The 2013 NBA draft is so close that we've stopped counting days and begun to monitor the hours remaining. While this normally signals the time in which the picks begin to fall into place, nothing is set in stone just yet.
The question is, what is the latest chatter surrounding the 2013 NBA draft's top stars?
With no individual emerging as a lock to go first overall, the NBA draft is shaping up to be the most unpredictable in recent memory. While that hyperbolic statement may have been heard in previous years, this truly is a draft like no other.
Even the stars don't know where they're going.
Len vs. Noel Continues
According to Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune and Joe Kotoch of Sheridan Hoops, the Cleveland Cavaliers value Alex Len over Nerlens Noel for the first-overall draft choice. While selecting Len remains a strong possibility, a new report has emerged.
Cleveland hasn't made a decision just yet.
#Cavs sources insist they still haven't finalized draft board. Now 52 hours before draft, the choice at No. 1 still isn't clear— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) June 25, 2013
All signs point to that remaining true.
Smith and Kotoch may be spot-on, as the Cavaliers could turn to Len when it comes to the first pick. With that being said, neither player is certain to go first overall until the pick is made, as the team has yet to decide on their future.
As much as we'd love to find answers, none have emerged just yet.
Noel's Decline Overstated?
If the Cavaliers are to select Len over Noel, some have speculated that the Kentucky Star could fall as low as No. 5 to the Phoenix Suns. While there may be some merit to such speculation, we shouldn't hold our breaths.
According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, Noel won't make it past the Orlando Magic at No. 2.
Sources close to the Orlando Magic told ESPN.com on Saturday that if the Cavs pass on Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel, the Magic are leaning strongly toward selecting him with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
The Magic, according to sources, scouted Noel heavily during the season and have been doing exhaustive background work on Noel the past few months. The team believes that, with patience, Noel should end up being the best player in the draft.
So much for the dramatic decline.
Noel has fielded questions about his surgically repaired knee and underwhelming weight. With that being said, he's widely-regarded as the player with the most upside in this draft, regardless of which position he ends up playing.
Keep in mind, ESPN's secret survey of NBA general managers resulted in Noel being ranked No. 2 amongst all prospects—only Victor Oladipo ranked higher.
Cody Zeller a Top-5 Pick?
According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, three teams selecting within the top five have expressed interest in Indiana Hoosiers big man Cody Zeller. Those squads are the Orlando Magic at No. 2, Charlotte Bobcats at No. 4 and Phoenix Suns at No. 5.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, at No. 9, and Portland Trail Blazers, at No. 10, round out a group of top-10 teams with Zeller on their respective radars.
Zeller was once viewed as a potential top pick, but despite putting forth a supremely efficient 2012-13 season, he's no longer viewed in that regard by the average fan. From concerns about his wingspan to questions about his toughness, we've heard it all.
If we're breaking it down without bias, however, Zeller tested as the most explosive big man in the history of the NBA scouting combine and stands at 7'0"—traits we'd often associate with a top-five pick.
Paired with a versatile offensive skill set, it appears as if the NBA is taking notice of just how good Zeller could be. Before we get too excited, however, it's important to note that each of the five interested teams are rumored to have warm interest, without placing Zeller at the top of their draft board.
Just don't be surprised to see him go earlier than expected.