ESPN will televise the 2011 NBA Draft Presented by Kia Motors Thursday, June 23, at 7 p.m. ET from Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The Draft will also be available via ESPN Radio, ESPN3.com and ESPN Mobile TV. This press release contains additional information.
Following is a transcript of the media conference call held Thursday, June 16, with analysts Jay Bilas and Fran Fraschilla and ESPN.com NBA Draft insider Chad Ford:
Q. I guess the question I have is with Dallas winning a title here, really all trades and free agency and what the Celtics did with trades a couple years ago and the Heat last summer with free agency, do you get the sense the draft isn’t quite the priority it was for GMs anymore or should it still be?
JAY BILAS: I think the draft is really important. I think there are a number of teams, Oklahoma City being one of them, that are built primarily through the draft. Free agency is always a component, but one data point does not make a trend. And I think if you look back when the Pistons won that one year when Larry Brown was coaching them, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the only way to do it.
The draft process is a great way to gather information. There may be guys that you see and interview and deal with during the draft that you don’t get a chance to select, but maybe later on you get to know them. You find out it’s somebody you really like, and later on there is somebody that you decide to go for in a trade.
This is a valuable process for every team, whether you have a high pick or not, and I think the best people in the NBA really utilize the draft to their advantage.
CHAD FORD: It’s interesting. I agree with what Jay said. The Mavs have had a veteran team for a number of years, but if you remember how the Celtics built that team with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, they did it by collecting a number of assets in the draft and using those assets including their No. 6 pick in the draft that year to go ahead and trade for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.
I think teams look at it a couple of ways. Obviously, the top lottery teams are devoid of talent. They need an infusion of talent and the draft is really the best and least inexpensive way to provide that for teams.
As they move from a lottery team into an 8 seed or a 7 seed, you’ll still see a lot of those young players playing a role on that team. But as you move toward a championship team, you do need veterans. But a lot of times those draft picks and those young players can be the chips that allow you to get the elite NBA veterans that you need to win titles.
You don’t see a lot of NBA rookies or guys in their second or third year winning NBA championships or leading their teams to NBA championships. But it doesn’t mean they’re not a very important part of that process.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: Lastly, I’ll add quickly, very few rookies were any factor at all in this recent playoffs. Only NBA friends of mine I talk to talk about what Chad said – assets, assets, assets, assets.
If Minnesota wants to really improve, is Derrick Williams going to do the job for them or could they trade that pick, that asset for a quality young veteran? Maybe drop down lower in the draft order. I think to me the draft and where you pick is about having a bargaining position and maybe utilizing it to maybe get a young veteran.
Q. My question is about Kyrie Irving. There have been a lot of top point guards taken in the last few years, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, John Wall. How does Kyrie Irving compare to them, and what are your opinions of him as a whole?
CHAD FORD: I think Kyrie’s a really good player. He’s an elite prospect. I don’t think he quite compares to some of the guys that you want to compare him to. I think his game’s a little like Chris Paul. I don’t think he’s as good a prospect as Chris Paul. I don’t think he’s quite as good a prospect as Deron Williams or Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook or even a John Wall.
That’s somewhat reflective in this draft. He’s been the consensus No. 1 pick in the draft, and I think there are questions about whether he’ll be a perennial All‑Star or a franchise player. I think he’ll be a very good player in the league, but I’m not sure he does that one thing that sets him apart.
If you look at those other elite point guards that you mentioned, they all do at least one thing that they’re the best at in the NBA or one of the very best at.
I think the thing that’s intriguing about Kyrie Irving is he doesn’t have a lot of holes in his game. He does just about everything well. He plays with a high maturity level for a player of his age.
But most NBA superstars have that one or two things that you can sort of hang on that they do better than anybody else in the league, and I think Irving lacks that. I think that’s why people are a little bit more down on this draft, at least at the top of the draft.
JAY BILAS: I think he’s a terrific young point guard, and he’s a true point guard. That’s where he differs from some of the players that were named already. I do liken him to Chris Paul, as Chad says. But he’s not quite as good as Paul. But if you had taken Chris Paul out his freshman year, you might say the same thing.
Irving, what he lacks, that a Wall or a Rose or guys like that have, he’s not as explosive an athlete. He’s not in that class athletically.
He changes pace and direction well. He’s got a really good feel for the game. He’s a good leader. He’s a really mature kid, and I think he’ll step in and be a really good point guard in the league.
Now the question will be is he going to be an All‑Star caliber player? Is he going to be a Mike Connolly type or is he going to be a player that makes All‑Star teams? And I think that’s still an open question because we didn’t get a chance to see as much of him his freshman year as we expected. He only played in 11 games and only eight of those he plays completely healthy.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: I’ll add. Jay made a point. 303 total minutes his freshman year. Obviously, sample size was small, but when he was on the court, he did some electric things.
I was surprised in Chicago how tall Kyrie is. He’s right at 6’3″, so it’s almost hard to classify him as a small point guard. He’s probably one of the best shooters I think I’ve seen from that position coming into the league as a high pick at the point guard spot.
Interesting thing about him, he’s a very dominant left‑handed driver, and something that people don’t really recognize with a right‑handed player. He’s got holes, but he’s a very safe pick whether you take him one or two.
An international guy’s not going one or two, because a team does not want to make a mistake on a Kanter or a Vesely. They’d rather make a mistake on a kid that five years from now you could say ‑‑ and I don’t think he’s going to be a bust ‑‑ but you could say, heck, the kid was practically an All American at Duke, he is a safe pick. He is a safe pick at No. 1.
Q. What do you think of the depth of the bigs in the lottery range and do you think there are two in the draft that can be a go‑to scorer?
FRAN FRASCHILLA: The guy is Klay Thompson. He’s 6’6″, he’s got positional size. He’s a very good shooter, a better athlete than people think. You hate to compare anybody, but Landry Fields was a similar type prospect. Not the great outside shooter or the very good outside shooter I think that Klay is, but I think Klay is a really safe pick somewhere in the top 14 as far as two guards.
The other thing I think in terms of this draft, size‑wise, it’s kind of interesting that in my mind there is really only one pure center in this draft, and it might be the young kid from Lithuania, Valanciunas, who I think is a long‑term prospect that has tremendous potential.
Then the other guy who, again, is like Big Foot. There have been a couple of sightings, but not many, is Kanter. When he measured out in Chicago, 6’11.5, 262, 5% body fat, that is a pretty good prototype, I think, for an Al Horford type power forward/center. There are not many pure centers in this draft.
JAY BILAS: Of the twos, one of the guys I like is Jordan Hamilton from Texas. He can be a two. He can play a little three. He can really score. He’s 6’7, can rebound well for his position, and he’s got a scorer’s mentality. He shoots it with ease from deep. The question with him is in his maturity and the way he approaches the game. But he improved greatly this last year in his approach.
Another guy that I think can really score it is probably going to be taken middle of the first round or later. Probably middle of the first round is a little high. But Marshon Brooks from Providence is a terrific scorer.
So those two guys in addition to Thompson, that Fran mentioned, I think you would put as twos.
This is not the best draft for big guys. There are some, sort of some fours that are good prospects and have a chance to be really good, but this is not one of the best drafts, really, for anything that we’ve seen.
But there is a depth of good players. Guys that can come into the league and play and be pieces to good teams and maybe rotational players. But I don’t see a ton of guys that really excite you that this guy could be really, really good in the NBA.
CHAD FORD: I think I would add on the two guards there aren’t a lot of great ones in this draft. But if you’re looking for scorers, they’re there. Marshon Brooks averaged 25 points a game this season. Alec Burks from Colorado, we haven’t mentioned him, averaged 20 points a game as a sophomore in the Big 12. Klay Thompson, obviously, a big time scorer as well.
Some teams look at a player like a Jimmer Fredette as perhaps more of a combo guard. But somebody that can play the two in a Ben Gordon sort of way, and we know that Jimmer can light it up as well.
So there are options there for teams that are looking for scorers. There are weaknesses to all of those players’ games. But that is one thing that all of the two guards do well.
I agree with the guys. On the big guys, every year, the NBA teams reach for size. I’m not sure why the world isn’t producing more seven footers who are or coordinated to play basketball, but every year it seems we have to stretch a little bit to find those guys can size.
Teams are willing to project more. So Valanciunas is not ready, but he might be. He’s got a 7’4″ wing span. He’s 7‑feet tall and he’s played pretty well in Europe. And Enes Kanter is another guy.
A guy that’s really risen, in my mind, the last really month is Nikola Vucevic out of USC. And I think some of that, frankly, had to do with that he measured to be a legitimate NBA center at the Chicago pre‑draft camp. He was 6’11”, 7’4″ wing span, and he had the standing reach of an NBA center. And there are so many teams creating size that those guys can rise on draft day.
Q. While the Cavs have the fourth pick, and it might come down to Kanter or Valanciunas, what would you think they should go and why?
CHAD FORD: They’re both risks. They both have upside. I think if you picked Kanter, you’re picking because he is a bit more polished offensively right now, and he has a better NBA body right now. If you pick Valanciunas, you’re picking upside. You’re picking a guy who I know many NBA scouts feel in five years could end up being the best player in this draft, but he’s got a long ways to go to get there.
But he’s longer, he’s taller, he’s got a good motor on him, and NBA centers are so difficult to get their hands on. It’s a bit of a risk. I think that given the Cavs and their situation and the fact that they already have the No. 1 pick in the draft, they’ll probably take someone safe like Kyrie Irving. They can afford to gamble a little bit more. I would say they’d probably go with Valanciunas.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: I would say to use another term, Chad has used risk, I would say throw darts against a board because none of us know, particularly with these two young guys, how it’s going to turn out.
I would probably take Kanter because of his size and strength. There are a lot of things I love about Valanciunas. The one thing that bothered me, and again, he was only 18 when he played this year in the Euro League. He was very much man handled by strong, physical, European centers.
I like a lot about both of them. There are things I don’t like about each’s game. But I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that because of Kanter’s combination of size, athleticism and skill level, and I do think he’s a little bit at this stage more skilled than Valanciunas.
And I’m going to go by what John Calipari told me a number of times during the year, that he felt that Kanter could have been for Kentucky exactly what Jared Sullinger was for Ohio State. I think Kanter’s a little safer play for me.
