Every year the NBA draft offers a few surprises. And it's never too early to predict what they'll be.
Just don't hold it against me if I'm wrong.
Some guys go much earlier than expected. Others slip down the board.
There's also usually a draft-day trade that sees a player switch hats mid-event. How about that international guy who always comes out of nowhere? Or that prospect who rises after a couple of strong workouts?
The script and plots are usually in place. We're just predicting who the characters will be.
With the lottery odds established, the Orlando Magic have the best shot at landing the No. 1 overall pick.
But do they keep it? I sure wouldn't. Not when the top prospect on the board just tore his ACL and my center, Nikola Vucevic, is coming into his own. I supposed Ben McLemore is an option, but with Arron Afflalo locked up, does he fit?
Otto Porter and Anthony Bennett should be nice players, but Orlando already has emerging studs at the wing in Moe Harkless and Tobias Harris.
Trey Burke makes sense, but they can probably trade down a few picks and still get him.
You can bet the Charlotte Bobcats won't be too thrilled with their options if they got the top pick either. They could probably get the same value a few picks down the board.
Odds are that one of these two teams gets the first pick. If that happens, expect both general managers to start working the phone lines immediately.
There's always someone who slips down the board. Last year it was Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones.
Shabazz Muhammad will be entering this year's draft with his stock on the decline. He'll also have to go through dozens of workouts—workouts that test your fundamentals.
Muhammad does not project as a strong "workout" prospect. He relies on his physical tools and instincts to go about getting his points—not a refined offensive skill set.
If he's forced to play some one-on-one or two-on-two, Muhammad could struggle against better isolation players. And considering he is auditioning for a scoring role, this could mean trouble.
The buzz surrounding Muhammad has softened, and no team wants to be the sucker. I'm predicting a disappointing draft-day for Muhammad.
Compared to the other scoring guards in the class, C.J. McCollum is easily the most polished.
Despite breaking his foot in January, McCollum was second in the country in scoring and had averaged at least 19 points in all four of his years.
McCollum has the chance to be last year's Damian Lillard, that fundamentally sound mid-major prospect who shines during workouts.
Outside of Trey Burke, there really isn't another pure guard with a refined offensive skill set. McCollum can handle the ball and score off it, and he has the tools and weapons to wow during drills.
The latest reports say McCollum should be good to go for the NBA combine, and though he might not test well in terms of measurements, he's likely to put on a show with the ball in his hands.
This of course all depends on how the lottery plays out. But if the odds hold up, Minnesota will be picking No. 9.
This might be too late for Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo, who'd I'd expect the Timberwolves to target as an upgrade at the off-guard slot.
Derrick Williams' rookie contract will be expiring soon, and the Wolves might want to think about flipping him before that happens.
McLemore seems like a perfect fit here. The Wolves lack athleticism and a scoring presence in the backcourt, and McLemore would give them both. Oladipo would do the same, though there's a better chance he'd be there when Minnesota is on the clock.
There's a couple of international prospects who have declared, or are expected to declare, that could fly up draft boards over the next couple of months.
Expect Giannis Adetokoubo from Greece to be the trendiest name this summer. At 6'9'' to 6'10'', he's a fluid athlete who can handle the ball and create off the dribble, giving him big-time upside once his game comes around.
Rudy Gobert of France has been a regular name in draft talks over the past year because of his unprecedented 7'9'' wingspan to pair with his active and mobile 7'2'' body.
Dario Saric is a popular Croatian prospect who can put it on the deck and facilitate at 6'10''.
Mouhammadou Jaiteh has played in France, and if you've seen his body, you know why he'll be coveted. At 6'11", he's got a monstrous wingspan and a strong, physical build.
This is a year where teams won't hesitate to draft and stash or take their chances overseas.
If you were to tell me a year ago that by the 2013 draft, Victor Oladipo would be a more coveted prospect than Cody Zeller, I would have told you to stop drinking.
Maybe it was me who should have put the drink down.
Oladipo actually seems like the safer bet here. Plus, someone always targets the rising star. Just ask Dion Waiters.
Cody Zeller on the other hand, had been exposed all too much his sophomore year. And despite hist talent, Zeller was vulnerable to more physical and aggressive front lines.
Not only has Oladipo expanded his offensive game to go with his lockdown defensive tools, but he's also a draw. Fans love him, and for teams drafting at the top of the lottery, that usually means something.
With the way the system works today, seniors are usually seniors because they weren't good enough for the pros as freshmen, sophomores or juniors.
Peyton Siva and Seth Curry are two of the most prominent seniors in the country. Siva led his program to back-to-back Final Fours and a national championship. Curry has been the go-to guy for a powerhouse program and consistent contender.
And there's a good chance neither hear their name called at the 2013 NBA draft.
For Siva, you just can't be that small and not be able to shoot. A jumper helps tiny guards neutralize the difficulties they have finishing at the rim against much bigger defenders. Siva hasn't shot above 30 percent from downtown in three years, and the arc only gets deeper in the pros.
At 6'2'', Curry lacks size and athleticism at a position that typically requires it. Defensively, he'll be a liability, and offensively, he'll be limited to strictly jump-shooting. You won't find too many 6'2'' shooting guards who have regular roles in the NBA.
As for Russ Smith, who is expected to declare, he'll have a difficult time landing an NBA job. There aren't many, if any, 6'1'', 165-pound pure scorers who have succeeded at this level. Not to mention someone whose on-court decision-making can trigger gray hairs to sprout instantaneously.
The D-League and overseas will certainly be available, but I'm predicting a rough NBA draft day for these three college stars.
Big men are tough to come by, and they'll be even tougher to find in 2014.
There are five excellent centers in this year's field, assuming Kelly Olynyk declares. He, along with Nerlens Noel, Cody Zeller, Alex Len and Mason Plumlee could all go in the top 14.
Noel is the prized prospect here. Zeller and Olynyk are the most skilled while Plumlee and Len possess the most athleticism.
Each of these guys have substantial upside, but for the most part, there isn't much competition in the first half of the draft. Teams could feel that this is an opportunity to land a long-term center or backup, which they won't be able to do in the future without spending some extra dough.