Jun 17

Tone Breaks Down the Bigs of the 2013 Draft Class

By antonioharvey
Alex Len of Maryland.

The big men in this year’s draft are considerably better than we’ve seen in the last few seasons—they may not have the star power, but what they do have staying power. There are six big men who will be taken in the top 15 picks in this year’s draft, and that’s just the centers, which is where I’m going to focus my attention.

The most interesting of the bunch is Nerlens Noel, he posses a tremendous ability to block shots, is VERY athletic, and was a very good on-ball defender at the collegiate level. But how will that translate? This is where I’m going to point out some of my concerns about Noel; my initial concern is his size, or lack there of! It’s very difficult to be an inside defender when you come in at 6-11, 206 lbs. He is going to be overpowered most nights and when he isn’t, he’s going to be outsmarted, at least at first. In time the smarts will pick up, but the size may never. For him to gain enough weight to make a difference he is going to sacrifice some of his tremendous athletic ability, which is acceptable, because he has it in spades. My projection for Noel, as time moves forward, is that he will slide over to the power forward position. He has all the potential to develop the necessary skills to play the position. So for me, I’m not thinking Noel would be the guy for the Blazers.

If he were to slip down to number 10 (highly unlikely), my pick would be Alex Len, he’s the perfect fit for this team. He is a true center, at 7-0 and 255 lbs., with tremendous athletic ability and long arms (7-3 wingspan.)  His free throw shooting for a big was good (not Meyers Leonard good,) and he’s a willing passer, but what I’m most impressed with is his boarding. Its one of the best transitional stats, good college rebounders almost always become good NBA rebounders, and this guy grabbed a board every 3.3 minutes, that’s 12 rebounds per 36 minutes. The top 5 rebounders in the NBA averaged 12 rebounds per 36 minutes. I believe Len will be among the top rookies in rebounds, blocked shots and FG%. If there were a way for the team to get him, the numbers dictate that he would shore up the paint for this team for years to come.

Steven Adams of Pitt.

After the top two there’s a drop in talent level, but not so much that we should worry. Steven Adams is a high quality big with fluid movement, and a good feel for the offensive game, despite limited exposure. Having grown up in New Zealand he never had to face quality opponents until he was well into high school. It seemed at times this season he was lost, but he showed nice touch at the Chicago combine, while his athletic ability was decent for an NBA center. My concern with Steven Adams is simply, with Meyers Leonard on the roster already, I’m not sure the Blazers can afford to take a flyer on another young big with potential. The Blazers, if they use this pick on a big, need someone who can help out sooner rather than later.

Kelly Olynyk
For me it’s simple, look at LaMarcus Aldridge’s profile and you are looking at Kelly Olynyk. Olynyk is ultimately going to be a stretch 4, more in the vein of Dirk Nowitski, which is going to pay long-term dividends for an NBA team, BUT the Blazers have their PF of the present and future. In my eyes, Olynyk wouldn’t be the best fit with this team because he’s not the best complement for what’s already on the roster.

Mason Plumlee of Duke.

Mason Plumlee
I like what he brings to the table, but all the scouts I’ve talked to have had the same thing to say about him, “what you have, is what you get.”  Which to me isn’t all that bad. An athletic big with decent post skills, averaged a board every 3.4 minutes, was a 4-year starter at a great school and has a great motor. But what I like most is that he’s not a stretch anything. He, like Len and Adams, are back-to-the-basket centers who aren’t afraid of contact. His biggest asset is his ability to be a paint protector. In this instance, playing four years in college has allowed him to learn the defensive end of the court. Along with the players already on the roster, Plumlee could have an impact on this team in his rookie season.

All of the guys on this list will be better than serviceable at the NBA level, but I’m not sure which, if any will be high-impact players. The guy I believe has the most upside is Alex Len. It will be interesting if any of these guys are around when the Blazers pick, they are all slated very high on the mocks. But if things fall the Blazers way, they won’t go wrong with either pick.

Check out Draft Central for all the news surround the Trail Blazers in the 2013 NBA Draft.


  1. Thank you for the info, Tone. I have been saying for quite some time that we need the opposite of LMA, as JJ was if he had about 4 more inches of height. I feel Meyers and LMA are the same type player so if we got Alex Len to go with LMA and put Joel Freeland and Meyers in the game together, that would be ideal. Of course I am campaigning to get Jermaine O'Neal at veteran Minimum. Do you think the Blazers would go wrong if they picked him up?

    by Hg on 6/17/2013 2:32 PM
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