NBA Draft: NCAA Tourney prospects

NBA Draft: NCAA Tourney prospects
March 20, 2013, 2:45 am
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Is Wall worth the max?

The NBA stars of tomorrow play this month in the NCAA Tournament...

...though we should use the term "star" lightly seeing as the 2013 NBA Draft class is not considered rock star quality. That talent-level assessment from draft and college basketball observers is more about the top tier options than the overall depth.

There are intriguing prospects in the Field of 68, just few (if any) that scouts are confident rock should they roll into the pro ranks next season. That's why teams do their homework, that's partly NBA fans watch intently the wall-to-wall games over the next three weeks. In this realm, Wizards fans are no exception.

Washington is lottery bound in round one, but also owns two second-round picks, its own and one acquired from the New York Knicks. Outside of a point guard and a perimeter shooting guard, the Wizards could really go in any direction with its first selection, though a small forward could be the call depending on what happens with Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza.

Other needs to ponder in the draft include an athletic 4/5 to use with 30-year-olds Nene and Emeka Okafor, who is signed through 2013-14; a wing with get-to-the-rim abilities that can play behind Bradley Beal; a backup point guard since A.J. Price and Garrett Temple are not signed beyond this season.

In Part one, we look at prospects in the West and Midwest regions. An emphasis on the top tier candidates and those who could help address those Wizards problem areas.

*The rankings come from Draft Express.com's Top-100 list. Also, the final list of eligible prospects will not become final until the weeks leading up to the June 27 draft.

West - This is the lightest of regions from a prospect perspective as only three of the top-50, including two of the top center options.

13 - Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, junior, C, 7' 0", 238 lbs

Notes: With the Bulldogs sporting a deep frontcourt last season, Olynyk went the redshirt route, taking the campaign to hone his big man skills on the side. Hone them he did while transforming his frame. Now able to deftly score on the low block in addition to sinking perimeter shots,  Olynyk averaged 17.5, 7.2 and 1.2 blocks as the primary force leading Gonzaga to the No. 1 ranking and seed. From an advanced statistical look, the longhaired one finished the season tops among all players in offensive rating (think efficiency) according to KenPom.

Wizards - While not enough of an above-the-rim sort to ideally pair with Nene on a regular basis, Olynyk could serve as an apprentice to Okafor especially if Kevin Seraphin stock continues dipping.

22- Steven Adams, Pittsburgh, freshman, center, 6' 11", 240 lbs

Notes: Like many a young center, Adams' defense and rebounding skills are more advanced than what he does offensively. On a per possession basis, the 19-year-old New Zealander is one of the nation's top offensive rebounders and shot blockers. In terms of the traditional stats, Adams averaged 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 23 minutes per game plus 7.0 points on 56.5 percent shooting. ESPN.com suggests that those raw offensive skills should keep Adams at Pittsburgh for at least one more season. Should Pittsburgh and Gonzaga advance, he could have a possible head-to-head matchup against Olynyk in the round of 32. Let's check in on Adams draft status should he perform well in that game.

Wizards: Shot blocker, check. Rebounder, check. International big man needing time to develop, error, error, error. We kid, but the Wizards could be shy about adding another, well, we can't Adams a project, though his offense is certainly a work in progress. The term "high motor" is typically part of any Adams profile, which might alleviate any significant downside fears.

49 - Solomon Hill, Arizona, senior, small forward, 6' 6", 230 lbs

Notes:  The Wildcats second-leading scorer (13.4), Hill is a solid ball handler who shoots37 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

Midwest - Six of the top-50 prospects are vying for a trip to the Indianapolis regional, including Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart. The point guards sits at No. 5 on Draft Express' rankings list, which is great for him, but not that relevant for the Wizards, who appear to be in good shape with that position. So, let's move on...

12 - Mason Plumlee, Duke, senior, center, 6' 11" 245 lbs

Notes: The middle of the hooping Plumlee brother, Mason is averaging 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks while shooting 59 percent from the field this season. Though a tremendous athlete and capable shooter, Plumlee doesn't appear strong enough to handle the NBA interior battles. Also, he's already 23 years old, rather ancient as far as prospects go.

Wizards: Would fill the team's athletic big man needs. Unless the late season wins pile up to the point that we're taking late, late lottery, Washington probably won't be in a position to draft Plumlee.

23 - Gary Harris, Michigan State, freshman, guard, 6'4 " 210 lbs

Notes: Though he's more slasher than shooter, Harris has knocked down 41.3 percent of his 3-point attempts this season for the Spartans while averaging 12.9 points. Won't turn 19 until September. ESPN ranks Harris 10th overall.

Wizards: Would be a nice athletic compliment to Beal, though that would be an incredibly young two-guard tandem.

24 - Gorgui Dieng, Louisville, junior, center, 6' 11", 245 lbs

Notes:  Guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith receive the headlines, but the Cardinals jumped a notch or three once their shot-blocking big man with surprisingly adept passing skills returned from a wrist injury. Dieng averages 10.0, 9.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks with 10 double-doubles on the season.

Wizards: If they trade back or acquire a second pick in the first round, adding another rim-protector on the team besides Okafor merits consideration.

43 - LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State, sophomore, SF, 6' 7", 220 lbs

Notes: The physical beats tallies 14.1 points per game, but is a major liability on the perimeter (20.8 on 3's)

*The loaded East and South regions previews will post later on Wednesday