Blum: NBA Draft Bonanza

NBA Draft night is always circled on my calendar, or should I say, blocked on my Outlook. Does anyone still have a run-of-the-mill calendar that isn’t fronted by Kate Upton or some sort of small cat?

Draft night is far and away my favorite activity that involves suits and flat-bills. As one of the self-proclaimed four NBA fans in Iowa, this is annually a highlight of my summer. I’ve got my beverage of choice on ice, my mock draft lined up and the twitter streamlined to maximize efficiency.

So what are some things to look for tonight as an Iowa State and Big 12 aficionado? Here is a cheat sheet.

Clyburn/Babb on Fringe:

Iowa State swing-men Will Clyburn and Chris Babb have an outside chance of being picked, but I wouldn’t bet on it in Vegas. Clyburn is the likelier of the two after performing well in the pre-draft work-outs and combines. He has the dreaded "2nd round or undrafted" tag placed upon him, which equates to an uphill battle. The strategy in recent years for teams picking in the middle to late 2nd round is take a flyer on some international cat and hope they become Manu Ginobili (Ginobili was the 57th overall pick in 1999. He was selected 11 picks after Iowa’s J.R. "The Pump Fake" Koch.) The question mark with Clyburn is where do you put him? He is a hybrid player that is an extremely gifted scorer and solid rebounder, but GM’s struggle with what position he will guard. Clyburn does have a high upside with his length and athleticism and all it takes is one team to fall in love with him.

Chris Babb has always been an intriguing NBA case. In order to survive in the league, you need to have at least one elite-level skill. And Babb can be a very good defender at the next level. He is a shade under-sized at 6’5 to guard many of the jumbo swing guys, but he is excellent at using angles and leverage to succeed. He also possesses great range on his jump shot and can space the floor on offense. With the NBA moving to more of a wide-open, guard-dominant, rise and fire league, Babb definitely has some coveted skills. Whoever gets him to participate on their Summer League team will give him a long look. At that point it comes down to a numbers game.

Tyrus McGee and Korie Lucious won’t get drafted tonight, but may end up on a Summer League roster. All four of these men will be making a living playing professionally next season and we may even see them in wind up in Des Moines with the Iowa Energy if they go the D-League route. Anthony Booker could also make some money professionally if he desires. Best of luck to these Cyclones.

Big 12 Representation:

Last year the Big 12 was extremely well represented in New York. Nine players from the Bowlsby conference had their names called, including Mr. Royce White. 2013 is not going to have the same banner crop. Thanks to decisions to stay by the Okie State trio (Marcus Smart, Markel Brown, Le’Bryan Nash) and the Baylor duo (Isaiah "Avatar" Austin, Cory Jefferson) the numbers will be down this year. The headliner will be Bankshot Ben McLemore, who could be selected as high as #2 by the Orlando Magic. McLemore has had more turbulence than the Grand Canyon tightrope ‘fella during the draft process and may slip a bit, but he won’t drop below the Timberwolves at pick nine.

It will be a long wait until the next Big 12 player is selected. Kansas’ Jeff Withey and Baylor firecracker Pierre Jackson are late first round possibilities. Texas’ Myck Kabongo is a likely early 2nd round selection and K-State’s Rodney McGruder joins Clyburn in the dreaded gray zone of uncertainty.

Prepare for a solid dose of Big Ten love in the first round, the LeaderLegends could have as many as four picks in the top 20. Interestingly enough those four picks for the B1G will exceed their top 20 selections over the previous several years. Since 2008, the Big Ten has had three players selected in the top 20 of the NBA, the Big 12 has had fifteen. And just for kicks, Iowa’s last first round pick came in 1998–Ricky Davis.

Grab your season tickets because there is going to be a parade of 2014 NBA first rounders coming through Ames next season.

As many as six of next year’s top 10 picks could roll through Hilton. Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins is penciled in as next year’s top pick. Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart is a consensus top four pick. Michigan comes to town with Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary–both top ten possibilities. Baylor has Isaiah Austin who is a likely lottery guy as well. And the "other" Kansas freshmen–big man Joel Embiid and guard Wayne Selden have top fifteen talent if they put it together. Even KU’s Perry Ellis, Baylor’s Jefferson and one of the other Okie State dudes can leap into the top twenty with great years.  It is going to be a ridiculously fun home slate. Not to mention, Hoiball returns as Iowa State has an excellent chance to get  to its third straight NCAA tournament. Feel the flow, feel it.

