Earlier today, ESPN NBA Insider and NBA Draft expert Chad Ford discussed the 2013 NBA Draft on a conference call with members of the media. Ford will contribute to ESPN.com’s comprehensive Draft coverage with pick-by-pick analysis and NBA Draft Grades for every team during and after the Draft.
ESPN will televise the 2013 NBA Draft presented by State Farm on Thursday, June 27, at 7:30 p.m. ET. It will mark the 11th consecutive year ESPN has televised the Draft. ESPN will televise NBA Draft Preview Shows on Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. The NBA Draft is also available on ESPN Radio and WatchESPN.
Here is the replay of today’s conference call.
Q. I was just curious to see what you are hearing about Reggie Bullock from UNC – how things have gone for him in the workout process and where he might go?
CHAD FORD: He’s had a great process. A number of teams out there are looking for shooters that can stretch the floor. The feedback that I’ve gotten from the teams that have worked him out is that he has been one of the best of that group.
There’s been a bit of a scrum there when you think about also Allen Crabbe, Kentavious Caldwell‑Pope, a number of different shooters that can be available, Sergey Karasev. I think right now his range is looking somewhere in the neighborhood of ‑‑ we have him going 19 in our mock draft to the Cavs. I certainly think that he could end up going to the Bucks at 15. That’s probably his ceiling. And then probably his floor, the Bulls like him a lot at 20. I don’t think that he gets past the Pacers at 23.
Q. You mentioned the Thunder looking to move up to No. 1. What would it realistically take for them to get there, who do you think they’re targeting, and if they stay at 12, which big do you think fits them the most?
FORD: Cleveland wants a veteran for this, a veteran for the pick. They’re not interested in anything but that. So you look at the Thunder roster, obviously there’s no way they’re moving Kevin Durant, and they’re not moving Russell Westbrook. So it’s pretty clear that it would probably take Serge Ibaka to get to the No. 1 pick. I don’t think it’s likely that the Thunder would do that.
But that’s what teams are finding. A lot of teams are complaining that they think Cleveland maybe is over valuing this pick because there isn’t a consensus at No. 1. But you can also understand Cleveland’s perspective here. If they’re going to give away the No. 1 pick, they have to walk away with a piece that they think can help compel them to the Playoffs, and that means a really good player.
And I think that’s why there’s not a lot of trade talk. There hasn’t been much action. We’ll see if Thursday someone caves. But I just don’t see, personally, a team giving up the talent that Cleveland is looking for, for the No. 1 pick in the Draft.
Q. If they stay at 12, do you know what big they might be targeting or who kind of fits?
FORD: I think the two guys you should look at if you want bigs are Steven Adams out of Pittsburgh and Kelly Olynyk out of Gonzaga. Very different players. Steven Adams a back of the basket defensive rebounder, shot blocker. Olynyk might have been the most efficient big man in basketball this year, but he feeds the basket big, probably more of a 4 than a 5 in the NBA, can create off the dribble, can shoot the three. Just very different looks.
And I wouldn’t rule out Sergey Karasev, the Russian sharp shooter who’s a 2‑3, who has a lot of experience over in Russia, has played at a high level over there, and is one of the hotter names in the Draft right now.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Shane Larkin. I know that basically his size seems to be the one negative that some people might say. I’m just wondering what you think of him and what you’re hearing.
FORD: He’s really talented, and if he was a couple of inches taller, and especially length, length and wing span matter so much in the NBA. And Larkin measured with a 5’10” wing span, which when we looked at our database over the last decade, haven’t seen a point guard with that small of a wing span drafted in the NBA. So that’s a significant disadvantage for him to be in. It’s not just that he’s 5’11” or six feet, it’s also the length.
There are other players like Trey Burke, who isn’t really much taller than Larkin but has a 6’5″ wing span, which is more traditional for a player.
But he does everything else well. He’s a great pick‑and‑roll point guard, he shoots the basketball well, and he measured as one of the best athletes in the Draft. He has so much going for him. I think a team is going to go ahead and take a chance on Larkin in the first round.
I think that Utah at 14 is probably the highest he goes. They like him there. I’m not sure they’ll take them there. We have him going 15 to the Bucks in our mock, and he’s definitely in the mix there. He’s in the mix for Boston at 16. He’s in the mix with the Hawks. They have two picks at 17 and 18. And if he was still on the board when the Jazz drafted at 21, assuming that they decided to go big and not take a point guard, I think that’s his range, 14 to 21.
Q. Can I ask about Kenny Kadji?
FORD: A stretch 4, has some interest from NBA teams because it’s in vogue to have bigs that can really shoot the basketball, but his age works against him right now.
Q. That’s what I’ve heard, too, because he’s 25.
FORD: Yeah, it’s a big deal in the NBA, and at 25 people begin to really question your productivity because you ought to be playing basketball against kids that are six, seven years younger than you. You ought to be playing up to that level, and I would say it’s unlikely he goes undrafted.
Q. I’m wondering if you think the Cavs really do like Noel or if it’s more of a default choice because there’s not a whole lot else to pick from that fits with what they want?
FORD: I mean, that’s a good question. I think they like Noel. I think they like all six of the players that they’ve brought in. The question is do you like him as a No. 1 pick?
The Cavs are in a difficult situation this year where there isn’t a clear No. 1, there isn’t a franchise player. So they’ve had to take the attitude of let’s find out what these guys do well instead of obsessing over what they can’t do because if you do that, you disqualify every player in the Draft, especially this year.
And while the Cavs have not told me who they’re going to draft No. 1, and I don’t think they’ve told anybody, I’m not even 100 percent sure that they know yet. I think they’re narrowing down and getting close to that decision. Noel has been the guy that’s been on the top of their big board all year. He fits the criteria that I hear Cleveland talk about, about the best talent available, which is different than saying the best player available – the best talent available. Who will be the best player in three to five years?
And it also fits what I’m hearing from Cleveland even on the playoff side – that they want to make a push for the Playoffs because I think when they evaluated this Draft, they didn’t see one player in this Draft that they felt was going to be a starter on an Eastern Conference playoff team this year.
So whoever they’re drafting, whether it’s Alex Len or Otto Porter or Ben McLemore or Anthony Bennett, the most likely scenario for them next season is they come off the bench. So if they’re going to come off the bench anyway and play a more limited role, then I think you take the best player available.
Now, could it be Alex Len or Anthony Bennett? I think those are the three players that they’ve narrowed this list down to, perhaps. But most of the signals that I read, and it’s a bit of reading the tea leaves right now, point to Noel.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Glen Rice, Jr. I saw in your mock you had him as one of the two or three most NBA‑ready guys. Just wanted to hear some of the positives and some of the negatives about him coming in.
