Elite draft could mean special season ahead

Need another reason to get excited for the 2013-14 season?

Well, let me help.

On Monday, ESPN.com’s NBA insider Chad Ford released his latest Big Board.Insider

Every year, Ford sifts through the multitude of college and international prospects to give us a sense of what next summer’s NBA draft might look like. It’s an important tool because it’s often difficult to assess the true pro potential of players at this level.

The 6-foot-7 kid with a 20.0 PPG average might look like a legit pro, but in the eyes of NBA scouts he could be a late second-rounder like Deshaun Thomas.

So this Big Board is a great barometer.

This new list, however, is different from the rest. I’ll let Ford explain:

The 2014 NBA draft is going to be epic. Our initial 2014 Big Board is one of the most talent-laden I've ever seen. There are as many as five to eight future All-Stars in this group. A number of teams deliberately gutted their rosters this summer to try to get as high as possible in the 2014 lottery. It's going to be big.

The day after the draft, we debuted our first Top 100 of 2014. The Top 100 is a reflection on the consensus of NBA scouts and general managers about a player's relative value in the draft. The Top 100 debuts each year the day after the NBA draft and is finalized the day of the draft.

The Big Board is different. This is a more detailed look at the top 30 players (essentially the first round of the NBA draft) in our Top 100. It tracks player movement and stock fluctuation and is filled with the latest intel from NBA scouts. The biggest takeaway from the first Board for 2014? Not only is the top of the draft stacked, but Kentucky is unbelievably talented.

We have seven Kentucky players in our Big Board -- something that's never happened before.

Whoa, right? Ford is suggesting that this might be one of the greatest pools of pro talent in league history.

And if that’s the case … what does that mean for the college game? It means that this should be a special year for us, too.

I can’t wait.

Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan all have multiple players on Ford’s Big Board. But check out the other gems on the list. Jarnell Stokes, Montrezl Harrell, Jerami Grant, Sam Dekker and LaQuinton Ross all made the cut, too.

Talented veterans such as Adreian Payne and Rasheed Sulaimon aren’t listed.

Then, there’s Kentucky. Seven possible first-round picks, per Ford. That’s ridiculous and amazing. That’s ridiculously amazing.

I’m not a fan of the NBA’s age limit. I think it’s an injustice to talented kids who should be allowed to make millions immediately following high school if they’re qualified.

But I’m also a big fan of the college game. And the rule is responsible for the fusion of incoming and veteran talent that could make 2013-14 one of the best years in recent college basketball history.

Get your popcorn ready now, folks.