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. Just got back from a long scouting trip where, in addition to the NBA Draft Combine, I saw 14 of our top 17 players in workout settings in gyms in Chicago, New York and LA. That means a new Big Board is coming tomorrow. But in the meantime -- let's talk NBA Draft for the next hour. Let's roll ...
Hi Chad, If I was the Cleveland Cavs I would draft Wiggins #1, re-sign Kyrie, and enjoy that ultra talented backcourt for years to come. Obviously alot of pressure is on the Cavs to make the right pick this year, especially after the Anthony Bennett debacle at #1 last season. If they pick Embiid and he disappoints or his health issues resurface it will be a huge fail for a team with back to back #1 picks. Is there any way they pass on an electrifying wing like Wiggins for Embiid?
Chad Ford (1:04 PM)
Yes. Jabari Parker was a top their board for most of the year. He's the safest pick and the guy most likely to make a major impact in Year One -- a big deal for a new GM who is under a mandate from his owner to make the playoffs or else. And, by the way, Parker fits a need -- especially if they are losing Luol Deng this summer. Embiid has the most long term upside of anyone in the draft. And he fits a major need for the Cavs as well. 7-footers that are athletic, quick and skilled on both ends don't come along very often. If Dan Gilbert was a patient man, it would be hard to pass on Embiid. But the fact that Embiid is probably a couple years away from being an impact player in the NBA is giving them pause (his back is an issue too, but that should be resolved soon one way or the other as both the Cavs and Embiid's agent are negotiating a visit and physical). Wiggins offers a compromise. He's got huge upside like Embiid, but is also ready to come in and contribute right now -- especially defensively. It's a very tough choice for the Cavs. All three are worthy of the No. 1 pick. May come down to fit, need and whether the Cavs are willing to be patient or not.
Cory (Omaha, NE)
If the Cavs were to draft Parker, would that be an admission that they're giving up on Bennett already? It looks like they have similar size, skill-sets, and concerns, although Parker looks better of course at this point. Not sure how those 2 could share the court together? Also, have you heard anything on Bennett's progress this summer (conditioning, skills improvement, playing in summer league, etc.)? A well-conditioned Bennett could fit better with either Wiggins or Embiid, along with Irving and the other Cavs.
Chad Ford (1:05 PM)
That's part of the hesitation with Parker. But it helps that the GM who drafted him and the coach who lobbied for him have both been fired. That gives them more flexibility. But Bennett is an asset and they don't want to ruin his value by regulating him to the bench again next year.
Which teams would potentially be looking to trade up into the top three? Would the Cavs, Bucks, or Sixers have any interest?
Chad Ford (1:13 PM)
Of the three, I think the Cavs are the most interested in trading the pick. The Bucks and Sixers are in a rebuild and highly value those picks they have. The Cavs are going to want a youngish veteran All-Star in return. Kevin Love is the obvious choice here. Joakim Noah. LaMarcus Aldridge. Al Horford. That's what it is going to take.
Why are the Bucks so unappealing to agents? New ownership, good young talent. Is it just Milwaukee?
Chad Ford (1:15 PM)
They aren't. They aren't having a problem getting any of the top guys in. I know there's been a lot of talk out there that no one wants to play for Milwaukee, but the truth is Parker, Wiggins and Exum will all workout there and are willing to play in Milwaukee. There's a bigger question mark around Embiid, but that's true for all 30 teams right now. The Cavs and Embiid's agent are working on coming to terms on a visit and physical for Embiid. His agent may wait to see how that goes before scheduling other teams.
What do you think the bucks top 4 on their draft board looks like?
Chad Ford (1:17 PM)
This could obviously change with workouts and interviews but here's my best guess: 1a. Embiid 1b. Parker 3. Exum 4. Wiggins
Dave Philly [via mobile]
How do you think the Sixers have the following players ranked in order of best to worst? Embiid Wiggins Parker Exum
Chad Ford (1:19 PM)
1. Wiggins 2. Embiid then I think it's a scrum between Exum and Parker. The thing is, if the Cavs pass on Wiggins (which they very well may) I think he's there at No. 3. So they may just have to be patient.
Chad, I'm really enjoying the back and forth pieces between you and Kevin about the prospects (still miss Hollinger, but I'm a big fan of Kevin's SCHOENE system). In today's piece about Exum, you said the Sixers could draft him and you said "I think the more obvious fit comes if they trade Carter-Williams, an idea I'm told they have bounced around." Could you elaborate on what you've heard and the seriousness of it? Does that mean they don't think MCW is a future allstar?
