(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
With the NBA Draft mere hours away, The Hoops Manifesto gathered together three wise draft sages – Jeff Fox & Perry Missner of The Hoops Manifesto, and Dave 'College Wolf' Kelsey of TWolves Blog –
to meld their minds on all things 2013 NBA Draft.
So the word on the street is Alex Len is possibly going first to the Cavs. Thoughts?
JF: This is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard. As of just a few days ago Len wasn’t even ranked as the best center in the draft, and now he’s going first overall?!!
PM: The NBA always loves size, and it is not unreasonable. However, it also leads to GMs picking players like Darko and Hasheem Thabeet. Len has NBA-type size and decent athleticism. As I've noted before, the fact that he did not dominate a somewhat mediocre ACC (11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds) is a cause for concern.
But is taking Len the right choice for Cleveland? If they are drafting for position (which I always argue against – there’s a reason you are picking in the lottery, so take the best player, not the best fit), is Len a better choice than Nerlens Noel
or even Cody Zeller
for that matter. Zeller is one of the most athletic, mobile big men to ever go through the draft combine.
PM: The draft combine is one of the biggest wastes of time in the sports landscape. Whether a player can jump high or bench press a lot of weight (ahem, Kevin Durant) is completely inconsequential to whether or not they can actually play. Len doesn't strike me as much of an upgrade on Tyler Zeller, who did more against tougher competition in college.
JF: I just mentioned the combine because I knew it would raise your ire, Mr. Missner! I’ve got nothing against Len – just watch what he did in the first game this past season versus Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein on Kentucky – he dominated. Just surprised by his sudden ascension. But, in this wide open, anything goes draft year I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. No gems in this bunch.
PM: I don't think Len even participated in the combine because of the stress fracture in his left foot.
JF: That’s correct, he didn’t But the combine just confirmed what we all knew about Zeller – he is a freak athlete for a guy his size.
PM: I was really disappointed by Zeller in the NCAA tournament. I thought he'd be able to find the soft spots in the Syracuse zone near the free throw line, but he was unable to make quick decisions from the high post. He could be a Nick Collison-type contributor, but I don't really think he is an NBA starter.
JF: I think he could be a starter, but not a star.
PM: Sounds like a mid-first round pick to me. On a winning team, he could be a third forward.
DK: Len to the Cavs at #1 overall just sounds utterly preposterous to me. I would not buy that as anything more than a strangely misguided smokescreen. If the Cavs truly are intent on taking Len, then wow, I don’t even know the words to express my disbelief. I guess I could see them taking one of the guards if they don’t want a big man, but looking at this draft I don’t see how you take any big over Noel, regardless of how weak this draft appears to be on the surface. Len at #1 without trading down would be a colossal mistake.
PM: The Cavs have been a hard team to predict in the past couple of seasons. No one had them taking Tristan Thompson or Dion Waiters – mainly because they both seemed like reaches. Maybe they reach for Len as well.
In five years, who will be the best player from this draft?
This is the ultimate question. Every player has big question marks and I don't think there is an All Star in the group. If he lands on a team without a point guard, I think Trey Burke
could be the Rookie of the Year. Overall, I think Otto Porter
will be the best player. He may never make an All-NBA team, but he will be able to contribute to a winning squad with his diverse talents. I still think Cleveland should draft him.
JF: That is the million dollar question, for sure. I could see a guy like Noel having a Marcus Camby-like career (who is borderline Hall of Fame material in my eyes), so perhaps him.
I think it’s just too hard to predict right now, especially when there is no talent at the top of that draft that everyone can point to and say is clearly the best player. If Ben McLemore
lands in the “right situation”, I could see him being the best player down the road. If you value defense and Victor Oladipo
is as good defensively as advertised, and maximizes his potential, I could see him being thought as the best all-around player. In this draft however, that’s very hard to predict right now.
PM: If you were Cleveland, would you take Noel even though the owner has issued a "playoff next year" mandate?
DK: If I’m Cleveland, I would try like heck to trade the #1 pick for a proven young stud currently in the league. They could obviously use a legit shooting guard or small forward. Off the top of my head, it’s hard to say which targets out there could even be acquirable, unfortunately. Most teams tend to hang on to their young studs on rookie contracts.
Who is your favorite player in this draft class?
I try not to play favorites and I don't really have a leaning toward any of the players mentioned at the top of the lottery. I do hope C.J. McCollum
lands in a good spot and is able to continue the tradition of non-Tier 1 players making good. The playoffs featured Stephen Curry (Davidson), Paul George (Fresno State), and Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State). The Rookie of the Year (to my surprise) was Damian Lillard (Weber State). Let's keep the small school tradition going.
