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Are Zeller and Muhammed Fighting to Give Top Draft Spot to Nerlens?

Action pose!

Short answer, not really.  The idea of intentional sabotage, regarding draft spots, is never a good one.  But it does look like Nerlens’ two major competitors for the overall top spot aren’t doing a whole lot to make it an easy decision.

With the first few games into the season come and gone, NBA scouts have a little more information to work with regarding 2013’s draft.  The top three names for the draft, Cody Zeller, Shabazz Muhammed, and Nerlens, have had some opportunity to show their ability, but so far none of the three have been overwhelming.  Three games into the regular season, is it a race to the bottom for the NCAA’s top three players?

Shabazz was good, but not great, in his collegiate opener last night against Georgetown (a game which the Bruins ultimately lost).  He picked up a quiet 15 points on 50% shooting, but grabbed only one rebound and two assists to go along with one turnover and two fouls.  He’s a scoring machine, but he’ll have to work on all those other things to develop into a guy that teams want to base their franchise around.  As Cal would say, “What is Shabazz doing when he’s not scoring?”  Look for UCLA to look to include him more in the offense; and don’t expect him to start a game on the bench much longer.

Meanwhile, Indiana (unfortunately) escaped a surprisingly tough looking Georgia team, no thanks to Cody Zeller.  The “Big Handsome” (I’m not seeing it) had an underwhelming stat line at 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals in twenty-seven minutes.  He’s still averaging almost 15 points and 7.5 rebounds, but that’s against teams like Sam Houston State and Bryant University.  He had a great season last year, but might pull a Jared Sullinger and really regress as far as draft position goes.

Noel, as we’ve seen, has shown tremendous improvement even through only three games.  He had just 4 points in the opener against Maryland, but picked up 16 and 15 against Duke and Lafayette.  He’s averaging almost 12 points, but it’s the rest of his stat line that really sets him apart.  In addition to the scoring, he’s picking up 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2.3 blocks, and 3.3 steals per game.  When Nerlens isn’t scoring, he’s still very active, and has really set the standard for work ethic on this young Wildcats team.  If I’m a scout, that’s gonna stand out.

Adam Zagoria, at ZagsBlog, observed the games at Hova’s House last night, and considered the draft prospects of those playing.  “Truth be told, neither Zeller nor Muhammad looked deserving of a No. 1 overall pick on this night, early as it is in the season.  … At this point, it figures to be a season-long battle for the top spot between several players, including Zeller, Muhammad, Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein of Kentucky, Isaiah Austin of Baylor and perhaps others.”

The top three have been good, but they’re allowing other names to enter the “Top Spot” conversation.  It’s nice to hear that WCS is in the mix, as well as Baylor big Isaiah Austin, but in the current basketball landscape, there’s no reason Zeller, Muhammed, and Noel shouldn’t be able to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

I guess we’ll just have to watch a lot more basketball to figure out who’s gonna come out on top.  Which is fine with me.

Article written by Corey Nichols

36 Comments for Are Zeller and Muhammed Fighting to Give Top Draft Spot to Nerlens?



  1. mark
    9:20 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    WCS has played 3 games, shown few offensive moves, shown poor defense, with flashes of potential. He’s in the discussion for top overall pick in the NBA Draft.
    #KentuckyEffect



  2. Rockfield, KY
    9:26 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    WCS does have a polished offensive game for a freshman big man, but has to learn to play defense in a system.



  3. I Yell Cartwright
    9:28 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    We’re 3 games into the season. A LOT can and will happen between now and the draft.

    That being said, I think Noel has the most upside of the three – we pretty much know what Zeller is and I don’t see him getting a lot better than he is now, and Shabazz looks like a scoring threat but its hard to see him transitioning to the league that easily because he’s not quick and not overwhelming from a physical standpoint. Noel is super-athletic, and has already showed a willingness to get down & dirty.

    But it’s too early to start saying Zeller may regress like Sullinger did. He’s still a force.



