NBA Draft 2013: Predicting the Biggest Free-Fallers on Thursday
The 2013 NBA draft is littered with risk in a relatively lackluster cluster of prospects. In spite of that, the top of the crop is rather clear-cut, but there are several players liable to free-fall on Thursday in Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
A lot of intriguing big men are available, as well as some athletic wings, but even with only a minimal amount of point guards to be had, two in particular should experience varying drops in draft stock.
Age and upside are also a factor. Even players with tangible collegiate success can be discounted for lack of developmental potential or even lackluster showings in individual workouts.
Let's take a stab at predicting the players who will lose the most ground in the draft, and where they might ultimately land.
Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
To be clear, I like the Naismith Award winner as a prospect. However, there is at least some feasibility as to why he would fall further than expected.
Burke proved that he possesses all the desirable intangibles of an NBA floor general in leading the Wolverines to the national championship game, but failure to establish himself as a premier athlete in certain physical tests—most notably, a slow, 11.09-second lane agility time, per ESPN's Chad Ford.
The Orlando Magic could use a point guard, yet the No. 2 overall pick seems a bit high for Burke unless they trade down.
Ford (subscription required) suggests the Detroit Pistons could choose Burke with the eighth selection, since they apparently feel Brandon Knight is more suited for shooting guard.
If that is indeed the route they choose, it would be somewhat surprising, as it would set up an extremely small back-court. If Burke doesn't go there, he will fall out of the Top 10 due to Minnesota having plenty of point guards and Portland having reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard.
It may be a bit of a dark horse, but look for the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 12 overall to bring Burke in as another point guard asset to key the squad's second unit and learn from Russell Westbrook.
Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
The defensive anchor of the Cardinals' national championship-winning team is 23 years old, which isn't ancient but is older than many of his prospective rookie peers.
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Although he is athletic for being 6'11", he does have room to add more strength at just 230 pounds. Plus, injuries are a concern, according to Ford, because of Dieng's ankle and knee issues.
What is going for him, however, is that he's a winner, has a high acuity with regard to instincts on defense and can impact the game without the ball in his hands. That's why it will likely be a winning franchise that takes a chance on him later in Round 1.
The San Antonio Spurs seem like a team that would covet Dieng, who can also pass well and fill a need up front, where all the team truly has is Tiago Splitter at center.
It wouldn't be surprising to see the Denver Nuggets give Dieng a look the pick before at No. 27, too—unless they want to continue starting Kosta Koufos.
Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Another point guard who hasn't tested well in workouts is Schroeder. He has an exciting set of skills and possesses a high NBA ceiling but hasn't been overly impressive in tests.
One NBA scout told Ford that Schroeder looked "frustrated" and did struggle against defenses that were more physical. It makes sense, because Schroeder weighs only 165 pounds.
Several prominent analysts believe Schroeder should go somewhere in the teens, including ESPN's Fran Fraschilla and Ryen Russillo and HOOPSWORLD.com's Alex Kennedy:
The more I watch Dennis Schroeder, the more I like him. He's a real PG. no reason he can't go late lottery.— Russillo (@ryenarussillo) June 5, 2013
It seems that a more likely fate for the raw, unpolished point guard with high upside should be later, though, given that he wouldn't be ready to step in and start at the age of 19 right away.
No. 22 overall to the Brooklyn Nets sounds intriguing, as SLAM Online's Ryan Wallerson points out. Head coach Jason Kidd and All-Star Deron Williams would be two phenomenal point guard mentors for someone like Schroeder as he refines his craft.
Anything higher than the 20s seems a bit risky, though Schroeder has the ball-handling and talent to become an elite NBA point guard someday.
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