Over the next few weeks, I'll be reeling out my prospect rankings. The first edition: The top 30. Realize, though, that this is not a mock draft. It's a top 30. Let's wait until we have the lottery next week to work on that. So for now, here's the list of the 30 best prospects:
1. Nerlens Noel (Kentucky), C, 6-foot-11, 215 pounds
Noel tore his ACL, but was actually on a pace to block more shots than Anthony Davis when he went down. He's still an athletic, defensive-minded center that could be a dominant rim protector at the NBA level.
2. Ben McLemore (Kansas), SG, 6-foot-5, 196 pounds
McLemore can shoot and is relatively athletic, but he's shown a propensity to vanish from games often. Fix that, and he can be a major impact player at the next level.
3. Otto Porter (Georgetown), SF, 6-foot-8, 200 pounds
Porter is sort of the Swiss Army Knife of this year's draft class. He can do a little bit of everything: shoot, pass, dribble, play defense. He may have been one of the most improved players in the nation this past season.
4. Anthony Bennett (UNLV), PF, 6-foot-8, 240 pounds
Like Noel, Bennett is coming off an injury. He just underwent rotator cuff surgery on his left shoulder. When healthy, though, Bennett is a young, athletic forward with legitimate scoring and rebounding ability.
5. Alex Len (Maryland), C, 7-foot-1, 225 pounds
Don't underestimate that size. Len is huge and with looks like he could be a quality shot alterer in the NBA. His rebounding needs to improve, but he's still only 19 years old.
6. Victor Oladipo (Indiana), SG, 6-foot-5, 214 pounds
Oladipo improved his shot incredible amounts as a junior, but he's known best for his tenacious defense. He'll be a fan favorite no matter where he goes. Someone who plays as hard as him always ends up beloved by his fan base.
7. Trey Burke (Michigan), PG, 6-foot-1, 175 pounds
Burke can shoot the lights out, make good passes, and lead a prolific offense. We saw all of that at Michigan. He's as smart as you could as your sophomore point guard to be, but he could end up getting beaten up a good amount with that small frame.
8. C.J. McCollum (Lehigh), SG, 6-foot-3, 190 pounds
McCollum is a senior, who played only 12 games last season, but he was beyond dominant in that short time. He's become a dominant perimeter shooter and posted a 62.8 percent true shooting percentage in his final year at Lehigh.
9. Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State), SG, 6-foot-5, 195 pounds
Maybe the most impressive part of Franklin's game is his rebounding. He averaged 9.5 rebounds per game as a junior and posted a 16.5 percent rebound rate. Add on good perimeter defense, the ability to penetrate and a high motor and he's a real sleeper. Remember that Kawhi Leonard struggled with his outside shot at SDSU, also.
10. Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA), SF, 6-foot-6, 225 pounds
Remember when Muhammad was vying to be the first pick in the draft? How long ago does that seem? The freshman can shoot, but the "tweener" bug has already bitten him.
11. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia), SG, 6-foot-5, 190 pounds
Pope is another shooting guard that can really rebound. Add that onto his athleticism and defense that projects to be above average at the next level and you've got an athletic, gritty shooting guard who might be able to score a little bit.
12. Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse), PG, 6-foot-5, 175 pounds
Think Shaun Livingston when you see Carter-Williams. He's a lanky, long, and can really pass. The Hamilton, MA native finished third in the NCAA in assists, but he needs to improve his shot massively in order to become a fully effective NBA point guard.
13. Dario Saric (Croatia), SF, 6-foot-10, 223 pounds
Saric can play both forward positions, working either as a small forward or a stretch 4. He's got a pretty impressive handle for someone of his size and his athleticism could end up translating well to the NBA.
14. Rudy Gobert (France), PF, 7-foot-1, 220 pounds
One of the biggest myths in basketball is that height matters. In reality, height contributes to what matters, but standing reach and wingspan is far more important. By that measure, Gobert is the biggest player in the draft, spreading out with a 7-foot-9 wingspan. Add in elite athleticism and Gobert might be the sleeper to watch in this year's draft.