  4. I Yell Cartwright
    9:30 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    Oh and lookie who’s behind Noel hoping he’ll pass it back to him



  5. barn
    9:31 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    indiana certainly didn’t look like a #1 team last nite. georgia would have won if not for their inability to throw the ball out of a tree top. indiana goes down tonite if gtown plays as good as they did against ucla



  6. barn
    9:35 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    3–did you watch ucla play last nite? shabazz looked very good considering it’s his first game and coming off ankle/shoulder injuries. even tho they lost they look like they can be very very good come march. they’re loaded. might come down to coaching



  7. UK
    9:36 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    #1 pick? If he’s the #1 pick then the next rookie NBA class is going to suck.

  8. I know this is a basketball post, but Phillip Marshall at Auburn Undercover is saying that Auburn’s president (Jay Gouge?) is not interested in Bobby Petrino. It’s a member’s only site, but that was discussed on a local sports talk show in Montgomery, AL this morning.



  9. GoCats2
    9:38 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    I think Zeller will be allright but anyone who thinks he will be a dominant force in the NBA doesnt watch NBA games very often. He is another Tyler Hansbrough in my opinion. Hansbrough has had a few good games but nothing spectacular. There are 100 guys like Zeller or better in the league.

  10. Let me qualify that: I believe it was one of those “A source of a source said” type deals, and I think someone quoted AU’s president as having said that a couple months ago or so, so who knows if he’s changed his mind by now.



  11. I Yell Cartwright
    9:40 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    6) No I didn’t, I’m basing that on what I saw from his HS games. He’s definitely skilled, and I’m not underselling him. He just strikes me as a scoring threat and not much else. Of course he can develop more, but like you said I’m not sure Howland is the coach to vastly improve him.

    7) which one are you referring to?

  12. Oh, and “Go you flat-top feller!”



  13. All My T-Shirts Say UK
    9:44 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    Thank you for not bolding “the Big Handsome.”



  14. Carl
    9:49 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    We shouldn’t even be having a discussion on POY until February. Everybody is in a hurry to crown a winner in November? This is not a sprint it is a marathon. Let’s see who deves and who dominates night after night on the road in league play, then we can talk.



  15. Drain the Tub
    9:53 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    7 – Its going to be an awful draft class…..worst in decades. Most NBA scouts agree.



  16. woo's gummy snacks
    9:53 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    come on yall the real story hear is that WCS is being mentioned in the same sentence as Zeller, Noel Mohammed and Austin from baylor. I dont care if it’s probable or not him being mentioned along side of them is awesome and that’s my focal point



  17. theWilkman
    9:54 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    We aren’t talking about POY, we’re talking about #1 pick. 2 very different things.

    It will be Shabazz ir Noel. As said before, Zeller is Hansbrough Jr., can’t build a team around him



  18. poythress?!?!?!?!???
    9:56 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    what about alex poythress emerging as the top prospect?



  19. Blue
    9:59 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    The bottom line is this draft class is awful, and any of those three (Zeller, Noel, and Muhammad) will be good college players, but mediocre pros. Obviously a lot can change between now and then, but I just haven’t seen anything out of them that leads me to believe they will be stars at the next level.



  20. I Say
    10:01 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    In the NBA Draft it is all about potential. Nerlens, like most athletic bigs, has the most upside to him which is why he’ll be the #1 Pick



  21. Andreweyl
    10:05 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    Why are the jerseys backwards on Muhammad and Noel?



  22. Han
    10:07 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    17) As Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith point out, there hasn’t been an American White superstar in the NBA since Larry. Some of the Europeans and Canadians have done well, but the most notable American whites to go highish recently are the likes of Jimmer, Hansbrough, Love, Reddick, and Adam Morrison. Kevin Love is really good, but he can’t carry a team the way some stars can. Psycho T is a roleplayer, and while Reddick plays a decent amount, he’s no star. Haven’t even heard Jimmer’s name since he was drafted, and I think we all know how well Morrison has done.

    Anyone who takes Zeller in the Lottery will end up with a 10-year starter at best (not bad, but not really Lottery-potential).



  23. Booger
    10:10 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    Who cares? It’s football season!!!!!



  24. Bradley
    10:23 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    Zeller being #1 in mock drafts has always been laughable and proves how little these mock draft guys actually know. He’s Sullinger, but not as strong and even less athletic.