FORD: Well, the biggest positive that you can say about Glen Rice is that he played on the highest level of any player in this Draft. He played on the D‑League. And as much as we love some of our college teams, a D‑League team would defeat even the best college basketball team. The talent level is higher.
And not only did he excel, he led his team to the D‑League championship with the MVP of the D‑League Finals. And so we know that when you’re playing an NBA game with NBA rules with an NBA three‑point line, Glen Rice can score the basketball, and he was playing against former lottery picks and other elite players that had played college basketball, and he can excel.
That’s the exciting thing.
The other thing I’ll say about him is he’s a great athlete and he can really shoot the basketball. Those, again, are things that teams covet.
On the downside, there’s some off‑the‑court questions. He was dismissed from the Georgia Tech program. He wasn’t in the D‑League by choice, he was kicked off the team and had a number of incidents while he was in college there that raised some eyebrows. He’s also a bit of a tweener. He’s really a player that probably is a small forward in the NBA but is the size of a 2 guard and at times plays like a power forward. So you’ve got a guy that’s going to have to find a niche in the NBA and can continue to adjust his game.
I think that he is one of the most NBA‑ready just because of the competition that he’s played against, and he’s more familiar with the rules in the NBA and the style that’s played in the NBA.
I think he’ll go as high as Milwaukee at 15, and his range is pretty big. I can almost promise you he doesn’t get past the Houston Rockets at 35. He plays for their D‑League franchise, and they love him, and they wish they could just claim him because he played for their D‑League franchise but the NBA rules are you’ve got to go through a Draft, so that’s where they’re at right now.
Q. What are the professional prospects of Kenny Boynton? I know they’re not high, but what do you see for his future playing pro ball?
FORD: Probably he’s going to have to get a passport and look in that direction. Kenny obviously came out of high school with a lot of credentials and a great rap. I just don’t think his game ever came together in a way that translated to the NBA. He’s stuck between positions and doesn’t really do one thing well enough that screams NBA.
But when he gets to Europe, where I think would be his best chance of carving out a professional career, he’s going to have some advantages athletically in the style of play that they play over in Europe. I think that might help him ultimately carve out a nice career over there.
He could choose to go the D‑League route if he wants, but he’s just not projected by many NBA teams as a pro prospect, and so the guys that typically make it out of the D‑League to the NBA are guys that just missed the line, just missed it from being a second‑round pick.
I think he’s pretty far away from that right now.
Q. Is Eric Murphy’s shooting enough of a skill to get him there?
FORD: Absolutely. He’s in our second round. Again, stretch 4s are in vogue. He did a great workout in Vegas in front of a bunch of NBA teams. I was there. He shot the lights out. And he has a skill that translates.
There are lots of things that Eric Murphy doesn’t really do well, but that one thing that he does do well, he really can shoot the basketball. You can see teams using him as a stretch 4 at spots up in the corners and he just nails those corner threes. He’s going to be able to do that at the next level, I think.
He’s got good size for a stretch 4. He’ll be a role player. He’ll be a specialist. But he’s the type of player that I see as a really valuable second‑round pick and a guy who can make a roster.
Q. The No. 1 pick this year seems to be as much of a burden as it is a blessing. Do you think that the Cavs prefer to get rid of it if they could?
FORD: You know, I mean, that’s a difficult question to answer. Are they shopping the pick? Yeah, they’ve been doing that for a while because they have an imperative to make the Playoffs and make their team better now, and if they can get that sort of player, then yeah.
But look at the players that they’ve tried to go out and get. They’ve inquired about Kevin Love. There’s no way in the world Minnesota is going to do that. So there was a dead end there. They’ve inquired about LaMarcus Aldridge out of Portland. There’s maybe a little bit more willingness on Portland there to do it, but it wouldn’t just cost them the No. 1 pick, they’d probably have to give up Tristan Thompson and perhaps even other assets to make a deal like that work. You’re always, when you’re talking trade, weighing the cost versus the benefits here.
Because there isn’t a rush from NBA teams to get ‑‑ look, Anthony Davis, if this was the Anthony Davis draft or even the Derrick Rose draft, they’d be getting offers like LaMarcus Aldridge for the No. 1 pick.
But no one is even sure who should be the No. 1 pick. So the team that’s trying to trade up in the Draft, I mean, even just thinking hypothetically for a second, what does Portland do if they get the No. 1 pick in the Draft? Are they really going to draft another big guy with injury problems? Could you even do that in Portland right now?
I mean, the best players in this Draft are either big guys who are injured or they’re wings that have some interesting limitations. That’s probably why Cleveland wants to trade the pick and it’s partly why they’re having a hard time trading it.
While I think there’s a chance that Cleveland trades this pick, I’ve been talking to multiple sources around this, I think in the neighborhood of maybe 25 percent chance, which is high, by the way, for trading the No. 1 pick, I still think at the end of the day Cleveland selects this pick for themselves.
Q. As far as McLemore is concerned we saw in The Finals that teams will go small if they need to. Do you think McLemore paired with Irving and Waiters is a doable thing for the Cavs?
FORD: For sure, and by the way, both those players could come off the bench and be a third guard, especially Waiters who still has the ability to play some point guard in his game. It’s for sure where they can go.
By the way, one of the things that Cleveland has been reiterating to me is they’re not drafting based off of need. They don’t believe that there’s a player here that would be starting for them next year, and so they’re just trying to take the best ‑‑ not player, but the best talent available right now. And if that’s McLemore, then they’ll take him and they’ll worry about it later. If it’s Anthony Bennett, they’ll try to figure out what that fit is later.
I personally think that it’s probably come down to Noel, Len and Bennett. I know they’ve narrowed the list and at least what my sources are telling me, those are the three guys. I still think it’s going to be Noel at the end of the day, but that’s based off reading the tea leaves, not specific information from Cleveland.
Q. I’m interested in the two Michigan guys. Reading the stuff over the last couple weeks Burke has been sliding relatively and Hardaway has been rising. Can you give the reasons for both of those?
FORD: Well, on Burke, we’ve got to use the word ‘sliding’ pretty loosely because he’s bouncing around between 6 and 8 and has moved a spot up or down depending on the mocks. I wouldn’t really put that as sliding. I guess some people had him as maybe the No. 2 pick in the draft from Orlando right away. Even I thought on the first mock that I put together that perhaps that’s the way that Orlando would go.
I think that Orlando has looked at this Draft and seen what I think most NBA teams have seen, which is a clear tier of the first six players in this Draft, of which Burke is not in there, and then a second tier that Burke and Carter-Williams and McCollum are in. When you’re drafting as high as Orlando you don’t dip into the tier below you just for a need.