But Chad and I do not disagree very much in that both have tremendous opportunity to be solid players, but they certainly are both risky picks, as is basically everybody in the first ten picks.
JAY BILAS: I wouldn’t hesitate. I would take Irving No. 1, and Kanter number four if he’s still there. They’re both 19, Kanter is bigger, he’s stronger, he’s more physical. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in there. He’s got the NBA body now. You don’t have to wait on him as far as his physical stature is concerned.
If everybody’s got risks, then there is not much risk. Everybody’s looking at the same risk, I don’t see how it’s risky, but I wouldn’t hesitate to take Kanter for him.
Q. Do you think the buyout situation is going to hinder this at all?
CHAD FORD: Yeah, yeah, it might. I think everyone’s confident at the end that something’s going to work out. For those that don’t know, Valanciunas does not have an NBA buyout, so he’s under contract for the next two years. He cannot leave unless his agent is able to negotiate some sort of NBA buyout for his team.
However his team needs the money, and they certainly don’t want to wait two years and lose Valanciunas and lose out on potentially a couple million Euros when the team desperately could use the money.
So I think all parties agree that as we get closer to the draft, it’s more likely that some sort of buyout will be worked out. If it is, I don’t think there will be any concern anymore. If it’s not, then he could be a guy who could slip in the draft. It’s happened in year’s past and you could see him start to fall.
But no way I think the Cavs take him at four unless they clearly understand when he can come over, and I think they’ll put a priority on a player that can come over now.
Q. Are there any players who you believe may be available late in the second round who you believe are undervalued? If so, who would those be?
CHAD FORD: That’s tough, because this draft has some depth, I think, from 15 to 35 then it starts to drop off again. Where guys go in the late second round, I’m not sure.
But a couple of names that I keep hearing from NBA teams that intrigue me, E’Twaun Moore out of Purdue, a guy who just may be underrated because he does just about everything well, but maybe nothing spectacular.
Another guy, Malcolm Thomas, a power forward out of San Diego State was really not used in a way that highlighted all the things that he can do, but he’s been a guy that’s really impressed teams that have seen him workout because of his length and his athleticism. You’re not typically going to get guys with that athletic ability late in the first round.
Maybe this isn’t fair to categorize him as a late second round pick, but continue to hear a number of very, very positive things at Marquette’s Jimmy Butler. A guy that’s really been a role player even when he was the Star at Marquette. A guy who can do a little bit of everything. He comes really with an incredible background story, and a player who has impressed virtually every team he’s worked out for.
JAY BILAS: I had Moore, Butler, and David Lighty. I agree with Chad. E’Twaun Moore and Jimmy Butler both may be gone by late in the second is round. But the other guy that I think is late in the second round that would be a good player to get is David Lighty. He can guard. He’s got a good body. He knows how to play, and he’s a guy that will come in and do the dirty work for you. Can guard multiple positions, a good athlete, not great, but can make an open shot. He’ll come in and do no harm. He’s a guy that I think can make a lead.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: Great names. Names that I certainly have as guys that could make a team. Another guy I’ll throw out there that’s had terrific workouts who is probably one of the most improved players in the country is Diante Garrett at Iowa State.
He played exclusively an NBA style this year. Lots of pick and rolls. He has good size for a point guard. Certainly one of the most improved players in the Big 12 and will handle himself well in all these workouts because of his combination of size and quickness.
Q. I wanted to follow up as Fran put it big foot. Just wondering with Enes Kanter, what do teams rely on in trying to make a judgment on him?
FRAN FRASCHILLA: That’s a great question. Chad is very much up on the European stuff and knows what I’m talking about here. This is a guy that didn’t come out of nowhere. He was playing in the European under 18s. Has always been a terrific player at his level in Europe. Actually one of the youngest players to ever play in the Euro League at 16. Then the next time you heard much about him was his dominant performance in the hoop summit.
So what it comes down to is how well your scouts have identified him, particularly your international scouts, at a young age and have tracked him. There is not a large resume there for Enes. But the resume there is fairly solid, going back to the age of 16.
The other thing is I know a number of NBA people were allowed in to watch Kentucky practice this year and came away impressed. I know our own Mark Gottfried, now the coach at N.C. State, told me during the year he was very impressed with him.
One x‑factor with Enes is keep in mind though he couldn’t do much at practice, he worked out every day with a number of guys that had great NBA experience on John’s staff. Kenny Payne, particularly, Tony Delk, and Rod Strickland.
So I think that’s pretty much what you’re going on is you’re going to have to rely a little bit on gambling here, but it’s not hard to gamble on 6’11”, 260, with someone who has at least early in his career a good resume.
CHAD FORD: I was impressed with Kanter. I watched him workout for a couple of days in Chicago with Tim Grover who is Kobe Bryant’s trainer, and he’s skilled. He’s also a highly intelligent young man. He came to this country a year ago, didn’t speak a word of English. Got adept enough in the language to enroll in Kentucky, and, yes, I think he went to class and took classes and did well academically there.
My concern is that he has not played at a high level for now really a couple of years. And we’re basing this off of an under 18 tournament run in the summer when he was 17 years old, and one game for the Nike Hoops Summit when he was 18 years old. And those are basically two games that you’re basing the scouting report on.
You wonder with a player that age who has missed that much game time development, what it does to a player. Clearly he’s been working with coaches and in drills and his shooting mechanics and a number of things looked fine and he’s very intelligent like I said. But there is a difference between that and getting the experience of a game and having in‑game basketball IQ.
I’ve covered the international draft for a long time. There are players who come over here and look great in workouts and have all of those skills that have clearly been well schooled, but were not getting a lot of playing time in Europe. And those players struggled when it came to the NBA.
It’s a big leap for anybody including the top college players let alone somebody who hasn’t been on the floor competitively for a couple of years. That is the risk with Kanter. I like him, but that is a significant risk you have to factor in.
JAY BILAS: Those are all fair concerns. The one thing I would add, here he is drafted number 4 in 2006, 2007, 2008, the team, whoever is picking Kanter is picking against this year’s class. So the question is if not him, then who?
So while there may be concerns about him, you’re just moving on to another player who you have concerns about as well.
All things considered, he may be the best risk of the players who provide risk in this thing where they’re picking. If you’re choosing between Kanter and like Fran and Chad said, Valanciunas, there are questions marks about Valanciunas, too, and there are questions about a number of players that you’re going to wind up pitting him against.
But when you balance out the different sort of concerns and positives, Kanter’s going to grade out pretty well.
Q. Can you run through the top two or three perimeter defenders and the top two or three post defenders in the draft regardless of where you think they’ll be taken?
JAY BILAS: One of the best defenders overall in the draft I think is Kawhi Leonard because he can guard multiple positions. I would put him and Chris Singleton as the two best overall defenders in that. Actually, I graded out Singleton as better than Leonard as a defender overall because of his size and his length. But Leonard’s probably able to guard out on the perimeter a little bit better.
As far as sort of an interior defender, I think Kanter does a pretty good job defensively from what I’ve seen. Again, it’s really limited because of how well he uses his body and how physical he can be. But outside of that, there aren’t a lot of guys.
I think that Tristan Thompson down the line can be a good defender because of his length. But there aren’t a lot of guys that you’re saying okay here’s a big time shot blocker. Biyombo is a good shot blocker, but I’ve only seen him play one time in a five‑on‑five game, that’s at the Hoop Summit that he played in.
We’re talking about Kanter and you’ve only got a limited stuff on. You’ve really got limited stuff on Biyombo, but he can really block shots and he’s long and runs very well.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: To continue on what Jay said, a guy that really is going to create a spot for himself in the NBA, there are things I don’t like about him offensively, but on the perimeter press, Iman Shumpert proved to be a really good defender on film this year in the ACC. Long arms, good size at 6’5″. I think if he’s going to get on an NBA court early in his career, it’s going to be as much on the defensive end.
Certainly David Lighty and Jimmy Butler have proven to be solid defenders. I watched Jimmy a lot. I watched him dismantle Marshon Brooks in the Big East tournament this year. He did a great job on him.
As a coach, you can’t end the defensive possession without securing the basketball. So although he measured out undersized, I think Kenneth Faried, who we know is a prolific rebounder, certainly fits into that mold as far as a guy that’s going to end possessions with his rebounding. So there would be a couple of guys that just come to mind.
CHAD FORD: I would agree with all those names. I’d add UCLA’s Malcolm Lee to the mix. A number of teams have been bringing Lee in to go against top draft prospects to see how they can handle an NBA style defender.
The Jazz specifically did that at the other day when they brought in Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker. They brought in Lee specifically because Lee gave Fredette a very difficult time at the UCLA‑BYU game this year. They felt like his length and ability to guard multiple positions would give them problems.
So I think teams are looking at Malcolm Lee. Though I agree with all the other names. I want to point out something about Biyombo and Kanter. Biyombo played in the ACB in the first division this year. And the ACB is probably the best basketball league outside of the NBA and the Euro League, and he led the league in blocked shots playing only 17 minutes a game, which is a pretty amazing feat to do.
So unlike Kanter where we don’t really have game film with him playing against men. We do have about 14 games in the ACB to watch Biyombo play against some of the most well known players in Europe, and he was terrific in that time.
I think he has the potential to be the best defender in this draft, a Ben Wallace sort of figure. The problem is he has virtually no offensive game to speak about whatsoever, and that is going to scare some teams away.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: Just to amplify there, he averaged five rebounds as well in 17 minutes, which translates out pretty well over 14 minutes. And Chad and I witnessed what I would call a tornado type jump shot that spun sideways this week in the workout, little unusual.
Q. Looking at the Knicks and their needs list is probably very long for a team with two stars, but they clearly need a center. And I’d argue they probably need a shooting guard and a point guard soon to replace Chauncey Billups. But at 17, is there anybody who fills any of those needs? Obviously youth is a concern, but they need veterans. Is there anybody that matches up at that 17 spot? I guess your best work of who is going to be there at that point?
JAY BILAS: Well, like you said, it depends on who is available. If you’ve got ‑‑ I think Alec Burks will be gone. If you’re looking at scoring guards or two guards or all that stuff. Klay Thompson will probably be gone. Jordan Hamilton could still be there, the kid from Texas who can really score.
