As the clock continues to dwindle before the start of the 2013 NBA draft, rumors are flying in from all over the place regarding what teams are expected to do and where prospects are expected to go.
All eyes have been on and will continue to be on the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hold the No. 1 pick, but aren’t sure as to what they’re going to do with it yet. Many will be watching as well to see what happens immediately after the first prospect goes off the board, as some surprises could start to be seen.
The rumor mill has also spit out a few notes about where some of the fringe first-round prospects might go. Will they make it into the final couple picks of the first round or will they hear their names called early in the second?
Here are the latest rumors leading up to tonight’s draft, informing you with everything you need to know about what’s going to happen in the coming hours.
Cavs Looking for a Trade Partner
If a franchise outside of the Cleveland Cavaliers ends up making the first overall pick of the draft tonight, they’ll have paid a pretty penny in order to so. Cleveland would rather trade the No. 1 pick instead of use it to select a player, according to Chad Ford of ESPN. Here’s an except from Ford’s piece:
The Cavs’ top option is to the trade the No. 1 overall pick for a combination of a veteran plus a 2014 lottery pick. If they can pull that off, they’ll move the pick. If they can’t they’ll keep attempting to move whomever they draft until all their options have been exercised. In other words, don’t assume that they are keeping the player they draft at No. 1.
This year’s draft class is considerably weaker than the players who are expected to declare for the 2014 NBA draft. There’s a chance that next year’s draft could be filled with as many future stars as the 2003 draft, which included LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, among others.
If Cleveland does keep the pick through the night, expect it to take either Alex Len or Nerlens Noel. It appears that those are the two main candidates to go No. 1, but as Ford said, there is a chance that the Cavs deal whomever they select. Cleveland is smart to have such a high asking price, as 2014 will definitely land the Cavs a better prospect.
Zeller Moving Up
Entering Thursday, Cody Zeller was considered a fringe top-10 prospect. He would've probably gone somewhere in the No. 8-12 range, in my opinion. Apparently some NBA executives like what Zeller brings to the table, and Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports that he could be a surprisingly high pick tonight:
Looking for a surprise high pick? One long-time NBA executive said to keep an eye on Indiana F-C Cody Zeller. Why? Loved his athleticism.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 27, 2013
The seven-footer averaged 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in 29.5 minutes per night last season as a sophomore at Indiana. While Spears noted Zeller’s athleticism, he’s also a very smart big man who can create good shots for his teammates, crash the boards with intensity and put the team on his back when he needs to.
It now appears that Zeller could go in the top five, or at least in the top eight. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Bobcats and Suns are both considering taking the power forward/center, and the Pistons really like the former Hoosier as well:
Cody Zeller in strong consideration for Charlotte (4), Phoenix (5), sources say. If McCollum goes 6 or 7, Detroit has Zeller high on board.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 27, 2013
Of those three franchises, Zeller would fit best with the Bobcats. Charlotte likely won’t be taking a point guard since that would eliminate Kemba Walker from the rotation. In Charlotte, Zeller would join Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in a frontcourt which is young and has high upside. Those four players could get the Bobcats back on the map.
Kabongo Into First Round?
For the last few weeks, many—including myself—saw Myck Kabongo as an easy second-round pick. He wasn’t fantastic at Texas and was suspended the first 23 games of last season for accepting impermissible benefits and then providing false documents, according to Yahoo! Sports.
In the point guard’s freshman year with the Longhorns, he averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 assists in 30.6 minutes per game. After serving the 23-game ban, Kabongo scored 14.6 points in 37.3 minutes per game while averaging five rebounds and 5.5 assists per night.
The former Texas guard may now hear his name called by commissioner David Stern instead of deputy commissioner Adam Silver. Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports that after an impressive interview, Kabongo might find himself drafted late in the first round instead of during the second:
One NBA exec said Texas G Myck Kabongo was possible late 1st after impressive interview and said he's was bigger than expected & a leader.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 27, 2013
What might keep Kabongo in the second round is that most of the teams drafting toward the back of the first don’t really need a point guard—they need shooting guards, and he’s a pure point guard. One potential landing spot is with the Phoenix Suns, who hold the 30th pick of the opening round.