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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 12:20 AM

Ready for the next wave of NBA stars?

Well, this Thursday's NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn may not guarantee that all the players picked will be the next LeBron James or Tim Duncan but - it's safe to say - there's way more hoops talent here than what many of the so-called experts are claiming as we've heard comments that this is the "weakest draft in years".

Fine, but we're not buying it!

Instead, we'll spend a few moments in today's weekend edition of Jim Sez with our very own player ratings as we've organized the 14 players that should go in the lottery portion of this year's draft ... so here goes:

  1. NERLENS NOEL, C, KENTUCKY - This 6-foot-10 shot-blocking whiz has the most upside of anyone in this draft but the big questions here are can be stay healthy and will he be - at least - a 15 ppg scorer on this next level?
  2. OTTO PORTER, SF, GEORGETOWN - Great team player who absolutely lifted last year's Hoyas to lofty heights and his smooth-as-silk shooting style should have him being instant 20 ppg scorer in the pros.
  3. BEN McLEMORE, G, KANSAS - Forget the talk of recent rotten workouts 'cause this kid is an exceptional talent who needs to be more selfish on the floor in the NBA and not worry about things after a couple of missed shots.
  4. MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS, PG, SYRACUSE - This wiry 6-foot-6 star-in-the makings surely has seen his stock rise in recent weeks and you can bet that some of the "name" teams in this draft will be looking to trade up to get 'em in the first five picks.
  5. SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD, SF, UCLA - Most draft boards have him going in the 10-to-15 picks range (and that might indeed be the case on Draft Night) but overall skills and knowledge of the game shoots this one-and-done 6-foot-6 Bruins star up our rankings board.
  6. ANTHONY BENNETT, PF, UNLV - Raw talent who may not be finished growing (right now he stands at 6-foot-8, 240 pounds) has legit shot to be a 15-point, 10-board guy in the pros and Canadian product won't shock anyone if he's picked in the top three.
  7. TREY BURKE, PG, MICHIGAN - We don't have anything against this kid except for the fact he's generally listed as being 6-0 tall and that's an issue on this next level where bigger guards might "school" him plenty.
  8. VICTOR OLADIPO, G, INDIANA - Some NBA scouts have favorably compared him to a young Dwyane Wade but he probably doesn't have as well-rounded an offensive game and thus we have three guards that figure to get nabbed before him come Thursday night.
  9. KELLY OLYNYK, C, GONZAGA - No big man (he's seven-feet tall) was more active from one end of the floor to the other last year in college b-ball and so we've moved the former Zags star past some other power conference kids ... as you'll soon see.
  10. CODY ZELLER, C/F, INDIANA - Gotta admit that we're not as high on this former Hoosiers star as many NBA folks are but he still deserves a place someone in our "draft lottery" section and if he improves his footwork than Zeller could have an impact sooner than later.
  11. C.J. McCOLLUM, SG, LEHIGH - A rare senior on our list here must show folks he's sound after suffering a broken foot last year but he's a natural scorer who could be a perfect missing puzzle piece for some NBA team.
  12. SHANE LARKIN, PG, MIAMI - Again, size is a problem here because this former Hurricanes star is listed at just 5-foot-11 but he has glowing leadership skills and isn't afraid to take a big shot either. Should go somewhere in these first 14 overall picks.
  13. ISAIAH CANAAN, PG, MURRAY STATE - Okay, so we've really elevated this former Racers star who generally is expected to be selected somewhere in the #22-through-28 draft pick range but mature game and lots of big-game seasoning helps his cause.
  14. GORGUI DIENG, C, LOUISVILLE - This 23-year-old still has lots of fine-tuning to do on his game but he blocks shots, plays fierce defense and doesn't need to be a focal point offensively and thus he moves into our draft lottery class.

 The NBA Finals- and thus the whole 2012-13 NBA season- is officially in the books but that doesn't mean Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will stop the winning! There's plenty of Major-League Baseball daily winners coming your way when you check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Plus, the Football Season isn't that far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear in early August- can't wait!


Let's zip 'round the bigs and talk slump with a couple of righthanded bats ...

It's no surprise that Detroit Tigers mega-star Miguel Cabrera leads the majors while heading into this weekend's action with a whopping total of 71 runs batted in but raise your hand if you had Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt to be leading the National League with 62 ribbies. Goldschmidt has all these runs batted in despite the fact over his last 11 games he's hitting just .143.

The recent swoon isn't worrying Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson who keeps playing the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Delaware native. But how about the fact Goldschmidt has maintained a .301 batting average despite the recent troubles and sports a .380 on-base percentage. Just sayin' in case you're thinking up possible NL MVP's this year ...

And wouldn't the New York Yankees have a Goldschmidt-like stick in their lineup these days?

The Yanks - who simply can't hit lefthanders with this Alex Rodriguez-less, Derek Jeter-less and now Mark Teixeira-less lineup - are starting to believe that LF Vernon Wells may have reached the end of the line. Wells started off this 2013 with a bang but get this:

He enters this weekend's games against Tampa Bay (after the Yanks lost the four-game series opener 8-3 on Thursday night) with 13 hits in his last 110 at-bats (a .118 batting average) and take note that Wells has not homered in his last 112 at-bats.

On one coast, Goldschmidt's slump is just a bump in the road for the contending D-Backs; On the other coast, the Wells slump could be a sign that the floundering Yanks are headed in the wrong direction for good after dropping nine of their last 11 games.


Interesting to note that last year the only National Football League team to finish perfect at home was the Seattle Seahawks who won all eight of their regular-season home tilts and it's worth noting that the only non-NFC West opponent that made the playoffs last year and is invading the great northwest this 2013 season are the Minnesota Vikings.

Still, the Seahawks are not about to suggest that they play a "soft" home schedule just because the likes of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 3), the Tennessee Titans (Week 6) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 9) all pay a visit to the "Q" because one non-playoff team from a year ago that could be a major impact player in the NFC are the New Orleans Saints who will play a Monday Night Football game in Seattle in Week 13 - one week after the Seahawks have their bye.

Seattle may have finished 8-0 SU (straight-up) at home last year but Pete Carroll's club still didn't win its division with its 11-5 mark as San Francisco went 11-4-1 and wound up getting its way into Super Bowl 47.

Toughest road stop this year for the Seahawks save for that December 8th tilt (that's a Week 14 game in the Bay Area and coming off the short work week after playing the Saints)?

How about the November 10th game in Atlanta where the Seahawks will be eyeballing some revenge for last year's wild 30-28 loss to the Falcons in an NFC Divisional Playoff affair?

NOTE: Lots more NBA Draft and MLB Notes in the days ahead here at Jim Sez and don't forget we'll post our NBA Mock Draft in Wednesday's column, so don't dare miss out!

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