Now, Orlando might trade back and then they might go after Trey Burke, but I think his range is New Orleans at 6, Sacramento at 7, Detroit at 8, and I’d be really surprised if he gets past those three teams. He’s in a pretty comfortable position in my opinion as a player.
Hardaway is all over the place. He has worked out really well. And one of the really interesting things about Hardaway, why do guys rise at the end of the Draft, and one of the biggest culprits is coaches. Coaches don’t scout all year, they don’t see these players play, they’re busy coaching their teams, but they show up at these workouts.
And Hardaway is the type of player that a coach would love. He’s older, he’s more polished, he comes with a basketball pedigree, all the coaches know what his dad did there. I’ve watched him work out. He’s very polished, very smooth. He’s a hard worker. He’s competitive.
And those are the sorts of guys that coaches fall in love with and the sort of guys that general managers are always wary about because he’s several years older than the other prospects. Of course he’s going to look more polished but what is his ceiling and his upside?
Those are the questions that general managers wrestle with. When you hear his numbers, Sacramento at 7 is probably the high end. Mike Malone, didn’t even have a general manager in there until a week ago, and Mike Malone is the type of guy that says, man, I want this guy, this guy could play right now, this guy could help me right now, this guy’s already a pro, where a general manager is thinking long term, what’s in the long‑term best interest in the team.
I think he goes somewhere in the 20s personally, maybe late teens. I think if Sacramento really wants him, they’ll do a trade and move down. But I do think they do get him into the first round based off those workouts and before the workout process started we had him in the second.
Q. The Nuggets, talk about what you see going on around them at the end of the first draft.
FORD: Well, you know, it’s tough, the whole franchise was gutted and they’ve got a brand new general manager walking in and they’ve just hired a new coach, I think it was yesterday. So they’re a little bit behind the 8‑ball when it comes to prepping for the Draft and what they need.
And if that’s the case, you take the best player available. I mean, the one good thing about Tim Conley was that he was a scout and he was out on the road, and he scouted all these players, and he knows them well. And so he at least isn’t someone who’s flying completely blind when he goes in there. He was looking at a player in the top six at New Orleans, and now he’s looking at a player at 27, but he’s scouted everybody.
I think what the Nuggets clearly need, which I think will be available to them in the late first round, is shooting, and that was a weakness of theirs. Losing Iguodala also opens up some space at a position there. But they could use more help there especially if they can’t sign Iguodala. Even if they do sign him, Iggy is not a great shooter.
And a guy like an Allen Crabbe, a guy like a Ricky Ledo, players that have great range on their jump shot, those seem to be the type of guys that I think would be really attractive to them in the late first.
Q. There are a couple of players around here, obviously not very highly regarded players Colton Iverson out of Colorado State and Andre Roberson from University of Colorado, what do you think about them?
FORD: Iverson is a potential second round pick, in part because of his big body. It’s hard to find backup centers with an NBA body in the pros. I’m sure he would take offense at this, but sometimes you hear scouts refer to him as five fouls. He could give five hard fouls and play 10 minutes. That’s how people are evaluating him. But that also gives him a shot at going in the second round.
Roberson is one of the most interesting players to me because while his stats don’t necessarily always scream off the page, the advanced analytic guys, and many of these front offices are going that direction, they absolutely love him as a player. And our own Kevin Pelton, who runs a statistical model, had him ranked the No. 3 player in the Draft.
What you’re going to see is as soon as we hit the second round, any of those teams that really heavily rely on those models, they’re going to snatch him up. I think I’ve got him going to the Grizzlies. My good friend John Hollinger had him at 41, but he could go in the 30s, as well. But I could almost guarantee you that guy is going to get drafted because all the deep statistical analysis says he should be a really good NBA player.
Q. Archie Goodwin seems to be a pick that’s going to be based off potential, and most of the projections have him locked into the second round, but is there any chance that he bumps up to the first round anywhere, any team in that 20, 30 range that might take a chance on him?
FORD: For sure. Look, he’s one of the most intriguing players in the Draft. I think he’s the second youngest player in the Draft. He doesn’t turn 19 until August. He was also one of the youngest college basketball players in the country.
He has a couple of things going for him in that he’s got elite speed and quickness, and he’s long and he’s a very creative finisher around the basket. He’s explosive off the floor.
Calipari was referring to him as sort of a Russell Westbrook‑type player coming into the season. He was disappointing, he struggled with his jump shot, he struggled mildly with his decision making, and just never really looked comfortable out there.
But there’s talent there. He’s one of the highest ranked high school players in the country. NBA GMs know this, and a team that’s drafting late in the 20s might say, look, he’s not ready now, but he might be the best player that you could get in the 20s in a couple of years and gamble on him.
Right now we’ve got him projected going in the second round. I think I have him mocked going to the Pistons at 37. But I’d say his range is 25 to 40.
Q. I’m curious, I know that Ricky Ledo had risen in most mock drafts for whatever that’s worth. You’ve had him in that 25 to 30 range almost from the start. You’ve obviously seen him work out. Can you see him not going in the first round at this stage, and obviously his background is very unique.
FORD: Yeah, look, he is maybe the hardest guy to predict right now in the Draft, because the talent level is ‑‑ he’s a top 10, 15 talent in this Draft. People love his shooting, his size for his position. He’s a scorer, and those guys are actually sort of hard to find. And people that went and watched him in Providence and in practices were really, really impressed with what they saw.
The challenge is going to be there are a lot of question marks about him as a person, question marks about his background, question marks about what happened at Providence, other things that he’s been involved in, the people that are around him in his life, and they are significant.
Every team that I’ve spoken with has a lot of apprehension about drafting him based off of what they know about him and his personal life. Not that he can’t change or not that all of it’s his fault, but you start to become a little risk averse in the NBA Draft when things are pointing in a certain direction.
If you told me that he went 15 in this Draft, I wouldn’t be surprised because a GM may just say, ‘forget about it, we’re going to take him on the talent.’
Look what happened with Lance Stevenson in Indiana, and we’re going to roll the dice, and if he fell out of the first round completely, it wouldn’t surprise me, either. I understand when you start talking about guaranteed contracts, the concerns that they have about Ricky Ledo. Ricky Ledo is asking every team to take a chance on him, and I think that’s what you do. His talent warrants it, but the character issues are real.
Q. Where do you think Steven Adams will go in this Draft?
FORD: Steven Adams has been one of the high‑risers of this Draft. People have loved his workouts. They’ve loved his interviews. They’ve loved him as a person. He’s shown more skill than he showed at Pittsburgh shooting the basketball, and then he’s got a body that’s ready-made to be an NBA center. If you’re going to build an NBA center, you’d build it to look a little bit like Steven Adams.