It’s just a question of, like you said, who is available and do they take the best player available? There are a couple of European players that will probably still be available. That kid Motiejunas will be available, I guess. Do you take somebody like Kenneth Faried who is available, a guy that will come in and bust his tail to get the ball for you. He doesn’t have any offense to speak of, but he’s going to play his rear end off.
I tend to think that a kid like that in New York would have a lot of supporters, because he’ll run through a brick wall. He’ll do anything to be successful in the league, and he knows who he is. He’s not trying to be something more than a guy who is going to rebound, give energy, defend, and play hard all the time.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: My Knicks need everything. I think if you’re Donnie Walsh ‑‑ who I believe is making the decisions here as he leaves, I think Jay said it ‑‑ I don’t think you can reach here. You’ve got a list of guys that you really like through these workouts and evaluations. I think you have to take at this point the very best player that you think you’ll be able to put on the floor the earliest.
You mentioned it. They really need help at virtually every spot except you could argue power forward and small forward because of the two superstars.
Even if you find a guy that plays that same spot, you need depth. They still need depth. So I think you can’t pass up on what you think is the best player at that spot. Reaching for a position, I think, more often than not, that hurts you.
CHAD FORD: I think you know that there are a couple of guys the Knicks were high on early. As the draft process works out it doesn’t look like they’re going to be in the range anymore.
If they could get their hands on Klay Thompson of Washington State. He’s a perfect fit for what they want to do. They loved him in the workout. I don’t think he’s going to be there at 17. They’ve also been fans of Jimmer Fredette all year. Again, I don’t think Jimmer Fredette’s on the board when they draft at 17.
The thing both of those guys have in common is they’re shooters. They can shoot from deep, deep range, and that was something the Knicks were really valuing coming into the draft. I think they have a tough decision now. There aren’t great centers available at 17.
The one guy who is a big who might be there who is a legitimate center is Nikola Vucevic out of USC. It might be a reach for him, but so many teams are looking for centers, he may not be on the board. My last mock I have him going at 14 to the Rockets.
I would look out for Marshon Brooks out of Providence. Had a great workout there against Klay Thompson. Has the ability to score the basketball in a number of different ways. Has NBA athleticism and length.
I get the sense that the Knicks are looking for upside here. They understand that a rookie is probably not going to come in and be a major impact player the way Landry Woods was last year. But they also have to build for the future, and I think Brooks would be a good pick there.
Q. Recently you’ve had Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, both talented players with high character. Wondered if you’re noticing a trend with small market teams or in general where NBA teams might be a little less reluctant to take a risk on a guy that has character issues or background issues. It seems a lot of these stars right now especially drafted high are good people that can maybe stay in a small market and have a good background in terms of their character and their foundation?
FRAN FRASCHILLA: I definitely think if you look at the last few drafts, and I think it’s guys like Kevin love and Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, that’s why USA basketball is really on the rise. You have high quality, high character, high talent guys.
Whether small market or big market, I think there has been a trend towards high character here in recent years. It’s the old story you better be really good if you’re going to be high maintenance.
When I look at this draft and look down the list starting with Kyrie Irving, very few guys as I look at my top 30 or so would I say are not high character guys. You look at Kemba Walker and, you know, Tristan Thompson and guys like that, Derrick Williams, I think it just makes sense.
There is going to be a guy like a Klay Thompson. How much do you discount the fact that he got in trouble during the year with a drug possession? I think there’s been a trend recently that a lot of our top college players have actually had the whole package, and that’s a good thing.
CHAD FORD: I had an NBA general manager tell me just the other day that in the last decade they’ve never had as many positive character reports come back from players than they’ve had in this draft, and it’s one of the positives for them. Most teams will hire everything from private investigators and doing a lot of their own legwork to understand who these kids are, what problems have they kept out of the media, whether there are issues they have going on back home or whatever.
Seems like this draft there are a lot of high character players here, and I think does matter to teams. It is something that especially small market teams, as you pointed out, factor in.
When you look at this draft, whether it’s Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams or Brandon Knight, a 4.0 student, and Enes Kanter, another bright, great kid, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, Chris Singleton, Jimmer Fredette, you go down the list and these are all players that not only can you draft because of their talent, but you feel are going to connect with your community, do the right thing and set the right example on your team.
While this draft may not be filled with the highest level of talent of any draft we’ve had, it is a great draft from a character perspective.
JAY BILAS: I agree. It’s hard enough to win by itself is let alone bring in problem children that you’ve got to baby‑sit. I know the Boston Celtics for a number of years now have had a saying that they use with their player acquisition, they say character, not characters. It’s kind of like the old line about talent. You can lose with guys with good character, but you can’t win without them. I think most of the best teams realize that.
You’re not going to choose the boy scout that can’t play over the guy, like Fran said, that’s been arrested once but has a world of talent. I’m not suggesting that. But it does matter. The teams that win, not a big surprise, seem to have guys that can play and can get along with others and have good character as well.
Q. When you’re picking 28th and 30th like the Bulls are, you don’t have a lot of say in who falls to you. But the Bulls definitely need to address some perimeter shooting needs. Is this draft deep in perimeter shooting? I know it’s difficult to speculate end of first round, but who might be available in the first round who can address those needs?
CHAD FORD: I think the Bulls are another one of those frustrated teams like the Knicks. Coming into the season they thought they might have a chance with some of these guys that can really shoot the basketball and they’re rising in the draft. They would love to get their hands on a player like Klay Thompson who would fit. I agree with you. That perimeter is the focus. As you get later in the first round though, it gets a lot harder to find those guys that can shoot the basketball well.
A couple names I’d keep my eye on is Charles Jenkins out of Hofstra. Not only was a terrific scorer for Hofstra, but shot 42% from three. His senior year, shot 41% the year before that. He’s clearly a guy who can play both positions. They’re used to having a 6’3″, 6’4″ guard that can come off the bench like Ben Gordon. I don’t think Jenkins is Ben Gordon, but there are some similarities there in their style of play and how they play.
Another guy to keep a look at, an a international player but wants to come over here now is Latvia’s Davis Bertans. He can really stroke the basketball. He’s 6’10”, has a quick release. Blew away a lot of the NBA scouts at the Nike Hoop Summit with his play there. Recently played very well at the adidas Euro camp in his workouts.
He can really shoot the basketball, and might be another guy that will be available at that spot.
JAY BILAS: Another guy I would add in to what Chad said is Justin Harper from Richmond. He’s 6’9″, 6’10” guy, a perimeter guy that played in a Princeton style system at Richmond. But he’s gotten better every year, a really good shooter. A guy that can serve as a face‑up four man from what people are calling the stretch four now. He’s a guy that will probably be available later in the first round in the 20’s. I’d be surprised if he got down to 28. I have him ranked higher than that.
But he’s a guy that can shoot it very well from the perimeter, and I think would add to any team with his ability to stretch the defense.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: I think lastly when you’re talking about Chicago and Tom Thibodeau, you’re talking about a culture of toughness. So if you can add somebody, that’s what I would call and Tom used to say when I was with them in New York, a no‑mistake guy. A guy who sits here is a Nolan Smith, a guy that’s not going to win you a lot of games with great athleticism, but he’s going to keep your team from losing games because he’s a smart player. Solid defensively, solid shooter, winning culture. That is the guy that I think Chicago would not mind getting their hands on that late in the first round.
Q. Could you see anybody besides Kyrie Irving or Derrick Williams going No. 1? Also, is Knight hurting himself at all with the working out, not working out? Do you see that affecting his draft or where he might be drafted at all?
JAY BILAS: I don’t see anybody but Irving going No. 1. But others could differ on that. I think in today’s game, the point guard position has become even more important than it may have been years ago. I think Irving is the best selection in this year’s draft at No. 1. That doesn’t mean that ‑‑ Derrick Williams will be a terrific scorer in the NBA. But all things considered, I think Irving is the pick there.
As far as the workouts, you’d like to have a kid, a prospect that works out for everybody that says, hey, you know, I’ll take on anybody, anyplace, any time. That’s unrealistic given the amount of teams that guys have to workout for. They want to be sharp and make sure they’re prepared in each workout.
Their agents are helping them make those decisions. Whether a kid plays at the combine or doesn’t or works out for this team or doesn’t, a lot of that has to do with the decisions that their agents helped them make.
I can’t tell, honestly, whether a kid like Knight is hurting himself by working out for this team and not that. I think he’s a Top 5 pick no matter whether he works out or not. Those things are all individual decisions. Some guys don’t work out and wind up getting taken high. Other guys workout and they drop down. It’s hard to get an accurate reading on the right thing to do in every situation.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: If I were Brandon Knight, I would not work out for anybody or against anybody because he’s already got people talking about him, as Jay says, in the Top 5. But he’s not as physical as a lot of these guys. He does not go left, and he’s really not a pure point guard. So to match him up against other guys that may be a little bit bigger, stronger, although he’s a terrific prospect, I think it’s a very smart move on his agent’s part.
Let’s face it, we can all talk about the Top 5 or tenor 15, but history shows that at least half of these guys are going to be busts. So the fact that Brandon Knight’s agent says no workouts against anybody else, to me it’s a very calculated, shrewd move by an agent who knows he’s in the cat‑bird seat right now with his client.
CHAD FORD: I don’t think teams hold it against him because it’s not his decision. Most of these young men would workout if they could. They want to workout.
We were at the Chicago pre‑draft camp watching Kawhi Leonard sitting on the bleachers because his agent told him not to participate in the camp. You could tell by the look in his eyes and grabbing the ball whenever he could trying to do anything that he wanted to play. They want to play. They want to compete.
Brandon Knight’s been competing against Kyrie Irving in AAU ball and high school ball for years. He’d love to get on the floor with him.
I also think teams don’t put that much stock into individual workouts. I think it’s a great story for us to tell and it’s exciting to go see these guys matched up. But for example there was a lot of talk about the fact that Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight was not going to workout against Kemba Walker. I’m not sure why you make a big deal out of it when the fact is they played against each other in the Final Four.
If you’re going to compare the players, you’d have an amazing game at the highest stakes right before the end of their college season to watch those two guys go head‑to‑head. I’m not sure a workout would tell you anything that that game wouldn’t tell you.