Chad Ford (1:21 PM)
Sam Hinkie is as asset collector. There are no untouchables on the second worst team in the NBA right now. Carter-Williams may have over performed a bit this rookie year given the situation he was in. If a team blew away the Sixers with an offer for him, yes I think they'd consider it. They like Exum and if they got another piece for Williams that made them better in the long-term, I think they could be willing to let him go.
What are the chances someone before Orlando takes Exum and if so who would be dropping down to them? As A Magic fan I'm excited about Exum but in odd twist also would be excited if any of the other top 3 drop to them.
Chad Ford (1:23 PM)
I think there's a chance the Bucks could take Exum at 2. If they do, then I think it would be either Embiid or Parker that would fall to them there. They'd snap up both players in a heart beat. Also don't count out Marcus Smart in Orlando. They loved him last year, he's already gone into a workout there and there are some in the organization who believe he's better than Exum.
What puts Exum in the conversation with the other 3? Sounds like he's not a true PG and we've seen much less of him than the others. Is his upside really that high?
Chad Ford (1:27 PM)
Read the piece that Kevin Pelton and I wrote today about him. Kevin developed an analytical tool that uses data from the Under 19s in Prague to help evaluate him. Since several other top PGs also played in the event (Marcus Smart and Tyler Ennis) he was able to compare the three. Based off that tool, Exum projected as the second best player in the draft. The scouting also supports everything that the numbers are saying about Exum right. When those two align, (albeit with limited data for both) it's easier to get a little more comfortable. I think he's worthy of being in the conversation with the other 3 and most of the GMs who have scouted him agree.
What in your opinion separates Exum from Smart if you are Orlando picking at 4?
Chad Ford (1:29 PM)
Both have elite size and length for their position. Exum is quicker and better at getting to the basket. Smart is much stronger and physically ready. Smart is a better defender, but both are tough. Exum is probably more of a natural point guard than Smart -- but both are really combo guards at heart. Smart's proven leadership is a plus. Exum is younger and many feel has a higher upside. Neither is a great shooter yet. I think there's a legit argument for both. And by the way, Pelton's WARP has them ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the draft.
Do the Jazz and any chance at moving up to grab Parker?! Please say yes!
Chad Ford (1:32 PM)
They have a lot of assets and I think they could tempt Cleveland if they threw together several of them into a package that rounded out this team. For instance ... what about a sign-and-trade that delivered Gordan Hayward and Enes Kanter -- fixes holes at both the three and the five long-term for the Cavs. Both are ready to go now. The question will be ... Hayward is a restricted free agent. Free agency doesn't start until after the draft. So the Cavs would have to take Jabari at 1 and then hope they could get Hayward to play along. Derrick Favors could also tempt them I'm told. But the Cavs would need another piece -- perhaps the 5th pick?
Who has the most long-term potential out of Smart, Vonleh, Randal and Gordon? The Jazz have a great collection of "pretty good" prospects and could use a "great" one...
Chad Ford (1:34 PM)
That's a tough one. I don't think they are particularly high on Smart. At least they haven't been the past two years. But he's much more of a need than Vonleh, Randle or Gordon. If somehow Exum slides -- then that's a no-brainer for them. Between those three -- Vonleh probably has the best chance of being special. Unique combination of physical tools and skills. I'm a fan of all three however. Gordon has some Andrei Kirilenko and Shawn Marion in him which could be a nice fit.
Two words: Boston Celtics?
Chad Ford (1:37 PM)
Ainge went from hating the draft to loving it overnight LOL. If the Top 4 are all off the board (and by the way the Celtics are adamant that there isn't as much separation between the top 4 guys and the next 4 guys as we and others have suggested) then it's Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh and Julius Randle in some order. They also like Tyler Ennis and Gary Harris a lot too. Based on everything I've been able to gather all year, I'd say Gordon is probably the favorite though I know Smart has really grown on them and Ainge's son played against Vonleh in high school which gave Ainge a few extra scouting looks at him as well. But if I was going to pick one guy right now, I think it's Gordon.
Joel (Las Vegas)
Any chance Smart falls to the Lakers?
Chad Ford (1:39 PM)
Yes and I think he or Julius Randle would be a very good fit. If the team is trying to win now -- those are the two players who have the bodies to contribute in the NBA today and the other thing is that Kobe will love their competitiveness. Both of these guys compete as hard as anyone in the draft.
What do you make of the Kings reportedly willing to trade for Kevin Love w/o assurances he'll resign? Would the #8 pick, Ben McLemore, a future first-rounder, and expiring contracts be enough to land Love?
