the image of versatility in this draft.
Highest Risk: Steven Adams
After showing surprising ability to go along with fantastic physical and athletic tools at the NBA combine, Adams looks like a lock as a top-20 pick. He made an impact during his freshman season, however most players that average 7.2 ppg and 6.3 rpg could use more time in college before being thrown into NBA competition. Teams will need to give Adams time and bring him along slowly. The question is, will a team in the lottery have the ability to do so and play the waiting game?
Lowest Risk: Cody Zeller
He may not have the potential of some of his other fellow draftees; it is just difficult to see him not at least being a solid rotation guy. Cody runs the floor exceptionally well for a player his size, had the highest no-step vertical at the NBA Draft Combine and after his older brother’s solid rookie year, hard to see Cody not at least putting up similar efficiency. Zeller is not a pick in which you are reaching for the stars, just not a lot of risk as far as getting nice, immediate productivity.
1st Round Sleeper: Giannis Adetokoubo
This year’s designated international man of mystery, it is hard to even know the exact spelling of his surname, much less getting bearings on where he stands amongst this year’s NBA prospects. At almost 6-10, Adetokoubo is listed as a PG for his team in Greece with the names Kevin Durant and Scottie Pippen getting thrown around when describing him. Those comparisons seem very unfair, yet it is obvious that the kid has tools and could be a big time sleeper down the line.
2nd Round Sleeper: Ricardo Ledo
Ledo could end up in the first round but due to off court question marks and not being able to gain eligibility at Providence, he’s seen as a bubble first rounder. While drafting Ledo could end up backfiring for a team, in a draft without a great deal of talent, Ricardo could end up a major sleeper as a player with elite level skills to go with talent.
Free Agent Gem: Amath Mbaye
Hasn’t gotten a lot of buzz after entering the draft a year early. Though the age of a senior, he’s a versatile wing with good scoring and defensive abilities and shows NBA athleticism. If he goes undrafted as most expect and isn’t able to stick with a team, Mbaye is a player who could play a few seasons in Europe (France) before making it in the league.
High Risk/High Reward
1st Round Sleepers
2nd Round Sleepers