There are two overwhelming storylines this week as the league’s 30 teams are gathering in Chicago for the NBA’s predraft workouts. No one considers this draft to be very good, and a few of the key guys available at the top are already injured.
That doesn’t bode well for the Cavaliers, who are assured of selecting somewhere in the top six and most likely will have a top-five pick for the third consecutive year. But the draft lottery isn’t until next week, creating yet another unique scenario for this draft camp — no one yet knows where they’re selecting.
Teams have been asking to have the NBA Scouting Combine moved up to allow more time for draft preparations. The league conceded this year and moved the combine ahead of the draft lottery. It ultimately isn’t that big of a deal. Barring a stunning upset in the lottery — like a team moving from No. 10 into the top three — teams already have a good understanding of where they’ll be drafting.
It’s just that this year’s talent pool doesn’t have anyone overly excited.
“Teams at the top are frustrated,” ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford said Wednesday on a conference call. “They’re lottery teams, they need a franchise-type player. They want a guy who has a chance at being a 10-year All-Star or perhaps a Hall of Famer some day. That’s what you want out of the No. 1 pick, and that player just doesn’t exist in this draft yet.”
Ford said there is no player projected to have the type of impact or career expected of Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving, the past two players to go No. 1 overall. Of course, Irving wasn’t expected to have this type of impact when the Cavaliers selected him first overall two years ago.
That 2011 draft was expected to be pitiful and was criticized as the worst in years, yet Ford believes that draft will ultimately be better than this one. He compared this draft to 2006, when the Toronto Raptors selected Andrea Bargnani No. 1 overall.
Of course, that meager draft did include LaMarcus Aldridge (No. 2 pick), Brandon Roy (No. 6) and Rajon Rondo (No. 21), all of whom have appeared in at least one All-Star Game.
“Last year there were five really obvious players that you could project if they stayed healthy and worked hard having great NBA careers,” Ford said. “It’s a lot harder to project this draft, and you know there will be. Trying to figure out who those guys are and who are the pretenders is a lot more challenging this year than any year I’ve covered since 2006.”
Compounding problems, at least this week, is that a few of the top players are already injured.
Nerlens Noel, the consensus No. 1 pick in this draft, is rehabbing from a torn ligament in his knee that limited him to just 24 games last season at Kentucky. UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, another projected top five pick whom the Cavaliers scouted extensively this season, had minor surgery on his left rotator cuff earlier this month, and Maryland center Alex Len had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his ankle.
Ford believes the Cavs “are praying Otto Porter is there” when they select. The Georgetown star is the only true small forward available at the top of this draft, and small forward remains a glaring hole on the Cavs. It is the only position they haven’t addressed in the first round in either of the past two drafts.
“He’s a perfect fit for them,” Ford said.
Media will be allowed to observe the workouts live for the first time this year, but the most important aspect of the next couple of days — at least to the teams drafting — is the ability to sit down and talk with the players during designated interview times.
Most of the scouting work has already been completed.
Much like Irving’s draft of two years ago, international players could have a heavy presence in this draft. Ford and ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla estimated between six and 10 international players could be drafted in the first round. The most intriguing of those is Greece’s Giannis Adetokunbo, who isn’t ready yet to play in the NBA, but whose athleticism and 6-foot-10 frame has drawn comparisons to Nic Batum, Scottie Pippen and Kevin Durant.
This draft is considered heavy on steady, if unspectacular, point guards and is deep in bigs. Point guard isn’t a pressing need for the Cavs because of Irving, but they need more rotation bigs.
“It’s a decent draft for big bodies,” Fraschilla said. “Not necessarily guys who are going to be great players … but you have to have big bodies up front. It’s a long season. I think point guards and big bodies are something teams can find in this draft.”
Marshall left out
University of Akron center Zeke Marshall was not one of the 60 players invited to Chicago for this week’s predraft workouts. Marshall is projected as a late second-round pick, at best.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.