Anymore, I think his range now is as high as Sacramento at 7. I think the Blazers will look at him strongly at 10, the Sixers at 11. I actually think his floor probably is the Oklahoma City Thunder at 12, though he might slip a spot or two below that. So he’s very well placed and positioned right now to be a mid to late lottery pick.
Q. I had a follow‑up question about Goodwin because he’s a Little Rock guy, and also B.J. Young. Both of those guys in the preseason mock draft, they were No. 1 guys and Archie was even a lottery pick. What do you think is happening with those guys to fall, and where do you think Young is going, if going at all?
FORD: Well, both of them have seen their stock fall dramatically, and it’s about being improved. You look at the young players and the talent and you want to see them improve as players on the basketball court.
I think Archie Goodwin has been a head scratcher because Calipari has this long track record of getting the most out of players, and you see most of these players improve their weaknesses and improve their overall basketball IQ and we didn’t see that out of Archie this year.
He looked a lot like the player we saw at the start of the season, and that’s what gives people pause because now you see is he not accept coaching. Are you not working on your game, are you unable to work out flaws?
He’s the antithesis of Victor Oladipo who came in with raw athleticism and not a lot else. But every year you see him adding things to his game, improving even during the season with that hard work, and that’s the question about Archie right now.
And then B.J. Young actually regressed this year in my opinion. I thought in a lot of ways he was better as a freshman than he was as a sophomore. Some of that is the dynamics of team and coach and chemistry and things like that.
But he’s been walked into the workouts and he’s struggled to hit jump shots and he’s struggled to prove that he can be a point guard. A guy that I thought was a lock for the first round at the start of the season, I think that there’s a good chance that he goes undrafted on Draft night. In fact, he did not make our 60 players in the second round of our mock.
That’s in part not because I don’t have him ranked as one of the 60 players, because I do, but when you get to the second round with teams with so many multiple picks, they start taking international players because they can’t afford to have all these players on their roster anyway, so they take guys and they stash them overseas. They hope they pan out down the road, and it leaves a lot of other players on the outside looking in.
Q. I thought Archie was the youngest player in the draft, you said he was the second youngest. Who is the youngest?
FORD: The kid from Greece, Giannis Adetokunbo was born in December of 1994, and I believe Archie was born in August of 1994.
Q. I have a question about two Philly guys, Khalif Wyatt from Temple and Ramon Galloway of LaSalle. Do they have a chance of getting drafted and will a team take a shot at them after the draft if they go undrafted?
FORD: I think they’re probably summer league guys, both of them, guys that will get an invitation to summer league and try to work their way onto a roster. Wyatt, of the two, intrigues people because he’s clearly a talented scorer, one of the most talented scorers in my opinion of anybody in the Draft. But his utter lack of athletic ability is the thing that really, really haunts him.
If you can’t guard anybody in the NBA and if you’re really going to have a hard time getting past people and if you’re not an elite shooter, all of that stuff that you’re able to do in college just doesn’t really translate to the NBA.
So I think he and Galloway are guys that are probably going to be frustrated on Draft night. But all they have to do is pick the right summer league team, pick a team with a hole and go out there and really perform and get that contract. That’s what matters.
Q. I know some people are talking about Anthony Bennett as maybe having the highest upside in this Draft. What’s your view of him, and what will keep him or what could keep him from reaching that potential?
FORD: Look, I think he could have that. I think you can make the argument for Noel, I think you can make the argument for Bennett, I think you can make the argument for McLemore as far as the big upside guys in this Draft.
If you look at Bennett, you look at a couple of things: One, he’s a natural scorer who can score inside and out. He has an NBA body. Everybody is worried about Nerlens Noel being 218, 219 pounds. This guy already has the body of a man.
He’s very skilled, but he’s out there, he’s aggressive, he looks for his shot. There just aren’t a lot of real pure scorers in this Draft, and Bennett is one of them. He reminds me so much of Larry Johnson, and I think that’s great for him.
On the down side, he’s a bit of a tweener. He’s probably a little bit more of a 4 than a 3 right now because of his weight, but at 6’7″ he’s a little bit undersized for a 4. He’s had a shoulder injury, and obviously the shoulder injury has kept him out of workouts, and it’s also kept him from just working out, period, and he’s shown up at the last few places at about 261 pounds, which is about 18 pounds over his heaviest playing weight at UNLV, and I think he was a bit overweight at UNLV.
So that’s going to raise some red flags about a 261‑pound 6’7″ guy, and it also affects his athleticism. Can he lose the weight? Of course he can. Kevin Love was heavy and he lost his weight. Deron Williams has been heavy at times. They now look like different people.
The question is do they have the will power to do it? And if he does have the will power, why wouldn’t he have done it coming up and leading up to the Draft? Why wasn’t he on a stationary bike or something else. Those are legitimate questions that they have to ask Anthony Bennett. They become less important if you’re drafting him 6, 7 and 8 and more important if you’re drafting him the No. 1 pick.
Q. The Pistons have three unrestricted free agent guards this off season. Would choosing a guard who would complement Brandon Knight and add depth to that position be the best choice for the Pistons? And if so who would be successful with Detroit?
FORD: You’re talking about as a point guard to play alongside Brandon Knight?
Q. Yes, sir.
FORD: I think you’re right. I think the Pistons have looked at Knight and think that he’s probably better suited to play the 2 than the 1, and that’s led them to look at the point guards that are available in this Draft.
If you’re talking about fit, Michael Carter‑Williams to me is the best fit next to Brandon Knight because of size and because of play‑making ability. Brandon Knight can really shoot the basketball and he can defend. He’s a heady player. But he isn’t a natural playmaker. He’s not the quickest guy off the dribble.
That’s where Michael Carter‑Williams excels. He can get past this guy, he can get to the rim, he finds guys, he’s a creative passer. He’s also a nightmare on the defensive end, one of the best defenders, I think, in this Draft on the perimeter.
And you see them together on the floor, and Carter‑Williams at 6’6″ and Knight at 6’3″, they can play together.
I think the Pistons really like Trey Burke. The problem with Trey Burke is that he’s just six feet, and when you put him on the floor with a 6’3″ guard, that’s a pretty small backcourt.
The thing that Burke has more than Carter‑Williams is he shoots the ball much better, and I think he’s more of the type of guy who carries his team on his shoulders. Carter‑Williams might be a better passer, but there’s times because of his lack of shooting ability where he can’t take over the game in the way that we saw Trey Burke take over the game.
So I think if those guys are both there, and I’m not sure they will be, they’ll be in a very difficult position for the Pistons to be in – who do you choose? Do you choose the guy who’s probably the best fit or do you choose the guy who’s ranked a little bit better player?
It’ll be interesting to see which way they come down on that. I’m not sure which way they’ll go.
