The debate rages on when it comes to which player will be selected No. 1 overall in this June's 2014 NBA draft. And while experts have weighed in for months now, there's no telling how Round 1 will shake out.
With draft day drawing closer, rumors have begun swirling.
Below we'll dissect some of the latest buzz surrounding this year's NBA draft.
Julius Randle's Foot Concerns
There's been plenty of back and forth regarding the recent rumors surrounding Julius Randle and his right foot.
According to ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman, several league sources say that Randle's once-broken right foot, which he suffered during his senior season in high school, hasn't healed properly and that there's a good chance he'll need surgery to repair it after this year's draft.
Goodman notes that Randle and his mother have refuted the report.
Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde is one of many pundits who have recently weighed in on the rumors:
Regarding Julius Randle injury: thought he looked hurt at Final Four and tweeted as much. Grimaced and limped through warmups for title game— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) June 12, 2014
It remains to be seen whether the team executives' fears are legitimate. However, there's no question that the concerns could impact Randle's draft stock and ultimately where he winds up landing.
Injury concerns didn't stop Alex Len or Nerlens Noel from going in the top six a year ago, but the 2013 class was viewed as a much weaker group. With several marquee prospects set to enter the league in 2014, the doubts about Randle's health could potentially lead him to slip considerably.
New Orleans Pelicans Eyeing First-Round Pick
The New Orleans Pelicans surrendered their first-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft when they acquired Jrue Holiday from the Philadelphia 76ers last summer. But the team isn't ready to give up on Round 1, according to Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears:
Pelicans aggressively trying to trade into 1st round in hopes of drafting a small forward or center, sources say.2014 1st dealt in Jrue deal— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 14, 2014
With New Orleans' second-round pick going to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Pelicans currently have zero picks in this year's draft.
For a team with several needs, including glaring ones at small forward and center, draft picks are invaluable. However, in order to acquire a first-round selection, the Pelicans are going to have to give up something valuable themselves.
Former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis is the face of the franchise but needs a quality player to play alongside him in the frontcourt.
Rebounding has been a huge weakness for New Orleans, as the team ranks No. 22 in the NBA in rebounds per game with 41.7. And while Davis has been able to protect the rim (2.8 blocked shots per game in 2013-14), he isn't a player who New Orleans can feed the ball into possession after possession offensively.
Adding a big who can rebound and score would provide the Pelicans with a huge boost, but that would require making a splash to acquire a draft pick.
Mitch McGary Poised to Go in Round 1?
Former Michigan forward Mitch McGary is flying under the radar heading into this summer's NBA draft. But don't be surprised if McGary hears his name called in the opening round this June.
According to Basketball Insiders NBA writer Alex Kennedy, league sources believe that the 6'10", 250-pound prospect is set to come off the board late in Round 1:
Some executives suspect that Mitch McGary has a promise from a team in the 20s. Several teams say they can't get him in for a workout.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 13, 2014
Coming into the draft, the biggest knock on McGary is his durability. He appeared in only eight games for the Wolverines last season because of a back injury.
Many feel that McGary made a mistake by returning to Michigan for his sophomore season instead of entering the 2013 NBA draft following a stellar freshman campaign. But McGary has no regrets, per the Detroit Free Press' Mark Snyder:
I don't say I made a mistake by not leaving. I definitely think I could have been a top-five pick. But I don't think I was ready, mentally. I might have been physically, but maybe my back would have acted up when I was with an NBA team, and then there would have been more problems.
When healthy, there's no denying what McGary brings to the table. In addition to his size, McGary brings energy and physicality to the mix. An impressive rebounder with great hands and decent range on his jump shot, McGary shot nearly 60 percent from the field and pulled down more than six rebounds in less than 20 minutes per game in 2012-13.
If McGary can add to his post game and improve his durability, his NBA future appears bright. Perhaps some teams set to draft late in Round 1 are realizing that.
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