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Draft Notebook: Embrace Unpredictability
Posted By Joel Brigham On June 27, 2013 @ 2:00 pm In Main Page,NBA Draft | No Comments
Unpredictability Shall Reign Supreme
There is no favorite player at the top of this draft, folks. However, even if that wasn’t the case and Andrew Wiggins was immediately ripe for the plucking, the remaining batch of players would still make this one of the most unpredictable NBA drafts in recent memory. Usually there’s a strong sense of who likes whom, and we even end up with a few stories about “promises” players have gotten from certain teams.
What little certainty we do have is built of vagaries: Cleveland clearly wants to make some kind of major trade; Houston wants to clear cap space for a run at Dwight Howard; everybody is interested in acquiring a 2014 draft pick, but literally nobody is interested in trading away a 2014 draft pick. Notice, though, that there’s rarely a second team attached to any of these scenarios, and in the few instances that real rumors have slipped through, one of the teams involved in the rumor almost immediately comes out and incredulously chuckles, “Where are you even getting this stuff?”
Of course, some of that may be smokescreen so those teams can continue negotiating in relative secrecy, but that’s not what most of this has felt like. Really and truly—nobody seems to have any clue what anybody else is going to do in this draft.
All that said, here are the most solid rumblings we’ve got as of midday Thursday:
Cleveland Still Wavering
Go look at any mock draft this morning and you’ll see that the top pick is either Nerlens Noel or Alex Len. While Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo have outside shots at hearing their names called first Thursday night, it’s really starting to look like they’re going to draft a center. There’s no need to debate which of these two centers would be the better selection at this point, since that’s already been done a million times, but it’s probably coming down to one of those two guys. For what it’s worth, Noel is not only a favorite of Cavs GM Chris Grant, but he’s also the Vegas favorite, as well.
Magic Honing in Oladipo… Unless Noel Is Available
Some mocks have Noel tumbling if Cleveland does, in fact, pass on him, but there are many who believe that if Noel is available, the Magic will select him. It makes sense; getting off to another slow start because the team’s top rookie is unavailable for the start of the season only means better odds for the infinitely more important 2014 NBA Draft. They don’t mind being bad another year, and in fact they’ve probably already planned for it.
But if being bad just doesn’t feel good to Orlando, they’ll likely select between Victor Oladipo and Ben McLemore, with an overwhelming number of journalists suggesting that Oladipo is the favorite between those two.
Something to possibly back this up: Michael Lee of the Washington Post reminds us this morning that Oladipo never even worked out for the Wizards, who have the third selection in the draft. Part of this is likely because they’re already very happy with their own backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, and part of it may be that they’re very honed in on Georgetown’s Otto Porter, but Oladipo not working out with a top three team means he’s very confident he’ll do quite well for one of the teams he did work out for. Like, say, Orlando.
Pelicans Thinking Point Guard
A little surprisingly, ESPN.com’s Chard Ford has the New Orleans Pelicans taking Michael Carter-Williams with the sixth overall selection in the draft because the team feels they need a point guard and MCW is arguably the best pure point guard prospect on the board. Michigan’s Trey Burke is also mentioned in this spot a lot, which only punctuates New Orleans’ desire to land another point guard to complement Greivis Vasquez and Austin Rivers.
Kings Appear To Be Locking In On McCollum
After having him in for a second workout on Monday, the Sacramento Kings are reportedly very enamored with Lehigh Star C.J. McCollum, according to Joe Kotoch of Pro Basketball Draft. Because he’s a top-notch scoring guard from a smaller school, many are labeling him this draft’s Damian Lillard, which would be an excellent find for the Kings, who really need to solidify their guard positions. It’s been two years since Jimmer Fredette and four years since Tyreke Evans, so now would be a great time to try on another scoring guard. Outside of Porter in Washington, this is about as close as we’ve gotten to a pick being a “sure thing.”
True Consensus Mock Draft
Since no one can agree on anything this year, let’s take the lottery picks of the most respected mock drafters in the game and average them out. Perhaps taking some kind of consensus will help us get an idea for how things will play out. All I’m doing here is averaging out the picks from Steve Kyler (HOOPSWORLD), Jonathan Givony (DraftExpress), and Chad Ford (ESPN Insider), then posting the averages.
The first number in parentheses is the average score, while the second number represents how many of the three experts chose that player in that slot. If there was something like a consensus, that took precedence over the overall average.
Take this for what it’s worth:
1. Cleveland – Nerlens Noel (1.3, two #1 selections)
2. Orlando – Ben McLemore (3.3, one #2 selection)
3. Washington – Otto Porter (3, three #3 selections)
4. Charlotte – Alex Len (3.3, one #4 selection)
5. Phoenix – Victor Oladipo (4, two #5 selections)
6. New Orleans – Trey Burke (8, two #6 selections)
7. Sacramento – C.J. McCollum (8.7, two #7 selections)
8. Detroit – Anthony Bennett (7.7, two #8 selections)
9. Minnesota – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (9, three #9 selections)
10. Portland – Stevan Adams (10, three #10 selections)
11. Philadelphia – Cody Zeller (11, three #11 selections)
12. Oklahoma City – Michael Carter Williams (9, zero #12 selections)
13. Dallas – Sergey Karasev (13.7, two #13 selections)
14. Utah – Kelly Olynyk (14, one #14 selection)
It looks like Michael Carter-Williams is the hardest player to peg in this draft. He was taken as high as 6th and as low 13th, but his having a big range was to be expected. Really, a lot of these guys have big ranges, but it’s interesting to see how some ideas have settled in about where a player will land.
Also surprising was Oladipo getting just the one endorsement at #2, especially considering how many journalists (ones that aren’t posting big mock drafts) think he’ll end up in Orlando. Again, take this consensus mock for what it’s worth.
And of course, all it will take is one team to do something surprising and this whole plan will go boom like the dynamite. This draft is going to be unpredictable, so the minute we try to wrap our heads around something solid, everything will fall apart.
If You Like Surprises, Be a Chicago Bulls Fan
Imagine watching the season finale of “Mad Men” last weekend with your iPad on your lap, diddling around with Twitter while you take in the season’s ultimate episode of your favorite show. But all night long, an insider keeps tweeting plot spoilers about thirty seconds before they actually happen on your television.
It would sort of suck the fun out of it, wouldn’t it? Well, last year there were two or three journalists who approached the 2012 NBA Draft precisely that way, somehow getting hold of the picks about 30 seconds before Commissioner Stern actually read them off.
While this did wonders for proving how connected these particular journalists are with what have to be pretty awesome and reliable sources, it completely and utterly siphoned the entertainment value out of the draft. Twitter is awesome, obviously, but if you love the element of surprise that goes with a televised draft, you may be wise to wait on refreshing your feed until after the pick has been made.
Of course, it’s worth noting that the only first round selection not to leak early last year was Chicago’s selection of Marquis Teague, which is pretty consistent with the Bulls’ philosophy of not spilling any truly important secrets to the media. The Bulls’ front office is notoriously tight-lipped about everything, but it was interesting that literally every other first-round pick was scooped on Twitter, but not Chicago’s.
On the one hand, it’d be nice to say, “It will be interesting to see if that’s how things pan out again this year,” but it would be nicer not to have to find out.
You’ve been warned: if you don’t like spoilers, only refresh your Twitter feed after the pick is made. What is gained, really, by knowing the pick 20 seconds before the rest of the world?
Please make sure you’re checking out our NBA Draft Diary and refreshing it often. We’ve got a great team on the ground in New York, and they’ll have all the latest all day long. The 2013 NBA Draft is mere hours away, at which point all this mystery will be lifted.
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