Chat with Chad Ford
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford will drop by to talk some hoops.
Ford covers the NBA and NBA Draft for ESPN Insider and also makes appearances on ESPN Radio and ESPNEWS.
Send your questions now and join Ford Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Chad Ford (12:59 PM)
Aloha everyone. Thanks for coming to the chat today. We will be doing NBA Draft all hour. Let's roll ...
Conor [via mobile]
Would the Cavs REALLY consider trading number 1 for Noah/Horford/Aldridge ? Am I missing something or is their value really that high?
Chad Ford (1:01 PM)
I think fans in Chicago, Atlanta and Portland are asking ... would our teams really trade Noah, Horford or Aldridge for the No. 1 pick? I know this is an incredible draft class. But it's hard to trade an established, young veteran All-Star for an unknown. Of the three teams, I think the Hawks are the most open to making a deal. They know they have to totally remake this team to avoid mediocrity. Portland would probably be next. I'd be shocked if the Bulls gave up on Noah.
Is Wiggins a lock at #1? Reports seem to indicate as much
Chad Ford (1:04 PM)
No. I don't think anyone is a lock for the No. 1 pick right now. The Cavs haven't had anyone in. Embiid will go first. They'll get a chance to take a close look at his back. If everything checks out great ... it will be tough to pass on Embiid. However, he still won't be a lock because owner Dan Gilbert wants the team to be a playoff team next year and of the top 3, Embiid is probably the least ready to make an impact in Year One. I still think a trade might be the best option if the Cavs can find an All-Star big to pair with Irving.
What's going on in the Cavs minds that is making you think they take Wiggins and Embiid falls to Milwaukee? Everything since his workout has pointed to this year being the "Embiid" draft.
Chad Ford (1:07 PM)
The workout Embiid did in Santa Monica was really impressive. I was there. He had gained some weight (a good thing in his case) but was still light on his feet. He didn't look like a guy with a bad back. But until NBA doctors, specifically the Cavs doctors, agree after a thorough medical evaluation ... the workout means nothing. And again, while Embiid fits a need for the Cavs and may have the most long-term upside of any player in this draft, he's the least NBA ready right now and you have a very impatient owner. The Cavs love him, but it doesn't mean they'll take him No. 1. They loved Nerlens Noel all last year and ultimately balked because of his knee and his inability to contribute to a playoff run last year.
Assuming Embiid goes 1, would the Bucks realistically take Parker over the upside of Wiggins? Also, when does the next mock come out?
Chad Ford (1:09 PM)
Yes. Parker is the most NBA ready player of the top 3. He could average 20 ppg for the Bucks next season. He also has incredibly high character, is a leader and is the lowest risk prospect in the draft. Hard to imagine Parker not making a few All-Star teams if he stays healthy. For a GM that is on a one-year trial period, I'm not sure you can pass on the guy who's likely to be the Rookie of the Year next season and take the guy that might be better in five years. John Hammond just doesn't have that sort of flexibility right now.
I understand the production, but shouldn't Parker be farther down the draft board? He is too slow to guard 3's and too small to guard 4's. If you are building a team, who draft a guy who is such a liability on defense? How do you build a championship team that way?
Chad Ford (1:11 PM)
That's the knock on Parker. However, given his measurements at the Draft Combine, more and more teams believe that he's big enough to guard fours in the NBA. He's certainly going to have the strength to do it. Jabari's already a strong dude. But that 8' 11.5" standing reach is on par with a number of top power forwards in the NBA. Offensively he's more of a three, but I think you can make an argument that he can guard fours in the NBA. If you are comfortable with that, his biggest weakness isn't such a red flag anymore.
So are you saying we have a chance at Wiggins at 3? Please God, let it be so ...
Chad Ford (1:15 PM)
Yeah. If the Cavs go Embiid or Parker ... I think the Bucks take whichever guy is left. I think of the top 4, Wiggins is the guy with the least amount of momentum in Milwaukee right now. I think Exum might go ahead of Wiggins in Milwaukee. So, if the Cavs don't take him 1, I think he's on the board at 3. That could obviously change with a great workout from Wiggins. But Philly does have a shot at him. They also have a ton of assets and could likely make a deal to swap 2 and 3 if the Cavs took Embiid or Parker first.
Nick (San Diego)
Help me understand how in the world TWO teams could pass on Wiggins? he's the best player in the draft!
