The 2014 NBA Draft is said to be the deepest in league history. Multiple prospects who would have gone as the top pick in previous drafts may now be relegated to a lower draft position. With such an influx of talent, Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld details some of the favorites in next summer's heralded class.
Brigham attempts to sift through the brightest prospects to provide a blueprint for how the order might play out a year from now. The players he spotlights include incoming college freshman, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Julius Randle (Kentucky), Jabari Parker (Duke), Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Oklahoma State sophomore Marcus Smart and Australian Dante Exum.
But even with these players as supposed locks for the lottery, things can change. As Brigham notes in his piece, last year's two prized players expected to be the top two picks in the 2013 Draft, Shabazz Muhammad and Cody Zeller, both fell after the following college basketball season concluded despite neither suffering a major injury. Muhammad even fell out of the top 10 all the way to the Timberwolves (by way of the Jazz) with the 14th pick.
It stands to reason that one of the players Brigham mentions will see his draft stock plummet before June even if all of them stay healthy. If all of these prospects stay healthy next season, and if Exum enters the draft without playing a year at an American university, which one will drop?
It'll be another year before Cavs star Kyrie Irving is eligible for an extension to his rookie-scale contract, and he shied away from the topic when asked about it Saturday at his basketball camp in suburban Cleveland, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. He did offer a brief hint, telling campers, "I’ll be here awhile, so everybody get used to my face."
"We grew up together coming up the ranks. We were both guys who weren't rated at the top coming out of high school. We both burst onto the scene. He's the first guy to get a max deal out of all of us who came through the AAU scene. It was surreal for him."
After again impressing during Team USA tryouts in Vegas last month, Irving told Lloyd back in July that "Right now I'm a Cleveland Cavalier, and I'm happy to be here." The quote was in response to the rumor he was looking to head elsewhere once his rookie-scale contract concluded.
More from the Cavs and others around the Eastern Conference:
Cavs fans may also have to get used to a much less familiar sight. Tristan Thompson has always shot left-handed, but he unveiled his new right-handed stroke Thursday with Team Canada, as SportsNet's Michael Grange details. He might be the first NBA player to make such a mid-career switch, and Grantland's Zach Lowe tweets that it has Cavs officials excited.
No. 4 overall pick Cody Zellerspoke with the Charlotte Observer about the importance of going through the NBA's Rookie Transition Program before he suits up for the Bobcats next season. Zeller said the highlight of the four-day affair was the talk former Celtics and Nuggets guardChris Herrengave about his battle to overcome a long-standing drug addiction.
RealGM's Shams Charania notes that while Damion James has yet to speak about a training camp invite or regular season roster spot with the Heat, the 6'7 swingman may have boosted his stock after his solid play in Las Vegas over the last few weeks. James – who underwent foot surgery twice over the span of his first two season in the league – told RealGM: "Everybody knows I belong in the league…I’m completely, 100 percent healthy. It’s been a great experience for me. I really look up to the Miami Heat and I really appreciate them for letting me come and be a part of their organization. I just want to show them that I can play, show them that I can belong here.
Here's more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
Fourth overall pick Cody Zeller has signed his rookie contract with the Bobcats, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (via Twitter).
Zeller's selection at No. 4 was one of the biggest surprises on draft night. The 20-year-old big man had a productive sophomore season at Indiana, averaging 16.5 PPG and 8.1 RPG, but he was behind Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, and Ben McLemore on most boards. All three of those prospects were still on the board when the Bobcats grabbed Zeller.
Assuming Zeller signs for 120% of his cap hold, as most rookies do, he'll earn about $3.86MM in his first season in the NBA, as our chart shows.
The Cavaliers will be on the clock in less than two hours, and we still don't know exactly what they'll do with that No. 1 pick. The rest of the first round only gets more uncertain, so it looks like we're in for a fun night. Here are the latest rumors and rumblings related to the 2013 draft:
The Thunder tried to acquire the Cavs' first overall pick, but OKC's bid failed, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
According to ESPN.com's Andy Katz (via Twitter), the Cavs have made a decision on their first overall pick, assuming they hang onto it. Within the next 15 minutes or so, we'll know what that decision is.
The Raptors are finding no traction in their efforts to acquire a lottery pick, tweets Wojnarowski (via Twitter).
While the Wolves continue attempting to move up in the lottery, teams ahead of them are "hesitant" to move their picks, a source tells ESPN.com's Chad Ford (Twitter link).
While the Jazz could be seeking a point guard at No. 14, don't expect Michael Carter-Williams to fall to them, says Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter).
