The NBA Draft is coming up and everybody has an opinion. As you may know, I'm currently in New Zealand and haven't had as much of a presence on the site in recent days. Therefore, I want to get my opinion out there on several topics. Which topics? Whatever topics you guys care about. I figured the best way to do this was to ask for some questions on Twitter and then answer them in a mailbag type of situation. Here we go.
@conradkaznba How many of the 4 picks do you expect the Cavs to actually retain by the end of draft night?— Sean O'Connor (@soconnor76) June 9, 2013
This is a good question and something that should be addressed right away. Nowadays, you'll see plenty of mock drafts on various sites (including this one) and you'll see that the Cleveland Cavaliers have 4 draft picks: 1st, 19th, 31st and 33rd. Since it's damn near impossible to predict trades before they actually happen, mock drafts will have the Cavaliers selecting four players. Let me get this out there right now -- THE CAVS WILL NOT DRAFT FOUR PLAYERS. Or at least it seems very unlikely. This is already a very young team and there's simply no way that they'll bring in four more rookies.
So to answer Sean's question, I say they'll probably draft two players with probably only one of them actually being a rookie in training camp this year. I suspect they'll use one pick to stash a player overseas and they'll use the other picks to trade for more veteran players, picks in future drafts, or to trade up like they did last year when they selected Tyler Zeller.
@conradkaznba If the Cavs were to package some of their picks to move up the draft, who are trade partners & which player would they target?— David Grubbs (@dgrubbs21) June 9, 2013
This question sort of plays off the last one. As I just said, I'm not even so sure that the Cavs will draft 2 rookies that they expect to play this upcoming season. It sounds as though most of the international players want to play in the NBA next year, but I guess the Cavs could draft someone and then convince them to stay overseas for a year or two. Those targets would be Sergey Karasev or Rudy Gobert. It sounds as though they are quite interested in Karasev and it's unclear where his draft range sits right now. If they really want him and don't think he'll get to 19, the Dallas Mavericks are the most obvious trade partner. Dallas is clearly shopping the 13th pick and while I'm not sure what it requires to get it, it's probably the most obtainable first round pick.
Giannis Antetokuompo is the other hot name. He's playing pretty well right now and he's doing it against actual competition. He has a long ways to go before he makes an impact with an NBA team, but I could certainly see the Cavs targeting him with the 19th pick. If they get antsy and are afraid he won't last that long, they can dangle 31 or 33 and try to jump a couple teams to grab him.
@conradkaznba Why hasn't Oladipo been talked about for the number one pick?— Dan Armelli (@dano708) June 9, 2013
Victor Oladipo is a fine player and projects to be a pretty good NBA wing, but there's a number of reasons that he's not the #1 pick. The first reason is the position that he plays. He's a shooting guard and despite his big wingspan, he's not big enough to play small forward. The Cavaliers just spent a high draft pick on a shooting guard named Dion Waiters and he actually had a really nice end to his rookie season. He's already met with Mike Brown and is putting in lots of work this offseason. It doesn't make much sense to use the #1 pick on a position that you just addressed with the #4 pick the year before. Even if you think Oladipo is a better prospect that Dion, he'll be a rookie and there will necessarily be an adjustment period for him as he acclimates himself to the NBA. Dion has already taken his lumps in the NBA and is simply further along in his development. If you subscribe to the belief that the Cavs need to make the playoffs next year, there's value simply in the fact that Dion will be in his 2nd year while Victor would be in his first.
The second reason why Oladipo isn't (or shouldn't) be in play for the #1 pick is that he may not be the best shooting guard prospect. Ben McLemore matches Oladipo in athleticism and already has a huge advantage in outside shooting. The areas that Oladipo excels in are areas that McLemore can certainly develop with time. In short, I think it's more likely that McLemore is going to develop into a plus defender and become more assertive than it is for Oladipo to develop an elite three-point shot. McLemore is younger (albeit it not THAT much younger) and really just needs more experience. I don't doubt that NBA coaches will prefer Oladipo because he has a high motor and is dedicated to the defensive end, but as a prospect, McLemore can certainly become those things.
This is a pretty good question too. Mbakwe is an interesting player and was certainly productive during his college career. He's super athletic, has a nose for offensive rebounds, and a very high motor. That sounds like Kenneth Faried, right? Well not quite. For starters, Mbakwe is already 24 years old and will turn 25 halfway through his rookie season. Right there, you have a limit on his upside. Faried was old enough as a rookie, but Mbakwe is still significantly older. Why is he so old? Well he went through a lot during his college career. He redshirted a year, had two major knee surgeries, and was suspended for a season due to a felony assault charge. Basically, there's a lot of questions surrounding Mbakwe.