There really isn’t any players in this draft that are “must see TV” for me, but being a Canadian I have to root for my countrymen, and this should be a good year for Canucks as we’ll be adding three more guys to our ever-expanding presence in the NBA – Anthony Bennett
, Kelly Olynyk, and Myck Kabongo.
PM: I think there is at least a chance that Bennett is the best player from this draft. He will need to land in a good spot and be willing to accept a role, but he certainly has the body, athleticism, and skills to be a really good pro.
DK: I’m a sucker for good defense, and really like Oladipo. I think he’s going to be a legit all-around player in the mold of Iguodala. I also want to like C.J. McCollum, so I’m pulling for him to succeed as well.
PM: Iguodala is quite a bit bigger than Oladipo, who I think has been somewhat overrated. He shot very well last year, but he won't be a big-time scorer.
DK: But he very well could be the best perimeter defender in this draft, which is a very valuable skill in the NBA. And I’m a sucker for great defense.
PM: When you qualify something, you probably shouldn't qualify it with "in this draft." This draft is terrible. I agree that he should be a decent defender, but he'll have to add muscle to be strong on the perimeter.
What do you make of the most controversial player in this year’s field, Shabazz Muhammad?
PM: I am high on Muhammad due to his UCLA pedigree and his clear skill – scoring. He reminds me of Lance Stephenson: a hyped high school prospect who had some red flags coming out of college. He could contribute to a winning team.
DK: I’ve read a lot of interesting stuff about his skillset and various physical measurements that have been recorded of him moving/shooting/etc in action. It sounds like he does indeed have the tools to succeed scoring the ball in the NBA. It’s what’s between his head that could end up making all the difference for his ultimate success or failure in the league. With that said, I think the further he purportedly is sliding down draft boards could end up making him one of the biggest “steals of the draft” when all is said and done. For example, if say he’s drafted outside the lottery, or even later in the first round, some team could get awfully lucky.
JF: Interesting that Perry mentioned Lance Stephenson, because that is who comes to mind for me, also. Not in regards to the style of player they are, but rather a highly touted prep star who was “humbled” in college and by dropping in the draft. And I agree with Dave – Shabazz could be a big steal if he continues to drop and someone gets him outside the lottery (or even in the late lottery).
Pretty much every year there is at least one hidden jewel that lasts into the second round of the draft. Do you see any this year based on mock drafts on the web?
While McCollum is my favorite player likely to be drafted in the lottery, Pierre Jackson has long been a favorite of mine. I had him on my Big Chief fantasy team
when he was junior and I liked the way he can shoot and facilitate the offense. If the Bucks dump Jennings and Ellis, I wouldn't mind seeing them give the ball to Jackson.
DK: Trevor MBAKWE!!! Also, I like me a little Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala. I would say definitely NOT Colton Iverson. And Myck Kabongo has a cool name.
JF: Anytime I see “Myck” in print, I pronounce it “Mick” in my head, instead of Mike. Annoying.
PM: I am curious to see if Mbakwe gets drafted. He has a ton of red flags (injury, age, past criminal behavior), but he was such a beast of a rebounder. Couldn't he be a Reggie Evans type?
JF: How about Archie Goodwin? Big time high school recruit, solid year at Kentucky, only 18 years old. He could be a real steal in the second round – zero risk-high reward pick.
PM: There are two problems with Goodwin: he can't shoot and he can't handle the ball. He is super athletic and very young, but he'll need to find a team willing to develop him. He could be a Tony Allen (who can't shoot or dribble either) eventually.
What player do think is most likely to bust?
I don't get the praise for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
. I like his name, but not his game so much. He seems like a high-volume shooter who is just big enough to be an NBA shooting guard. KCP's rebounding totals were padded because Georgia did not have any functional big men. I don't see it.
JF: Big men and international players are normally good guesses to be busts, and we’ve got a bunch of them projected to go first round this year. I would have said Rudy Gobert, but he’s dropped from potential lottery pick to late first round. It could end up being Alex Len if he does indeed go first overall.
DK: Any big man that goes to the Cavs at #1 overall not named Noel (*cough cough Len cough cough*). Also, it sounds like KCP is pretty highly rumored to go to my TWolves at #9 overall (if they don’t trade up), so that’s got massive bust potential written all over it. SIGH.