  25. Carl
    10:38 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    the Wilkman you r absolutely right. I blame it on a lack of coffee :). None of those guys strike me as potential franchise players like Wall, Cousins or Davis. But i think Noels has the most upside, Zoeller will never be strong enough to dominate in the NBA and Shabbazh doesn’t look like he’s anything more than a scorer.
    GO CATS!



  26. Drain the Tub
    10:44 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    22 – I have seen some throw Alex Len into the “white-guy” bucket already, but most don’t know he came to Maryland from the Ukraine and played on their U-18 national team.

    He is white, but he’s a European white guy with a little bit of range on his jumper…..very different than your prototypical American white big guy.



  27. Raazoul
    11:00 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    LOL, Zeller? #1? In what league? The D League? He’s in the 10-20 range at best IMO. He has no upside at all. His best is Tyler Hansborough, His worst is his older brother. If this wasn’t such a weak draft he’d barely be first round. He’s a slow, white, undersized center. You think he will guard Garnett at PF? Or Howard at Center?



  28. tom5673
    11:08 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    i’m going to channel my inner oliver stone here and propose that there exists an evil conspiracy to over rate kentucky players in the nba draft to get them out of the college game as quickly as possible. i do realize that one of the big reasons cal’s recruiting classes are ridiculous is due to our rate of turnover, and 5-star recruits know that they are going to play right away. so far, the system has worked tremendously well. but, i must say that i can’t help but wonder how good this team would be with teague still running the point and lamb hitting threes from the corner. it bothers me that they left uk early and aren’t even getting off the bench in the league. and i don’t buy the money thing considering both teague and lamb will most likely be out of the nba and heading to europe after next year. it’s hard to watch teams like duke, carolina, kansas, louisville, etc. that retain players for 3-4 years, while our guys jump to the pros too early. if you’re going to be a lottery pick like davis, kidd-gilchrist, knight, wall, cousins, etc., it’s a know-brainer. you must leave early. but, if you’re going to fall between the late first and second rounds, in my opinion, it would be wise to come back to school and develop your game for another year. and, please don’t get me wrong, i love coach cal and what he’s doing for our program. and, i wish our players nothing but the best. i just feel that some of our guys are leaving too early.
    go cats!



  29. Bob
    11:26 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    I’m not ruling out Poythress at all in thin conversation, especially seeing the effectiveness of MKG so far!



  30. CBB_notebook
    11:33 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    Only you guys would leave out the fact that Zeller has been dealing with flu like symptons. Zeller will be just fine. The bias in your commentary is ridiculous. Shabazz just now starting to play, he will also be fine. Funny how you guys throw excuses around how you are young and what not but are quick to knock down other players. Im sure you guys had a little pity party when harrow was sick.



  31. Cats in the NBA
    11:43 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    Shabazz is a smooth operator and talent, but will ultimately be a 15lb-overweight shot chucker up in the league. He will knock around for a while until enough different teams have given him a try… then he will disappear. You heard it here first.



  32. burger
    11:48 am November 20, 2012 Permalink

    Hey Corey… did you just quote Calipari on something that he didn’t actually say, but what you think he’d say?

    WTF? You are qualified to quote BTI, let alone the best coach in the land.

    How about go quote some farm animal at the zoo.



  33. I Say
    1:03 pm November 20, 2012 Permalink

    #31 No Way



  34. CATfish
    3:29 pm November 20, 2012 Permalink

    21- I was thinking the same thing.



  35. WalterL
    5:50 pm November 20, 2012 Permalink

    You wait and see. If Shabazz puts in the work,and he will, he will be the first pick. He is THE John Wall of this class talent wise.



  36. Cayuts8
    8:24 pm November 20, 2012 Permalink

    who cares about the nba forreal? I know we have a lot of players there now and we/re sending more in the future, but really. we have played three games and we should be talking about winning the SEC and then making a final four, not if our player is “playing himself out of the #1 draft position” I know we are “players first now” but there is also a name on the front of that jersey…