The 2014 NBA draft is now just days away, and the rumors are starting to pick up some steam. While we won't know what's fiction and what's fact until the draft actually happens, it's hard not to think that some of what we've been hearing will become reality.
This draft figures to be the deepest in quite some time. Some point to the 2003 class that produced LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and others as the comparison, but only a decade's worth of games will determine how this group stacks up.
You've been keeping up with all the draft's news up to this point, so why stop now? Keep reading to learn about the newest rumors surrounding this mega event.
The Boston Celtics own the No. 6 pick in the NBA draft, a spot where a bevy of big men could be available. Despite having Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk on the roster, that shouldn't stop them from going big.
Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe tweeted that Boston is apparently considering Noah Vonleh with the pick:
NBA source said #celtics are very high on Indiana's Noah Vonleh and he's moved into preferred group with Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) June 21, 2014
Vonleh makes sense in this range of picks. I don't think he'll last longer than the Sacramento Kings at No. 8. That said, Aaron Gordon is the far better prospect in my eyes.
Gordon looks a lot like Blake Griffin did when he came out of Oklahoma. Gordon's offensive game needs some work, but he is incredibly athletic and can run the floor very well. These two aspects of his game combine to make him the most exciting high-flyer in this class.
While the lack of an offensive game might scare teams away, the comparisons to Griffin are obvious. That should give teams the confidence to take him and watch him develop.
Gordon has the potential to be a game-changer. Vonleh, on the other hand, looks more like a steady rebounder and a guy who can stretch the floor. That type of player is valuable, but is it more valuable than a guy who might turn into a poor man's Blake Griffin?
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers lack depth, so one would assume that they will keep the No. 7 pick in the draft and use it to retool. ESPN.com's Marc Stein tweeted that they probably will keep it, but their options might be open:
Word is Lakers more likely than not to keep No. 7 but they ARE exploring what can be had for their pick (either solo or packaged w/SNash)— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 21, 2014
The No. 7 pick would likely net them an established veteran and a pick in next year's draft. Throwing in Steve Nash might net them a higher pick along with that established veteran. The best scenario, however, is to keep both Nash and the No. 7 selection.
Point guard is a position the Lakers must upgrade. Nash is there for now, but he'll likely call it quits very soon. This leaves a hole moving forward.
The No. 7 pick can likely be used on a guy like Marcus Smart if he's there. If he's not, then the Lakers can trade the pick back into the teens and grab a veteran in the deal. By moving back, the team can draft Elfrid Payton.
It's crucial to keep Nash, however, as his ability to mentor the newest Lakers point guard is invaluable. Nash might not provide much on the court anymore, but his leadership skills and teaching ability can be the difference between Smart or Payton fizzling out and them succeeding.
Leaving options open is a good idea, but it would have to be an unbelievable package for me to trade the No. 7 pick if I were a member of the Lakers brass.
The top of the draft has probably changed a bit, as Joel Embiid's injury might scare teams away from investing a high pick in him.
One team that sounds very interested in Embiid is Utah, at No. 5. The Jazz can put together a package including Enes Kanter, a future No. 1 and their pick and probably get Embiid. It might take even less, considering Embiid’s first season could be a waste due to his latest injury.
It sounds like a big risk, but just look back to last year to see what the New Orleans Pelicans did when they took Nerlens Noel at No. 6 overall in the 2013 draft. The Pelicans got good value for Noel when they traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers. Jrue Holiday was the biggest part of the package.
The Jazz might be able to swing a similar deal for Embiid.
It's unknown as to what team(s) might be interested in such a deal, but it's worth exploring for the Jazz. If a trade doesn't work itself out, then Utah can focus on getting him healthy and on the court.
Despite worrisome back and foot injuries, Embiid has the potential to dominate in the paint.