Q. In your latest mock draft you have forward Anthony Bennett drafted by the Pistons. How would his style of game and size benefit the Pistons?
FORD: Well, look, the Pistons have thrived the last three years taking a guy who had slid to them in the Draft. Greg Monroe ranked higher than where they were drafting, slid; Brandon Knight, slid; Andre Drummond last year, ranked on our board as a top‑five prospect, slid. At that point you take the guy who’s the best player available. I think in Anthony Bennett’s case, that’s clear‑cut. If he’s available at 8, he is the best player on the board. You take him and you worry about fit later.
One, he can fit into a rotation if that’s the case with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Those guys aren’t each playing 48 minutes a night. Two, I think he can slide over to the 3. He can really stretch the floor, he can handle the ball. There’s a lot of things about his game that scream that he might be a 3. And then his versatility I think makes him an interesting prospect for them.
But again, when you’re drafting, you never want to draft need over best player available when there’s a clear break. And in my opinion, Bennett is one of the six best players in this Draft, and so if he’s there at 8, there’s a clear break in talent.
Q. The Frenchman Rudy Gobert, he’s had workouts at least three times alongside Steven Adams. Do you know how he’s handled himself against a big body like Adams, if he hurt or helped his stock during this process?
FORD: Well, first the thing about Gobert that’s interesting to me is he has a freakish 7’9″ wing span, the largest we’ve ever measured in our databases, and he has a 9’7″ standing reach, that means when he stands underneath the basket and puts his arms above his head, he’s only three inches away from touching the rim, which is unbelievable.
And because of that, everybody projects him as a rim protector at the next level. The issue with Gobert is that he’s not particularly skilled offensively. He needs to add strength. And he doesn’t really have a motor that runs particularly hot. So when he gets in a workout with a guy like a Steven Adams, there are problems.
Adams is stronger, he’s more aggressive, he’s a better athlete, he’s quicker. And also by the way, Adams has a freakishly long wingspan, as well, and a huge standing reach. So the power plus the athleticism and length overpower a guy like Gobert.
And I think that’s the challenge with Gobert right now, and he’s all over the board. You know you’re going to have to be patient with him. You love the physical tools. They couldn’t be better for a center. But he’s got to learn how to play. He’s got to get stronger. He’s got to be able to actually protect the rim.
Some people say, look at Roy Hibbert didn’t know what he was doing when he came out of Georgetown, look at him now. It just takes time.
Are you willing to invest the time in Gobert? Where I think Adams’ people see more immediately based off the athletic ability and the aggression that he’s going to be able to turn the corner quicker than Gobert.
So Gobert, where does he go? Teens to late 20s, I think, and I don’t think Adams gets out of the water.
Q. A couple questions about some Missouri players. First of all, I was just wondering what has Phil Pressey shown during this pre‑draft process, and I was hoping you could talk on the draft potential of Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers, as well?
FORD: Look, Phil Pressey is one of the most frustrating players to scout for NBA scouts and myself because if you want to talk about a floor general and a guy who can see the floor, he is as talented as any point guard in this Draft. He is a special passer who really, I think, can run a team. The problem is he doesn’t always see himself that way.
And you saw in Missouri over and over again as games would get tight, he would start to try to play hero ball, try to do too much and then commit mindboggling turnovers and take horrible jump shots and almost single‑handedly lose games for Missouri after playing so well for the first 35 minutes.
So is Phil Pressey the guy you see in the first 35 minutes of a Missouri game or is he the guy that you see in the last five minutes? He goes into Brooklyn in front of a hoard of NBA general managers and NBA scouts and does exactly the same thing. At first he’s making great passes, running his team well, and then all of a sudden a switch goes on his head and he thinks that he needs to be Kobe Bryant and get out there and shoot and score. You’re almost screaming at him from the sidelines, no, no, just keep passing it and a team will take you in the first round.
And when he’s undersized, you just question that about him, and I think that’s why he’s in the second round and not in the first round.
Oriakhi and Bowers, most likely both guys go undrafted. Oriakhi obviously has a big body which is something that intrigues NBA guys. He’s a bit undersized and wasn’t particularly that productive at the college level.
Bowers was more intriguing until he got injured this season. I think that he was making a case for himself as a second round pick, but he struggled to make his case since then, including the workouts. While I think Bowers is a possible second‑round pick, most likely he goes undrafted.
Q. Just a follow‑up on Murphy. I know most of the projections have him going in the second round, kind of the 40 to 55 range. Are there any teams that you’re hearing that are higher on him than other teams in that range or any teams that fit particularly well for him?
FORD: Well, you look at teams that are looking for a stretch 4 because he’s a very specific player. He only works if there’s a need and a fit sort of in the offense. You look at the teams that can use that, the 76ers or a team that’s out there right now looking for a stretch 4, for example, the Utah Jazz at 46, a team out there looking for a stretch 4, the Los Angeles Lakers, another team that’s out there, the Detroit Pistons are another one that has a lot of interest in Eric Murphy. We have him going 54 to the Washington Wizards, again, with a team that’s looking for a big who can shoot the basketball.
Q. And just to follow up, what are your thoughts about Mike Rosario’s future playing professional basketball?
FORD: I think he’s going to have to fight his way through summer leagues and through training camps and the D‑League to get on a team right now. Not generating a ton of interest.
Q. I wanted to ask you about a guy that I kind of he’s on anyone’s radar Thursday night, but perhaps can play himself into a favorable situation, and that’s Romero Osby out of Oklahoma?
FORD: He’s a warrior, and that’s the thing I like about Osby is that physically he is a guy who can come in and make a difference right away. I know in Brooklyn when we watched him play, we loved the toughness, loved the fight that he brings to the table.
You’re right, he’s not a name that I’m hearing heavily anywhere from any team in the second round. He did not make the second round of our mock.
But again, a veteran player who can come in and find the niche. Some teams are really good at this, like the San Antonio Spurs, at finding these sorts of guys, and it really takes teams and general managers who understand what our team is about, what sort of player thrives in our system and where he can fit.
And I think Osby is one of those candidates to find a home with a great summer league performance.
Q. I wanted to get your analysis of Erick Green of Virginia Tech. In a mock draft you see him going to the Wizards in the second round?
FORD: Yeah, and he frankly is a guy that could also crack into the 20s. Very intriguing player that really didn’t come on until his senior season in the eyes of NBA scouts. By the way, you think, well, that’s a good thing, but scouts are always wary of seniors. And he’s a player that I think to me is a guy who really can score the basketball. The question is – is he a point guard or not?
If it was clear he is a point guard, I think we would have been talking about him as high as 15, 14 in the Draft. I know there’s some interest there for some teams in the 20s like the Pacers, for example, at 23. The Jazz have liked him a little bit, the Clippers liked him a little bit at 25. I just don’t think he gets out of the first five picks in the 30s just because of the intriguing nature of what he did last year, and the efficiency with which he scored.