Chad Ford (1:41 PM)
I think it's hubris. I'd be shocked if Kevin Love would re-sign there. I know they are trying to change the image of the franchise and you have an owner willing to spend what it takes to fix this. But you have a very young GM, a bunch of players who are talented but undisciplined, a team that struggles mightily on defense and you think a combo of Love, Rudy Gay and Cousins will convince him to stay? I think they'd obviously be much better and playoff team. But Love wants championships, not the playoffs and I think he wants a bigger market to grow in. And the cost? If they only have Love for a year, just about anything is too much.
jason (charlotte, nc)
Who makes more sense for the Hornets at 9? McDermott or Stauskus?
Chad Ford (1:43 PM)
Shooting and scoring at the two and three position are the priorities for the Hornets. While I think this is a pick that's very open to being traded McDermott probably makes the most sense there. This is a team that wants to win now and he's ready right now. Stauksas and Gary Harris would both be good fits there as well. I would say those are the three favorites.
Who do the sixers like at 10?
Chad Ford (1:45 PM)
Depends on what they do at 3. But I think it's safe to say that shooting is a big need and there are some excellent shooters like Doug McDermott, Nick Stauskas, Gary Harris and James Young in this range. They may also need a power forward. If the top guys drop, the pickings are a little slimmer though I think Dario Saric would be a steal here if he was still on the board.
What are the chances that Elfrid Payton develops into a Rondo/Wall hybrid and is the best PG taken in this draft down the road?
Chad Ford (1:49 PM)
Well ... that's certainly a best case scenario. I love Payton and think he's the sleeper of the draft -- something I've been saying for months. The guy he reminds me the most of is a young Gary Payton. Same game, same body and similar toughness on the court. But that's obviously a ceiling for him. But if he had played at Kentucky or Duke? He'd be a lock for the Top 10. After Exum and Smart are gone, he'll battle Tyler Ennis for the next point guard off the board. I think the Kings at No. 8 are probably his ceiling. Hornets at 9, Magic at 12, Hawks at 15, Celtics at 17 are other options. Don't think he slides past Toronto at 20.
Your thoughts on Dario Saric. How high does he go?
Chad Ford (1:52 PM)
I think he's talented enough to be in the same conversation with Vonleh, Randle, Gordon and Smart. He's another killer on the court who almost singled handedly carried his team to an Adriatic League final. To do that at the age of 20 in Europe is really amazing. He may have the highest basketball IQ of anyone in the draft. He's very versatile, especially when he has the ball in his hands. But he's got to convince teams that he's coming now (something his father has been adamantly opposed to) to go in the Top 8. If he's staying in Europe the next few years then his range probably starts at the Sixers at 10 or the Magic at 12 (both teams with multiple lottery picks).
Rah-Steam (Hackensack, N.J.)
Which UCLA guy do you like the best? Why?
Chad Ford (1:54 PM)
LaVine. Just incredible upside there between his elite athleticism, size and ability to shoot the ball. He doesn't know what he's doing yet, but he wants to be great and is very confident. Kyle Anderson is the most skilled, but I'm not sure there is anyone in the NBA he can defend and am not convinced a coach will play him to his strengths. Jordan Adams is one of the best scorers in the draft, but he had historically low athletic scores at the combine for a guard. That's not going to help things.
Where do you see GR3 and McGary going?
Chad Ford (1:56 PM)
Both are borderline first rounders right now. McGary's size is appealing -- especially if teams can get some comfort around his back. He's working out again which is a really good sign. Robinsion is a project. Elite athlete, needs to develop a go to offensive game and needs to be in attack mode more often.
Difference between Beast 4's, Stokes and Randle? Exact same body & stats. One's a Top 10 pick and one is a fringe 1st rounder.
Chad Ford (1:56 PM)
The analytics guys love Stokes. Don't worry. He's got a great shot at going in the first round. I don't think he's as talented as Randle, but you're right that it's closer than the Big Board shows.
Donnie Dark (Columbus, Ohio)
How high could Shabazz play himself into the 1st? I feel like he's a natural baller a la Mike Bibby and can defend pg's. Any chance he creeps into to 20?
Chad Ford (1:58 PM)
Yes. I could see him as high as the Bulls at 19 or Toronto at 20. Both could use a back-up point guard and both want someone who helps them right away. So much to love about Napier's ability to play the game. Teams just wish he was bigger. His lack of size is a major obstacle for him.
Chad Ford (2:00 PM)
Gotta run everyone. Make sure you check out our workout reports the last few days of Wiggins, Parker, Embiid, Gordon, Smart and LaVine, plus a new Ford-Pelton that looks at what the analytics say about Dante Exum. Big Board 11.0 coming tomorrow. Have a great day.