Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 11:11AM; Updated: Wed May 15, 2013 1:46PM
Chris Mannix
Chris Mannix>INSIDE THE NBA

NBA draft Big Board 7.0

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Victor Oladipo is rising up NBA draft boards
An unheralded prospect at the start of the season, Victor Oladipo has been one of the draft's biggest risers.
Andrew Hancock/SI

All eyes will be on Chicago this week, as NBA decision-makers will gather to scrutinize scores of prospects at the annual draft combine. And in a draft that has plenty of parity -- "There's not a whole lot of difference between [Nos.] 5 or 6 and 15 or 16," a Western Conference general manager said -- a strong combine could go a long way.

Here's the latest (and final) Big Board, with SI.com's first Mock Draft to be published next Tuesday after the lottery slots are decided.

Chris Mannix's NBA Draft Big Board
1
Nerlens Noel
Kentucky, Freshman
6-10, 228
PF/C
Two months after surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, Noel still is the most likely top selection. Multiple executives from lottery teams expressed no concern that the knee would become a significant issue. "It's a run-of-the-mill ACL tear," a Western Conference executive said. "If it wipes out most of next season, so what? This kid is still the best big man by a lot." Executives continue to praise Noel's defensive instincts and the consistent energy with which he plays.
 
2
Ben McLemore
Kansas, Freshman
6-5, 195
SG
The next Ray Allen? The smooth-shooting McLemore is a more athletic version, with a stroke that is surprisingly polished for a 20-year-old. In a draft loaded with uncertainties and projects, McLemore is considered a surefire starter, possibly as a rookie. With prototypical size, strength and shooting mechanics, McLemore is being referred to by more than one executive as "can't miss."
 
3
Anthony Bennett
UNLV, Freshman
6-8, 240
PF
Surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff will keep Bennett from participating in the combine, but his imposing size (6-foot-7, 239 pounds), wingspan (7-1) and athleticism have talent evaluators salivating at his potential. There is some debate about Bennett's NBA position -- he can handle the ball, has a nice mid-range game and a developing three-point shot, all small-forward skills -- but an Eastern Conference executive said "it's a good problem to have."
 
4
Otto Porter
Georgetown, Sophomore
6-8, 205
SF
Porter is a polished player with a nice mid-range game who attacks the glass and has "a high skill level everywhere," according to an Eastern Conference executive. Some personnel types have questioned Porter's ability to create his own shot, and he will have to bulk up. But the 6-8 forward is versatile and effective playing off the ball, while several executives have praised his intelligence, which should make it easier for Porter to adapt to complex NBA systems.
 
5
Trey Burke
Michigan, Sophomore
6-0, 190
PG
Here's why several executives are dismissing Burke's lack of size and swear he will be effective: The pick-and-roll is an NBA coach's bread-and-butter play, and Burke excels in it. Short(ish) point guards tend to slip into the late teens/early 20s (see Ty Lawson, Jameer Nelson, Darren Collison), but Burke's combination of scoring ability and underrated playmaking -- his 3.02 assist-to-turnover ratio was fifth in Division I last season -- will make Burke the first playmaker off the board.
 
6
Victor Oladipo
Indiana, Junior
6-5, 214
SG
Oladipo ranks as perhaps the draft's biggest riser, an unheralded prospect at the start of the season who through stifling defense and surprisingly effective three-point shooting has developed into a legitimate 2-guard prospect. Oladipo lacks traditional size -- it will be interesting to see his official measurements in Chicago -- but is a dynamic athlete.
 
7
Cody Zeller
Indiana, Sophomore
7-0, 240
PF/C
Concerns about Zeller's size -- he is a legitimate 7-footer but has a 6-8 wingspan, per DraftExpress, which is small for a guard, much less a power forward/center -- continue to linger, as does the unimpressive way he finished the season: 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting in a double-digit loss to Syracuse. Still, in two years at Indiana, Zeller was consistently productive offensively. He finished his sophomore season with averages of 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds. "There are a lot of issues with Zeller," a Western Conference GM said. "But you know what? He's a 7-footer who can score. I can work with a talent like that."
 
8
Shabazz Muhammad
UCLA, Freshman
6-6, 225
SF
Despite an uneven freshman season, Muhammad has electrifying offensive potential. He's raw -- one Eastern Conference executive described him as a top-five pick going left and 15-20 going right -- but Muhammad has the ability to develop into a Paul Pierce/Rudy Gay type scorer. "He can power past anyone," an Eastern Conference GM said. "But what happens when a Paul George or a Kawhi Leonard is in front of him? He has a lot of developing to do."
 
9
Michael Carter-Williams
Syracuse, Sophomore
6-6, 185
PG
Carter-Williams enters the draft with natural playmaking skills and the kind of size few point guards can match. He will need to work on his ball handling -- his high dribble would be easy pickings for some of the NBA's better defensive point guards -- and his jump shot is streaky. But Carter-Williams is brilliant in transition and has the raw tools with which teams can work.
 