He’s one of the players that I think is a sleeper in this Draft, one of those ones where we’re going to look back in a couple years and say how did that guy get into the second round.
Q. Speaking of the ACC, Alex Len, here’s a guy who didn’t make all‑ACC first team, second team, third team, yet he’s one of the top picks in this Draft. Can you talk about how that came to be?
FORD: He’s 7’1″. At the end of the day, that’s the only way I can explain it is that he’s 7’1″ and he’s skilled. He runs the floor well, he rebounds, he blocks shots, he’s got a nice touch on his jump shot.
Teams are giving him a major benefit of the doubt because if you watched Maryland play this year, you know that they had very poor guard play, and big men like Len need their guards to get them the ball. Len didn’t get the ball a lot. He was frustrated a lot. The team didn’t seem to recognize that they had this talent.
One of the things NBA teams have always liked about him is when he was over in Europe playing in the under‑18, he was dominant over there. And so people say, look, he was dominant over there. He wasn’t in a great system in Maryland. He’s got all the size, skill stuff that we want in a big man, let’s roll the dice on Len.
Everybody says Nerlens Noel is a risky pick. I think Len is a riskier pick because one thing I don’t see out of him is motor. That’s always a big red flag for me with big guys. When I hear skill and can do this, that and the other, but I don’t see aggression and I don’t see toughness and motor, that scares me at the NBA level. At least that I see that out of Noel.
That said, I think he should be a top five pick and I think he’s got the potential to be really good down the road. I just don’t see him as safer as a lot of people do over Noel.
Q. If the Cavs don’t take Noel do you see him sliding past No. 2? And you mentioned analytics earlier. Is there any other growing trend or differences in how teams are approaching the Draft in the last couple of years?
FORD: Well, look, on the first question about what happens with Noel, my sources are saying that he doesn’t get past 2 to Orlando. If the Cavs don’t take him at 1, Rob Hennigan has maybe done more research and scouted Noel heavier than any team in the Draft. They like him. They think he’s a fit. I would agree with him. And they’re going to swing for the fences and take the guy that they think has the most potential.
So I think Noel’s range right now is 1 to 2. I would be shocked if he slid beyond that, especially now that team doctors are coming out and saying that they’re happy with the rehab, they’re happy with the surgery, he’s on pace to recover when the doctors said he would recover. That’s great news for him.
As far as analytics go, here’s the irony about analytics: Analytics was supposed to be a more objective, logical way of rating prospects. Unfortunately, anybody that put the system together is a human being, and you have to value all the different factors and try to put a formula together that you think best captures production and projecting production at the next level.
And so every analytical system that I see doesn’t agree with each other. It sounds a lot like scouts, right? They don’t agree with each other because different systems value different things.
Let me just give you one example, because this is taking over the league. More and more teams, you’re seeing all these young general managers being hired right now, and they’re being hired because they have their systems, they have their way of analyzing and using analytics to predict which are the best players and they don’t agree with each other.
What’s the difference between Nerlens Noel and Alex Len analytically? All the analytics say that Nerlens Noel should be a star. Almost all of them, but not all of them, but most of them say Alex Len shouldn’t.
And it really comes down to one number. They find a predictive quality in steals. When big men get steals, they have found that that number is predictive of NBA success. You get a lot of steals as a big man. The people that have done that in the past in college have gone on to have great NBA careers. If you don’t get steals it shows the opposite, that big men that can’t get steals in college when they get to the NBA, they fail.
What do you have? You have Nerlens Noel, 2.2 steals a game, which is phenomenal for a big man. What do you have in Alex Len? 0.3 steals a game, horrible even for a big man. All of a sudden there’s the big change, even though Alex Len does other things better than Noel, you weigh those various factors and try to find out which ones predict NBA success.
And the analytics guys will fight about this. Noel and Len will be a really interesting case because it’s really clear what’s separating the two and the analytical systems, and we’re going to find out does that really hold true in this case. Does the fact that Alex Len did not get steals at Maryland, was it predictive of some sort of problem that he had as a player, whether it’s motor athleticism or quickness that’s going to haunt him at the NBA level?
Q. With the late round and the Nets in particular, it looks like you’ve put a lot of big men and swing men in that position. What about the Nets’ roster and situation made you lean that way in recent weeks?
FORD: Just information that, again, I cull from the teams and who they like. My job, I see, is less trying to be a talent scout. Though, look, I have my opinions and I watch hundreds of hours of college basketball and tape, and more as a reporter that really has relationships with teams, has relationships with scouts and tries to get an understanding from each team what it is that they’re after, who it is that they like. And by the way, sometimes I don’t agree with them.
But what I try to report is what they like. So what I’m reporting when you see the mock with wings and those bigs. Those are the guys that I’m hearing that the Nets like. So whether it’s Gorgui Dieng or Tony Snell, who is another guy that they like, Mason Plumlee or a Kelly Olynyk, it makes sense if you look at the roster and maybe perhaps where they feel that they need depth. And I think they feel like they could use a little bit more shooting. And almost every team, by the way, especially contending teams, will say we need a little bit more size, a little bit more defense or perhaps somebody who can score a little bit off the bench.
Q. There seems to be a big gap between Otto Porter and the next small forward or group of them. Would you talk about that? And then also regarding Trey Burke, we all know what his positives are. What do you feel are the downsides about Trey Burke?
FORD: Well, you know, it’s really interesting, teams value centers and point guards, and you hear that every year. Those are the most important positions on the floor. If you want to go out and find what is the rarest position as far as talent goes in the NBA, it’s actually at the 2s and 3s. There are a ton of great power forwards in the league right now. There are a ton of great point guards in the league right now. There’s a ton of great centers in the NBA right now. There are very few 2 guards and 3s, and I’m not sure why that is, but it’s just the trend.
So here we are again in this Draft, and if you want a three, you’ve got Otto Porter, Jr., and anybody else really doesn’t cut the mustard in the lottery. We thought for a while Shabazz Muhammad might be another guy that might be up there, but he’s since been sort of downgraded by scouts based on some of the concerns that they have.
And with Porter, he’s really the most complete player in the Draft. He does a little bit of everything. He can shoot the ball; he can handle the ball; he’s a good passer; he can defend multiple positions; has a high basketball IQ; he plays well without the ball but also can play well with the ball in his hands.
He’s almost like a point forward, and he’s a facilitator, and he’s one of those guys that you just feel like he makes your team better. Analytics love him. He’s a young guy for a sophomore. He is one of the more sure things in my opinion in this Draft. I know the Pelicans like him a lot. I don’t really see many scenarios where they get a chance to get him at 6. That would be a home run for them. I don’t think he gets past Washington at 3.
