Just about everyone has the Cleveland Cavaliers selecting Kentucky's Nerlens Noel with the top pick in the 2013 NBA draft, but if there's any truth to the rumor that they're actually interested in Otto Porter, the resultant ripple effect could really shake up the rest of the top picks.
But there is a possibility that Porter, arguably the most NBA-ready player among the top prospects, might not be around when the Wizards pick third. A source with knowledge of the Cavaliers’ thinking said Porter is under consideration to go No. 1.
It's actually pretty reasonable for the Cavaliers to be looking at options beyond Noel. The lanky big man is coming off a torn ACL and might have trouble bulking up enough to be the dominant interior force some think he'll eventually become.
Plus, Porter fills an obvious need for Cleveland on the wing. With a backcourt of Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving set in stone and a pair of solid bigs in Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson, Porter could fit nicely into the mix as a small forward with a smooth mid-range game.
The lanky wing averaged 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists during his sophomore campaign with the Georgetown Hoyas. He earned some major praise from a rival head coach as well:
Boeheim: Otto Porter Jr. Should Be No. 1 Pick in NBA Draft, Is Best Small Forward in Big East History on.sny.tv/12XCtEd— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 16, 2013
It's still very early in the process, and it's key to note that teams put out smokescreens like this all the time. This could simply be the Cavaliers' effort to seem unpredictable. After all, there's no advantage to letting every other team know what they really want to do with their No. 1 pick.
But just for the sake of argument, let's assume Lee's source is legitimate and the Cavs really are looking at Porter. If that's the case, there could be some interesting changes throughout the draft's remaining lottery picks.
For starters, the Orlando Magic would be stuck wondering whether they could shoehorn Noel into their frontcourt mix. The Magic have a promising big-man tandem in Nikola Vucevic and Andrew Nicholson, but they'd have to at least be tempted to take a look at Noel. Ben McLemore or Trey Burke certainly appear to be the better fits in Orlando, but the Magic might not be able to pass on Noel's talent.
Assuming the Magic can restrain themselves, Noel would slip to the Wizards, who already have a whole lot of money tied up between Emeka Okafor and Nene (more than $27 million in 2013-14 combined) in the frontcourt. So they might also look to fill a need on the wing, perhaps reaching for Shabazz Muhammad or the tantalizing Anthony Bennett.
The Wizards would really like to just take Porter, who played his college ball in their backyard, and be done with it. But if they can't have the small forward they really want, they'll be stuck between choosing from among less impressive replacements or picking Noel and hoping he's good enough to force them to offload one of their high-priced veteran bigs.
With Bradley Beal and John Wall set at the guard positions, there's no reason for the Wizards to even look twice at Burke or McLemore.
So by the time the Bobcats get a chance to pick, it's possible that one of either Burke or McLemore will be available, along with Noel.
If Noel somehow dropped past the Wizards, and McLemore was also still available, there's a chance that the projected No. 1 pick could fall even further. The Charlotte Bobcats are in desperate need of young talent up front (and everywhere, really), so you'd think they'd be ready to pounce on Noel if he were available.
But McLemore might be the safer pick and would fit in nicely alongside Kemba Walker, who showed some steady growth during the 2012-13 season.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated has the Bobcats taking Victor Oladipo at No. 4, so if Noel and McLemore both become available to the Phoenix Suns, it's possible that they'd opt to take the Kansas guard ahead of the Kentucky center. Mannix points out that the Suns are bad enough that they need to take the best player on the board.
To them, that could be McLemore.
At No. 6, the New Orleans Pelicans are set up front with last year's top pick, Anthony Davis, and Robin Lopez. So they're not a guarantee to grab Noel either.
We have to stop here, though, as the Sacramento Kings have proved impossible to predict in years past. Let's just hope for Noel's sake that he's off the board by the time the Kings are selecting at No. 7.
Hey, we're piling speculation on top of speculation here to try to project how a potential surprise selection of Porter could affect the rest of the first round, but really, nobody knows yet what's going to happen.
Keep in mind, though, that if the Cavs really do forego Noel for Porter at the top spot, there could be some far-reaching consequences—especially for Noel.