Chad Ford (1:21 PM)
He's No. 1 on our Big Board and probably will stay there for the rest of the draft. He has elite physical tools for his position -- both from a size standpoint and athletically. That gives him a huge edge in the NBA. From a skills standpoint, he's a work in progress, but has no fatal flaws right now. His dribble is too high and his three-point jump shot is just OK. But both of those things are going to improve. You can teach those things ... you can't teach what Wiggins does well. And he's already an elite defender. So I think he, along with Embiid, have the most upside in the draft AND I think Wiggins is ready to play now. Maybe not ready to score 20 ppg, but ready to be on the floor and help a team now. So yeah, I think he's a good compromise between Embiid and Parker. With that said, there are teams that worry about his aggressiveness. Worry whether he's hungry. Worry that he plays too upright. Worry that the jump shot might not improve. I can make good arguments for both Embiid, Parker and even Exum No. 1 too. But as of now, Wiggins is No. 1 on our Big Board.
The consensus seems to be that Exum won't make it past the Magic at 4 but, if workouts go well, how realistic is it that Smart is their guy?
Chad Ford (1:23 PM)
They loved Smart last year. Smart is more NBA ready than Exum. He, along with Jabari Parker and Julius Randle are the three guys who I think come in and have a big impact from Day One on a team. So, if the Magic feel like they need to make a big jump this year, hard to go wrong with Smart. He's a vocal leader, a competitor. Lots of things to love there. But I think Exum has the slight advantage over Smart.
Your thoughts on the Magic going Exum at 4 and trying to package Afflalo and the 12 to move up for Vonleh or Randle?
Chad Ford (1:27 PM)
Afflalo has some value as does the No. 12 pick. But they need a team to partner that's focused on winning now in the 5-8 range to get either Vonleh or Randle and I just don't see the Jazz, Celtics, Lakers or Kings doing that deal. Afflalo isn't huge need for any of them. The Hornets at No. 9 are probably the team most likely to bite at that deal, but I doubt it gets them Vonleh or Randle. They'll both be off the board before that.
Jazz VP of Basketball Operations Walt Perrin mentioned in an interview that the Jazz are trying to get more info on Saric, and that he could be in play at 5. Is 5 a reach or is Saric that talented?
Chad Ford (1:29 PM)
Saric is that talented. He just won MVP of the Adriatic League Final Four as a 20 year old. He's averaging nearly 20 ppg in the Croatian league right now. He has one of the highest basketball IQs of anyone in the draft. He can handle the ball like a point guard, is a good rebounder and a fierce competitor. Can play the three and four. He's special. To me he's in the same group as Randle, Smart and Gordon. The question is whether he's willing to come to the NBA right now. His father wants him to play in Europe for another year or two. Obviously the Jazz (and probably everyone else from 6 to 9) won't want to make that pick if he can't help them now.
Can you explain why you have Noah Vonleh higher on your board than Julius Randle? I'm trying to figure out if I'm missing something or if you're just delusional.
Chad Ford (1:32 PM)
It's very close between Vonleh, Randle and Aaron Gordon. I'm not saying one player has dramatically more potential than another one. But the argument for Vonleh goes like this: He's younger, bigger (length/standing reach), a better athlete, a much better perimeter shooter, and posted nearly identical rebounding numbers per 40 minutes last year. Randle is a better post player offensively right now, but Vonleh improved in that area dramatically this year and has the ability to step out and hit NBA threes. The analytics all strongly favor Vonleh as well. He just has more upside and his production last year was essentially on par if not slightly better than Randle.
Michael (Texas) [via mobile]
Can you give an inside look as to what's going on in Celtics GM Danny Ainge's head? It seems he always uses smokescreens before the draft and it's hard to get a read on what he's really planning.
Chad Ford (1:36 PM)
Not sure anyone gets in Danny Ainge's head. And while Danny has told his fair share of tall tales this time of year, I think people are overthinking this. Danny Ainge is an opportunist. He's looking for the best deal. If he can package his assets and get an elite veteran to pair with Rondo, I think he would do it. If he can trade Rondo and get a valuable asset, I think he'd do it. However, he's not going to give away valuable assets and get a lesser asset in return which means if he can't find the right deal, he'll make these draft picks and then see what value they have after the draft. Obviously Ainge wants the Celtics to be back in the hunt for a championship, but he's not going to make a bad deal -- rarely does. So what is he planning? To make a good deal and he (and you and I) probably won't know what the best deal is to be had until draft night.
I've heard that the Celtics are locked in on Aaron Gordon. Doesn't that seem a little high for him when there could be impact scorerers like Randle on the board? What do they see?
