With the 2013 NBA draft just over one week away, the basketball community is left wondering what could be. From the uncertainty surrounding the first overall draft choice to the unpredictable nature of the post-lottery selections, we're hearing it all.
Fortunately for you, we're here to collect all of the hottest draft buzz.
The rumor mill has been running rampant with reports and speculation, as every team has decisions to weigh. That ranges all the way from the first overall draft choice to No. 60 overall, which proves that this is one of the most unpredictable drafts in NBA history.
The question is, what might transpire?
Who Will Go No. 1?
One of the major reasons that this is such an unpredictable draft year is the uncertainty surrounding the first overall draft choice. While recent years have seen one transcendent talent become a virtual lock for the first pick, the 2013 draft class has yet to see a player emerge as a favorite.
According to Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a target in sight—it just isn't the player you expected.
A surprising turn of events, to say the least.
Chad Ford of ESPN Insider (subscription required) followed that report by stating that Alex Len is, in fact, the top choice in Cleveland. With that being said, he's not the only player in the running for the top pick, and it's hardly a sure thing at this point.
Numerous players are receiving last minute workouts.
Sources in Cleveland strongly suggest that the Cavs have yet to make their decision. Anthony Bennett, Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Alex Len and Noel all have visits and/or workouts scheduled in Cleveland this week. Noel is scheduled to visit the team Thursday and has a chance to seal the deal as the No. 1 pick if he performs well.
Sources say Noel's strongest competition right now is Len, whom some in the organization favor because he, too, has size and defensive ability, but he's less raw and should be cleared to play much sooner than Noel.
In other words, it comes down to Nerlens Noel and Alex Len.
A key piece of information to monitor here is the fact that owner Dan Gilbert has placed pressure on general manager Chris Grant to win now. Despite possessing a young core with an absence of veteran leadership, the Cavaliers believe they can contend for the playoffs.
Not soon, though—now.
Could that make Len, the more NBA-ready player, the pick over Noel, the player viewed as a project? It certainly seems that way.
If not, Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reports that the Cavaliers are considering Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore.
Oladipo, McLemore Battling for No. 2
If the drama at No. 1 doesn't do it for you, try the fact that the top two shooting guards in the draft are dueling it out to go No. 2. While the Orlando Magic have not yet made it clear whom they will select, both off-guards are in the running.
According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider (subscription required), Victor Oladipo has the slight edge over Ben McLemore.
Indiana's Victor Oladipo and KU's Ben McLemore are widely seen as the two best fits in Orlando. While McLemore might have more pure upside, I continue to hear that Oladipo has the upper hand. McLemore was in Orlando last week, but according to multiple accounts, his workout wasn't terrific.
Their hyperbolic rivalry continues.
McLemore and Oladipo will be compared until their careers end, so this is the only rational way to begin. Not only do they play the same position, but they also put forth contrasting styles and similarly intriguing upside.
One way or another, we're going to learn whom the NBA deems as the better prospect—the start to all great rivalries.
Trades, International Players and Rising Draft Stocks
According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider (subscription required), the Dallas Mavericks are leaning towards trading the No. 13 draft choice. This news comes after Dallas' top target, Croatian small forward Dario Saric, decided to withdraw from the draft.
Ford reports that when Dallas picks, it'll be selecting a player for another team in order to execute a trade.
Ford continues to relay rumors that Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lucas Nogueira, Sergey Karasev and Alex Abrines are all moving up draft boards. Adversely, Rudy Gobert is slipping, as teams are less enamored with his length upon evaluating his all-around game.
Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld reports that French big man Livio Jean-Charles has become a top draft-and-stash target for the San Antonio Spurs.
A weak draft class tends to open up the door for international players to see their draft stock rise, oftentimes without rhyme or reason.
With that being said, Jean-Charles is a player I've previously labeled as a star prospect. Nogueira and Antetokounmpo possess intriguing physical gifts, while Karasev and Abrines are skilled wing players.
There are no guarantees, and that has some teams thinking the international risks may pay off better than going for a domestic player who has yet to blow anyone away.