Big Board: Alex Len moving up
1. Nerlens Noel
Noel's hold on this spot never has been more tenuous. Yes, his doctor, James Andrews, is pleased with his rehab, but are teams willing to be patient with a player who might not be ready to play until early next year? Especially when he's one of the most developmentally raw players in the draft? After telling me all year the answer to those questions was "yes," it sounds like some of those teams at the top have changed their answer to "no." Even the Cavs' desire for Noel appears to be waning. The only thing saving Noel for dropping a few spots on our Board? Who is going to replace him?
2. Victor Oladipo
Oladipo had his first workout last week -- with the Suns. Oladipo's main competition at the workout was Shabazz Muhammad (Ben McLemore also was in Phoenix that day, but declined to workout with Oladipo or Muhammad). By all accounts the Suns (like just about every other team) were impressed. Sources say that Oladipo has moved into the Cavs' conversation for the No. 1 pick, and also is under heavy consideration from the Magic at No. 2. Sounds like it would be a surprise if he goes past the Suns at No. 5.
3. Otto Porter
Porter has yet to work out for a team, but in the coming days he'll hit Cleveland, Orlando and Washington -- that's it. He's seriously in the mix for both the Cavs and Wizards, and seems to be confident he isn't sliding past Washington. If he does slide, there's no way he gets past the Pelicans at No. 6.
4. Anthony Bennett
Bennett isn't able to work out because of a shoulder injury, but he's on the workout tour nonetheless. He was in Phoenix this weekend and will be in Washington next week. It sounds like the Wizards, Bobcats and Suns are his primary suitors right now. I doubt he slides past the Pistons at No. 8.
5. Alex Len
Len, who is on crutches due to a stress fracture in his left ankle, isn't able to work out either. But that hasn't stopped his rise on our Big Board. Increasingly, teams are looking to him as a potentially safer alternative to Noel. While he's likely to miss the next four to five months as he rehabs his ankle, teams feel like he's got better size, is more polished offensively and could have a bigger upside than Noel. As we've previously reported, he's seriously in the mix with the Cavs for the No. 1 pick, with some sources indicating the Cavs could be moving his direction (I'm told Noel, Porter and Oladipo are the others). The Bobcats are also very high on Len, as are the Suns and Pelicans.
6. Ben McLemore
Teams love McLemore's talent. His jump shot and elite athletic ability scream potential All-Star. But teams continue to wring their hands over whether McLemore has the drive to become a star. He was in Phoenix last week, but refused to work out against Oladipo and Muhammad. That's not an unusual ploy for a player ranked at the top, but given the parity at the top of the draft, it wasn't well received by the Suns, nor will it be from the other teams up high in the draft. "He needs to compete," one GM at the top of the draft said, "or it's only going to reinforce our biggest fears about him. There is no consensus in this draft. He's got to come and earn it." With that said, virtually every team at the top of the draft is still considering McLemore. The Magic, Bobcats and Suns look like the most plausible destinations.
7. Trey Burke
Burke is in a similar position to McLemore. After riding a NCAA tournament run into the championship game, he's struggling right now to retain his momentum. He worked out for the Suns on Thursday and the Kings on Friday, but only did a solo workout -- refusing to go against Michael Carter-Williams and C.J. McCollum, the two other top-rated point guards. From what I can gather, the Kings' ownership is higher right now on Carter-Williams. If Burke gets past the Magic and Pelicans, he could be in for an unexpected slide on draft night.
8. Michael Carter-Williams
Carter-Williams continues to make the case that he's the top point guard prospect in the draft. He worked out for the Suns on Thursday and the Kings on Saturday against McCollum, and seems to be gaining momentum thanks to his strong advanced metrics and physical profile. He looks to be firmly in the mix for both the Kings and Pistons. If he gets by both teams, I doubt he slides past the Jazz at No. 14.
9. C.J. McCollum
McCollum is the sleeper here. A number of teams really like him, but he's yet to emerge atop their boards. He's completed workouts with the Magic, Suns, Kings and Blazers. He also has the Jazz, 76ers, Pacers and Timberwolves coming up. In particular, the Suns and Blazers look like two terrific options. Both teams are looking for scoring guards who can shoot and get to the basket. Right now, McCollum could be drafted in the Nos. 5-10 range.