Beyond that, Mbakwe was just not nearly as productive in his college career as Faried. In his final three college seasons, here were his rebounding totals per 40 minutes (offensive in parentheses): 14.0 (4.2), 13.0 (5.5), 14.4 (5.5). Awesome, right? Here's Faried's numbers: 17.3 (5.7), 17.2 (5.6), 16.7 (6.6). Those are crazy numbers. He was playing against inferior competition, but that production is insane. Rebounding typically translates but it's a little unfair to compare what Mbwake did to what Faried did. I think Mbwake will probably be a nice find in the 2nd round, but there's a reason that Faried was such a steal.
@conradkaznba Q: what is your favorite type of bacon?— Lisa 'LJ' Rotter (@LJRotter) June 9, 2013
@conradkaznba will Shabazz be a solid player/contributor or bust like most people think— AKlamz (@aKlamBake) June 9, 2013
I'm not sure that people think Shabazz Muhammad will be a bust. I think the hate has gone a little bit too far and it can be confusing to understand what people really think of him. The disappointment in Muhammad stems from him being a year older than people thought, the fact that he wasn't all that impressive in college, and the fact that he's a little one-dimensional. He's a scorer, but he doesn't have an elite jump shot. He's a good athlete but he's not an explosive, freak athlete. He's strong for a shooting guard, but he's a little undersized for a small forward. He was touted as an elite prospect coming out of high school and gradually, all of these question marks have come up.
So does that mean he'll be a bust? Not at all. He's just no longer worth a top-5 pick. I've been fairly vocal in my dislike of Shabazz, but I don't want to be misunderstood. I think he's a nice player. He can score and that definitely has value in the NBA. If you get a player that can create his own offense with the 10th pick in the draft, you do that. I think his realistically obtainable ceiling is probably DeMar Derozan. I don't think he's much of a playmaker and probably won't be a great defender. But in the right role and right situation, I think Shabazz will be quite productive and carve out a solid NBA career.
@conradkaznba Over or under: 3.5 all stars come out of this draft— Sam Garriock (@NZBasketball) June 9, 2013
Almost certainly under. It'd take a while to go through every player and talk about his chances to be an NBA All Star, but I don't think it's likely that 4 of them end up there. I think the guys with realistic chances are Ben McLemore, Trey Burke, Nerlens Noel, and Anthony Bennett. Some other could certainly surprise me and make a team or two throughout their careers but I wouldn't bet on it. A lot depends on the player's position and which conference he lands in. Shooting guard in the Eastern Conference may be the easiest position over the next several years, so whichever prospects end up there will probably have the best shot.
Michael Carter-Williams. This is probably a bit of a cop-out, but I can't really provide a better answer: I haven't seen enough of Dennis Schroeder. He's gotten a lot of hype thanks to his Nike Hoop Summit performance, but I haven't seen him play all that often besides that one game. Carter-Williams has elite athleticism and size for the position. His biggest questions are his consistency and his utter lack of a jump shot. Guys like Jason Kidd and Rajon Rondo have proven that you can get by without a jumper at the point guard position, but you better be really good at a lot of other things if that's the case. MCW has the chance to do that (as well as the chance to develop a jumper), but it will take the right situation and some patience by whichever team drafts him.
Good, I'm glad you got my Reggie Bullock love out of the way. If you're just tuning in, I'm a big Bullock fan. I love the shooting, the size, the toughness, and the willingness to accept his role on a team. Beyond him, however, there are plenty of options at 19 (if the Cavs keep this pick). As mentioned before, Sergey Karasev is definitely someone that interests the Cavaliers. I already talked about how the Cavs might look to stash a prospect with this pick but I really do believe that Antetokuonmpo is in play here. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would be lovely here, but there's almost 0% chance that he falls this far. If the Cavaliers select Nerlens Noel with the first overall pick like we think they will, this pick almost has to be a shooter/wing player. You can't, for example, take Noel and Mason Plumlee or Steven Adams in the first round. Tony Snell, Tony Mitchell, Tim Hardaway Jr., Ricky Ledo, and Jamaal Franklin are all interesting in their own ways and if one has a particularly impressive workout/interview, I guess I could see the Cavs going in that direction.
There has been talk (by fans) about the possibilities of the Cavs taking a backup point guard for Kyrie Irving with the 19th pick. While there are some nice options in this draft, I doubt the Cavs want a rookie backing up Kyrie. They'll likely try to get a veteran backup PG (Shaun Livingston if he's not too expensive, or someone like that) and there seems to be a bit of a drop-off in PG talent after Schroeder and Shane Larkin are selected (which will almost certainly be before the Cavs pick at 19).
Thank you guys so much for the questions, there was a really good selection to pick from and I'll definitely do this again soon. In the next few days I'll be working on a post about who the Cavs could potentially trade the 19th pick for. There's a lot of talk about trading the #1 pick, but it seems equally, if not more, likely that the Cavs trade #19 for a veteran player. So keep an eye out for that post.