10
Alex Len
Maryland, Sophomore
7-1, 225
C
The rugged Len is an appealing prospect, but his stock will likely be hurt by a stress fracture in his left ankle that will keep him sidelined for the next few months. "I really think he just misses an opportunity to really skyrocket up the board," Len's agent, Michael Lelchitski, told The Baltimore Sun. "Everyone -- Alex, [Maryland] coach [Mark] Turgeon -- everyone who has seen him understood that he would have been phenomenal in that setting [of the workouts], 1 on nothing, even 1-on-1, he would have shone a lot more than you got to see this year."
 
11
C.J. McCollum
Lehigh, Senior
6-3, 190
PG/SG
McCollum's college career ended in January, when he broke his left foot, but he showed enough scoring skills in three-and-a-half years at Lehigh to make several teams believe he will be a lottery pick. The success of Portland's Damian Lillard -- the unanimous Rookie of the Year who, like McCollum, was a scoring guard in college -- could work in McCollum's favor, as will his range and ability to play in the pick-and-roll.
 
12
Rudy Gobert
France, 20 years old
7-1, 235
C
Gobert is an international man of mystery. "How skinny he is scares me," an Eastern Conference executive said. But he is a 7-1 big man with a 7-9 wingspan who can run the floor, block shots and has shown flashes of potential. His upside is too tempting to pass up.
 
13
Dario Saric
Croatia, 18 years old
6-10, 223
SF/PF
Saric has been indecisive about entering the draft -- at the moment, he's in -- though most league executives see plenty of NBA potential. At a wiry 6-10, 223 pounds, Saric has a lot of room to fill out. He has power-forward size but most scouts agree his future is at small forward, where his passing ability can be used in a point-forward role.
 
14
Mason Plumlee
Duke, Senior
6-10, 235
PF
Plumlee reportedly won't participate in drills at the combine, which could cost him with teams looking to see a player who relied heavily on athleticism go through NBA drills. He completed a productive senior season with a strong tournament, showcasing good hands, athleticism and finishing skills around the rim. But Plumlee is on the older side at 23, and in four years at Duke did not develop much of a post game. His ceiling is lower than that of most prospects.
 
15
Kelly Olynyk
Gonzaga, Junior
7-0, 238
PF/C
Olynyk is an NBA-ready scorer: He has a diverse offensive game, is capable of scoring with either hand and can step out and make a jump shot. Defensively, there are question marks. Olynyk isn't particularly strong and is a below-average rebounder. Some executives have wondered what position he can play (read: defend).
 
16
Gorgui Dieng
Louisville, Junior
6-11, 245
PF/C
Dieng is a space-eating center with superior defensive instincts that should make him a quality NBA shot blocker. His offense is a work in progress, but last season Dieng showed flashes of a decent face-up game and nice touch around the rim. Several teams in the 20s hope he will slip that far, but that kind of size and potential will be tough to pass up in the teens, perhaps even in the lottery.
 
17
Archie Goodwin
Kentucky, Freshman
6-4, 198
SG
Kentucky's ballyhooed incoming freshman class forced Goodwin out of Lexington before he was ready, but superior athleticism, a 6-10 wingspan and an ability to score in bursts will make him a first-round pick. But what position will he play? Goodwin struggled as a point guard at Kentucky and will need to bulk up to defend the 2. Still, scouts see good defensive skills, and a team willing to wait for him to develop could give Goodwin a top-20 look.
 
18
Sergey Karasev
Russia, 19 years old
6-7, 205
SF
Think of a better-shooting Andrei Kirilenko, one executive said of Karasev, with a little Ricky Rubio mixed in. The 6-7, 205-pound forward has started to move up boards around the league thanks to a polished all-around game. "This guy is a stud," an executive said. "He does a little of everything. He would make any team better."
 
19
Jeff Withey
Kansas, Senior
7-0, 235
C
Withey has a clear NBA skill: defense. He's strong with superior footwork, timing and defensive technique. There isn't much depth in Withey's offensive repertoire right now, though he has displayed a nice touch around the rim. He had a 16-point, 16-rebound, five-block performance against North Carolina in the third round of the NCAA tournament. One scout compared Withey with former Pacers big man Jeff Foster, a grinder who had a productive 13-year career despite never averaging more than seven points.
 
20
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Georgia, Sophomore
6-5, 205
SG
Caldwell-Pope, the SEC Player of the Year on a mediocre Georgia team last season, has slowly started to creep up at least a few draft boards. He's an efficient scorer and an excellent rebounder (7.1 per game) for his position. Two executives that have studied Caldwell-Pope like his work ethic, his defensive instincts and that he has significantly improved his game in all areas since coming to Georgia.
 
 
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