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March 23, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Chad Ford

Chad Ford
  (1:01 PM)

Aloha everyone, thanks for coming over to the chat today. We'll take some NBA questions in the first half of the chat and then move on to the NBA Draft & NCAA Tournament in the second half. Let's roll ...

Colton (Salt Lake City)

Hi Chad, how do you see the race for the number 1 spot in the east playing out?

Chad Ford
  (1:02 PM)

1. Bulls 2. Celtics 3. Heat 4. Orlando. I think it will be a tight race between Chicago and Boston, but I think the Bulls have the edge.

Chad (Wisconsin)

Why does the media hate the Bulls so much?

Chad Ford
  (1:03 PM)

See Question 1. Oh yeah, and Derrick Rose has my vote for MVP and I think Tom Thibodeau should be Coach of the Year. Pure hatred.

Mark (New York City)

Are the Knicks going to fix things by the playoffs?

Chad Ford
  (1:08 PM)

Tough question. Blame Mike D'Antoni all you want for the poor defense. But who exactly on the Knicks was a decent defender before playing for D'Antoni. Chauncey may be the closest if you want to go back to his days in Detroit, but it's been a while. The team is built to be an offensive force and D'Antoni's teams have gone within a last minute injury and a suspension from being in the NBA Finals. He can get the Knicks there to with the right talent. The problem is New York doesn't have the supporting talent and are struggling to mesh Carmelo and Billups with the remaining team. Given that the team is set to meet either Chicago, Boston or Miami in the first round -- I think they're toast. But we expected that anyway.

Brett (Fargo, ND)

How the Hawks have the 5 seed is beyond me!!

Chad Ford
  (1:10 PM)

The East has four good teams. The rest are a mess. The Pacers may be in with 34 or 35 wins. But the top three team -- they're really, really good.

Donnell (New Orleans)

Hi Chad, Kobe and the Lakers have that look in their eyes now and what do you think that means to the rest of the league. What percentage would you give the Lakers of coming out of the West this year. thanks

Chad Ford
  (1:13 PM)

We knew this was coming. The Lakers are a veteran team and they understand when they need to turn it on. I think the Spurs surge caught everyone a bit off guard. But if the Lakers keep playing this way, they'll win the West.

Ryan (LA)

With Duncan out, can the Lakers make a late push for the 1 or will they save their energy for the playoffs?

Chad Ford
  (1:14 PM)

They're 6 1/2 games behind the Spurs right now with 12 games left to go in the season. Duncan is obviously really important, but it would take a major, major collapse by the Spurs for that to happen.

Tim (Seattle)

How do you see the bottom four playoff spots in the west playing out?

Chad Ford
  (1:16 PM)

5. Blazers 6. Denver 7. New Orleans 8. Memphis ... Rockets a very close 9th.

Ragan (Philly)

With a win tonight over the Hawks, the Sixers would only be 2.5 games out of the 5th seed. You see it happening? And could they challenge Orlando or Miami in a 7 game series?

Chad Ford
  (1:19 PM)

Sixers are playing well and at this pace, I think they could catch the Hawks for 5th place. But no, I don't see them as a serious challenger for the second round.

Daniel R (Knoxville, TN)

Do you like how the Thunder are looking now? (Minus that Toronto game.) Do you think they're capable of reaching the Conf. Finals this year?

Chad Ford
  (1:22 PM)

Yes. I think they are the most dangerous team that no one is talking about. They're young and lack experience, but they are just loaded with talent, very balanced and have a great head coach. I doubt this year is their year but I think starting next year they'll be in the West. Conf Finals for many years to come.

Will F (Muncie, IN)

Lifelong Pacers fan here (by way of disclaimer)... What's wrong with Danny Granger? The most I've seen him show up for in months is a half here, a half there. I think we have a good young nucleus, but it all depends on him being a #1 guy, and he hasn't shown that lately

Chad Ford
  (1:25 PM)

He's not a No. 1 guy. He struggles in the role. He doesn't really have the mental make-up for it nor is he as skilled as you need to be for that role. He's a really good No. 2 guy. It's a dilemma for the Pacers. They have a ton of money this summer to go add a No. 1 guy ... but there aren't any available via free agency. If they are going to get one, they'll need to do it via trade.