And then as far as Burke goes, look, it’s a tricky situation. Burke was the best basketball player in college basketball last year. He deserved to win the awards that he won.
Translating college to the NBA is the tricky part, right? If we could just select the best college players every year and slot them 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 in the Draft, I wouldn’t have a job and neither would a lot of NBA scouts, but the point is that college success doesn’t always translate to the NBA, and it typically doesn’t translate because either you don’t possess an NBA skill that you do at an elite level; or two, you lack the requisite size or athletic ability that you can get away with in college but you can’t get away with at the NBA level.
And in Burke’s case, it’s not skill based. He’s a very skilled guard, does just about everything well. It’s about size. He’s six feet tall, and it’s about athletic ability. He’s certainly not a bad athlete by any stretch of the imagination.
Point guard in particular is a place where the elite athletes at the NBA reside, and you start thinking about guys like Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose and John Wall, and you start to look at Trey Burke, and he’s much more average. He doesn’t have that explosiveness either as a leaper, and I think this is especially the case, in his movement laterally, and that affects his ability to get by people at the next level and also to defend people, which I think is even the bigger concern that NBA coaches are going to have. Who do you defend? Can you slow down John Wall? Can you slow down Russell Westbrook?
And that’s what has caused people not to go crazy about Trey Burke.
But I love his attitude towards the game. I think he plays with a lot of moxie. I think he plays with a chip on his shoulder. I think he’s a winner. I think he’s going to figure it out at the next level, but I think people just have to temper their expectations with him. He’s more likely to have a career like a Jameer Nelson or a Mo Williams than he is a Chris Paul.
Q. I wanted to get your thoughts on Robert Covington of Tennessee State University. What do you think his chances are of getting drafted in that second round, and what might be hurting his chances?
FORD: You know, Covington to me is a guy who started to get some buzz when you go later in the Draft as a guy that might sneak into the second round, you hear people sort of talk about him as one of those sleepers because he’s long. He’s athletic. He can play a couple of positions on the floor. He’s got a 7’2″ wingspan. He’s 6’8″, and he’s a pretty good rebounder.
And when you look at him, there’s a little bit ‑‑ even though he played at a small school, you look at him a little bit and you see, well, who’s excelled like that, and everybody in the league has kind of a herd mentality, and that herd mentality can lead you in a direction of well, this player is going to be the next this guy, and one of the guys that you would hear with him is he’s a little bit like a poor man’s Paul George, with that size and that length and sort of the skill set that he has.
I personally think that he’s struggling a little bit now in workouts to have made that differentiation to make himself a second‑round pick. I’d say it’s likely right now at this point that where he goes is as an undrafted player that goes into a summer league.
But I personally like him a lot. I actually think he’s a player that teams probably shouldn’t be sleeping on as much as they are because he’s got some abilities in both steals and blocks and rebounds and three‑point shooting that sort of scream to me NBA role player.
Q. In what areas is he struggling in workouts, and anybody else in the Ohio Valley Conference you think has any chance of getting drafted or getting into a summer league team besides Isaiah Canaan?
FORD: Well, Isaiah Canaan I think will be a first‑round pick, and he’s probably one of the best small school players along with C.J. McCollum in this Draft. You know, there’s another guy out of Murray State that I think has some abilities, and now his name is ‑‑
Q. Ed Daniel?
FORD: Yeah, Ed Daniel, sorry, thank you.
Ed Daniel is a guy who’s gone into workouts a little bit and impressed some people. You look at his numbers at Murray State and you wonder a little bit how is this guy a draft pick, and he’s a 6’7″ power forward and that scares you a little bit, but he’s such a great rebounder and a great leaper and has a terrific motor. He’s impressed a lot of people in his workouts, and he’s a guy that I think could sneak into the second round, as well.
Q. You mentioned before that Steven Adams is one of the high‑risers of this Draft. How do you balance what’s on the tape and the workouts, and is there a risk in taking someone that high who wasn’t very productive in college?
FORD: Yeah, it’s a risk. Steven Adams is a risk, but here’s the thing with the younger players that you have to look at: What did they look like at the start of the season and what did they look like at the end of the season?
If you watch Steven Adams in his first four or five games at Pittsburgh, it was a horror show. I mean, it was a ‑‑ oh, my goodness, this guy is looking like he’s never played organized basketball before in his life, and I can’t remember the team that I saw Pittsburgh against, but I remember the first time I scouted him this season; I wrote down in my notebook, “years away, come back and look at him again as a junior.” I was just shocked at how raw he was.
But then I caught Pittsburgh towards the end of the season in the Big East, and he looked like a different player to me. He looked like he was getting it. He was more aggressive defensively. By the Big East Tournament, I really started to see what scouts had seen from him in high school, and that shows intelligence and that he’s able to pick up the game.
He’s still a step slow, and that’s the thing that scares me about Adams, but he’s a step slow not because he’s not intelligent but he has a lot less experience leading the game. He hasn’t played at this level. So when you draft him in the lottery, you’re drafting a guy that you know is not ready to play in the NBA. If he’s a step slow in college, he’s three steps slow in the NBA, and he’s going to get more playing experience, what have you.
One of the reasons that we had the Thunder projected there is they’re a team that runs a great D‑League franchise. They do a lot of great player development, and he is the perfect candidate for what the D‑League is supposed to be. Give them a year, let them develop, let them learn NBA sets, let the Thunder coaches work with him, and then you have all the raw abilities for him to be a terrific player down the road.
Q. I know you were asked about Andre Roberson earlier, but what type of player do you see him being in the NBA as far as where he fits position‑wise, and do you feel like he’s a player that could use a little seasoning in the D‑League before he goes into the league?
FORD: Well, look, he has one skill to hang his hat on at the NBA, and one skill that actually is the one skill and the one statistic that seems to translate more than any other, which is he is an amazing rebounder. He’s an amazing rebounder. He’s 6’7″, and he rebounds better than most seven‑footers. And that skill over the years has shown to translate to the next level.
What is he going to be at the NBA? He’s going to be an energy guy that goes out there and is scrappy and grabs rebounds and gets some offensive rebounds to put back. I know he tried to show this year that he was a small forward and he could do all that. He can’t do all that. He can’t do all that at the NBA level. He couldn’t really do that at the college level.
But he could be a niche player in the NBA, and he should be watching tape of Dennis Rodman right now because he’s got skills like that. It’s not just that he’s athletic; he has a great sense of timing, rebounding. And look at how Dennis Rodman carved out a long, healthy career; a Reggie Evans, for example, doing one thing: Rebounding the basketball and defending.