As far as the No. 1 pick in the draft goes, I think most of the talk about it not being Kyrie Irving is being generated out of Derrick Williams’ camp. They’ve been trying for the last few weeks to create that sense of doubt. To create that sense of confusion. I think that helps Derrick Williams. I think it’s going to be Kyrie Irving.
Q. Looking at the large number of talented European bigs in this draft, just what that signals in terms of the talent that’s coming out of here? Also if you thought that any of these guys could eventually merge as an All‑Star or even the building block for a championship team. Can I get your thoughts on the European teams slated to go to the Top 10?
FRAN FRASCHILLA: I think the first thing is that the mistakes teams made early, I would say probably 7, 8, 9 years ago is they were automatically assuming that every international guy was the next Dirk or Pau, and that is unrealistic.
There are, and I’ve said this a million times and get tired of saying it, you can be a draft bust as easily out of the ACC as you can an international player. In many cases it’s the teams who are at fault for trying to see a young player from Europe as the next Dirk Nowitzki.
Now the reality of this year’s draft is this is the perfect storm for international players because four of the Top 10 picks in this draft decided to go back to college. That would be Perry Jones, Terrence Jones, Sullinger, and Harrison Barnes.
Also a number of these young international players could have been Top 10 or 15 picks a year ago. Namely Jan Vesely who has really helped himself in the last year.
So it is cyclical. Teams make mistakes on these guys, but it just happens to be a year where the stars are aligned. It happens to be a year where five of these young international big guys will probably go in the Top 17 or 18, and I don’t see any Dirk Nowitzki in this draft.
I would say that the closest thing in my opinion, and it’s like ice cream here, we all have different flavors, I think Enes Kanter because of the combination of size, athleticism, and skill level has that best opportunity to beat Dirk, although it’s unlikely to happen.
CHAD FORD: I agree with Fran in the perfect storm analogy. For everything that Fran said and just to put it in perspective, this isn’t a growing trend of more and more international players flooding the NBA draft. I’ve just been putting together my 2012 Top 100 and we have one international player in the top 30, and he’s in the late 20s. So next year we’re not talking any international lottery picks.
At least right now guys can emerge like Biyombo emerged this year. But nobody’s on the radar screen, and it looks like that the next couple of years, so it can be cyclical. The other challenge is to group all international players together is the same like asking what about college players. You have young ones, you have more experienced ones, you have guys that have proven something at the international level. You have guys that haven’t proven anything at the international level, and you see that diversity in this year’s draft.
Guys like Kanter and Valanciunas are young, they haven’t been playing at the highest level. There are guys at a certain level that are projects. Guys like Jan Vesely on the other hand have been playing and starting on a top Euro League team. They play a significant role on their team. You can watch hundreds of hours of game film on them playing against the best players in Europe, and they’ve produced.
Those are very different sorts of evaluations that you have to go through to look at those international players.
I think Jan Vesely is one of the safest international players we’ve seen come out in the draft in a long time. I’m not sure he’ll be a superstar, but it’s easy to see how his athleticism, his motor, and what he’s been doing at a high level in Europe and Serbia will translate to the NBA level.
Some of the other guys you roll the dice a little bit on. Then Vesely has his weaknesses like all the international players do.
But I guess the point is that at some point, and I understand that we’re not there because most American basketball fans don’t follow what’s going on in Europe, they’re just basketball players and have to be evaluated like anybody else. And the fact that they’re international is just one of many factors that you have to evaluate.
Q. Also considering the fact that they have John Wall last year No. 1 pick, how important is it that this year they surround him with blue chip talent? Do they continue to move up to get the best player available or do you like what they have with the 6 and 18 right now?
JAY BILAS: Depends what they have to give up. If you have a target you want to move up for something, it depends on what you give up to move up. I agree with what both Fran and Chad said, especially the last part about the evaluation process really isn’t any different for an international player as an American player. You gather as much information as you can, and you make the best decision that you can based upon the information you gather.
There are international players that draft evaluators have seen for years that, like Chad says, you’ve got a bunch of tape and they come over here and you miss on them. They don’t turn out to be as good as you think they’re going to be. Same thing with the college player.
You can look at the NBA draft, the NFL draft, Major League Baseball, it’s an inexact science. You make the best decisions you can based upon the best possible information. But specifically about whether you move up or don’t, those questions are in large measure dependent upon what you have to give up in order to move up.
CHAD FORD: Can I just add though I think it’s a critical year for the Wizards because they did add an elite talent in John Wall. Now they’ve started to remake the team. They’ve made a number of trades. We mow what direction the Wizards are heading, and this does become a critical pick at 6 and 18.
I’m not necessarily convinced that they need to move up. I think two players that should be there in the range Jan Vesely and Kawhi Leonard, one of those guys will likely be on the board, and both of them are terrific fits for Washington.
I’m not sure that there is that big a difference between the third pick in this draft and the tenth pick in this draft. I think they’re flavors of ice cream, as Fran said. Each of them has a fairly equal balance of risk and reward.
Q. It’s no secret that the Sixers are looking for a big in this draft. Just wanted to get your opinion on Kenneth Faried. I think he measured at 6’6″ without shoes on in Chicago. Do you think that a guy like him because of his size a team like the Sixers that needs a big could use a rebounder or might shy away or be worried because of that size?
FRAN FRASCHILLA: I would say that given the fact that he was a great college rebounder and he did it against a high level of play when he did play against the Floridas and the Louisvilles and teams like that out of conference ‑‑ and I just checked at 6’6″ as you mentioned and 6’7.5″ in sneakers, and he will play in sneakers, you’re looking at a guy who is a Paul Millsap type who is in the league at a similar size.
This kid’s probably a little better athlete than Paul. I don’t think you ashy away from him because what is the difference between 6’7 and a half and 6’9″? I never figured that out as a coach. This kid plays big. He’s got one unbelievable skill, and that is rebounding the basketball. He plays ‑‑ I think Jay might have mentioned it earlier ‑‑ the kid’s got as good a motor as anybody in this draft. You don’t shy away from the fact that he’s 6’7.5″ in shoes if you think he is going to grade out as a terrific rebounder for a spot.
What you love about, a former coach because of guys like Kenneth Faried is you never have to run a play for him. You can concentrate on getting the ball to your scorers and let him work both boards. He will be undersized at times inside.
But as I looked at the NBA and the playoffs, there are only five or six real match‑up nightmares in the league at that spot. You start with Zach Randolph and Gasol and a couple others. I just think you grab him and put him on the floor and he’s going to get you probably ten rebounds a night if you’re playing him 35 minutes. If not, he’s a great energy guy off the bench.
CHAD FORD: People make fun of Jay and I all the time for talking about length and how long a player is. But it really is a factor for NBA teams. They don’t necessarily look at that measurement of how tall you are without shoes, as Fran pointed out, you play in shoes so he’s closer to 6’8″.
Then we look at two numbers, wing span and standing reach. His wing span is great. It’s 7 feet. His standing reach is 9 feet, which means that’s his reach with his hands above his head and the position he’ll mostly be playing at power forward.
Blake Griffin who no one would contest is an NBA power forward measured just a little under that with 6’10 with a reach. So you factor in Faried’s athleticism, his motor, and his skill for rebounding that goes beyond strength and athleticism, he has a great feel as a rebounder. I think he’s going to be fine in the NBA.
JAY BILAS: I agree with all those things. If you draft Faried, you’re taking somebody who is going to go get you extra possessions. He is an extraordinary rebounder. Not a good rebounder, an extraordinary rebounder.
But if guarding in the post and having somebody who can provide you minutes at 6’10”, 6’11” at the 16 spot for the Sixers, Markieff Morris will probably be available there. And that’s probably not a bad selection.
But Faried provides you with somebody who is going to run through a brick wall to go get the ball, and I think that’s awfully attractive at whatever size whether it’s 6’7.5″ in shoes or 6’9″ or 6’10”, he’s going to out-battle a lot of 6’11” guys for rebounds.
And guys aren’t going to want to box him out. That is one thing a lot of us ‑‑ the three of us here said about Tyler Hansbrough when he was coming out. We talked about his athleticism and all that stuff, but the kid ‑‑ nobody’s going to want to play against that guy for 48 minutes. He’s relentless, and you can’t teach relentless. Faried is the same way in being relentless and going after the ball.
Q. My question’s on Pitt’s three seniors, Wanamaker, Brown, and McGhee. They all seem to be free agent types or at best late second round guys. Who among them has the best shot at making the roster? If you could also address how this might be the unfortunate year to be a free agent or late second round guy because of the impending lockout and no summer leagues and shorter camps, possibly?
JAY BILAS: Well, McGhee has a big body and he can come in there, kind of like Aaron Gray did. He’s got good hands. He’s a pretty decent rebounder. He can come in and bang around and provide you minutes with his physicality.
I like Brad Wanamaker a lot. He can handle the ball. He does everything ‑‑ he doesn’t do anything great. But he does most everything well. He’s a tough kid. He can handle it. He’s a good passer. Can drive the ball a little bit and is strong enough to absorb a bump.
He’s not a super athletic kid, but a kid that I think can make a roster. I’ve got him ranked right sort of at the end of the second round in the high 50s, early 60s as a prospect in the draft, and Gilbert Brown is not far behind that.
Brown’s a better athlete than Wanamaker, and has a ‑‑ can knock down a perimeter jumper, but I don’t think he’s quite the all around player that Brad Wanamaker is.
CHAD FORD: It’s going to be tough on a lot of these guys because they’re not going to be making money. Most of these guys don’t want to go overseas. Frankly there are not going to be a lot of spots for a lot of them. In fact, there may be fewer spots than there normally are because some of the other Americans might be heading overseas this year. You’re not going to get the chance to be developed. You’re not going to get your summer camp. You’re not going to get your summer league. You’re not going to get the benefit of all of the things that you’ll get in the summer. It’s going to be difficult for them.
This is not a great year to be a second round pick. I’m not even sure it’s a great year to be a sort of player that is a developmental pick. I think as we get later into the first round and get into the second round ‑‑ and this may factor in in favor of the Pittsburgh players ‑‑ I think teams are going to shy away from the projects because they don’t have any ability to develop those projects over the summer and will go with players who they feel very confident will have the structure and the ability to improve on their own.
I think some of these younger, less mature kids are going to be in for a rude awakening this year because teams will take sometimes players like that because they feel they have structure on their team, and they can bring them into a system and get them oriented, and get them back on the right track and they’re willing to roll the dice in the second round.
