NBA AM: The Draft Scuttle From Eurocamp
VIDEO OF THE DAY – Dante Exum
Australia’s Dante Exum could be eligible for the 2014 NBA Draft, and while he is still deciding, if he opts in, he could be a top 15 player in 2014. HOOPSWORLD caught up with Exum in Italy this weekend and talked with him about what is next.Watch More Video Here
The Scuttle From Eurocamp: The annual adidas Eurocamp showcase is in the books and as most NBA teams made their way home on Tuesday, there were a lot of little nuggets of news and speculation floating around the gym in Treviso.
Here are some of the more notable ones:
The Problems With Noel: For most of the last year, Nerlens Noel has held down the number one draft prospect spot, simply because there were no better options in front of him. As teams have started digging into Noel, he could be primed for a hefty draft day tumble. The easy way out on Noel is to point to his recovering ACL surgery, although most front office executives that would comment on it, repeated what’s being said publicly and that is that Noel’s knee appears to be healing fine and that he is on or ahead of schedule.
One source who has spent a lot of time on Noel said that he is actually a super smart basketball player with a high basketball IQ. The biggest problem with young bigs is getting them to adjust to the speed and complexity of the NBA game, especially as more and more teams institute complex scheme-based defenses. The read on Noel is that he should adjust to the NBA quickly as he absorbs complex basketball easily. Teams also like his instinctual versatility on defense, and that’s being able to guard the rim with both hands, going right or left. He also gets praise for his timing and his second and third jumps, good indicators of bounce and an aggressive rebounder’s mindset.
There are a couple of issues teams talked about when discussing Noel and that’s his slender frame and very slender lower body. Most talent evaluators look at shoulders, calves and ankles as areas for growth in strength and bulk and Noel grades low in all three, leading teams to wonder if his 206-pound combine measure is more about Noel’s limitations to put on weight and gain lower body strength necessary to be a starting center in the NBA.
There are also stories floating around about the “crowd” that’s in Noel’s life and that maybe they are going to be a problem at the next level. Every draft prospect ends up with a few money guys and hanger-ons, but the word is Noel’s specific group might have too much influence and there is concern that Noel’s development could get derailed by those influences.
All indications are that Noel is a good kid, with some questionable people in his life. Teams have their concerns and there was some serious doubt expressed by NBA executives that Noel could go No. 1 overall, in fact there was a sense he could see his stock tumble on draft night as teams drafting in the top three address real and immediate needs.
The McLemore Hype Is Real: In the last 48 hours, four NBA executives said they felt Ben McLemore could go No. 1 overall. The Cavaliers legitimately may select McLemore with the top overall pick, and if they trade the pick then that only increases the likelihood of McLemore being selected first overall. Some executives feel that McLemore has the most star potential in the draft. Executives were easily baited into the “Mock Draft Game” but most wouldn’t say much more than how they saw the draft playing out in the top five.
It’s hard to imagine how McLemore fits in Cleveland, unless the plan is simply to play small or to try and move Dion Waiters or McLemore to the small forward spot down the road.
McLemore tweeted yesterday that he landed in Orlando and will likely be meeting with the Orlando Magic today. McLemore has long been considered the best option for the Magic even when it was projected that they would land the top overall pick.
There is no doubting that NBA teams like Ben McLemore and that should do well for his stock.
Bennett Could Be Favorite For Rookie Of The Year: Anthony Bennett also has his fans. It’s commonly believed he’ll be headed to Phoenix unless the Wizards grab him at No. 3. One executive joked that if Bennett landed in Phoenix he might be the Rookie of the Year, pointing to the abundance of minutes he’d receive with the Suns and how effective he could be with that personnel.
Bennett is coming off a torn labrum in his shoulder, but all indications are that the injury is healing well and that he should get back to form pretty quickly.
The No. 1 And No. 2 Picks Could Be Had: Stop me if you have heard this one… draft picks are being shopped around.
This really isn’t news, but the truth is that both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic are open for business on their respective draft picks.