My Mock Draft:

Just to embarrass myself, here is my attempt at how I see the lottery playing out. This is a Draft that won’t produce many immediate all-stars, but there are some solid pieces out there.

1. Cleveland: Nerlens Noel: Yes, he has the ACL concern and a limited offensive game, but he can be an elite rim protector. Ever since the House Party movies in the early ’90’s (look it up young people) I have yearned to grow a Noel high top to make myself look taller. I need a lot of help.  

2. Orlando: Victor Oladipo: Too many questions surround McLemore for the somewhat conservative Magic. They go for the sure thing in Oladipo, who can immediately step in and defend at a high level. The Magic may also trade this pick to another team who wants to take a big guy.

3. Washington: Alex Len: If he is still around, somebody will trade up to this spot to take Len. He has great size at 7’1 and is very mobile. I like the Maryland via Ukraine big fella a lot. He would be the best Ukrainian national to hit the NBA floor since Vitaly Potapenko, who was taken the pick before Kobe by the Cavs in 1996. Oops.  

4. Charlotte: Otto Porter: The Bobcats are terrible and will remain terrible for years to come. They need help everywhere. What a sad group.

5. Phoenix: Ben McLemore: The Suns and new head coach Jeff Hornacek! need a guard and McLemore has potential to be a great one. First task for Hornacek, keeping McLemore a safe distance from Michael Beasley.

6. New Orleans: Anthony Bennett: The Pelicans (fo’ real, name change) want to take the best player available and Bennett has a high ceiling and could be an All-Star someday, but is kind of a knucklehead. With an Anthony Davis/Bennett/Eric Gordon trio, the ‘Cans would have a nice youthful core.

7. Sacramento: Michael Carter-Williams: This is either MCW or Michigan’s Trey Burke. The Kings already have three micro machine guards with Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton. Drafting Burke (6-0) would give them a great 6-2 and under intramural team, but unfortunately height is a plus in the NBA.

8. Detroit: Trey Burke: If he falls to Detroit, they will lock him up and sling some tickets.

9. Minnesota: CJ McCollum: The T-Wolves need a shooter to man the wing and McCollum can do that. He is a solid guy that can fill a role. McCollum’s LeHigh club visited Ames in 2011 for the season opener. He scored 16 points in Iowa state’s 86-77 win. McCollum is a fairly risk-free pick. The T-Wolves haven’t made the Playoffs since Fred Hoiberg was their first man off the bench in 2004.

10.  Portland: Cody Zeller: Many don’t realize that the Portland front office is dominated by Iowa guys. Iowa State’s own Mike Born is the Director of NBA scouting and West Des Moines native Chad Buchanan is the Director of College Scouting. Both excellent dudes. The Iowa crew will have a hard time passing on Cody Zeller who could team with LaMarcus Aldridge to create a formidable power-forward front-court.

11. Sixers: Steven Adams: The Sixers are a mess. I have no idea what they will do. When all else fails, close your eyes and take the person with the largest upside. That’s usually how I picked my dates in high school. Adams is a legit 7-foot, but has motor questions. Nobody likes a questionable motor.

12. Thunder: Kelly Olynyk: The Thunder could use another low post scorer as Kendrick Perkins is essentially a space filler at this point. Olynyk can score. Makes sense. Not sure the Oklahoma City folks are ready for a man with long hair though. Also wouldn’t be surprised if they grab Shabazz Muhammad either to fill the James Harden void. The Durant’s can afford a risk.

13. Mavericks: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: The Mavs may lose OJ Mayo in free agency and will be looking for a guard to fill his spot. Muhammad and Caldwell-Pope are the two options left. Caldwell-Pope played for an absolutely awful Georgia team and that is concerning, but he put up good numbers. He would also be the first ever Kentavious drafted in the NBA. Fact.

14. Jazz: Dennis Schroeder: Schroder is a 19 year old German point guard. The Jazz need a point-guard because unfortunately Jamaal Tinsley is getting older. Father time is a filthy fool. It is either Schroeder or Miami’s Shane Larkin and Schroeder seems to be the sexier pick. Always go for the sexy in Salt Lake.

Let’s do this thing.