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NBA PM: 5 Biggest Questions of 2013 Draft
Posted By Alex Kennedy On June 24, 2013 @ 5:00 pm In Main Page,NBA Draft | No Comments
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NBA PM: Biggest Questions of the 2013 Draft
The 2013 NBA Draft is a little over 72 hours away, but you’d never know it based on the number of questions that remain unanswered. Around this time, the draft picture is usually coming into focus.
However, this is shaping up into one of the strangest drafts in recent memory, with a lot of things still very much in the air as June 27 quickly approaches.
Here are some of the biggest questions regarding the 2013 NBA Draft:
What will the Cleveland Cavaliers do with the top overall pick?
• Draft Alex Len out of Maryland. Len to Cleveland started gaining steam a few weeks ago, and the rumor has legs. Cavaliers assistant general manager Zydrunas Ilgauskas and player development coach Vitaly Potapenko are among those in Cleveland’s front office pushing hard for Len. They believe he can become a very special player in the NBA due to his impressive skill set coupled with his physical tools (a 7’1, 255-lbs. frame and 7’3.5 wingspan). He moves well for his size, protects the rim and has good touch around the basket. Len has been sidelined after undergoing surgery to repair a partial stress fracture in his left ankle, but he should be ready to play by the start of the season and will be able help Cleveland fight for a playoff berth all year long.
• Draft Nerlens Noel out of Kentucky. Plenty of executives believe that Noel has the most potential of any player in this draft class and he could solve some pressing needs for Cleveland. Last year, the Cavs finished with the highest opponent field goal percentage in the NBA (47.6 percent) and second-fewest blocks per game (4.1). Noel is the best interior defender in the draft. During his lone season at Kentucky, he averaged 4.4 blocks and swatted 13.2 percent of shots. He also had by far the highest Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) of any prospect in the 2013 class. Had Noel not torn his ACL in February, it’s unlikely there would be a debate over who should be the top pick. However, because the 19-year-old will be sidelined until December or January and Cleveland wants to make the playoffs next season, they’re considering other players as well.
• Draft Otto Porter out of Georgetown. This option received a lot of attention shortly after the Cavaliers won the draft lottery, but hasn’t gotten much consideration recently. That’s because the front office seems to have zeroed in on drafting a big. However, everything is still a possibility at this point and Porter could still end up being the pick when all is said and done. There’s no question that the 20-year-old fills the biggest need for Cleveland since they have spent a first-round pick on every position other than small forward in the last two years (Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson in 2011; Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller in 2012). Porter would fill out Cleveland’s young core and he’s generally considered NBA-ready.
• Trade the pick. The Cavaliers have looked into this option, discussing potential deals with a number of teams. If they did trade the pick, they would be looking for a star-caliber veteran in return, somebody who could help them make the playoffs next season and become a contender in the coming years. Kevin Love was reportedly a player on Cleveland’s radar, but talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t seem to go anywhere. Now, Luol Deng is the latest player that the Cavaliers have reportedly expressed interest in. If the Cavaliers do the trade the top pick, it opens up the possibility that another player such as Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore could go first overall. However, it’s hard to imagine Cleveland finding a team that’s willing to give up significant assets for the No. 1 pick since this draft is generally regarded as weak, specifically at the very top since there’s no can’t-miss franchise player in this class.
Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant has shown that he’s not afraid to make the risky pick or reach for a player he wants. Nobody expected Thompson to be the fourth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, just as nobody expected Waiters to be the fourth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. For that reason, it’s difficult to forecast what Cleveland will do when they go on the clock this Thursday.
Will there be a lot of transactions in this year’s draft?
At this point, everyone is simply going off of the number of discussions taking place, and there are quite a few.
The Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 1 and No. 19), Orlando Magic (No. 2), Charlotte Bobcats (No. 4), Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 9), Portland Trail Blazers (No. 10) and Dallas Mavericks (No. 13) are among the teams that have discussed moving their pick(s). It remains to be seen which of these teams will actually make a move and which of these teams are just doing their due diligence.
The Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks are among the teams that have expressed interest in acquiring a pick or moving up on draft night.
There have been a lot of negotiations leading up to this draft, which could suggest a busy night on June 27.
Which international player will be selected first?
Up until last week, it seemed that Dario Saric out of Croatia would be the top international player in this draft class. Saric was being projected as a top-10 pick by some and his draft stock was clearly on the rise. However, Saric made the shocking decision to withdraw his name from this year’s draft.
Now, the top foreign player is very much up in air, just like so many things in this draft. It’ll likely be Giannis Adetokunbo out of Greence, Sergey Karasev out of Russia, Dennis Schroeder out of Germany or Rudy Gobert out of France.
At this point, Adetokunbo seems to be the favorite due to his incredible upside. The 18-year-old is 6’9, with a 7’3 wingspan and enormous hands similar to those of Kawhi Leonard.
Schroeder and Gobert looked like lottery picks at one point, but they have slipped a little bit recently after some underwhelming workouts.