10. Cody Zeller
Zeller has worked out for the Jazz, Suns, Blazers and Thunder already, and has workouts scheduled with the Timberwolves, Kings, 76ers, Pistons, Bobcats and Magic. Everywhere Zeller has gone he hasn't exactly played against top competition, but teams have been very positive about his workouts, saying he's shot the ball well. The hardest thing for Zeller is finding the right fit. The Suns and Kings are possibilities, as are the Sixers, Thunder and Jazz in the lottery.
11. Dario Saric
Saric, as we reported last week, is leaning toward withdrawing from the draft. However, despite reports to the contrary, he hasn't officially pulled his name (he has until June 17 to do so). Why? He's still listening to teams that would be willing to draft him in the lottery and leave him in Croatia for a year. While Saric has generated significant interest in the lottery from the Pelicans, Blazers, Sixers, Thunder and Mavs, most of those teams want Saric to immediately come to the NBA. The Mavs might be the best chance to keep Saric in the draft. They have explored trading their draft pick to clear cap room for a run at Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, and could get the same cap space by drafting Saric and then sending a letter to the NBA (signed by both the Mavs and Saric) stating that he won't be joining the team this year.
12. Steven Adams
Adams has worked out for the Celtics, Jazz, Sixers and Thunder, and works out for the Timberwolves on Wednesday. All five teams make sense for Adams. The Celtics and Sixers have big holes in the middle. Also, the Jazz and Wolves could lose their starting bigs to free agency this summer, and the Thunder are looking for depth at that position. The reports on Adams coming out of each workout all have been stellar. It looks like his range is 9-16 right now.
13. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Caldwell-Pope continues to be one of the hotter names in the draft. He's already worked out for the Bulls, Wolves and Blazers, and has the Celtics and Bucks on his schedule this week. I'm hearing that the Wolves, especially, are enamored with Caldwell-Pope, and he's the sleeper at No. 9. The Wolves desperately need shooting in their backcourt, and I heard his workout in Minnesota was terrific.
14. Shabazz Muhammad
Muhammad finally is getting the chance to try and erase the bad taste his freshman season at UCLA left with some scouts. He's worked out in Phoenix, Philadelphia and Sacramento, and heads to Minnesota, Portland and then Utah. The feedback from his workouts has been very positive. "He really competes," one GM said. "He's not backing down. The guy still carries himself like he's a top pick, which I really like." Of the teams he's worked out for, the Wolves seem to be the highest on him.
15. Mason Plumlee
Plumlee continues to be one of the harder players in the draft to peg right now. While every team likes him, we have yet to hear of a team in the lottery that has him particularly high on their board. Plumlee already has worked out for the Celtics, Thunder and Sixers, and has workouts with the Blazers, Suns, Wizards and Pistons coming up. The Celtics and Sixers, in particular, desperately need size and athleticism on their front lines and could be great fits.
16. Kelly Olynyk
Olynyk has worked out for the Sixers (against Plumlee) and Wolves, though I'm not sure either team is an ideal fit. Olynyk is projecting as a 4 at the next level and will likely find more receptive teams that are in need of a stretch 4.
17. Jamaal Franklin
Franklin has been out of commission for more than a month with an ankle injury, but he's finally cleared for workouts and had his first one on Monday with the Knicks and will work out with the Nets and Celtics later in the week. Franklin has been working on his jump shot over the past month, and it looked much improved in an impromptu Vegas workout a little over a week ago. If he can shoot the ball well in workouts, he can still fly up the board.
18. Shane Larkin
Larkin's worked out for the Celtics, Bucks, Jazz and Suns. He's got the 76ers and Mavericks this week. From the sound of things, it looks like his best workout might have been in Utah, though sources say the Bucks are very high on him at No. 15. That No. 14-16 range seems about right for Larkin. If he isn't taken there, the next team that really needs a point guard is the Jazz again at No. 21 (assuming they don't take a point guard at No. 14).
19. Dennis Schroeder
Schroeder is back in Germany after working out for the Mavs, Bucks, Celtics, Jazz and Rockets. Like Larkin, Schroeder's range now appears in the 14-16 window, with the Jazz, Bucks and Celtics all eyeing the point guard. However, sources say the workouts haven't gone particularly well for Schroeder, and he's struggled against the more physical defense at the workouts. "He looked frustrated," one NBA scout said of Schroeder's workout with his team. "His body language wasn't great. He's a very good talent and I wouldn't read too much into the workout, but it didn't really help him."
20. Tony Mitchell
Mitchell is another player who appears to be all over draft boards at the moment. Some teams think he could be the next Kenneth Faried. Others are much more skeptical after a rough sophomore season at North Texas. The Blazers, Nuggets, Jazz and Knicks have all worked him out. The Knicks, I'm told, are especially high on Mitchell. The Knicks don't really have anyone under contract for next season who can back up Amar'e Stoudemire at the 4.
