The 2013 NBA draft is less than one month away, which has every single general manager in the NBA racing to find the prospect best suited for his respective organization. While nothing is set in stone, the draft is beginning to take shape.
So, what's the latest buzz surrounding the top prospects of the 2013 NBA draft?
Certain players are battling their reputations, attempting to prove that their flaws are not quite as devastating as some might believe. Other prospects have improved their public perceptions, becoming more beloved than ever before.
One way or another, stocks are fluctuating, and prospects' futures are changing.
Victor Oladipo Is "Favorite"
According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, multiple NBA general managers have labeled Victor Oladipo as "their favorite player in the draft." This comes after the scouting combine, where Oladipo reportedly wowed scouts with his physical and mental prowess.
The question is, how will that impact his draft stock? Says Ford:
A number of GMs told me Oladipo was their favorite player in the draft. That doesn't mean they'll draft him No. 1, but, as one GM said, "I know he's the one guy in this draft that my head coach would love to have right now. He's an impressive young man on and off the court."
It's hard to imagine the Cleveland Cavaliers would select a shooting guard just one year removed from drafting Dion Waiters.
One of the teams interested in Oladipo is the Portland Trail Blazers. According to Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest, the Blazers may be open to drafting Oladipo this June, even if that means trading up:
Sources close to the prospect say the Trail Blazers, among a few others teams, “really like him” and are “considering moving up to get him.”
When Oladipo was reached for comment, he acknowledged being aware of the interested teams that weren't in position to take him. If Portland did pull off the move, Oladipo is all for it.
“I would really love to go to Portland, and I'm not just saying that,” he said convincingly to CSNNW.com. “I hope, and I don't think I'm dropping that far, but if they decided to move up somehow, I think that would be a great situation for me. It's a place where you can just concentrate on basketball.”
Portland currently owns the No. 10 overall draft choice.
Regardless of who ends up selecting Oladipo, it's clear that he's become the player whom general managers love the most. This comes with good reason, as he pairs supreme athleticism with one of the best motors around.
Those are two of the many reasons Oladipo has long been my No. 1 prospect and is now working his way up countless other big boards.
Nerlens Noel to Miss Rookie Season?
On Tuesday, February 12, the 2013 NBA draft was changed forever when Kentucky Wildcats center Nerlens Noel tore the ACL in his left knee. Noel, one of many in the running to go first overall, had been leading the nation in blocks at the time of his injury.
Four months later, Chad Ford of ESPN Insider reports that some NBA doctors are questioning whether or not Noel will be available for the 2012-13 season: "Although some teams appeared completely unconcerned about the results, a small handful said that their doctors believe Noel might need to miss the entire season to fully recover from his torn ACL."
It's unclear whether this will cause the Cleveland Cavaliers to pass over Noel with the first overall draft choice.
It wouldn't be entirely disastrous if Noel missed the 2012-13 regular season, as Blake Griffin did the same and returned to win Rookie of the Year just one season later. Coincidentally, both players were forced to overcome severe knee injuries.
Griffin has missed just two games since then.
Trey Burke or Trade Down for New Orleans Pelicans?
The New Orleans Pelicans are in an interesting predicament, as they pick sixth overall and have holes to fill all over the floor. One year removed from their selections of Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, however, it appears as if the Pelicans have a target set in their sights.
[Pelicans general manager Dell] Demps has not ruled out the possibility the Pelicans could trade the pick to move up or down, obtain multiple picks or acquire more veterans to improve their roster. Sources say the Pelicans like Burke because he has the potential to get them in their offensive sets quicker and he could provide more versatility in their backcourt that could include starting point guard Greivis Vasquez playing off the ball.
Those are two extreme options for New Orleans.
The Pelicans have building blocks with Anthony Davis blocking shots and Ryan Anderson shooting the three-ball. Shooting guard Eric Gordon remains an intriguing option with significant upside, and Al-Farouq Aminu has upside as a 22-year-old wing.
The question is whether the Pelicans see Greivis Vasquez running point in their future. If they don't, Burke could be their player.
Just don't count out a trade, as New Orleans embodies the craze of the NBA draft.