In just a few hours, the Cleveland Cavaliers will make their much-anticipated decision on how they plan to use their No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
This monumental choice will set off a chain reaction across the league, as general managers will work on maximizing value and making the best possible decisions for their club. Despite those intentions, it’s hard to imagine a draft that is devoid of both reaches and steals.
Every year, some great players that are almost guaranteed to make an impact tumble down the board, while workout warriors and other dubious prospects go far earlier than they should.
Let’s take a look at some talented youngsters that will end up exceeding expectations for their draft positions, then switch gears and highlight a handful of prospects that simply won’t live up to the hype.
Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
The Aztecs star could be one of the best players to come out of this class, but he’s being widely overlooked for his inability to shoot the ball consistently at the college level.
Despite the fact that this 6’5”, 191-pound swingman proved he can play multiple positions (and guard them as well), jump out of the gym with his elite athleticism, rebound at a higher level than most professional forwards and possesses a motor that doesn’t quit, it seems his lack of range will lead to an inevitable downfall tonight.
Franklin reminds me of another star that came out of San Diego State two years ago with knocks on his shooting ability, Kawhi Leonard. The San Antonio Spurs draft pick ended up being one of their most consistent players during an epic 2013 NBA Finals showdown with the Miami Heat. He learned to hit from deep quickly—especially from the corners.
If the right team gets a hold of Franklin and pairs him up with a top-notch shooting coach, there is no doubt that this kid is going to make an impact. He has the raw physical skills, relentless work ethic and the motor required to succeed in the Association.
Projected Draft Range: No. 15 thru 25
Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence
Ledo didn’t play a single minute of college ball, but he still has some of the best scoring talents in the class and the right tools to become a valuable shooting guard in the modern NBA.
At 6’6”, 197 pounds, the Rhode Island native has more than adequate size for the 2 and has only gotten stronger since we last saw him play organized basketball at the high school level.
While there are certainly off-court concerns that have hurt his stock, Ledo is still a better project to have on a roster than most of the other players in this draft.
His upside is through the roof, and he has impressed scouts during interviews with his intelligence and transparency, which should put most of the character concerns at ease.
Ledo must improve his passing, but any GM interested in the 20-year-old will realize he’s best with the ball in his hand and will use him a specialized weapon—likely coming off the bench at first as instant offense.
Don’t be surprised when this young man comes off the board near the end of the first round, but makes the All-Rookie team with his NBA-ready game and only continues to improve from there.
Projected Draft Range: No. 20 thru 35
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Greece
The “Greek Freak” is one of the most polarizing prospects in this class, as he has the raw size and upside of a franchise player, but the talent just isn’t there yet.
There’s hardly any footage of this 6’9”, 215-pound point forward prospect in action against notable competition. He’s said to have point guard skills, but tends to grab the rebound and ignite the break—looking to finish instead of pass at the other end.
He’s far too skinny to contribute right away, which is something that Antetokounmpo reportedly wants to do. ESPN’s Chad Ford noted that the 18-year-old wants to make the jump right to the NBA, which would be career suicide at this juncture.
Regardless of which position he plays in the pros, stronger players will have no problem outmuscling him on both sides of the court.
At the minimum, Antetokounmpo must bulk up and stay in the Euroleagues until he’s physically ready. However, there’s also the issue of his game and the real possibility that it never reaches the caliber required to play professional ball in the United States.
If this international man of mystery gets selected in the lottery or just after, it’s far too early for a prospect that may not ever make it to the big stage.
Projected Draft Range: No. 10 thru 18
Shane Larkin, PG, Miami (FL)
The Hurricanes product turned heads in Chicago last month, dominating the drills and athletic tests at the combine.
However, despite his ability to fly through the air and sprint end-to-end at a ridiculous clip, the fact remains that Larkin only measures in at 5’11”, 171 pounds.
For a point guard that has not displayed top-tier skills and never truly dominated during his two years of college, it’s quite a stretch to say he’ll become anything more than a reserve player at the next level.
He can run the pick-and-roll well, but bigger guards are going to feast on Larkin and score more points on him than he’ll be able to generate on offense.
I don’t doubt that the 20-year-old will find a place and can provide situational value, but taking him in the lottery or shortly thereafter is not the right call—especially with so many more high-upside players still on the board.
Projected Draft Range: No. 12 thru 21