21. Rudy Gobert
Gobert disappointed all of the GMs and scouts who traveled to Treviso, Italy, to see him at the Eurocamp after a bout of food poisoning kept him out. He's worked out for the Suns, Kings and Mavs and has a big workout scheduled with the Wolves this week. Opinions on Gobert couldn't be more mixed at the moment. While every team is intrigued with his size, length and ability to protect the rim, many teams feel like he is years away from playing in the NBA.
22. Sergey Karasev
Karasev worked out in Las Vegas for a couple of hours and then shut things down before the draft. He got on a plane back to Russia and canceled his remaining workouts. The Hawks and Cavs look like the teams with the most interest in him, though the Wolves have taken a strong look at him as high as No. 9.
23. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Antetokunmpo was the star of the Eurocamp even though he didn't play a single minute there. His under-20 Greek team played a few exhibition games 40 minutes from Treviso, and a horde of NBA GMs and scouts skipped out of the evening Eurocamp games to take a look as he played against his first real competition of the year. Antetokunmpo's 11 points, six rebounds and four assists in the opening game versus Croatia was met with both praise (for his athletic ability and overall talent) and wariness (virtually every GM and scout I spoke with felt he was years away from contributing at the NBA level). He was much better in the second game, scoring 17 points and grabbing five rebounds in just 20 minutes against Turkey. Unfortunately, many of the NBA scouts who attended the first game didn't come back to see him against Turkey. Antetokunmpo clearly has tremendous upside, and based on the feedback I heard, really helped himself. Some scouts believe he won't get past the Hawks on draft night.
24. Lucas Nogueira
Nogueira showed up and played just one day of the Eurocamp this weekend. But it was a strong performance. He had 13 points, three boards and four blocks in the opening day of the camp. While teams would've liked to see more, they saw enough to note that he's dramatically improved the past year and is a legit first-round prospect. Think of him as a poor man's Noel. He's drawing interest from teams picking in both the teens and 20s.
25. Reggie Bullock
Bullock has worked out for the Knicks, Jazz, Nuggets and Wolves. He has the Nets on Wednesday. All five of those teams are drafting in the 20s, which looks like Bullock's range. All five teams could also use a versatile shooter who can play both the 2 and 3. Somewhere in the 21-26 range looks like the right window for Bullock at the moment.
26. Glen Rice Jr.
Rice has worked out for the Bucks, Bulls, Rockets, Jazz and Blazers. All three teams are looking for a wing who can shoot the basketball, though the Blazers appear the highest on Rice. In general, teams are all over the board in terms of what they think of him. Some think his dominant performance in the D-League makes him one of the surer things in the draft, while others were disappointed with his performance in the draft combine. It's really tough to peg where he's going at the moment.
27. Allen Crabbe
Crabbe has worked out with the Bulls, Wolves, Pacers, Cavs and Knicks. He has a third, with the Nets, on Tuesday and has the Celtics, Bucks, Jazz, Clippers and Suns coming up. Crabbe is fighting for the same space as both Bullock and Rice -- big wings with great jump shots. The Wolves were wowed by his jump shot, and Crabbe might be a good fit in Minnesota if the Wolves decide to go big with the No. 9 pick.
28. Gorgui Dieng
Dieng started working out just last week after an ankle injury kept him sidelined for more than a month. He still hasn't worked out directly for a team -- just a big pro day a little more than a week ago in Santa Monica, Calif. The lack of workouts has taken its toll a bit on his draft stock, though strong performances over the next few weeks could boost it back up.
29. Ricardo Ledo
It's really tough to place Ledo at the moment. He has lottery talent and his workouts, by all accounts, have been very impressive. He's worked out in Boston, Minnesota, Denver, Memphis, New York and Phoenix to fairly rave reviews. Assuming the Suns and Wolves aren't looking at him with their lottery picks, that puts his range at 16-30. I wouldn't count out a team like Boston taking him high. GM Danny Ainge hasn't been afraid to roll the dice on talented young players, and Ledo has one of the highest ceilings in the draft.
30. Tim Hardaway Jr.
Hardaway has worked out for the Bulls, Bucks, Timberwolves and Hawks and has the Thunder and Nets coming up. He has had very positive feedback from a number of teams looking for a NBA ready wing who can both shoot and defend. It looks like his range is anywhere between the mid to late first round.