It is not always easy to believe the information coming from teams in the days leading up to the 2014 NBA draft, but a number of squads seemed to have given away their choices for the first round.
Whether an organization decided to bring a player in for an extra workout, asked for medical records or explicitly gave a promise, these types of actions are not something to ignore heading into the draft. It is possible that a lot of the information is smokescreen to confuse other teams, but a lot of it is true.
Here is a look at the latest buzz surrounding the NBA concerning who will be picked and when, and you can decide for yourself which to believe.
Mitch McGary to the Charlotte Hornets
After the end of his freshman season, Mitch McGary was considered a potential lottery pick thanks to his outstanding play in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, his stock has dropped significantly in the past year after he decided to return to school.
The Michigan product was injured for most of the season due to a back injury and was then forced to declare for the draft when he received a one-year ban by the NCAA due to a failed drug test.
While this would make anyone nervous heading into the draft, McGary is seemingly not worried. We know this because he has refused to participate in workouts over the past few weeks, according to ESPN's Chad Ford:
I'm confident Mitch McGary has a promise in the 1st round. He's done just 1 workout. He's healthy. His camp has gone radio silent.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 24, 2014
However, Ford seems to know which team is set to take the forward:
Hearing Hornets at 24 most likely destination for Mitch McGary to land. Source says they are the culprit of his draft workout shutdown— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 24, 2014
This move would make a lot of sense considering the Hornets' need for help in the frontcourt outside of Al Jefferson. McGary has a great motor and should be able to contribute right away for a playoff contender.
Still, this strategy is quite a risky move for a player with so many question marks.
Shabazz Napier to the Miami Heat
There seems to be a big divide in projections for what Shabazz Napier can do in the NBA.
At 6'0", he is likely too small to be a full-time starter at point guard. However, he proved throughout his college career that he will do whatever it takes to help his team win. During the regular season, Napier led Connecticut in points, rebounds, assists and steals before leading the squad to a national championship.
While there is debate as to whether his skill will translate to the next level, he certainly has a fan in LeBron James. The superstar tweeted this at the end of the NCAA tournament:
No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier.— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 8, 2014
Now that James has opted out of his contract, the Heat are going to do anything they can to make him happy. One possible way to do that is to bring in Napier at all costs, via Ford:
The Miami Heat have started the process of courting LeBron James with an aggressive attempt to move up in Thursday's NBA draft, with their target being former UConn point guard Shabazz Napier, league sources said.
Right after the NBA Finals, [Heat president Pat] Riley flew out to work out Napier, a Heat source told ESPN.com. After the workout, the Heat tried to convince the former Huskies star to stop his workouts so that he'd fall to the Heat with pick No. 26.
In either case, the Heat will do their best to bring in a player who can be a legitimate help in bringing home another title.
Joel Embiid to the Philadelphia 76ers
After being considered by many to be the top selection in the NBA draft, Joel Embiid saw his stock drop in the past week due to a stress fracture in his foot. Add this to an already injured back and teams are certainly going to be scared about making the selection.
Still, it is impossible to ignore the upside that comes with selecting the center. Michael Lee of The Washington Post quotes an Eastern Conference scout on drafting Embiid:
Risk is the issue. You can never eliminate risk. All you can do is try to manage it intelligently. I think that guy has a chance to really be good. I might take that risk. I understand why Cleveland might not want to do it at number one, but...if Embiid falls out of the top three, somebody at four, five or six, wherever he goes, they are getting a steal.
The question is which team is most willing to take the chance on bringing in a player who could be one of the best centers in the NBA. According to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, the fall might not be as big as originally projected:
Embiid update, per sources: Still in strong consideration in Philly at No. 3, highly unlikely to slip past Boston or LA at No. 6 or No. 7.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) June 25, 2014
Philadelphia seems like the best solution as a team that is still far away from contention and can wait for the big man to heal up. There is no big need to impress fans either because the squad will have the debut of Nerlens Noel as well as a second lottery pick (No. 10) this season.
Additionally, Embiid's agent seems to be on board with steering the player to the 76ers, according to Jeff Goodman:
Joel Embiid's agent, Arn Tellem, is controlling which teams get medical info on his client in order to steer Embiid to certain teams.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 23, 2014
Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com reported that Philadelphia was one of the lucky teams to receive the records. This makes Embiid to the 76ers a no-brainer even if it is a big risk that early in the draft.
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