15. Cody Zeller (Indiana), C, 6-foot-11, 210 pounds
Zeller is another example of how players can lose plenty of money by staying one too many years in school. He could've been a top 5 pick last year, but he didn't improve much as a sophomore and had his below-the-rim athleticism exposed in the NCAA Tournament.
16. Gorgui Dieng (Louisville), C, 6-foot-11, 235 pounds
Dieng is actually a pretty versatile player. He's a good shot blocker and shot alterer and actually has a better offensive game that his reputation would imply. He has a nice jumper that goes out to about 18 feet and he's a strong passer out of the high post.
17. Mason Plumlee (Duke), PF, 6-foot-10, 230 pounds
Plumlee started hot and faded toward the end of this year, but he still a broad, athletic power forward that could make a difference as an NBA rotation player.
18. Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga), C, 7-foot, 238 pounds
Olynyk is a skilled big with underrated athleticism. After all, how many "bad athletes" can pull this move off?
19. Shane Larkin (Miami), PG, 5-foot-11, 176 pounds
Larkin suffers from what plenty of NCAA point guards suffer from once they put their names into the draft: chronic shortness. One attribute he does have which may allow him to overcome that sub 6-foot size: he can shoot.
20. Dennis Schroeder (Germany), PG, 6-foot-2, 168 pounds
Schroeder is a quick point guard that has vastly improved over the past year. As recent as 12 months ago, he wasn't even in the conversation to be a first-round pick. Now he finds himself climbing the boards quickly.
21. Tony Mitchell SF (North Texas), SF, 6-foot-8, 220 pounds
Mitchell is a hyper-athletic forward that still hasn't quite learned how to play the game. He could've dominated on the night-in, night-out basis at North Texas, but he takes too many jumpers and makes subpar decisions consistently. If that changes, he has a high ceiling.
22. Archie Goodwin (Kentucky), SG, 6-foot-5, 195 pounds
Goodwin struggled with his shot as a freshman, but what freshman doesn't? He's long, athletic and has an NBA body. With his confidence on the floor, you know he won't be afraid to score against pros.
23. Jeff Withey (Kansas), C, 7-foot, 235 pounds
Withey is a shot-blocking machine. He single-handedly took Kansas to the Sweet 16 after the rest of the Jayhawks laid eggs in the NCAA Tournament. And if you can dominate the paint on the defensive end, then you can find a spot on a roster.
24. Allen Crabbe (California), SG, 6-foot-6, 210 pounds
Crabbe can shoot and he has NBA shooting guard size. He's probably not going to be a ball-handler in the NBA, but he moves well off the ball and looks like he might be a quality player to run off screens to get threes.
25. Steven Adams (Pittsburgh), C, 7-foot, 240 pounds
Adams has one big thing going for him: coordination. Not many players his size have the natural coordination and footwork that he does. Add in that he's still only 19 years old and he has a good amount of room to improve.
26. Erick Green (Virginia Tech), PG, 6-foot-3, 185 pounds
Green was a senior point guard this past season with good size. He turned into a dominant scorer in his final season as a Hokie, scoring 25.0 points per game and doing it efficiently, posting a 59.2 percent true shooting percentage in the process.
27. Sergey Karasev (Russia), SG, 6-foot-7, 197 pounds
Karasev is a killer spot-up shooter who has the size to shoot over smaller guards that may be matched up against him. He's a smart player that is good at getting to the right spots on the court.
28. Nate Wolters (South Dakota State), PG, 6-foot-4, 185 pounds
Wolters is known for his offense, but his defense isn't too shabby, either. He uses his size well and will be bigger than plenty of point guards that he'll go up against next season.
29. Ricardo Ledo (Providence), PG, 6-foot-6, 180 pounds
Ledo is still a mystery in plenty of ways. We didn't see him play this past season after the NCAA ruled him ineligible for his freshman season, but he's a 20-year-old, combo guard that gets to the rim well.
30. Glen Rice Jr. (NBDL), SG, 6-foot-5, 206 pounds
Rice is a talent that has NBA blood running through his veins, but is it worth taking a risk on such a malcontent? He was kicked out of Georgia Tech last year after a series of disciplinary issues, but has averaged 18 points per game in the D-League since February.