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Wide open race for #1 overall player in the 2013 Draft

Source: 
CBS Sports/Jeff Goodman

The #1 overall draft pick is not always an open and closed case, though in most years a player tends to separate himself towards claiming the distinction. Most years, you atleast have a prize to shoot for, that one player you feel can be a possible franchise building talent. This years draft has some good players, just none who have distinguished themselves as a top overall pick. In fact, some NBA personnel believe this draft could rank with 2000 and 2006 in its lack of depth and excitement in prospects.

In a poll conducted by Jeff Goodman amongst "35 NBA Types", these were the early returns for the favorite at #1 overall:

Cody Zeller (Indiana): 31 percent
Nerlens Noel (Kentucky): 23 percent
Alex Len (Maryland): 11 percent
Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA): 11 percent
Alex Poythress (Kentucky): 9 percent
Rudy Gobert (France): 6 percent
Tony Mitchell (North Texas): 3 percent
Archie Goodwin (Kentucky): 3 percent
Anthony Bennett (UNLV) - 3 percent

While Zeller was the lone player to crack double digit votes, the personnel had a hard time remembering a race so wide open and so uninspiring. 2006 had Andrea Bargnani go #1, though at times LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Tyrus Thomas and others fought for the pick. Since than, every draft has managed to have pretty little question regarding the top spot. The problem with this year seems to be that no one really believes that the top pick can live up to expectations.

In a year where picking the best player means picking more of a helping hand than a game changer, one could see how that might be anti-climactic. This draft will have its few All-Stars like any other draft, just major doubts surrounding whether a player can live up to top pick expectations or becomes a leader of a contending team. At the end of the day, that is what teams hope for when they get the top spot. Their are always question marks surrounding players. The major issue with this draft is that the ultimate talent evaluating buzz word of "upside" looks to be really low.

If one is to pick Cody Zeller first, they will get a talented big who can run the floor, that we know. However, his issues on defense are still well documented not to mention his lack of top end rebounding ability. As one NBA scouting director said, "He'll never be a great NBA player."

With Nerlens Noel, the defensive upside is definitely visible. He is not afraid to mix it up, has instincts and great athleticism for his size. What he has yet to show is an ability to score the basketball using any real post moves or touch around the basket. Most of his points have been dunks and put backs, which will be much harder to come by in the NBA. While Noel is atleast 6-10 (by my estimation of seeing him in person), his lack of weight will make it very difficult to play center. This will lead to major issues with his lack of skill set if he were to be a PF.

Shabazz Muhammad was seen by many, myself included, as the top incoming freshman and favorite for the #1 pick. He has received mix reviews thus far as he has eased his way into the college game after coming back from injury and a three game suspension to start the year. He plays incredibly hard and has definites instincts as a scorer.

Even with all of this, he has a glaring weakness in his off-hand which many have taken advantage of to freeze him out. Not to mention, his ball handling and skill set lead many to believe that he will not make a flawless transition to NBA shooting guard, which was a popular belief. His athleticism is impressive, though he does not seem to be exceptional by NBA standards, having issues taking opponents off of the dribble or creating space.

Other players have entered the fray obviously, just none that really provide much optimism. Like every draft, this one will have its share of contributors, just really low expectations as far as top shelf talent. The battle for the top spot should rage on and be an interesting one to follow. Right now, it appears that this battle is one that not many teams would like to be in with no one really standing out. Seems like they will have to wait until 2014 until they really get excited about the top few picks once again.