The 2013 NBA Draft Will Be Better Than Expected

        It's impossible and would be irresponsible to make extreme judgments after just one weekend of basketball, but these are the inferences we are making. The 2013 NBA Draft will be better than expected, especially in terms of the caliber of frontcourt players. It is true that there are no immediate game-changing franchise stars like Anthony Davis in 2012, but there is a high caliber of depth of first round bigs. Let's take a look at some that were in action over the weekend:

Cody Zeller, Indiana: Zeller was impressive on opening night, not just in stats and production, but in terms of the obvious development physically he put himself through this summer. His added strength was not as evident against a clear mismatch of Bryant University, but will be moving down the rest of the Hoosier's schedule. Zeller, the 7-footer, recorded a double-double with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds.

James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina: For a team that lost four starters from a year ago, McAdoo appears to be the only one departing early for the NBA this year. He plays hard, aggressive and physical, essentially outworking his opponent for buckets inside and plays on the glass. In his season debut, he was one of two UNC players in double-figures, leading the way with 26 points and 14 rebounds.

Isaiah Austin, Baylor: Austin played just 17 minutes before leaving with an ankle sprain, but the 7-footer's athleticism and skill set is amazing. Granted it was against a much smaller Lehigh team, but Austin dropped 22 points and hit two 3s in his playing time.

Alex Len, Maryland: Len was the second most impressive big man on opening night save Cody Zeller. The Ukranian 7-foot has clear size, some physicality, but a surprising amount of athleticism, agility and finesse. Against a high-caliber defensive big man, Nerlens Noel, Len dominated with 23 points, 12 rebounds, including 7 on the offensive end, and four blocked shots.

Mitch McGary, Michigan: In just 12 minutes off the bench, the freshman McGary dominated with 9 points and 9 rebounds. But the physical forward did limit himself with three personal fouls in this time, something he has a tendency to do as he showed throughout his high school ball. In his action, he proactively seeked out contact and utilized his terrific motor to product.

Cory Jefferson, Baylor: Jefferson could not find many available minutes the past two seasons behind Perry Jones, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller, but is a future pro himself. The physical 6'9" forward can score at will inside with his strength and athleticism and more impressively, has developed the skill set, touch and confidence to play outside more this year. He scored 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the season debut.

Mason Plumlee, Duke: Duke has not featured a big man in their offensive since Sheldon Williams and before that, Carlos Boozer and Elton Brand, so Plumlee's offensive touches may not remain this high, but he showcased all of his athleticism for a 6'10" power forward. He is agile and explosive, scoring 19 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking 4 shots. His motor is impressive.

Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee: Still just 18 years old after graduating high school of Janauary earlier this year to play for the Vols, Stokes is the compelte big man. If only he was an inch or two taller, he would be about ten spots higher in the first-round. Stokes opened his sophomore season with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 asissts, 5 steals and 5 blocks.

Nerlens Noel, Kentucky: As we expected, Noel struggled. Even still the lean, athletic shot-blocker is one of the top prospects in the 2013 Draft class, but he put up just four points on 2-of-6 shooting and an 0-for-3 from the foul line. Noel looked out of place at times, lacking the basketball IQ and the aggressiveness to get in the right position to make plays, whether its block a shot or compete for a rebound. He was often displaced by his lack of strength, something scouts are clearly worried about. But the athleticism and length is not going anywhere, it just may take Noel a year or two to grow into his body and start to really hone his skills.

Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky: The least-heralded Kentucky Wildcat outperformed his expected lottery-potential teammate, Nerlens Noel, exponentially. Wiltjer, the 6'9" inside-outside talent, showed off his high-level of skills making plays in the post, off the dribble or spotting up on the perimeter. Wiltjer scored a team-high 19 points, hitting 4-of-6 3-point shots, while chipping in with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Scouts are not paying this kid enough attention right now.

Christian Watford, Indiana: Almost all of the Indiana Hoosier hype goes towards the 7-foot star center, Cody Zeller, but the 6'9" inside-outside Watford could join his teammate in the first round as well. Watford is more perimeter-oriented than most bigs on this list, and despite his thin frame, Watford can mix it up with frontcourt players on the glass, thanks to his length and athleticism. He is more likely a second-round pick due to his lack of physical development, but if Watford can knock down shots with range on a consistent basis, he could be a nice stretch-the-floor pickup.

Daniel Miller, Georgia Tech: Had Miller committed to a contender three years back, the powerful 6'10" center could be in the NBA already. Yet, at Georgia Tech, Miller has dealt with a complete lack of talent surrounding him, especially at point guard. In the season opener, Miller led the Yellow Jackets in rebounds (10) and assists (6), while chipping in with 10 points in 26 minutes.

Richard Howell, N.C. State: Again, Howell plays second-fiddle to the more highly hyped teammate, CJ Leslie, but Howell, at 6'8" and a physical 255 pounds, is much more of a typical low-post bruiser. If he stood just two inches taller, Howell would be a late first-round pick. This kid is a senior who barely fell short of averaging a double-double last season and looked very impressive in his debut for NC State- recording 16 points on 6-of-7 shots from the floor, and a game-high 10 rebounds. Howell can chip in across with the board as he recorded 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots in 26 minutes.

Jordan Adams, UCLA: This big man simply gets no hype for the Bruins. Out West, it's all Shabazz, Kyle Anderson or one of the two big men- Tony Parker and Joshua Smith, being spoken about. But quietly, the "lowest" rated recruit in the Bruin recruiting class, produces great play over the summer and carried over to the regular-season debut: 21 points, 7 rebounds in 22 minutes. The lean athlete can score both inside and out and get out in transition.

By Staff Writer - 11 - 12 - 12