The Cavs "definitely" have interest in Lucas Nogueira, according to Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio (via Twitter).
ESPN.com's Chad Ford is hearing that the Pistons will ride things out and keep the No. 8 pick (Twitter link).
The Mavericks continue to shop the 13th pick "as hard as advertised," in hopes of landing a 2014 lottery pick, tweets Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com.
In addition to the Suns (mentioned below), the Timberwolves also remain in play for the No. 1 pick, tweets Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio.
The Suns have offered the Cavs the Nos. 5 and 30 picks for the first overall pick, tweets ESPN.com's Chad Ford. Phoenix is after Nerlens Noel, according to Ford. But given how highly the Cavs seem to value that top pick, I doubt that offer gets it done.
There's "little chance" that the Magic part with the No. 2 pick, tweets Chris Broussard of ESPN.com.
While the Timberwolves still have interest in trading up from No. 9, the price remains high, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities. In the likely scenario that Minnesota remains at No. 9, the team is expected to target Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Cody Zeller, and C.J. McCollum, in that order.
The Cavs continue to explore trades involving the No. 1 pick, and Broussard says (via Twitter) that if they take anyone besides Alex Len, it could be part of a deal.
Various reports indicate that the Raptors are looking to acquire a lottery pick. Broussard tweets that they could be trying to get as high as No. 2, while Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com is hearing (Twitter link) Toronto is targeting a late lottery pick with its eye on Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Suns are trying to acquire late-first-round picks, hoping to add more young players to the roster, tweets Broussard.
Although the Trail Blazers would like to add veterans more than youth, indications are that they'll keep the No. 10 pick, tweets Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.
The possibility that the Thunder could draft Antetokounmpo at No. 12 probably scares the Hawks, who have long coveted the "Greek Freak," tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Here's the latest draft news from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, with all links going to Twitter..
It's becoming harder to see how Anthony Bennett won't take a tumble in tonight's draft and he could leave the Blazers with a choice to make at No. 10 (link).
Other lottery teams are supremely confident that the Magic will take Victor Oladipo at No. 2, but Orlando is still talking trade, tweets Wojnarowski.
The Cavs are choosing between Nerlens Noel and Alex Len at No. 1. If they pick Len, Noel could fall to the Suns at No. 5 (link).
Alex Len is still the favorite for the Bobcats if he's there at No. 4, but Cody Zeller has remained in constant dialogue, sources tell Wojnarowski.
Zeller is in strong consideration for the Bobcats at No. 4 and the Suns at No. 5, sources say. If C.J. McCollum goes to the Pelicans at No. 6 or the Kings at No. 7, then the Pistons, who pick 8th, have Zeller high on their board.
The Bucks have discussed swapping their No. 15 pick for the Mavs' No. 13 pick to solidify itself to take Russian swingman Sergey Karasev, according to sources. However, Milwaukee is worried that the 13th pick may not be high enough to grab Karasev (link). The 6'7" Russian appears to be a hot commodity as we heard that the Cavs would also like to get their hands on the Mavs' pick in order to take him.
League sources say that Celtics GM Danny Ainge brought guard Ray McCallum to Boston's facility for a workout yesterday in the event that he moves back from No. 16.
Some are shying away from North Texas forward Tony Mitchell but he could find a home with the T-Wolves at No. 26, according to league sources. Flip Saunders was impressed with his workout and there's no question that he has high-lottery talents (link).
Everyone in the lottery says that they are extremely impressed by the NBA readiness of IU products Zeller and Oladipo.
Chad Ford of ESPN.com revealed his mock draft 7.0 this morning and just like every previous incarnation, Nerlens Noel sits at No. 1. Ford heard that the Cavs' top option is to trade the No. 1 overall pick for a combination of a veteran plus a 2014 first-round pick, but if not, he believes Noel will be the pick. Owner Dan Gilbert likes Victor Oladipo and other people in the front office are pushing for Alex Len, but GM Chris Grant likes Noel and Ford sees him as the tiebreaker. Here's more as we approach tonight's draft..
Cody Zeller could be a surprise high pick, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. One NBA executive who loves the Indiana product's athleticism says that he is someone to keep an eye on towards the top of the board. Last night's mock draft from Alex Lee of Hoops Rumors had Zeller going No. 11 to the Sixers.
One NBA exec told Spears (Twitter link) says that guard Myck Kabongo is a possible late first-round pick after an impressive interview. The Texas standout gave the impression that he can be a leader at the next level and also looks bigger than expected.
