Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Who is the one Draft prospect that intrigues you the most?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I’m tempted to say Otto Porter, if only because the NBA hasn’t had a decent Otto since Otto (Say No) Moore, a journeyman center from Texas-Pan American who played from 1968 to 1977 for the Pistons, Suns, Rockets, Kings and Jazz. But the league never has had a Nerlens and Nerlens Noel comes into the draft facing instant challenges. First, there’s his delayed debut while he deals with the final stages of recovery from knee surgery; that requires a patience on both sides that needy teams and rookies rarely have. Also, any time a player arrives with (cough) “Kevin Garnett” potential, I smile and start looking for the fire, the work ethic, the defensive bent, the coach-level smarts and the preternatural maturity that Garnett had from the beginning. Alleged KG play-alikes have come and gone – Darius Miles, Jonathan Bender and Eddie Griffin are dreary examples. It’s more than length, some shot-blocking and a little range on a jump shot.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Dennis Schroeder. The German point guard has some special gifts with his speed, first step, change of pace and ability to deliver the pass when he isn’t forcing action, all with relatively little experience. But he will need time in a solid organization that can teach and help him grow out of the immaturity.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: How can you not be intrigued by Giannis Adetokunbo? He played in Greece’s second division and is only 18 (and looks younger). He’s a 6-foot-9 guard with long arms and huge hands, and is still growing. It doesn’t sound like any team is going to risk a lottery pick on the kid, but no matter where he goes, he could obviously be a steal or a complete waste of a pick.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: I’m partial to Trey Burke for many reasons. But in a league where everyone seems to be involved in the eternal search for the next great big man find, Pitt big man Steven Adams has me intrigued. When I watched him during the college season he looked like a guy to keep an eye on for 2014 or 2015. When I watched during the pre-Draft camp he showed off skills I hadn’t seen previously. He’s got a tremendous ceiling and could be a nice get for someone late in the lottery.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. I don’t watch much college ball, but having gone to the University of Georgia, I’ve followed KCP’s career, and think he could be an impact player in the NBA. He’s got the size to play on the wing and he can score in a variety of ways. I’m not sure how quickly he’ll adjust defensively, but some team could get a steal with Caldwell-Pope.
Selçuk Aytekin, NBA Turkiye: Victor Oladipo … His defensive ability and aggressiveness makes him ready to play for an NBA team. To be honest, other than him, nobody in this Draft shines as much as Damian Lillard did last year.
Hanson Guan, NBA China: An observation on Drafts of the past five years tells us that guards are far more likely to thrive than big players. Because of that, it’s Trey Burke who’s caught my attention this year. Last season, Burke led Michigan all the way to the NCAA championships. While his team lost regrettably to the University of Louisville in the NCAA Tournament final, Burke impressed with 24 points, four rebounds and three assists per game. A Chinese proverb goes “what you lose in the morning, you gain back in the evening”; despite Burke’s failure to secure a national title, I can see his great promise in the NBA.
Akshay Manwani, NBA India: Alex Len. The 7-foot-1 Marlyand center is the best true center available by a big margin and in a league that is currently low on centers, Len could be one to watch out in future. Yes, he is down with an injury right now (stress fracture in the ankle), but his ability to play in the low post and block shots is a near guarantee. Not surprisingly, Len’s value has been in the upswing, with almost every other mock draft in recent days having him going before the sixth pick.