And I think that’s why the analytics like him. Sometimes it’s just about getting it in the player’s head that I understand I want to be a star and I want to score 20 points a game and everything else, but in the NBA, do what you know. There’s so few players in this league that can do everything. Everybody else makes the league by doing what you know.
Q. It seems there’s more or less disinformation out there in the rumor mill than usual. Is it more accurate do you believe than usual, or are people just going out and seeing what will stick?
FORD: Well, we’ll find out, won’t we? As a reporter, I never want to put disinformation out or inaccurate information out, so we tend to only report what we believe to be true. We do sometimes ‑ you’re right ‑ find out that that’s a smokescreen or that teams have put that out there intentionally to mislead people or what have you. It’s probably most common right now with the Draft.
There’s an incentive for them to do it, and the incentive is I want to see ‑‑ let’s say you’re the Cleveland Cavaliers. And I’m not saying they’re doing this; I’m saying hypothetically for a second if you’re Cleveland and I want to trade the pick, I might leak out there I’m going to take Alex Len and see, oh, what team was hoping Alex Len would fall to them and what might they offer us now to move up to make sure that they get Len.
If we don’t get great offers, now I’m like, oh, we want Otto Porter. And again, we’ll go through the process. And a reporter writes, oh, I hear they’re really excited about Otto Porter. Again, they wait a couple of days. Do we get phone calls? Is there a team that was really after Otto Porter?
It’s a bit of a fishing expedition. We all know that it happens, and I feel like hopefully the best reporters are out there and understand that this is part of the process, and they gauge their sources well and they have a track record with them and we know when we’re trying to be used and when the information is real.
I think all the smokescreen stuff that we talk about, we’re talking about it more at the level of blogs and the internet and the rumors that fly through Twitter and everything else because it’s just so easy to spread, but I hope we’re not doing that. I hope we’re getting the best information we can.
We get burned from time to time. But what I feel like I’m hearing are the legitimate sorts of discussions that are happening around the league right now. Whether they go through or not always is a question for every trade that is completed. There were 10 trades that were talked about that never made it all the way to completion.
But I think that’s what makes the NBA fun. I think people are interested in transactions. I think they’re interested in their teams getting better. But you’re right; not everything that you’re going to read, even on ESPN.com, will end up happening the way that we believe it might.
Q. Is there one person or team that manages to mask its true intentions better than anyone else?
FORD: Oh, yeah, there’s several, and they all have ties to the San Antonio Spurs. So the Spurs have historically been the team that has been referred to as the CIA of the NBA and keep all the secrets. We don’t know what they’re going to do. Sam Presti came out of San Antonio and runs the Oklahoma City Thunder that way. The other team lately that has been like that is the Charlotte Bobcats. They’re run by a new general manager Rich Cho. No information is leaking out of there. Very difficult to find out anything.
But again, I don’t feel those teams smokescreen. Those teams just don’t tell anybody anything, and you find out about it when it happens.
Q. I was wondering how you see Payton Siva, where you see him going, and how did he perform in his draft workouts?
FORD: You know, I didn’t think he was going to have a second‑round pick when I first watched him, really, for the last couple years at Louisville. But I have to say that people have been impressed with him because he’s disruptive defensively. He’s so quick and he’s so aggressive that he’s the sort of player ‑‑ and of course Rick Pitino in part taught him this and used him so effectively at Louisville that they won a National Championship in part by how he plays on the defensive end.
He’s undersized. He’s not a very good shooter. I think he’s offensively challenged in a lot of ways, so he’s not going to be a player that necessarily is going to be drafted because we think this could be our full‑time point guard.
But teams will look at him and maybe this could be a guy who could slow down a Russell Westbrook a little bit or slow down a John Wall a little bit and maybe make their lives miserable for 10, 15 minutes a game, and for that he might make the second round.
Q. I just wanted to follow up on Erick Green a little bit. What exactly did he need to show in the draft process that maybe he didn’t get a chance to show at Virginia Tech just because kind of his role on the team was such an offensive‑minded role?
FORD: Yeah, he’s small for a 2 guard, so teams want to see him as a point guard and they want to see how he reads defenses, how he passes the ball. So in a workout where you can play three on three ‑ that’s the NBA rules, that’s the most that you can play in workouts ‑ they’re going to put him in situations where he has to make reads, and they want to see how he reads the defense as a point guard, not as a scorer.
And every team has detailed scouting reports on players, and so what they try to do in the workouts is put you in situations where we think you might be weak, and we want to see how do you respond.
They also do game film breakdown with a lot of players, and they’ll show them situations on game film and ask them about the situation. Sometimes they show the player’s own game film to point out different things and allow the players to point them out. Sometimes they just show them situations in the NBA and try to get an understanding, especially at the point guard position; how do you see the game, right; what’s your basketball IQ; how will you see your teammates in the openings.
Because he’s in a situation at Virginia Tech where he was asked to carry such a heavy scoring load for the team, you try to figure out whether he can make that transition to the point guard position.
I’ve generally heard that that’s gone very well with Erick, and it’s helped him move into the first‑round consideration.
Q. The Pacers at 23 obviously are a team without pressing needs, at least in the starting lineup. They could use a scorer off the bench. Two parts: Number one, do you think there’s going to be anything at 23 draft‑wise that necessarily fits with them? And given that there may not be, how active do you expect them to be on the trade market and as part of that Danny Granger’s potential involvement in any of those discussions?
FORD: They’re being active. They’ve looked at 23, and I think their general feeling is unless someone slips in the Draft that was an unexpected slider, the guys that they’re looking at are unlikely to even be rotation players for a team that’s going to contend for an NBA championship next year in the Pacers.
When you look at 23, could this guy get on the floor in the Eastern Conference Finals? You have to start to ask some questions like that. And the answer is no, which means they’re going to have to go and address their bench with trades and free agency. They’re not going to really be able to address that with a draft, which means if they can trade it, I think they could trade it.
If they can’t trade it, I wouldn’t be surprised at all for them to take one of these upside guys, whether it’s an international player that they can stash overseas or maybe a guy like an Archie Goodwin or a Ricky Ledo or someone that you can just say, look, we don’t expect anything out of this guy; we’ll work with him in the D‑League; we’ll try to get them better as a player, and we’ll come back and revisit this in a couple years.
I don’t think they’ll make the mistake they made last year when they drafted Miles Plumlee, thinking, man, he’s 23, 24; he has an NBA body; he can come in and do something for us right away. And then the realization starts to come in that he’s not good enough; can’t put him on the floor right away.
I typically think it’s a mistake that teams tend to make later in the first round because they know they don’t need a star; I just want to fit in a niche guy, but the niche guy isn’t good enough at the niche to really make it at the next level.
I just think they’ll go a different direction this year in the draft because of that.