Depth of draft on display in NCAA Tournament


Ask the NBA Draft "experts" about this year's NBA Draft and there might be a little bit of a sigh. The going thought is that this year's draft class is not the strongest.

No one is enamoerd or willing to build a franchise around the top prospects such as Ben McLemore, Marcus Smart and Nerlens Noel. They all might end up being very fine players, but they are not franchise builders. So maybe that has something to do with coloring the excitement over this upcoming draft.

Really, this year's NBA Draft is a reflection of the NCAA.

That is what the Draft experts really should be saying when they assess the class of 2013:

"This is a deep class at almost every position," Ed Isaacson of NBA Draft Blog said. "While there isn't that one or two guys who are expected to become top-level players, there are players who are going to make teams better. In the end, that's what the Draft is really about. Figure there are 20 or so teams that aren't in the running for a top name every year. So 2/3 of the league is just focused on improving, and this draft has depth and NBA-ready players to do that."

Ask anyone while they were filing out their brackets and they will tell you that this was one of the most wide open and difficult NCAA Tournaments to figure out. There are numerous teams that could win the national championship and could lay a claim to not only a Number One seed, but the top overall seed in the tournament. Louisville could easily be a 2-seed.

That is how wide open this whole tournament seems to be. It is an exciting time to be a college basketball fan and the drama that will unfold in the next three weeks is going to be thrilling.

And there are a lot of solid players throughout the Tournament field. We know the names at the top of the Draft, but we will learn about players like Kelly Olynyk of Gonzaga, who has not had much NBA buzz but is up for the Naismith Award. We will learn about Patric Young of Florida and whether his offensive game is refining itself for the next level. And players like Saint Mary's Matthew Dellavadova, who has proven even in a game and a half how how good of a passer he is.

It is important to note that few players are going to dramatically change their stock or draft position through one or two or three games in the NCAA Tournament. The national stage sure does not hurt though.

"There really isn't one thing to watch," Isaacson said. "This is a college player's biggest stage, and how he handles it could say a lot about him as player. But, teams are very weary of picking someone who was average all year and then breaks out during the Tournament. Players just need to go out and play their game.

"Again, I hate to say that a quick loss or a deep Tournament run can significantly affect a player's Draft position, but this would apply most to the young players, freshmen and sophomores. Guys like Anthony Bennett, Marcus Smart, Cody Zeller, where there have been clear issues that people have been concerned about, a deep tourney run can help put some people at ease if they show improvement."

For the Magic, this is the first time since 2005 that they are in line for the top overall pick or a top five pick. The last time the Magic did not make the Playoffs, they finished 36-46 and got the 11th pick, taking J.J. Redick. This new Magic management is renewing its emphasis on the draft after the old regime seemed more willing to get rid of picks for veteran players.

The Magic want to build from the ground up.

With that in mind, eyes will be on the top of the Draft, but it will also be everywhere else in the Draft. And that means Orlando has to have its eyes on everyone in the NCAA Tournament (and beyond). For sure, Rob Hennigan and his scouts have done and continue to do their homework.

And we will begin to do ours. I will be back tomorrow with a review of some of the top prospects from Ed Isaacson as the NCAA Tournament hits full swing. Be sure to follow Ed on Twitter @NBADraftBlog.