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Looking ahead to the NBA Draft: an introduction to the top prospects

Yes, I think it's just about time to look at who's making a name in the college ranks this season.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Look, let's not skate around it: this team is headed right for another draft lottery, and possibly with three picks in the first round. We'll get into that later down the road closer to when we get a clearer picture of who's making the playoffs. What we do know is that unless the Bobcats roar to a stunning second half of the season, they're going to keep the top-12 protected pick that would otherwise be sent to Chicago. With that in mind, let's look at some of Draft Express' and Chad Ford's top ten players on their rankings.

Nerlens Noel | C | Fr | Kentucky

The No. 1 pick on more than a handful of big boards is probably Kentucky's Nerlens Noel. He's a killer shot-blocker, super athletic and a decent ball-handler for a big guy. He's 18 years old and his offense is still in development, though. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find a cooler-looking prospect. I mean, I'd draft this photograph of Nerlens Noel with a top pick. NOTE: this may be why I'm not an NBA GM.

Ben McLemore | SG | Fr | Kansas

Kansas' star freshman shooting guard looks to be very promising. He's very athletic, a great shooter (45.1 percent from three, 86.7 percent on free throws and has the tools to be a good defender. The only knocks on him thus far seem to be a lack of strength and consistency. The real question is can the Bobcats afford to not draft him to make for a depth chart full of shooting guards named Ben?

Shabazz Muhammad | SF | Fr | UCLA

If nothing else, we already know UCLA's freshman small forward can withstand massive pressure. And that he has a nice backpack that people assume he can't afford. On the basketball court, Muhammad is a strong slasher capable of finishing at the rim and defending multiple positions. But, as ESPN's Chad Ford says, Muhammad "needs to develop a right hand." Harrumph. I, for one, think it's wonderful to see a player take on such adversity and only with one hand!

Alex Len | C | So | Maryland

Perhaps you've seen the 7-foot-1-inch Maryland sophomore in action during his recent games against UNC or Duke. He's been pretty impressive, showcasing soft hands, rebounding skills and decent footwork in the post. For all this, Maryland doesn't utilize him enough. But the most concerning thing about Len has to be how he still wears t-shirts under his jersey.

Anthony Bennett | PF | Fr | UNLV

You needn't watch Anthony Bennett much to understand why he 's a dynamic player in college. Chad Ford even says he's heard the Bobcats are big on Bennett. The freshman already has NBA size and strength. He's a talented finisher at the rim, with intriguing athletic gifts making for good post play. He's quick, has a 7-foot-1-inch wingspan with good jumping ability and body control. He could use some variety in his post moves, and some would say he's a tad undersized for the conventional power forward position. But most importantly, he's Canadian. Which means we're another step closer to getting poutine served all across America.

Otto Porter | SF | So | Georgetown

PROS: good mid-range game, can shoot off the dribble, decent passer and ball-handler
CONS: needs to add strength to his frame, his name is Otto, he makes this face

Cody Zeller | C | So | Indiana

The younger Zeller brother is also a decent scorer around the basket with soft hands and size ready to compete at the next level. He's smart and runs the floor well, too. He could stand to get a bit stronger and force the issue in the paint, too. Unfortunately for his draft stock, he makes this face.That's gonna scare off the scouts.

Michael Carter-Williams | PG | So | Syracuse

I think we can be pretty sure the Bobcats aren't going to look for a point guard with a top pick, but I just wanted to note how close his name is to Michael Kenneth-Williams, the actor who played Omar in The Wire. Moving on.

Marcus Smart | PG | Fr | Oklahoma State

Another point guard here, though I'm less interested in him than I was in the last point guard. He doesn't even have a name similar to an actor in a popular TV show! Despite underwhelming shooting, Smart is a great athlete, can get into the lane and finish at the rim.

Mason Plumlee | PF | Sr | Duke

Decent shooter, solid ball-handling for a big man, can rebound and block shots well, and he's athletic. However, he's not a strong player in the post and needs to build on his frame to ready himself for the NBA. But heck, at least even he doesn't wear t-shirts under his jersey. Come on, Alex Len.

Isaiah Austin | PF-C | Fr | Baylor

Austin's a very intriguing player, an anomaly even. He has great size at seven feet tall, yet likes the long jumpers. A lot. He takes more than two threes a game, making 36.2 percent of them. Shockingly, in spite of this he only makes 54 percent of his free throws. He's also a decent shot-blocker and good defender. He plays like a tweener, opting for the perimeter on occasion. Austin does lack the low-post game you would hope for out of someone his size and could bear to add on some strength but he's very athletic and runs the floor well. I dunno, I've been scarred by big men who love the perimeter game over the interior. /slowly turns to look at Tyrus Thomas and Byron Mullens