But with no contact allowed between NBA teams from the time they draft these guys until the end of the lockout, you can’t be confident of any of that. You have no idea what your pick is out there doing. So that is going to lend itself better, I think, to player who’s are more mature, who have come and established themselves in college and teams that they feel like they can go out and improve themselves on their own.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: Just adding to what Jay said, I’d love to see Gary McGhee make it. Most teams carry a third center, a guy, a work in progress. Here’s a guy that was discovered because he played against Blair in an AAU tournament in Florida. Then he backed up Blair for two years.
While he’s not a polished offensive player at at all, at 6’11”, 250‑260, it would be fun to see him make a team. He’s been the ultimate team guy for one of the ultimate teams in college basketball. Capital TEAM in Pittsburgh.
I’m kind of pulling for him. I love the other guys too, and I’m pulling for all three of them obviously. But I’d like to see Gary McGhee make a team because he’s your ultimate team guy.
Q. I was curious about some guys with the Thunder picking at 24 and not having a pressing need on the roster at this time, could you go through a couple of guys who might be good draft and stash options?
FRAN FRASCHILLA: Yeah, these guys are the ultimate draft and stash guys. I think, Chad, who do you have them taking? Mirotic?
CHAD FORD: Nikola Mirotic.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: Yeah, I think this is the year to take another one of those international kids. Mirotic is a kid that comes to mind. He’s a 6’10” power forward, face‑up game. Played great at the Hoop Summit three years ago. Has been a very solid young player in you’re for a high level Spanish team. He’s got a long contract. He signed a long contract with Real Madrid. He comes to mind.
I’m a big fan long‑term of Davis, we say it as Americans, Davis, but Davis Bertans who is a terrific shooter as Chad has already pointed out. Those two guys come to mind.
If you want to throw a third Euro in there, you can go with the kid Bojan Bogdanovic from Croatia, who is a Matt Harpering type, tough, hard‑nosed kid who had a terrific game against team USA last summer.
I talked to Kevin Pritchard about this in Italy, and of course, Portland is another draft and stash team. He said when you take these international guys, it’s like throwing darts against a board. You hope to get lucky with one like Serge Ibaka. You may miss on three others, but those teams along with the Spurs are good at that.
CHAD FORD: I agree with Fran. I think those are the three guys you consider in the 20s as stash prospects. One of the reasons you do it is all three of those players draft stock is undervalued based off of what sort of players they are.
If Mirotic had no contract issues, we’d be talking about him as a potential lottery pick. But because he can’t come over for the next couple years, most teams in the lottery feel they need to get their prospects in sooner than, I guess, David Kahn who went ahead and rolled the dice with Ricky Rubio that way. But most GMs fear for their jobs a little bit more and worry about not having a guy over for a couple of years in the lottery.
But when you get into the 20s, there is huge value there. Davis Bertans, had he had another year in Europe, we’d probably talk about him as a lottery pick. If you can get him in the 20s, it’s a good pick. And Bogdanovic led the Euro League in scoring this year. He’s not just a young player who is getting significant minutes on a team. He led the entire Euro League in scoring 18 points a game. He can definitely score the basketball.
Q. This is a credit to the job you guys do, I don’t know how people in Oklahoma City know about this Nikola Mirotic kid, I don’t know him. But could you talk about his skills and who you might compare him to?
FRAN FRASCHILLA: He’s your classic, what we used to call stereo typical European power forward. There is no stereotype anymore. Marc Gasol is a 7’1″, 310 pound center, and his brother is a finesse player. But Mirotic is the old‑fashioned stretch four man at 6’9″, 6’10”. He can really shoot the ball. He’s got a good body, good enough to get some things done inside, fairly mobile, can put it on the floor some.
But that’s how I would describe him as a stretch four man, which is becoming increasingly more popular in the NBA. I think he’s your classic old school international power forward who plays away from the basket.
Q. If Chad has it right, when the Bucs select a 10, they might have the choice between Klay Thompson and Alec Burks. If that’s the case and those are the two players that they are looking at most closely, which one do you think they should pick or what is the difference between those two guys, Fran and Jay, I guess I’m looking for your analysis there?
JAY BILAS: They’re different players. I think that Thompson is the superior shooter. Klay can really shoot it. He can shoot it off the catch, he can shoot it off the dribble. He moves pretty well without the ball.
I was actually impressed last summer when we had him ‑‑ Fran and I had him in that LeBron James skills academy. He actually moved his feet pretty well defensively and stayed in front of guys. I don’t think it’s a real strength of his, but it is far better than he had shown before that. You know, he’s not a big, strong kid. I think he needs to get stronger so he can absorb a bump.
But Burks is a different player. He’s not a shooter. He’s a driver. Can get into the lane, gets to the free‑throw line. He’s a very good passer, sees the floor very well. He’s the kind of kid that I think plays with a chip on his shoulder.
He wasn’t highly recruited coming out of high school. And I think he said publicly he went to Colorado because he couldn’t go anywhere else. That was the best offer he got. And after not being ranked in the Top 100 or top 125 by the scouting services, he was Big 12 Rookie of the Year. A good prospect, but he’s not a terrific defender. He hasn’t shown sort of the, so far anyway, the will to chase guys through screens. But he is a good, very good athlete, and a guy that can slash and get to the free‑throw line, as I said, and a guy who can really pass it.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: I’m going with Klay Thompson because it’s hard to have a guy at your shooting guard spot that can’t shoot the ball. As much as I like Alec Burks in so many ways, that’s not been his strength. He’s got a lot of garbage at the rim. I’ve gotten a chance to see him in the Big 12.
And Klay Thompson at 6’6″, ability to shoot it, sneaky athlete. Pretty good all around player. I think John Hammond will be really happy if that is the direction they went.
Q. If you had to bet, would you bet that John Lowell or Jimmy Butler will be drafted?
FRAN FRASCHILLA: Well, I think Jimmy Butler is going to go as high as late first, but more likely early second. There are a lot of ‑‑ we’re all going to compare the next guy to Wes Matthews. I think that’s not going to happen anymore in Marquette’s case, because Jimmy now is almost going to be looked upon as the next Wes Matthews.
But I think Jimmy does a lot. I was shocked that he measured out at almost 6’8″. So good for him. He’s a high character, low maintenance, low mistake guy.
JAY BILAS: I think they’re both second round picks, but I think Butler will be drafted higher. But I think Lowell will get drafted. He’s a better athlete than he gets credit for. One of the things that he did a really good job of last summer when he played for the USA men’s select team, he played really well there and opened a lot of eyes as to his ability to play at the next level. So I think he will be drafted.
Q. Wanted to get your take on two players, and I apologize if you already talked about it, Reggie Jackson, and the kid from Michigan, Darius.
JAY BILAS: Reggie Jackson’s a nice player. He really improved his shooting from last year to this year. He shot, I think, his sophomore year he shot like 29, 30% from three, and he bumped it up into the 40s, 42, 43% this last year. Chad mentioned wing span before. He’s got ridiculously long arms and really good quickness. So I think he’s a good prospect. Probably a second, top of the second round.
What was the other guy you mentioned? Darius Morris, the kid from Michigan is a point guard. He’s got pretty good size. Not a superior athlete, but handles it well, passes it well. Does not shoot it particularly well. A lot of guys ‑‑ I’ve seen some things on some of these mock drafts that have them all over the board, and some have had them in the first round at some point.
I don’t see him as a first round player. But he’s got some ability, but he just doesn’t shoot it particularly well, and he’s not ‑‑ when I’ve seen him, I don’t have him particularly as an outstanding defender. I think he’s okay. He’s a good prospect, but I just don’t have him ranked as high as some others.
Q. The Heat got the first pick of the second round. In their position where they’re in a win now mode, do you look for a player there who is maybe a little more polished with maybe a chance of helping you here in the next year or two? Or do you look developmentally? Do you think there is a player that could have the polish that could slip down there that would make some sense for them? Some players that they might be happy with if they slid down to 31?
FRAN FRASCHILLA: Well, 31 has traditionally been like the European lottery pick. The guy you draft at 31 from Europe, and you can stash him because you don’t have to pay him the guaranteed contract. Of course, we don’t know what the CBA is going to produce.
But the reality here is the Heat have never been big on international players. Pat Riley drafted one a while ago, Albert Morales, which, as far as I know, is probably out of basketball right now.
I think given their team, obviously, you’re looking at guys that can fill a need, be a role player. The guy that I don’t think should be there, but possibly could, would be Shelvin Mack. He’s the ultimate winner. The guy averaged 20 points a game in the NCAA Tournament on 40%, 3 point shooting. Including 4 for 15 in the championship game.
Another guy that could drop is Trey Thompkins who gives them another big body up front.
These are guys that although I love Shelvin Mack, I’m not in love with Trey Thompkins, but his skill level would be such that he’d be a steal at 31. Jay mentioned Justin Harper, Kyle Singler, Tobias Harris, JuJuan Johnson, these are all guys that I have between 25 and 35 that could fill out what was, as you know, a depleted roster by the end of the year.
JAY BILAS: There are a lot of quality second round picks in this draft. Both Chad and Fran have mentioned the idea that there may not be a lot of stars in this draft, but there are a depth of good players and guys that can make a team.
If a guy like Nolan Smith dropped down into the second round which some of these mock drafts have him doing that, I don’t. I think he’s a first round draft pick, I think he would be a really good pick for the Heat at 31.
If Reggie Jackson, who was mentioned earlier dropped down, that would be another good pick. Chad mentioned as a defender, Malcolm Lee. If he winds up, I think that’s a little high for him, but Mack has been mentioned, who else?
The kid, Norris Cole from Cleveland State. He’ll probably wind up going later, but if you’re looking for a guard and a guy that can do a number of things, that kid’s got a chance in the second round he would be a good pick. I’m just not sure at 31 whether that’s the one you take.
I don’t have Nolan Smith dropping out of the first round, but if he did, that would be a heck of a pick at No. 31.
Q. What sort of pro do you think Jimmer Fredette will be, and where do you think he will go in the draft?
FRAN FRASCHILLA: I think the best way to put Jimmer is he going to be Steve Nash or Steve Kerr? And I’m going to lean towards Steve Kerr. I absolutely was enthralled with him this year as a college player.
