NBA Draft 2013: Jeff Withey, Mike Muscala among center prospects who could be steals

Ronald Martinez

The Golden State Warriors don't have any picks in the 2013 NBA Draft, but with Festus Ezeli out for an extended period of time we look at a center prospect who could be worth targeting if they buy into the draft.

In a recent CBS Radio podcast previewing the 2013 NBA Draft, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress noted that the recently concluded NBA Playoffs may help the stock of center prospects on draft day.

With the success of players like San Antonio Spurs post Tim Duncan and Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert against the Miami Heat, Givony speculated that general managers may place a higher value on centers in this year's draft as they look to compete.

Obviously the Golden State Warriors don't have a pick in this year's draft, but finding a presence in the paint on both ends of the floor has to be among the team's priorities - as noted in the CBS Sports staff's team-by-team draft needs - given that...

  • ....Festus Ezeli will out for an extended period of time during the 2013-14 season;
  • ...Andrew Bogut's health still a work-in-progress, and;
  • ...power forward Carl Landry likely to opt out of his contract to become a free agent.

Although the Warriors don't have a draft pick, they've made it clear that they're willing to acquire one if the opportunity arises. Teams are unlikely to give up a premium pick easily so my approach to this draft has been to look for prospects flying under the radar a bit who might available at the end of the first or beginning of the second round.

One name that stood out in SB Nation's recent blogger mock draft was Kansas Jayhawks center Jeff Withey, who fell out of the first round despite generally being considered a late first round pick.


Withey's profile from DraftExpress. Click here for the full profile.

Not that a blogger draft has any real meaning, but he's definitely a candidate to fall a bit because of his combination of strengths and weaknesses.

As SB Nation's Jonathan Tjarks has written, statistically the 7'0" Withey with a 7'2" wingspan was one of the best defensive players in the country. The problem, as written by Kyle Nelson of DraftExpress, "Withey has just as many weaknesses as strengths, but all in all projects favorably as a role player at the next level."

SB Nation's Blog A Bull described the weaknesses as follows:

For starters, Withey is the worst offensive rebounding center draft prospect of the last three years. I see this as a pretty strong condemnation of his assertiveness, physical toughness and the way he uses his size and athleticism.

Withey is also a very uncreative player. He needs his hand held getting buckets, and is below average at setting up others to score. No center prospect in the last three years needed more help getting jump shot opportunities (73% assisted on 2-pointers), and only two guys needed more help getting buckets at the rim (70% assisted at rim).

Even if his defensive presence would be valuable, a post with with concerns about physical toughness might not be what the Warriors need (especially if you think back to the losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Orlando Magic this past season).

Another player who could be available in the late first or early second round is Mike Muscala of Bucknell, who was in fact taken in the SBN blogger draft (#25 by the Sacramento Kings). Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com has highlighted today as a potential second round steal writing (at ESPN Insider), "Muscala's combination of size and shooting touch could make him an effective pick-and-pop big man."

While Muscala is being recognized for his scoring ability, Nelson notes that his rebounding ability might be his biggest strength.

Mike Muscala is best known for his ability to score both inside and out, but as his placement on this list suggests, there is an awful lot more to like about his game. Leading all prospects in our top-100 and one of the best rebounding seasons in our entire historical database. Muscala is a capable offensive rebounder, but he absolutely shines on the defensive glass.

Part of what makes these two guys ideal is that they could come at a relatively low cost as they're expected to be around late in the first round or in the second round - with the Warriors up against the salary cap threshold, getting another low-risk contributor would be a plus. Of course, the flipside is that both of these guys will likely be around for a reason: there are some questions marks, including a shared concern about strength.

For more on the draft, visit SB Nation's NBA Draft 2013 section.

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