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Who will be the No. 1 pick next draft? Good question.

Nov 20, 2012, 1:39 PM EDT

Shabazz Muhammad Getty Images

If you asked your Magic 8 Ball who the No. 1 pick in the next draft would be, the answer would come up “Reply hazy, try again.”

DraftExpress has UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad as the top pick as of right now, but after the NCAA was done enforcing its archaic and inconsistent sense of justice, he went out in his debut Monday night and looked overwhelmed against Georgetown. Well, what he really looked like is a 19-year-old in his first college game against an athletic opponent — it’s an adjustment. His defense wasn’t impressive. He still had 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but he did not stand out. As Rob Dauster said at our sister CollegeBasketballTalk blog, it’s too early to rush to judgment.

But one thing that is clear is that there is no clear-cut No. 1 overall pick as of right now. After a few drafts where there wasn’t any real debate about the top spot in the draft (Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving were pretty clear choices) there could be some debate this year.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports spoke to some scouts and GMs about this draft and heard teams are interested to see how players develop over the course of this college season.

Muhammad has constructed his pre-college reputation on how fiercely he competes on the floor, how he uses that explosive and chiseled 6-foot-6 frame inside and outside. “His greatest talent is his competitiveness,” said an assistant GM who spent several days watching Muhammad in national team practices at the Hoop Summit in the spring. “He’s relentless. But does he have the skill level to be the No. 1 pick? I still need to see that out of him….”

As one assistant GM of a likely lottery team said, “Whoever is the No. 1 pick, he’ll play himself into it this year. I don’t think it will ever be a clear-cut choice.”

As one Western Conference executive was leaving Barclays on Monday night, he knew he’d have to see Shabazz Muhammad over and over this season. After watching Zeller and Muhammad, he did have a suspicion about this spring’s draft. “I think you’re going to see a team who gets that first overall pick who will seriously think about trading down and moving out of it.”

DraftExpress’ top five rounds out with Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel at No. 2, Indiana’s Cody Zeller at No. 3, international prospect Rudy Gobert at No. 4 and North Carolina’s James McAdoo at No. 5. (I saw McAdoo play in person last week and there is a lot of potential there, fantastic athlete and showed a little midrange game, but I wanted to see more aggressiveness.)

Muhammad has played one game and could blossom, he sounds a lot like a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist type of hustle player. A guy whose drive turns his good skills into something more. But we will have to see about him, and Noel and the rest.

This should be fun, because for once the top of the draft board does not seem like a foregone conclusion.

  1. zblott - Nov 20, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    I’m not saying these should be the top three selected players, but the only three who have the ability and potential to be true franchise building blocks are McAdoo, Muhammed, and Pitt’s Steve Adams.

  2. chicitybulls - Nov 20, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Keep an eye on Illinois’ Brandon Paul. Dude is a shooter and can take it to the rim off the dribble.

  3. imforbigblue - Nov 20, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Give me a break baz is over rated and he’s a one man team. He can’t do anything unless the ball is in his hands at all time. He plays like crap off the ball and plays no D what so ever. UCLA will fall apart because they won’t play as a team and baz will fade away in the NBA

    • money2long - Nov 20, 2012 at 8:38 PM

      wrong , wrong, and wrong

  4. misterdreamer119 - Nov 20, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    Who cares #1 picks go to bum squads.

    • cmehustle - Nov 20, 2012 at 3:42 PM

      Lol Im sure those bum squads care quite a bit b.

    • money2long - Nov 20, 2012 at 8:40 PM

      what does that statement prove ?
      would you rather the great incoming talent go to the best teams? how does that help the league?

  5. pacific123ocean - Nov 20, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Too early to tell. I may be in the minority, but I think we should let the season play out before thinking about the 2013 draft.

  6. jagsfan11 - Nov 20, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    Everything ive read or heard has Zeller going first. I agree

    • cbking05 - Nov 21, 2012 at 3:03 AM

      When was the last time a white guy was drafted #1?

      • money2long - Nov 21, 2012 at 10:27 AM

        does bargnani count

  7. readysethike - Nov 20, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    can we predict who will be in the top 5 to receive the number one pick?

  8. loungefly74 - Nov 20, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    not sure…but whoever gets OSU’s aaron craft is gonna get a helluva guy!

    • 00maltliquor - Nov 21, 2012 at 1:49 AM

      Agree, big time sleeper pick.

  9. 00maltliquor - Nov 21, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    Shabazz Muhammed #1!!

    Go Bruins!! U, C…L-A!

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