The only certainty is uncertainty. It’s a fitting motto for any NBA draft, but with mystery surrounding the top pick just a day before Cleveland makes the first selection, it fits this draft more than any other.
When Cleveland won the lottery and was awarded the top pick, owner Dan Gilbert and his lovable son Nick celebrated. But it’s unlikely that GM Chris Grant was popping any champagne, as he instantly knew that the team was in a very difficult position. Sources have indicated that the Cavs may have overvalued the pick, as attempts at making a trade have come up empty.
Alex Len continues to gain steam to be the first pick, according to league sources, if Cleveland indeed holds onto the top pick. Nerlens Noel remains the other player in consideration. But with a desire to turn things around in a hurry, Noel’s questionable availability next season makes him a difficult sell to ownership. After that it’s anyone’s guess with Orlando (No. 2) and Washington (No. 3) potentially trading out of their picks.
It’s quite possible that the third pick actually holds slightly more trade value than the top pick, since a team can move into Washington’s spot (with a lower guaranteed salary attached) and likely still get the player it wants. That GM won’t have to worry about the added pressure that accompanies the expectations of the top pick, nor the heightened criticism when 4-5 players (or more) taken after the pick potentially end up better.
Without a franchise player (or even any surefire All-Star level prospects), there is no denying that this draft is one of the weakest in recent memory. It most closely resembles the 2006 draft, when nobody knew who the Toronto Raptors would take with the top overall pick and they ultimately settled on Andrea Bargnani.
The ’06 draft was filled with more misses than hits, with disappointing prospects such as Tyrus Thomas, Adam Morrison and Shelden Williams going in the top five, and only three hits in the top 10 (LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay).
This year’s draft can’t be that bad, can it?
Rajon Rondo was the top player from that draft, and he didn’t go until the 21st pick. This draft feels awfully similar as the most athletically gifted player from that year, Gay, was considered too unassertive and fell to eighth.
Meet Ben McLemore.
Similar to Gay, McLemore’s basketball skills and feel for the game show great potential but remain unrefined. In a few years we could be looking at one of the purest strokes in the NBA, and a perennial All-Star.
Comparatively, this draft may not even produce as many All-Stars as 2006, but should have more overall rotation players and fewer outright busts.
What this draft does have is solid depth in the mid-to-late first round and depth at each position. As many as five players can go in the first round from every position, which makes this a much more balanced draft than most. The early-to-mid second round could provide some talent on non-guaranteed contracts. In addition, look for several players in the 40-60 range to end up being contributors – more than an average draft.
Trades are sure to factor in throughout the draft, making projections that much more difficult, but making the draft that much more captivating. With so many lives being shaped by each team’s decisions, the NBA draft always delivers high drama and one of the most exciting nights of the year.