Sam Toth (Cleveland Heights)

I don't see the Kyrie Irving hype. From what I've seen, he is not that explosive of an athlete (such as Derrick Rose or John Wall) nor does he "wow" me with any of his passes (in fact, Marshall from UNC seems to have the better court vision). So can you sell me - an avid Cavs fan - on why I should get excited about Irving? (Personally, I'd go with D. Williams)

Chad Ford
  (1:27 PM)

Because there are no Derrick Rose's or John Wall's in this draft. And there is no clear No. 1 pick. Irving has been the default because he does just about everything well (though I'm not sure he has one elite quality), he plays a critical position, he's a great kid and everyone believes he'll have a very good career.

Jesse (Salt Lake)

Why aren't scouts higher on Derrick Williams? He's athletic, consistent, makes the game winning plays and has a great leadership mentality. Seems like most scouts think he'll be solid but not great though. Why wont he be a superstar?

Chad Ford
  (1:29 PM)

Most scouts have him in the Top 5 on their Big Board. A few teams would look at him with the No. 1 pick. Not sure how you get much higher than that. All the things you said are true. I'd add that he's been one of the most efficient players in college basketball this year. He rarely takes a bad shot. If he was 2 to 3 inches taller, he'd be a slam dunk for the No. 1 pick. As it stands now, the comp I hear the most for him is David West.

Mark (New York City)

Kenneth Faried a lottery pick?

Chad Ford
  (1:30 PM)

Maybe. Best rebounder in college basketball. Crazy motor. Long and athletic. He's not going to be a great offensive player in the NBA. But he'll deliver rebounds and energy and in this draft, that probably lands you in the late lottery to mid first round.

Mike (Chapel Hill)

Henson and Barnes as lottery picks? Are they even going to the NBA?

Chad Ford
  (1:32 PM)

Both would be lottery picks. Barnes still in the running for the No. 1 pick. The word on the street is that both are likely to return to school. However, things can change. We've seen top players in the past say they were coming back and then change their minds. But it sounds like both are pretty sincere. Another year at school would help both of them become better pros. Of the two, Barnes is more NBA ready right now.

B (NY)

What pick do you see Kemba Walker as in the draft?

Chad Ford
  (1:32 PM)

He goes somewhere between 8 and 15. Look for Charlotte. I hear Michael Jordan is a big fan.

Tom (Chicago)

Chad, what are you hearing on Kendall Marshall's pro potential? He may not be crazy athletic, but his passing ability and understanding of the position are unreal.

Chad Ford
  (1:34 PM)

Agree. He sees the floor better than anyone in college basketball. But his lack of quickness and his so-so jumper hurt him. If he can go back for another year and really work on that jump shot, someone could take him in the first as the next Andre Miller.

Eric (Illinois)

Does Justin Harper need to play closer to the basket to sneak into the first round?

Chad Ford
  (1:34 PM)

It would help. NBA teams like bigs that can stretch the floor. But they also need to show some desire to play in the paint.

beau (Louisville, KY)

Which Kentucky players do you see entering draft?

Chad Ford
  (1:37 PM)

Terrence Jones is leaning toward the draft. Brandon Knight seems to be genuinely on the fence -- though a few more great performances could push him in. The problem with Calipari's recruiting system right now is that he sort of needs these top players to declare. He has a number of elite recruits waiting to come in and he's sold them on their ability to be one-and-done. If Knight doesn't leave, Marquis Teague (Calipari's next great PG recruit) isn't going to be happy.

Chad Ford
  (1:37 PM)

Terrence Jones is leaning toward the draft. Brandon Knight seems to be genuinely on the fence -- though a few more great performances could push him in. The problem with Calipari's recruiting system right now is that he sort of needs these top players to declare. He has a number of elite recruits waiting to come in and he's sold them on their ability to be one-and-done. If Knight doesn't leave, Marquis Teague (Calipari's next great PG recruit) isn't going to be happy.

dave (nj)

Help settle an argument I had with my friend who is a UNC fan. . .Zeller a productive pro? I said no

Chad Ford
  (1:39 PM)

Most scouts disagree. In fact, we may have to move him up even higher on our Big Board. He's at No. 27, but after two great tournament games, sounds like most teams have him in their Top 15-20. Some scouts are saying he's a poor man's Pau Gasol.

JB (PDX)

Any international players we should be thinking about come draft time?

Chad Ford
  (1:41 PM)

Lots actually. It's a very solid draft for international players. Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely, Donatas Montiejunas, Nikola Mirotic, Lucas Nogueira ... and if Bismack Biyombo shows up a the Nike Hoop Summit and blows up ... you could have six international players in the first round.

Mason (Minnesota)

With Perry Jones getting suspended for the remainder of the year does this drop him out of the top 5 mix or is he still there on talent/potntial alone? I think he could look real clean in a T-Wolves jersey?