Chad Ford (1:38 PM)
It's not too high for Gordon. I love him. Elite athlete. Crazy energy. A nose for the ball. Fills up a stat sheet. Still one of the youngest players in the draft. Highly competitive. He's the least polished offensively, but he's another guy, like Wiggins, you can put on the floor and he makes an impact Day One defensively. Smart, Vonleh and Randle are all good options too. But if those are the four guys on the board, I think the Cs are leaning Gordon right now.
AC (England )
Any thoughts on what/ who the Lakers get for the number 7 pick? What chance they don't trade it?
Chad Ford (1:41 PM)
I think they have even a greater incentive to trade the pick than the Celtics. Kobe is coming back. He doesn't want to be in the lottery. Of the players that will be left on the board when the Lakers draft, both Marcus Smart and Julius Randle would be instant impact players. But they wouldn't have the same impact that a veteran All-Star would. I think the Lakers will try hard to package that pick to get back a veteran talent to pair with Kobe if they can. But that's a big if. Teams covet the No. 7 pick, but I don't think they get Kevin Love, Al Horford, LaMarcus Aldridge for it. Maybe something like Larry Sanders and Brandon Knight
Would the Kings possibly move back in the draft to select Elfrid Payton?
Chad Ford (1:44 PM)
If they do, they shouldn't move back very far. Payton was terrific in a workout for them and the NBA teams that have gone to see him workout in Thousand Oaks have been impressed as well. He has great size, athleticism, defensive ability. He's a jump shot away. If Marcus Smart was off the board, I think he'd be a great choice at 8. However, I think the Kings, like the Lakers, would prefer a young veteran that can help them in their drive to the playoffs this year.
Any chance the Hornets pass on Stauskas? The kid is the best shooter in the draft and is the definition of a floor spacer.
Chad Ford (1:46 PM)
They need shooting and he'd be a great fit. I know they are very high on him. Gary Harris is also strongly in the mix in Charlotte. Ditto for Doug McDermott. But again, the Hornets, like the Celtics, Lakers and Kings are open to trading this pick. The Hornets want players who can contribute to a playoff run now. I'm not saying Stauskas, Harris or McDermott wouldn't help now. They would. But a veteran would help even more.
Julius Randle has the pedigree and tools to lead the NBA in scoring or rebounding in the future and he is the 7th best player in this draft? Is this draft really that good?
Chad Ford (1:47 PM)
Why has Tyler Ennis fallen so far down the boards in mock drafts? Do you think he will make a good pro?
Chad Ford (1:52 PM)
I don't think he's fallen at all. He's in the range between 8 and 20. That's a big range, but part of it is figuring out which teams need point guards. The Kings need one. But they are the only team in the lottery in his range that is (unless the Magic take a non-PG at No. 4). So there's a shot at 8. A shot at 12. Then the next shot is probably 16 or 19 to the Bulls. The Raptors at 20. Those are the teams hungry for PGs. And with Marcus Smart and Elfrid Payton (along with potential combo guards like Gary Harris, Zach LaVine and Nik Stauskas) there is a lot of competition. I think he's going to be a good NBA player and should be competitive with all of those guys listed. But this is a pretty good PG class.
Royce (Farmington, CT)
Every year you talk about NBA trends and how they help certain draft prospects. What are they this year and who will be helped by it.
Chad Ford (1:57 PM)
I think a clear one is emerging. Serge Ibaka's impact as a rim protector was evident in the OKC/SA series. The Thunder (despite having the league MVP in Durant and another elite player in Russell Westbrook) were a completely different team when Ibaka was on the floor. That helps Joel Embiid, obviously. He has that sort of shot blocking ability and it's something that teams like the Cavs lack. If you're the Cavs management and your watching that series, Embiid has to look a lot more attractive. I also think it could help someone like Clint Capela. Cappella isn't ready for the NBA right now, but he has the potential to be an Ibaka type player on the defensive end down the road. Could cause him to rise as we get closer to the draft.
Is the international crop really that deep this year?
Chad Ford (2:00 PM)
Yes. I think Dante Exum and Dario Saric are locks for the lottery. I think Kristaps Porzingis could end up cracking the lottery as well. Jusuf Nurkic is a lock for the mid to late first round. Clint Capela also looks like a lock for the first. That's five. And then Artem Klimenko, Vasilije Micic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Alessandro Gentile and Thanasis Antetokounmpo all could be late first to early second round picks. Very good group this year.
Chad Ford (2:01 PM)
OK everyone. Gotta run. We'll do this again next week. We're 22 days away from the NBA Draft everyone. We have a ton of great content coming your way. Stay tuned!