Column: 5 Questions To Ponder Leading Into Draft Night
5 Questions To Ponder Leading Into Draft Night
Here we are five days away from the 2013 NBA Draft, and there’s so much left to be decided. Every Draft night has so much movement, flexibility and uncertainty, but it seems like 2013 has a few more question marks than other years. For instance, there isn’t a consensus No. 1 overall pick in this draft, and with this group of prospects seemingly having a deep number of players with similar abilities, the mock drafts are incredibly diverse.
The only thing many can agree on is to disagree, and that’s OK. We’ll have our answers by late Thursday night, and from there we’ll see which players turn into the next standout rookies and which ones might not pan out at the NBA level.
For the Wolves, these question marks make for an incredibly exciting five days.
When the NBA Draft kicks off Thursday night at 6 PM on ESPN (as well as Wolves Draft Live show at 6:20 PM on Timberwolves.com), we’ll be in for quite a treat. Right now we’ve got executives, coaches and scouts trying to decide what their best course of action will be. Which player fits best in their current draft positions? Does it make sense to trade up or down? Grab a veteran instead of developing a rookie?
With all this in mind, let’s take a quick look at the top 5 storylines to follow leading up to Thursday night’s NBA Draft.
1. Who goes No. 1?
When Cleveland won the lottery in 2003 and 2011, there wasn’t much debate on who they were going to select. In 2003 the Cavs took consensus No. 1 LeBron James, who was then—and still is—ordained a player who could one day be the greatest of all time. In 2011, Duke’s Kyrie Irving was by and large the top-ranked player in the draft with future Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams listed No. 2. This time around, things are much more undecided. Cleveland has everyone guessing what they might do on Draft night—so much so that as many as four different players have been listed on credible mock drafts as the top player selected this year. Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Kansas’ Ben McLemore were the early favorites, but in recent weeks guys like Georgetown’s Otto Porter and Maryland’s Alex Len have crept into the conversation. That's four players who essentially play four different positions. The age-old question of drafting for need or best available will come into play here, because the Cavs certainly could use help at center and small forward but aren’t as in dire need of guard play. Which way do you lean with such a wide-open group from which to choose?
2. Does Minnesota make a move?
The Wolves currently have the No. 9 and No. 26 picks in the first round, which does give them not only two chances at adding young depth to their roster but also allows them a little flexibility. Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders has said for a month that the team is open to all options, so after going through a month’s worth of prospect workouts if they don’t feel they can get a player of their choosing at those slots they can certainly try to make a move. Some of it just might depend on who the top eight teams select along the way. It seems as though there is enough perimeter depth in this draft to possibly have someone available at No. 9, but is there enough depth to find an NBA-ready rim protecting center with that picks? Len certainly seems capable, but he’s projecting as high as No. 1 right now. Other players who came through for Draft workouts seem to be projecting later in the first round.
3. Is there a Damian Lillard in this Draft?
We all focus on major college hoops throughout the year, and with good reason. The big schools draw the most fans, get the major television time and, in theory, have the top high school recruits. But then the Draft takes place, and we fast forward a year and evaluate which players made the biggest impact as rookies. Last year, Portland’s Damian Lillard snuck into the top 10 and was picked sixth by the Blazers out of little-known Weber State. He crushed it in Summer League and went on to be the most celebrated rookie of his class—winning the Rookie of the Year Award unanimously and beating out consensus No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, a standout who helped Kentucky win the national title. Does anyone have a shot at doing that in this Draft? The only player who consistently projects in the top 15 from a non-power conference is Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum, a sharp-shooting, 6-foot-3 guard who just might have what it takes to make an impact on a team right away. That’s to be determined, and who knows if there’s a player who has flown under the radar but consistently impressed teams during his workouts this month?
4. Where will the local boys go?
We’ve got a collection of local talent who will be available in this year’s Draft. Where will they end up, and will they be selected? Roseville Area-native Mike Muscala, who became a dangerous offensive threat in Bucknell’s front court, is currently projected to be a potential late-first round pick. It sounds as if he’s been impressing teams with his big-man body and his perimeter-like shooter’s touch. South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters, who grew up in St. Cloud, has also crept into the late- first and second round conversations. Former Gophers player Colton Iverson, who spent his senior year with Colorado State, showed so much improvement from his time in Minnesota that Saunders said Gophers fans might not even recognize him. He has a shot at the second round. Two more Gophers—Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe, worked out for the Wolves among other teams and are hoping to hear their names called on Draft night. I’m sure there are others with local ties in the mix, but these headliners are guys you should watch for on Draft night.
5. How will the family ties crew play out?
I’ve been intrigued by a collection of prospects who have very close family ties to the NBA game in this year’s Draft, leading with a pair of guys who have famous names in this league. Michigan shooting guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. had a workout here in Minnesota in early June, the son of the five-time All-Star who hit more than 1,500 3-pointers and scored 15,373 points in a 13-year career. Listed near him in the late-first round of some mock drafts is Glen Rice, Jr., the son of a three-time All-Star who scored 18,336 points and won an NBA title with the 2000 Lakers during his career. Then there’s Cody Zeller, who has two older brothers and an uncle who have played in the NBA. Mason Plumlee, who just came in for a workout with Minnesota last week, is following his older brother, Mason—a guy who worked out twice in Minnesota prior to the 2012 NBA Draft. All four of those players have a shot at being first round picks this year, although only Zeller and Plumlee look like locks. Zeller will likely be a top 10 pick, and Plumlee is being projected in the mid to late first round.
I can’t wait to see how this Draft plays out. There are sure to be some surprises and some moves that happen across the league. I look forward to watching it all unfold with you on Thursday night during our Wolves Draft Live Show. See you then.