Like Jay, probably like Chad, I’ve watched a ton of tape on him. I’m not totally convinced. He had a high turnover rate, but he had the ball in his hands a lot. I would probably lean more towards being a designated spot shooter that could play some back‑up point guard, combo guard. You know, not quite a two‑guard like a JJ Redick, someone that can play both spots.
But his ability to stretch a defense makes what I would call momentum changing threes. A guy that you put in the middle of the third quarter, you’re down two and when he leaves, you’re up seven because he’s made three threes. So I’m looking at him that way.
We’ve all criticized his defense or lack of effort on the defensive end. That will obviously have to change. He’s a better athlete than I think people think.
As Jay and Chad know, I’m not convinced that you’re going to give him the ball like Dave Rose did at BYU and hold on to it for the entire 24 seconds of the shot clock.
CHAD FORD: I think Steve Kerr’s his floor, not his ceiling. I think he’s a great basketball player. I think whenever you’re evaluating prospects, you do have to evaluate them in the system they’re in. You also have to evaluate them if their coach asks them to play a particular way.
Can Jimmer Fredette be more than a guy who shoots the basketball from 35 feet every time he touches it? Absolutely. Dave Rose will be the first guy to come and tell you that Jimmer Fredette was doing exactly what BYU asked him to do and they were winning basketball games, by the way.
This is not a high volume shooter who put up great points on a team that didn’t win any basketball games. BYU was a Top 10 ranked team all year. I think he has the basketball IQ to play some point guard.
I think his shooting ability is the same that he is elite at an NBA level. But I also think he’s underrated in his quickness and his ability to get separation on the shot. I think he’s going to be a guy who can create his own shot in the NBA.
He’s going to have to improve his defense if he wants to stay on the floor. I think when teams draft him at first they’ll be looking at him as a combo guard coming off the bench. I think when you look at his work ethic, his intelligence, and the physical skills that he has, I think he’s going to be a very good player in the NBA. I think he should be a Top 10 pick. He goes between the Kings at 7 and the Pacers at 15.
JAY BILAS: I agree. Jimmer Fredette is not going to fail in the NBA. He’s a tough minded competitor. He’s underrated as an athlete. I kind of go back even though it’s more of a neat story than anything, but when he signed that contract to be an NBA player with his brother when he was a little kid, he follows through on things. He fights, and he competes.
Last year when he played against the select team, he played against the best young talent in the NBA and didn’t back down from anybody. I don’t think he’ll back down in the NBA. I agree, I think he’s going to be a very good NBA player.
Is he going to be like ‑‑ Steve Nash is a tough comparison because he’s not that type of player. I think Chad’s point about what he was asked to do, he wasn’t a defender in college, but I don’t know that he was made to do it. When he puts his mind do it, I think he can be a heck of a lot better than he was.
Q. Guys, I have two interrelated questions of the Bobcats picking first ninth and then 19th. First, who are you positive or at least extremely confident will be gone before the night’s picked, because it seems that at some point it gets squishy. And second, it’s obvious that the Bobcats are intrigued by Singleton. And it seems like he’s going to fall somewhere between 9 and 19. I’d be curious if you feel confident making an argument for going ahead and taking Singleton ninth?
CHAD FORD: Guys that I’m confident that are off the board at ninth: Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Brandon Knight, Jan Vesely, Enes Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas, Kawhi Leonard. I think it’s likely Kemba Walker is off the board there as well, but I think there is a chance.
I think those seven guys in some order, and I don’t know exactly what order they’ll be in, are off the board. Then I think it opens up from that.
As far as Singleton goes, he’s number nine on my big board, my Top 100. I don’t have the Bobcats selecting him in the mock. But I think he’s worthy of that selection because I do think he’s the best defender in this draft. He can defend multiple positions. He’s got great size. He’s a great character player.
He’s not advanced offensively yet, though every summer you see some improvement. I saw improvement of him working out in Tim Grover’s gym. I don’t think he’s going to be a great scorer in the NBA, but I do think he’s going to continue to improve that perimeter shot, and I think he’s going to hit some shots and score enough in the NBA to make him a starter some day.
I think he’s underrated in this draft, because I know what he can do at the next level, and I don’t think there is a lot of risk.
JAY BILAS: I agree. I have Singleton rated ahead of Kawhi Leonard. He’s not the rebounder that Leonard has been his first two years at San Diego State. He only grabs about six rebounds a game, if I remember right. But he is the best defender in the draft.
I was really impressed with him this last summer at the Nike skills academy. He can knock down an open shot. I think if he refines his jump shot, he’s got the ability to make it more consistently. He has improved it the last couple of years. But I like him very much as a prospect.
Now whether you take him ahead of Marcus Morris if he’s still available or guys like that, those are the decisions that are arguable. But I have him rated ahead of Leonard.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: I would echo what these guys said. You’re not getting an elite scorer. You’re getting a piece of your puzzle. I like his shooting form. I think he’s tailor made for the corner three, and he can defend, as Jay mentioned multiple positions.
I think he can guard two, three and four. What I’ve always liked about him aside from being a great kid, is he was a high school McDonald’s All American who went to Florida State with the idea that he knew that Leonard Hamilton would make him play defense. He embraced that role, Rick. He embraced it and he’ll be on an NBA floor more often than not.
Q. I’m inquiring about Butler’s two prospects, Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard. We can start with Chad. Where do you see Matt going? Given that you said they might be looking at the end of the second round for better or more mature players, does Howard even have a chance at being drafted?
JAY BILAS: Shelvin Mack will get drafted for sure. The question is where he goes. Had he had a better year shooting the basketball, this would have been an easier call for him. I think he struggled a little bit with his jump shot this year, and that is what throws teams off because he’s not a pure point guard. He’s more of a combo guard.
If he’s going to be a combo guard, you want him to be able to make sure he can stretch the defense and shoot the basketball. I think that is the concern. The 41% shooting from the field, the 35% from three is going to be the thing that holds him back a little bit.
But all the other intangibles that Shelvin Mack has , he’s a winner, he’s tough, he’s physical. He’s a guy that will be okay playing his role in the NBA, and that is a big thing. Some of these guys because they’ve been the big shot on their team struggle when they come to the NBA and realize they’re not the best player on the team anymore. In fact, they’re a rotation player. Some players can never adjust to that. I think Shelvin Mack can.
As far as Matt Howard goes, he was a fantastic college basketball player. A guy I enjoyed watching. I’ve heard zero buzz from NBA teams about drafting him in either the first or second round. My guess is he goes over to Europe and becomes a really good player in Europe.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: Let me play defense attorney for Shelvin Mack for a second. He was in my mind, and Jay may disagree. We love working at LeBron James camp. I thought he was the best guard there against an elite group of guys. Then when I went to Las Vegas to watch him, he was the best guard there against all the NBA guys. In fact Kemba Walker was the only other guy that could keep up with Russell, Westbrook, Phillips and that like.
Chad is right. I watched a lot of tape of him. And he was the only Butler player, as you know ‑‑ by the way, I’m halfway through your book ‑‑ he was the only Butler player that could get the shot at the end of the shot clock. He took a lot of end of clock shots.
So I’m not worried about his shooting. I think he’s got terrific strength. He’s got solid, but not anymore that quickness. He shoots the three effortlessly. He is a winner. And I would not be surprised if he goes in the 20’s. And next April when we see very few rookies on the floor in the NBA playoffs that he’ll be out there.
Q. I guess anyone could answer this question. Looking at at the Kings picking at 7, and also the early pick in the second round, they have needs at guard and small forward. Who would be available maybe in the second round that could help them at one of those spots also when it comes to that first pick, if Leonard is gone, do you see Singleton as a viable option? That’s if they don’t go with Kemba or Jimmer?
JAY BILAS: Are you talking about 7 for Singleton?
Q. Yeah, 7.
JAY BILAS: That’s a little high. But if you like him, based on where Chad and I and Fran as well have him ranked. But does that mean you pass on the kid, Vesely, who Fran and Chad are really high on? That is a tough call.
We’ve talked about a lot of guys in the second round earlier that the Kings I think they have the fifth or sixth pick in the second round. I can’t remember.
Q. Yeah, fifth.
JAY BILAS: But there are a number of guys that are going to be available whether it’s Nolan Smith or Reggie Jackson, some of these guys. If Jimmy Butler fell down that far ‑‑ who was the other guard? Darius Morris falls down there. The kid, Malcolm Lee, JuJuan Johnson. There are a bunch of guys that are going to be around that position that are pretty good.
There is one guy that hasn’t been mentioned yet, at this point anyway, whether he’s a first round talent or second round or somebody you kind of take a chance on, that kid from Kansas, Selby, Josh Selby. I don’t know whether he’s going to get taken in the top 25 picks or whether he falls in the second round or what’s going to happen with that kid. But he’s got an awful lot of ability. If he did fall into the second round, that would be a heck of a get for somebody at that level.
CHAD FORD: I think at 7 it’s going to come down to Kawhi Leonard, obviously, if Vesely is there on the board at 7 and then, of course, a point guard Kemba Walker could be there at 7. Jimmer Fredette, who they like, and it makes a lot of sense for that team. It may seem high for a lot of people, but I think high is relative here.
Jay and I put together our big boards. My big board is based off of consensus from NBA teams. But with that said, there is no consensus. Teams have players wildly ranked all over the place based off their needs, their style, the sort of players that they like.
The sort of proverbial he’s going five spots too high; according to who? If Jimmer Fredette’s the guy that you like and you think he’s fit for your team, and I think he would be a good fit on that basketball team. He’s a great pick there. If they don’t go point guard and they go small forward, I have to take Kawhi Leonard in my mock at 7.
One guy to keep an eye on, I’m not sure he’ll be on the board, but I think Norris Cole’s going to be a fantastic NBA point guard. I think he’s maybe the most underrated player in this draft. It has to do with the fact that he played at Cleveland State and guys didn’t get to see him against the same level of competition.
But I know he’s a player that the Kings value and like. A number of teams in the late first round, early second round are looking at him. Every year there are one or two guys who get past all 30 teams in the first round, and they go into the second round and then later. Fields was that guy last year. Everybody looks around and says how are we missing this guy? I think Norris Cole could be that guy in this year’s draft.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: I’ll just add, you cover the Kings. I think you know if you’re picking 7, you better pick a high character guy there. Based on their roster right now, they’ve got some good pieces, but you’ve got to take a guy that is going to be no maintenance off the court.