Lucas Nogueira has officially extended his contract with Asefa Estudiantes through June 2015, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (via Twitter). The center is in tonight's draft and has picked up some buzz as a possible stash pick.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford is staying busy as Thursday night nears, chatting with fans this afternoon and also publishing a new story with Marc Stein on the latest draft-related rumors and rumblings. Here are the highlights from both links:
Stein reported earlier today that the Cavaliers were offering the No. 19 pick to the Rockets for Thomas Robinson, but that pick may also be necessary to complete another deal, whether it's a Shawn Marion trade with the Mavericks or a bigger move. If the Cavs can't finalize another trade though, they'd try to acquire Robinson with that pick, according to Stein and Ford.
Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal is skeptical that the Cavs would really offer the 19th pick for Robinson, since the team didn't have much interest in him as of a couple weeks ago (Twitter link).
Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld (Twitter link) is also hearing, like Stein and Ford, that the Cavaliers are still trying to figure out a way to make a "mega-deal." Even if the Cavs are interested in such a move, they'd have to find a willing partner, which has been tricky so far. Ford notes in his chat that the Cavs would likely have to include Tristan Thompson along with the No. 1 pick to pull off something big.
If the Rockets can make a Robinson trade with the Cavs or Bulls, they'd almost certainly use that first-round pick to draft-and-stash an international player, according to Ford and Stein. Sergey Karasev, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lucas Nogueira, Dennis Schroeder, and Rudy Gobert are potential targets.
Ford wouldn't be shocked if the Bobcats traded down with the Wolves and used the No. 9 pick to draft Cody Zeller. Minnesota is attempting to trade into the top five.
Positional need likely won't be a major priority for the Kings, according to Ford, who adds that he thinks Sacramento's roster will be significantly overhauled by opening night of 2013/14.
Ford anticipates the Trail Blazers will "seriously listen" to LaMarcus Aldridge trade offers this summer.
If the Jazz want to move into the top 10 to take a top point guard, they'll probably have to make Alec Burks available, rather than just the Nos. 14 and 21 picks, says Ford.
The Pacers are trying to trade the No. 23 pick, and have been linked to both Robinson and Jimmer Fredette, according to Ford.
With the NBA draft just one day away, we're expecting plenty of updates over the next 30 hours or so, leading up to the big night. We'll have plenty of draft-related material of our own going up before tomorrow night, including a new version of our mock draft and a complete draft primer. In the meantime, here's the latest buzz from around the league on Wednesday morning:
According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld (via Twitter), the Celtics have scheduled a few "last-minute" workouts with likely second-round picks, causing some to wonder if they're leaning toward moving Paul Pierce for picks.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford reports that there's a "growing belief" that Cody Zeller is seriously in the mix for the Bobcats at No. 4. According to Ford, GM Rich Cho is pushing for Zeller, but is getting resistance (Twitterlinks).
The Grizzlies have interest in getting back into the first round by buying a pick, according to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld (via Twitter).
In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Jeff Goodman identifies 10 prospects that scare NBA teams, led by Ben McLemore. Meanwhile, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com tweets that reports of concerns surrounding McLemore's representatives are overblown.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford has published version 6.0 of his 2013 mock draft, with just over 48 hours remaining until draft night. As he has been for all six of Ford's mocks, Nerlens Noel remains in the No. 1 spot. The ESPN.com scribe wrote a lengthy piece last night on why he thinks the Cavaliers are still likely to select Noel, and provides details on plenty of other first-round teams in his new mock, so let's check out the highlights….
The Magic are prepared to leap on Noel if he's there at No. 2, but if the Cavs take him, Orlando's choice becomes trickier. Ford continues to hear that the Magic are leaning toward Victor Oladipo over Ben McLemore and others., though Cody Zeller could be a dark horse.
Otto Porter appears to be ahead of Anthony Bennett for the Wizards at No. 3.
Although Ford has the Suns selecting McLemore at No. 5, he says Phoenix prefers Oladipo and also likes Zeller and Michael Carter-Williams.
If Porter or Alex Len are still on the board at No. 6, the Pelicans will probably draft one of the two, but if not, the team may target a point guard like Carter-Williams or Trey Burke, says Ford.
C.J. McCollum has emerged as a potential selection for the Kings at No. 7.
The Trail Blazers wouldn't be opposed to drafting Carter-Williams if he slides to No. 10, since he has the necessary to play alongside Damian Lillard, according to Ford.
If the Cavs end up acquiring the Mavericks' 13th overall pick, Cleveland would probably use it to draft Sergey Karasev.
Ford has Shabazz Muhammad slipping all the way to No. 18 (Hawks) in this version of his mock.