Karasev has a shot at being the first international player off the board since his camp believes he could anywhere between No. 9 and No. 19, but it’s more likely that he’ll go in the mid-to-late teens.
Lucas Nogueira out of Brazil and Livio Jean-Charles out of France also have a chance to be drafted late in the first-round, although they have very wide draft ranges so nothing is certain.
Nogueira was the star of adidas’ Eurocamp and most executives believe he’ll be one of the first 30 players selected. The 20-year-old center is certainly a project and he’ll need to bulk up, but he has a lot of potential. Nogueria is a legit seven-footer, with a 7′ 6 wingspan and 9’6 standing reach, and he compares himself to Marcus Camby. While he would prefer to play in the NBA next season, he’s also open to the idea of developing overseas for one more season if that’s what his team wants.
Jean-Charles is a more of a wildcard, but rumor has it that the San Antonio Spurs are interested in selecting him with the No. 29 pick in the first round to stash him overseas for next season. This makes a lot of sense, since Jean-Charles played for ASVEL Basket, the French club that Tony Parker owns 20 percent stake in and holds the ceremonial title of Vice President of Basketball Operations. The 19-year-old forward would develop overseas and then join the Spurs once he’s ready to contribute in the NBA alongside fellow French players Parker, Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo.
How many centers will go in the first round?
However, this year’s draft didn’t get the memo. There are more first-round centers available in this year’s class than in the last two drafts combined.
As many as 10 centers may go in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft, which would be higher than any draft in recent memory. Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Steven Adams, Cody Zeller, Kelly Olynyk, Mason Plumlee, Gorgui Dieng, Rudy Gobert, Lucas Nogueira and Jeff Withey are all projected as first-round picks.
That’s a ridiculous number, considering most drafts have just a handful of centers that are selected in the first round.
Not to mention, six or more centers could be drafted in the second round of this year’s draft including Mike Muscala, Colton Iverson, Marko Todorovic, Vitalis Chikoko, Bojan Dubljevic and DeWayne Dedmon.
By my count, the last draft that had 10 centers go in the first round was the 1996 NBA Draft, which featured Marcus Camby, Lorenzen Wright, Erick Dampier, Todd Fuller, Vitaly Potapenko, Jermaine O’Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Efthimios Rentzias, Priest Lauderdale and Travis Knight as first-rounders.
Why did centers such as Willie Cauley-Stein, Isaiah Austin, Mitch McGary and Mouhammadou Jaiteh choose to pull out of the 2013 NBA Draft to enter the 2014 NBA Draft? Because even though next year’s class is loaded with talent, it’s mainly stacked with guards and forwards and there are significantly less big men.
When will the top point guards come off of the board?
Point guards such as Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, Shane Larkin and Dennis Schroeder may have to wait awhile before getting picked on draft night, even though they are all very talented players.
Most of the lottery teams have a young floor general that seems to be part of their long-term plan. The Cleveland Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving, the Washington Wizards have John Wall, the Phoenix Suns have Goran Dragic, the New Orleans Pelicans have Greivis Vazquez, the Detroit Pistons have Brandon Knight, the Minnesota Timberwolves have Ricky Rubio, the Portland Trail Blazers have Damian Lillard, the Philadelphia 76ers have Jrue Holiday and the Oklahoma City Thunder have Russell Westbrook.
The Orlando Magic could use a young point guard, but it doesn’t seem like they’re going to reach and pick one at No. 2. The only realistic landing spots for the top point guards are the Sacramento Kings (if they want an upgrade over Isaiah Thomas, who has played extremely well considering where he was drafted), Pelicans (if they aren’t sold on Vazquez being the team’s point guard of the future) and Pistons (if they want to continue playing Knight off the ball as they did last year alongside Jose Calderon).
Burke and Carter-Williams have top-10 talent, especially in this class, but the teams picking that high have bigger needs since they each have a young starting point guard.If New Orleans, Sacramento and Detroit go in a different direction, the top point guards could end up slipping all the way to the late lottery where teams like Dallas Mavericks at No. 13 and Utah Jazz at No. 14 will be looking for point guards.
If Burke and Carter-Williams fall that low, that would push players like Larkin and Schroeder back as well.
Wizards, Bulls Discussing Blockbuster Trade?
On Monday afternoon, Marc Stein of ESPN reported that the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls were discussing a potential blockbuster deal that would send the No. 3 pick and Emeka Okafor to Chicago in exchange for Luol Deng.
Stein wrote that these were just “exploratory discussions” to gauge interest in Deng, as the Bulls have done in the past, but added that it’s the “first decent NBA Draft trade rumble of the week.”
However, Michael Lee of The Washington Post shot down this rumor shortly after it began to circulate. He cited two sources with knowledge of the Wizards’ thinking that this isn’t a move that Washington intends to make.
In addition, one source told Lee that there was “no truth” to the rumored trade proposal with Chicago.
Lee did add that “the Wizards have had discussions with several teams but the team still intends to make a selection Thursday.”
With the 2013 NBA Draft quickly approaching, expect more of these exploratory trade talks to surface in the coming days as teams gauge interest in their players and float out rumors for leverage.
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