Q. Can I get your thoughts on Alec Burks? I know Jay and Fran have waited on him. But for Jay and Fran, I also want to get your opinion on the Morris twins, if you can separate them strength to weakness wise.
CHAD FORD: Yeah, I like Alec Burks. He grew up in Grandview, Missouri, just ten minutes from my house. I grew up in Ray Town. Always a fan of the basketball ‑‑ Kansas City basketball players. I really think he’s a great young man.
Like Jay said when he told the story of a guy that wasn’t highly recruited coming out of high school. I like his length. I like his athleticism. I like his ability to score off the dribble. I think that is primarily what intrigues NBA teams about him is his ability to create his own shot. If you saw him in that Kansas game where he lit up Kansas, no matter what they threw at him, he had the ability to get to the basket.
If he was a better shooter and he’s a shaky shooter right now, if he was a better shooter, he would be a Top 5 pick in this draft based off his length and athleticism and all the intangibles that he has.
When you’re talking about him now in a range probably somewhere between 10 and 17 in this draft, that is probably Burks’ range, I think it’s great value because there is upside there.
Players can improve their jump shot. They can improve their athleticism, and some things, but they can’t improve their length, but they can improve their jump shot. And if he works at it, and he’s a player that looks like he’s worked on his game his whole life and proving people wrong, I think he could be a fantastic pick for whoever gets him in that range.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: I’ve watched them for a while, and I’m lucky to have Synergy which breaks down every player and every team internationally, college and NBA. When you watch 100 straight clips of Marcus and Markieff, you can really see the differences because they are so similar in so many ways. I think Markieff knows who he is because he’s much more the guy who will do the dirty work. I guess he’s the older one. But where Marcus shines, Markieff is more of the defender, rebounder, shot blocker and Marcus is more the skill guy.
They’re both going to be gone by 20. I think the thing I’d worry about with Marcus is that he wants to be an NBA three man, and yet I think he’s stuck between a three and a four. It will depend how a coach uses him, but sometimes a coach gets too enamored from getting away from the basket. Though we consider Marcus is the more skilled guy, Markieff actually shot 42% from three.
I think they’re going to be solid in the top 20. But I like the fact that Markieff knows his game maybe slightly better than Marcus does.
JAY BILAS: Markieff is a better rebounder, and he’s a better interior defender and shot blocker. He can make a trail free. If you leave him alone, he can play pick‑and‑roll and moves his feet well.
I think Marcus is an efficient player as Fran said, may not have a defined position, but can he turn over either shoulder in the post, make the turn around jumper. He’s another guy who is as efficient as sort of a power forward could be this year in college basketball, and that was him.
But I think Markieff is sort of the Johnny Bravo from the Brady Bunch. Markieff fits the suit a little better than Marcus does in the NBA.
Q. I wanted to ask you about two impact players. Jay, I think everyone realizes that Derrick Williams is one of the top players in the draft. But what do you see as his pro potential? Do you see him as being an immediate starter? A guy that could be a potential All‑Star? If you could touch on Tyler Honeycutt and just maybe how he’s helped or hurt himself over the past week based on what you’ve seen and heard?
JAY BILAS: About Williams, he is going to be a really good NBA player. He’s really explosive athletically. I don’t know how he tested out and that stuff at the combine when it’s five‑on‑five, he can really rise. He’s not a classic low‑post player. He catches the ball off the post and likes the face‑off, kind of a loping style. He doesn’t have an established position. He’s kind of in between a 3 and a 4.
The way I look at it, he’s going to be able to score in the NBA. I don’t think there is any question about that. I just question whether he’s going to be able to guard effectively in the league.
I found him to be, and I did a number of his games and saw him a lot over the summer and watched a lot of tape on him. I would call him an inattentive defender. He’ll get a spectacular ‑‑ he saved some games with spectacular blocks. But was not a tentative weakside defender. Not a particularly good on ball defender.
But with his athleticism, his ability to score, I just don’t see anybody else going second behind Kyrie Irving other than Williams simply because of his explosive scoring ability.
Q. Just about Tyler, how has he helped or hurt himself over the last few weeks?
CHAD FORD: I think teams are confused about him. That is the feedback from workouts. They like him. He’s a super smart forward. Has an excellent passer, high basketball IQ. A good athlete, has good size for his position, needs to add a lot of strength. They wished he shot the basketball better. That might have helped him but I think he struggled a little bit with that in workouts.
Part of it is the challenge every year of figuring out exactly how UCLA players translate to the NBA. When you look at their statistics and the style of play that they have, they don’t always scream NBA player, but year after year we’ve learned that these elite UCLA players get to the NBA and they’ve been well prepared. They’ve had immediate impact, and sometimes they have better rookie years in the NBA than they had in their last season at UCLA statistically.
I think that is one thing both for Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt that NBA teams are trying to figure out right now. If you throw Tyler Honeycutt in the NBA, in an NBA system, will he make the same jump that some of the other UCLA players have made whether it’s Aaron Afflalo or Darren Collison, or Russell Westbrook or Drew Holliday.
I don’t even know the answer to that. I think he’s going to be a first round pick. I think he’ll probably go somewhere between 20 and 30, but he could also slip out of the first round a little bit. He’s not quite as set with NBA teams as some of the other players are.
Q. I’m wondering if you could put a percentage on Lighty, Diebler, and even Lauderdale going late in the second round? If they’re not drafted, you kind of addressed this before regarding the Pittsburgh guys, if they’re not drafted, what are their chances of going to a training camp as a free agent with having no summer league?
CHAD FORD: I think that there isn’t going to be summer league or at least it doesn’t look that way right now. There won’t be rookie camp. You know, training camp guys get in, but rarely do uninvited players at training camps make an NBA roster.
I agree with Jay. He talked about David Lighty as a guy who I think will be drafted. He’ll be drafted somewhere in the second round, and I think he makes a very solid NBA prospect.
Diebler may be the best shooter in this draft. We’ve talked about players who can shoot the basketball. We’ve mentioned a lot of guys, but Diebler shot 50% from three this year, and he took a lot of threes. This wasn’t a limited sort of situation. He’s got pretty good size. He’s not a terrible athlete either.
He is one dimensional in a certain sense that he shoots the basketball. I actually think both of the guys will be drafted. I think shooting comes at a premium. There aren’t a lot of guys that can shoot the basketball the way John Diebler has, and I’d say the same about Lighty.
FRAN FRASCHILLA: Let’s cover Dallas Lauderdale. Likelihood he won’t be drafted even though he shot 70% in his Ohio State career. Wouldn’t shock me depending on how the lockout goes. He’ll be in somebody’s camp if he has to sign a contract in Europe because of what he’s done over four years.
I hate to bring up Wes Matthews because David Lighty will get drafted. But if there is a Wes Matthews type guy in this draft, it could be David. You’re looking at the winningest player in Ohio State history. You’re looking at a guy that shot 43% this year from three. We’ve always known he’s a good defensive player, versatile, big guard size much like Wes Matthews.
Then I think with Wes Matthews, he played on a team where he did not have to have the ball in his hands a lot. Given all those factors, I think David Lighty will be on the roster in one way shape or form. If you tell me in a year or two from now he’s having a lot of success because he’s one of those no mistake guys we talked about, if you put him on the floor he’s probably going to know his role. There is a lot that he offers as an early to mid second round pick.
Q. Guys, can you talk about the possibility of Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers finding their way out of camp, and who might have the bigger upside and why?
JAY BILAS: I don’t think either one of them are going to be drafted. I think the bigger upside, the guy with more potential is probably Summers. He hasn’t realized it. He played in college for four years, a terrific kid. He did not perform as well as he was capable of performing this last season.
He had a remarkable NCAA Tournament in 2010 where he just took all of the scoring load on his shoulders, especially after Kalin got hurt and ruptured that Achilles. But this last year he did not perform at a high level, and was horribly inconsistent.
Could he go into somebody’s camp and run the floor and show the athleticism, get to the rim and knock shots down and defend? Yeah, but I don’t particularly see that happening. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
Lucas was injured after last season and was very slow getting back, but toward the end of the year got his quickness and explosiveness back. I think the problem that he’s got is he’s a really small point guard. We can all point to small guards that have had success in the NBA and say, okay, you can do this. But the percentages aren’t high for really small guards.
He’s six‑feet tall. I think that is going to be a hindrance to him. Can both of those guys make it? They both can, but I don’t see either one of them getting drafted this year in the top 60.
CHAD FORD: I agree with Jay. I don’t think either player is drafted. I think Summers was an NBA prospect for years based off his athletic ability, and he’s an NBA athlete. But he didn’t show enough on the court to get there, and Kalin Lucas is undersized. I think the injuries squelched any chance he would have to make the NBA draft.
Q. Chad, I know you’ve had a chance to watch Chandler Parsons work out a little bit. Based on what you’re hearing, what chances does he have of possibly sneaking into the first round and what are your impressions of what position he could possibly play at the next level?
CHAD FORD: Well, NBA teams have been intrigued with him for years because of the tools that he has at his size. He can shoot the basketball. He can handle it. He’s quick. He’s a sneaky athlete. He never really produced at Florida the way that you’d expect him to, and there are questions about his toughness, about his motor, some of those things. He’s had incredible workouts everywhere he’s gone.
The reports have been very positive. He’s a workout player. He has a lot of tools. I watched him workout in Los Angeles and Paul George was guarding him who is an NBA player and was a guy that the Pacers were using to try to slow down Derrick Rose in the playoffs, and Parsons was doing all sorts of things.
The question that he has to overcome is why didn’t he always do that at Florida? Will he be able to do that at the next level? Is he toughness, is he going to be physical enough to play at the next level?
He’s going to get drafted. It’s not out of the question that a team drafts him even in the first round. A couple of teams come to mind that the Wizards have been fans of his. The Spurs are fans, and I know the Cavs are fans. So he wouldn’t pick one at four, but perhaps he’d be picked at 32.
He’s going to be an intriguing player. He scares me because I’ve come across these players a lot over the years in the draft who don’t seem to get it done in college, and man do they look fantastic in workouts and you start to fall in love with them. Then when they get back to games they revert back to the player they were in college. That is to be expected. That is the danger of workouts.
