There’s nearly 24 hours left until the 2013 NBA draft commences and we still have absolutely no idea who the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to take with the No. 1 pick.
But there is some fresh news as to what could happen with the top pick as well as the pick to follow—currently held by the Orlando Magic. Organizations are still trying to work their way up the ladder in order to select a better prospect, but it’s up for debate as to whether either of the teams at the top will budge.
Teams toward the back of the first round are finalizing their big boards, pondering which prospects will be around when it’s their time to make a decision. Some of college basketball’s most notable stars will soon know where they’re going, including former Baylor guard Pierre Jackson.
So, what team is still calling about the first pick? What will the Magic do at No. 2? Who are the Suns targeting late in the first round?
Here is everything you need to know, as the clock continues to dwindle before the Cavaliers go on the clock with the No. 1 pick.
Magic Will Take Noel—If Available
When the draft begins and the Cavaliers go on the clock, the Orlando war room will be hoping they don’t hear David Stern say, “With the first pick in the 2013 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Nerlens Noel, a center from the University of Kentucky.”
If Stern calls out Alex Len or another top prospect’s name, expect to see the Magic take Noel with the second overall pick Thursday night. Alex Kennedy of USA Today reports that several members of the front office want Noel; they’ve done extensive homework on him and have met with him several times.
The Magic currently have Nikola Vucevic at center, and he averaged a double-double last year. It would certainly be difficult to move him to power forward, when Orlando’s 2012 top pick, Andrew Nicholson, will likely be starting full-time next season. But if the Magic were to take Noel, they’d be forced to sit one of the two.
It’s expected that Orlando will end up taking the best player on the board and that very well could end up being Noel. As Kennedy points out, the Cavs want to contend right away and some people in the front office have ties to the former Maryland center. If Cleveland takes Len with the No. 1 pick, Orlando will be jumping for joy.
Suns Really Like Jackson
The Suns have the benefit of making two picks in the first round of Thursday’s draft. They have the fifth pick, which they earned in the NBA Draft Lottery, and then the 30th pick, which they acquired from the NBA Champion Heat. Phoenix needs help in a bunch of areas and the team will likely focus on the backcourt.
Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown and P.J. Tucker were the primary guards a year ago. Dragic led the team in scoring, and Tucker was the only one of the four to not score at least 10 points per night. Still, Phoenix needs to land a star point guard and that’s why it could end up taking someone like Trey Burke at No. 5.
But what about the last pick of the first round? Well, Phoenix could either look to add to its frontcourt, or it could continue to focus on the backcourt. The four aforementioned players aren’t locks to get a lot of playing time next year. Phoenix has strong interest in Pierre Jackson, a guard out of Baylor, according to Marc Spears of ESPN:
Suns, owners of the 30th pick, have strong interest in Baylor guard Pierre Jackson, a source said. Bos, NY, LAC,SA,Port also worked him out.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 25, 2013
While Jackson may not get drafted until late in the first round, there’s a very real chance that he starts for Phoenix next season. A lot depends on the Suns No. 5 pick, but there’s no question that the former Baylor guard could be in the starting five for most of the year. He’s a great fit for the Suns and they know it.
OKC Won’t Give Up Ibaka for No. 1
Oklahoma City is one of the teams talking to the Cavaliers about moving up to the No. 1 pick in the draft, according to Chad Ford of ESPN (h/t NewsOK.com). Ford said in a conference call that Cleveland is seeking a “young veteran” in exchange for the top pick and nothing but that.
The Thunder only have three players who you could consider young veterans: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. As Ford points out, Durant and Westbrook are untouchables and it seems unlikely that the Thunder would deal Ibaka. Sam Amico of Fox Sports also reports that OKC won’t deal Ibaka for the pick.
Ibaka has quickly emerged as one of the top big men in the league. Last season, he averaged 31.1 minutes, 13.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and three blocks per game during the regular season. He’s a big part of the team’s nucleus, and dealing him wouldn’t do Oklahoma City much good. While he’s undersized, he’ll likely be the team's future center.
Trading Ibaka for the No. 1 pick wouldn’t make much sense for the Thunder. If Oklahoma City were to make the trade, one would assume it would take Noel, who is basically a younger version of Ibaka with a worse offensive game. Noel may be better in the long run, but the Thunder would be foolish to make this deal right now.