Chad Ford
  (1:43 PM)

The fact that Baylor isn't in the tournament and Jones isn't playing is hurting his stock a bit. We're all talking about Irving, Barnes, Sullinger, the Kentucky kids and not Jones. But when he gets into workouts, he'll get the momentum going again. He's such a big time talent. Not sure he has the motor or the head to be a star in the NBA, but someone will take him in the Top 5.

Scott (Chicago)

Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton from Texas both say they are staying. If they chenged their minds, where would they project?

Chad Ford
  (1:44 PM)

Thompson is a lottery pick. Hamilton is also a lottery to mid first round pick. I believe Thompson more than I believe Hamilton. Again, it's early. Plenty of time for these kids to change their mind.

Gabe (NY)

What's up with Kanter? It's hard, obviously, to get a real impression of him. Better than Sullinger? Seems like, given this draft, he could be ROY in the right situation.

Chad Ford
  (1:46 PM)

It's tough. He's missed a lot of basketball. The talent is there, and last April, when Kanter outplayed Sullinger in the Nike Hoop Summit, he had the edge. But Sullinger's now played a full season of college hoops at a very high level. He's improved. Kanter has been working out with assistant coaches. Will be interesting to see what NBA teams do with all of that. I bet Kanter looks good in workouts, but how scared off will they be by the fact that he hasn't played. Workouts can be very misleading.

jeff (Los Angeles)

Hey Chad- is Tyler Honeycutt going to declare? Is he good enough?

Chad Ford
  (1:47 PM)

I hear he's seriously considering it, but hasn't made up his mind one way or the other. He's a potential first round pick, but another year at UCLA could make him a lottery pick. I think he and Malcolm Lee should both go back to school.

Ben (DC)

Aloha, Chad! Love your work. It seems pretty obvious that there are no clear-cut superstars in this draft. But what do you think about the overall depth? Will teams still look to buy late first rounders, or is there fear that the talent isn't there past the late lotto/mid first? Mahalo!

Chad Ford
  (1:51 PM)

It's funny. Every year about this time you start to hear a change in tone. For the past few months scouts have been bashing the draft. Now? Some are confessing that they sort of like it. No one is happy that there aren't a few elite players at the top. But they are starting to feel like there is some depth in this draft and if you look at our Top 100 it's hard to disagree -- if most of the top underclassmen declare. That's the wildcard right now. If Barnes, Sullinger, Knight Henson, Thompson, Hamilton all go back to school, the draft will take another hit.

Matt (Indianapolis)

What are agents going to try to sell underclassmen on for why they should enter the draft with the looming lockout?

Chad Ford
  (1:53 PM)

They'll tell them that there are other ways to make money and the only way they make NO money next year is to stay in school.

Rich (Rohnert Park)

You have Villanova's Wayns & Yarou as 50/50 to enter draft. Is there any demand for them? Both have talent but don't seem anywhere near ready.

Chad Ford
  (1:54 PM)

Both are considering the draft and both should definitely go back to school.

Kevin (Maryland)

A question on the draft prospects of some ACC underclassmen. Do you see Kyrie Irving, Chris Singleton, and Jordan Williams leaving early? And if so, where would they project?

Chad Ford
  (1:55 PM)

Sounds like Irving is likely to be in in. Singleton and Williams are both considering. Tough call for Singleton. Earlier in the year I'd say he was ready, but the injury hurt. I like Williams, but scouts all say he needs another year of school. He's a second round pick at best right now.

bobby (boulder)

Alec Burks had another big game. Isn't it time to move him up? Shooting my be suspect, but it's one of the easiest skills to work on.

Chad Ford
  (1:56 PM)

Big time athlete and scorer. The shooting hurts him a bit. So does his motor. When he has the ball in his hands he's aggressive. But when he doesn't, he can get caught standing around a lot. He's a likely late lottery pick and from what I gather, will declare for the draft when his season is over.

Gil (Boston)

Any news on if Reggie Jackson will declare? Where would he be going if he entered?

Chad Ford
  (1:57 PM)

He's considering it. Scouts have gotten very high on him the past month and half. A likely first round pick who could really explode in workouts.

Mike (Michigan)

Thoughts on Darius Morris of Michigan?

Chad Ford
  (1:59 PM)

May be the most improved player in college basketball. NBA scouts think he has a future in the pros. He needs another year at Michigan and he should be a lock for the first round.

Chad Ford
  (1:59 PM)

Gotta run everyone. Thanks for all of your questions. We'll do it again next week.