Maybe he’ll be the guy that proves that wrong. Florida was not the right system for him, didn’t really highlight his abilities. It seems now he’s convincing NBA teams that that might be true.
Q. Just a quick follow‑up on Tyus and Vernon Macklin. Any chances of them in the second round or are they possibly free agents?
CHAD FORD: Most likely they’re both free agents. Macklin, perhaps slides in the second round, but given his age, I’m not sure the upside is there. I have them both ranked outside of the top 60.
Q. Following up on what you said about Derrick Williams. He says here he initially after the season didn’t mind playing three or four. Then he made some statements lately like I’m a three, I’m a small forward, this and that. I’ve been under the impression that he was kind of a guy who could play four and grow into a three. Do you see that in his potential or does it not matter that much?
JAY BILAS: Well, offensively I’m not sure it matters that much. It matters who you guard. I don’t see Derrick yet being the type of player that is going to chase around a three, an athletic three off the screens and do that defensively. He wound up guarding more post players at Arizona.
I don’t think ‑‑ it’s kind of like we were talking about with Jimmer Fredette early on. I think that Derrick is capable, very capable defender. He’s got the tools to be a good defender. He did not defend while he was at Arizona. He was inattentive as a defender.
So can he do it? I think he can be much better. I don’t see him as being a guy who is going to spend his time as a perimeter defender. Chasing off screens, being there off the catch and all that. I think he’s more of a guy that’s been more of a post defender that stepped out on occasion.
Offensively he did a lot of stuff kind of off the post where he’d catch the ball off the post, face‑up. Lot of times when he’d knock down his perimeter jumpshot, he’s guarded by fours that were reluctant to come out and get him. When they did, he’d drive around them. So he’s not been guarded by a lot of perimeter players. I don’t see him as being a perimeter player. He’s a post player, primarily that can step away.
Now, Chad had mentioned something about guys being able to improve their shots and all that stuff. You know, Derrick’s going to be able to improve his perimeter game as he goes forward. But he’s not a natural three, if that, I guess, might be the best way to put it. He’s more of a natural post player that’s got to move his way out.
Q. Chad, he also said some things at the combine last month about being confident. He was the No. 1. It seemed like he was portrayed as being cocky. I wondered did you get any impression that that makes a difference in the NBA for better or worse when a guy comes out that way?
CHAD FORD: I think confidence is okay, and I don’t think he’s crossed the line. I think going back to your first question, I agree with everything Jay said. Other than I think shooting 57% from three he is a pretty good shooter.
I’m not saying he’s the next Kevin Durant but I think he is going to be able to shoot the ball. I think it’s much more about who he defends and I agree with Jay’s point there. Some of this has to do with the rhetoric of the draft. Derek Williams right now is the consensus number two pick, not the consensus number one pick.
But if you look at the top three teams in the draft, you have the Cleveland Cavaliers, they need a small forward. You have the Minnesota Timberwolves, they have a power forward. That is not a need for them. They have a small forward. They have some talent there, but Derrick Williams is probably better than Michael Beasley there. The Utah Jazz have Paul Milsap. They just traded for Derek Favors. They need a three, and not a four.
So part of this is just the salesmanship that his agent’s been working on with him to convince teams that he could play this position. Because if teams were just drafting on need, you look at those teams and four is not the biggest need for any of the top three teams in the draft, and that is a problem for Derrick Williams.
I’m not saying teams should draft on need, but you can see it with Minnesota there at two. Kevin Love is going to play 35 minutes a night for them at the power forward position. If they draft Derrick Williams, they have to have some sort of plan what they’re going to do with it.
Q. It sounds like almost everyone seems to think though that the Wolves will probably trade that two or are you a believer in that too?
JAY BILAS: I think they’ll trade it if they can. But they’re not going to give it away, they’re not just going to let it fly. They’ve been talking to teams, and they have teams that are interested there.
But you look at the Timberwolves, and that’s a very dysfunctional team because they don’t have veterans that can come in and temper that.
I think if Minnesota’s going to make the next step, they have to identify a couple of young players they’re building around, that’s going to be Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, and maybe Wes Johnson is that third guy. Then you surround them with NBA veterans that are going to play a role and be leaders in the locker room and teach these kids how to win. That is the next step for Minnesota not adding another lottery pick to the team. They have those young lottery talents to build around. And Ricky Rubio will be a lottery rookie that they’re bringing into the league last year.
Q. What do you think will happen with Malcolm Delaney?
JAY BILAS: I don’t see Malcolm or Jeff getting drafted. But they’ll have an opportunity to make a team. Jeff’s a long arm, skilled, big guy. He’s a little bit ‑‑ he’s not as disciplined a player as you’d like.
Malcolm’s not quite ‑‑ he’s another guy that doesn’t really have a position. He’s sleight of build, but a really good scorer. Can he make a team? Absolutely he can. But I don’t see either one of them getting drafted. I have them both ranked just outside the top 60.
Q. If you could just talk about Gilbert Brown on what you think may or may not keep him from getting drafted in the second round, late second round.
CHAD FORD: Gilbert Brown, the first thing I’d say about him is he’s a pretty good shooter and he’s an athlete. Those are the areas where teams draft him. I have him ranked 99 on my big board. Not only do I have him in the second round, I have him quite a ways out.
Why you don’t draft him? He’s 23 years old. That is the first knock against him, that is old by NBA draft standards. He averaged 11 points a game in college his senior year. So he clearly wasn’t dominating or getting it done. I think those are ‑‑ and strength would be the third thing.
He’s not the type of player that typically gets drafted. I do think because of his ability to shoot the basketball and his athleticism, there is an outside chance that it happens, but I think it’s unlikely.
Q. Jay, your thoughts on Jamie Skeen from TCU, and Justin Harper. I know you touched on him earlier.
JAY BILAS: I’ve got Justin Harper ranked 22rd or 23rd overall as far as prospects. Not the slot he may get drafted in a mock draft or something like that. But I like him a lot. He’s got size. He can really shoot it. He’s gotten better every year, and he’s a hungry ‑‑ still seems like a hungry player that’s got a lot of potential to continue to get better.
I don’t have Jamie getting drafted, but he’s got ‑‑ he’s strong, he’s got good size, he can step away and shoot the ball, but I don’t have him ranked in the top 60. I think he’d go ‑‑ he’s a guy that will be in somebody’s camp and have a good opportunity to make a team, but I don’t have him being taken in the first rounds.
Q. Isaiah Thomas of Washington, is there any draft buzz on him? And is there a place for a guy like that in the NBA with that kind of size?
CHAD FORD: There is some draft buzz because he’s worked out really well. And one thing is he’s shot the basketball really well, which is really important to his draft evaluation. Before mid season in Washington, I think he was a very marginal NBA prospect.
But when Abdul Gaddy went down and he took over the point position for Washington, he opened some eyes for NBA scouts that he could handle the ball. He could pass it a little bit, and he could run a team. He wasn’t a poor man’s Nate Robinson, if you will. His lack of size clearly is hurting his draft stock now.
If this was a player that was 6’1 or 6’2 with his body and athleticism and what he’s done at Washington, we’d be talking for sure about a sixth round pick. The lack of size will affect the team’s value because he becomes a player in the NBA.
With that said, I think he gets drafted. It’s probably in the second round. My guess he’s in the first ten or 15 picks in the second round, and maybe an outside shot that he sneaks into first. But the lack of size will hurt him, especially on the defensive end.
Q. Jay, how far do you think his shooting will carry him, and where do you see potential for growth in other areas of his game?
JAY BILAS: I think he needs to improve his defense and his handle. He’s got size, and he’s a good athlete. He can knock down perimeter shots so he can stretch the defense. But he’s ‑‑ that’s his skill, or specialty, his ability to shoot it.
But I don’t see him ‑‑ I have him ranked in the 60’s, I believe. I don’t have it in front of me, but I think he’s ranked 67th on my list. I don’t see him getting drafted. But when you’ve got the skill of being able to shoot the ball, you can make your way on to a roster.
One of those guys that I remember when he came out of college that I don’t know anyone among us that had him getting drafted was the kid more row from Georgia Tech.
I don’t think that Ravern shoots it as well as Morrow did. Morrow’s got a really good feel for the game coming out of high school and college, but we weren’t sure about his athleticism and all that stuff. But having that special skill and being able to shoot it could certainly put you on somebody’s roster.
Q. If you mentioned that Trey Thompkins could be a steal at 31. I’ve seen some projections him going lower than that even. What are your projections between him and Travis Leslie, and what type of pros do you see them being? Are either first rounders?
CHAD FORD: I think they’re both bubble first rounders. Thompkins is very skilled and brings a lot to the table. I think NBA teams have been turned off by his lack of conditioning. He’s not worked out particularly well, and there are questions of how prepared he has been for the workout. You saw that in Chicago, and you saw the body fat that was there with Thompkins.
For a guy that’s had conditioning issues throughout his collegiate career, if you can’t get yourself in great shape for what is essentially a job, an audition, then it’s going to concern teams and they’re going to wonder how are you going to do it when you get a guaranteed contract and don’t have the same motivation that you have right now. I think that’s why he’s sliding out of the first round.
And Travis Leslie may be one of the two or three best athletes in this draft. The question is he more than just an athlete? Will he learn how to shoot the ball? Will he bring other things to the table besides his incredible athleticism and his ability to finish at the basket? We know he can do that, but can he do anything else? I think he’s somewhere between late first round and mid second round.
Q. Where do you have Jamie Skeen of VCU and how much does them being in the Final Four have anything to do with him being in the conversation?
CHAD FORD: I think it has a lot to do with him being in the conversation. Before VCU’s Final Four run, I can’t remember any scout or manager mentioning Jamie Skeen as an NBA player. Part of it was his age and he had knee injuries.
But when you saw what he was able to do against pretty fantastic basketball teams and his skill level and his size and his reach, and you put everything together, he’s an intriguing guy. His workouts have gone pretty good.
I think right now he’s hoping to get drafted. I don’t think he’s a first round pick. I have him ranked 57th on our big board which is right at the end of our second round. There is a chance he’ll go undrafted. But my guess is 45 to undrafted is Skeen’s range.