NBA Draft: March Madness winners and losers

NBA Draft: March Madness winners and losers
April 1, 2013, 12:00 pm
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Georgetown Hoyas forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) shoots a jump shot during the first half against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament.

(Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Winner: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, So. --- Already one the nation's leaders in assists, the rangy 6-foot-5 playmaker with stellar court vision played at his stat-stuffing best in two games at the Verizon Center, including Thursday's 24 points and five steals stellar performance against Indiana. A sub-30 percent 3-point shooter on the season, Carter- Williams knocked down 4 of 7 from beyond the arc in the two games. If scouts believe his perimeter touch is at least passable, MCW could jump up significantly from his current late lottery/top-15 position. If Carter-Williams rocks the Final Four, perhaps the leap becomes Beamon-esque.

Loser: Teams landing a top 7-10 pick --- None of the projected players in this range, including Kansas' Ben McLemore, did anything in March to have NBA personnel believing a can't miss talent exists, let alone a franchise player. More than most drafts, we could see teams looking to move a high selection for veteran talent especially as some franchises fearing the luxury tax seek to unload established but high-priced talent.

Winner: Teams picking outside the top 7-10 picks ---We know future stars and notable contributors exist in what will be the 2013 class. The rub is because so many raw, still developing options will likely fill the draft pool, scouts are in pure fortuneteller role more than most drafts. Assuming a high percentage of the non-senior prospects enter the draft, there will be plenty of upside targets available - even in round two - and they will come with a cheaper price tag.

Loser:  Cody Zeller, Indiana, So. --- "Yikes" seems to be the best word describing the 7-footer's performance against Syracuse's zone in the round of 16 matchup. It's not that one performance should or will doom any prospect. It's that existing fears about Zeller lacking moves like Jagger marooning him against athletic bigs came true. Folks will tell you Zeller is a tremendous runner of the court and he can score when given space, but the latest Zeller reeks of role player on the next level.

Winner: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky, Fr. --- Despite missing the last several weeks of the regular season following a knee injury, the 6-foot-11 shot blocker has seemingly cemented his hold on the No. 1 prospect spot. Don't confuse Noel with Anthony Davis - the unibrow is miles ahead offensively - but his back line defense is a coveted tangible asset, which is more than can be said for others in this draft.

Loser: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, Fr. ---All teenagers want to grow up, but NBA execs are not giddy about the revelation that the high-scoring Muhammad is 20 and not 19. Going 0 for 10 from 3-point range over the likely final four games of his college career won't make them fall in love either especially since at 6-foot-6 he's undersized as NBA small forward.

Winner: Trey Burke, Michigan, So. --- Bad luck that Bill Raftery was not on the broadcast team calling Michigan's round of 16 rallying win over Kansas because Burke's game-tying 3-pointer from the parking lot deserved an "onions!!" call. Only hang up for Burke is how many teams in the top-10 need a point guard, let alone a 6-foot scoring point guard. He's at least put himself in position for such consideration.

Neutral: Otto Porter Jr., Georgetown, So. --- Another case where two mediocre games (including the Big East Tournament loss to Syracuse) should not offset a season's worth of stellar play. Despite his 33-point outburst in the Carrier Dome win, it's Porter's heady all-around court that draws raves more than his pure scoring ability. Like most of the prospects, Porter's plans remain unofficial, though this tweet with a "make the jump" drawing attached offers a suggestion. Though I still fear NBA types will not be blown away by his measurables, Porter's stock likely will never be higher. If anything, his stats probably dip next season at Georgetown if Greg Whittington and Josh Smith play for the Hoyas.

Winner: Gorgui Dieng, Louisville, Jr. --- As of Sunday morning, DraftExpress.com ranked the 6-foot-11 center 24th among NBA Draft prospects. After shooting 20 of 24 through four NCAA Tournament games while still maintaining his usual rebounding and swatting interior presence, it's hard imaging the mobile big man not moving up big boards. That fact that Dieng is already 23 won't help his cause.

Neutral: Alex Len, Maryland, So. ---  Over the course of the season the tall Terp's draft stock has slowly dipped from its opening game high against Kentucky and Noel, but the downhill momentum picked up steam when Maryland's NCAA Tournament hopes did not. Len then opened the N.I.T. with two clunkers before tallying 15 points and 13 rebounds against Alabama. These 1-2 final games will likely do little to impact Len's future plans or how scouts view the athletic center. Because of his size and high-end coordination, because so few other legitimate bigs can score, Len's upside remains stronger than he actually is.