The Magic have been aggressively doing due diligence on dozens of players, but they are also looking at what else they can accomplish with their picks and their roster players. Magic GM Rob Hennigan was routinely hopping around the gym in Italy either on the phone or sitting with different executives throughout the workouts in Treviso. It was clear he was kicking the tires on everything he could, but it is interesting to note the Magic did spend time with Dallas, who is looking at moving their first round pick and possibly a roster player to gain additional cap space. Hennigan finished the tournament sitting with Utah’s Dennis Lindsey, and word is the Jazz have been exploring their options too.
The Magic were pretty forthcoming that they were still aggressively working so it’s unlikely that anything is real from the trip to Italy, but as the draft gets ever so closer don’t be surprised to see Orlando involved in a few things as there was a sense among the other executives that the No. 2 pick could be had.
Adetokunbo Has His Fans: Giannis Adetokunbo, the Greek small forward most talent evaluators had not seen, was the star of the camp in Italy, not because he played, but because he was in a tournament roughly 45 minutes down the road. About an hour before his games started, NBA executives were seen piling into cars in groups to get down to see Adetokunbo in action. The early read is that he is very much a project, but one with a lot of upside. He has legit NBA size and while his tools need serious refinement, it’s clear that someone is taking him in the first round and some have pegged the Atlanta Hawks as the prime suitor with one of their picks in the teens.
For most of the draft season, Adetokunbo has been linked to San Antonio, and while that might be possible, the consensus among teams was he’d be long gone before the Spurs pick.
Alex Len In The Top Five?: Last week, there were some reports suggesting that Alex Len has jumped to the top of a number of team’s boards and that he could go in the top five, and possibly in the top three. There is no doubting that Len has his fans, but an informal survey of several executives revealed that Len has some serious doubters in his corner too.
Almost every believed Len would go in the top 10, there were real skeptics that he’d go in the top five.
Who They Play Against: Phil Philo, who used to run the adidas Eurocamp program for a number of years and is a former international scout for the Minnesota Timberwolves, made an interesting comment about how teams look at possible draft picks, especially later picks.
It’s obvious that teams hope their top-tier picks become starters at some point, but the bulk of any draft class is going to produce backups or bench players, so asking how would Player X would defend Dwight Howard isn’t necessarily accurate. The truth is that player may never see the floor when Howard is in the game, rather the player would be facing Howard’s backup more times than not and that changes the equation completely.
It becomes interesting to think about draft picks in that way, especially late first-round or second-round talent. Every teams wants a guy that can start and defend a starter, but sometimes, especially as a rookie, you just have to have success against a team’s second- or third-tier player and when you apply that logic to some of the guys with question marks, justifying them as picks does get easier.
Can Lucas Nogueira handle Dwight Howard physically? Truthfully no, but he could hold his own against Robert Sacre or Pau Gasol, who isn’t a physical player.
It was an interesting concept to consider, because a lot of times in the draft the expectations fans place on a draft pick aren’t the same level of expectations a team has on a player.
We Want To Know:
Don’t Trade Danny Yet: Indiana Pacers fans are likely still reeling from a rough out against the Miami HEAT, but there has already been some chatter about what the Pacers do next, specifically involving Danny Granger.
Before we get too far into this, keep in mind Granger underwent a knee procedure and is still a few months away from serious court work. That and his knee history is going to impact Granger’s trade value.
The other thing to keep in mind is Granger’s contract is coming to an end, and while that might make him easier to trade with the injury history, his deal is a huge salary number and that means to move him, Indiana would have to take back salary they may not have an appetite to absorb.
Sources close to the situation were adamant this week in Italy that trading Granger was not on the “to-do” list and that the plan was to see how Danny Granger and Paul George looked together.
That wouldn’t rule out a deadline deal involving Granger, but the overall vibe was that the Pacers are right there as a team and that the punch Granger can provide and his familiarity with the team and the system make him more valuable than anything the Pacers can extract for him.
Now a great offer might change that plan, but the vibe and the message from Italy is that Granger is staying in Indiana.
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