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April 17, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Chad Ford

Chad Ford
  (1:00 PM)

Aloha everyone ... I'm taking NBA Draft questions for most of the hour, but will take a few questions about playoffs/season ending awards at the end. Let's roll ...

Jared (Virginia)

Is Marcus Smart out of his mind?

Chad Ford
  (1:03 PM)

Not really. While I understand the most people prioritize money/fame ... not everyone does. Smart has always been a different type of kid with different priorities. It's why coaches love him so much. He wants to help his college team make it to the Final Four. He wants to get better as a player. He feels he needs to improve some aspects of his game before he goes pro. NOt sure there's anything wrong with that. Yes, he takes a risk. Yes, he could get injured. Or his game could stagnate or regress. If so, he'll lose money and draft position. But that isn't the only thing that matters to Smart and I think he's a better person for it.

Jeff (New York)

I think Smart's decision is shocking!!! It's unprecedented right?

Chad Ford
  (1:07 PM)

Not really. Blake Griffin was projected as a Top 3 pick and decided to go back to school. More recently, Harrison Barnes and Cody Zeller were projected as Top 5 picks and went back to school. Tim Duncan passed up being the No. 1 pick two years in a row. It happens. On top of that, as we reported a number of times, Smart was both privately and publicly wrestling with the decision since OSU's ouster from the tournament. It was always known that he was strongly considering returning to school. While it's always a surprise to hear someone give up guaranteed millions to work for free, all the signs were there and it's happened before.

Deven (New York, NY)

With Marcus Smart staying in school, who is now the next best prospect for the NBA draft?

Chad Ford
  (1:10 PM)

It really helps Nerlens Noel. We had Smart projected to go No. 1 to four teams in the lottery -- the Orlando Magic, New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz. Combined, those teams own a 32.6 percent chance of winning the lottery. Two of those now flip to Noel -- the Magic and Raptors. We now have Noel projected to nine of the 14 teams in the lottery. Combined, they own an 84.8 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick. The other five go to Ben McLemore.

Joe (Chicago)

Where does Marcus Smart rank in 2014 prospects?

Chad Ford
  (1:12 PM)

I think Andrew Wiggins is the clear No. 1. Think Julius Randle and Jabari Parker get ranked ahead of him. Think he rounds out the Top 5 alongside Andrew Harrison. Harrison will be his primary competition for best point guard in the NBA Draft next year.

Schwall (Orlando)

Now with Smart returning to OSU, who do you think the Magic go after in the draft?

Chad Ford
  (1:13 PM)

The Magic were the team I thought had the best shot of taking Smart with the No. 1 pick. With him off the board I think Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore and then Trey Burke are 1, 2, 3 on their board.

Cory (Indy)

A bubble 1st round PG like Kabongo has to be happy with Smart staying, or do you think it wont matter?

Chad Ford
  (1:16 PM)

Sure. Affects all of the PGs in the draft. Moves Trey Burke into a possible 3 or 4 pick in the draft. Dramatically improves the chances Michael Carter-Williams goes in the lottery. C.J. McCollum's stock also lifts. And probably means that either Shane Larkin, Myck Kabongo, Pierre Jackson or Phil Pressey sneak into the first ... So good all the way around for the point guards.

Connor (Saint Louis)

Favorite senior in the draft?

Chad Ford
  (1:18 PM)

No question for me. That's Lehigh's CJ McCollum who I really feel is underrated at No. 13 on our Big Board. Once he gets into workouts, I think he rises. I like Jeff Withey a lot as a backup center at the next level. And Baylor's Pierre Jackson has really grown on me.

Chris (Michigan)

So reports are that Tim Hardaway Jr. will be declaring today. Does he have any chance of sneaking into the first round? How do you think his game translates to the next level?

Chad Ford
  (1:20 PM)

He's in a tough position. Had a really good year on a really good team. Does just about everything well. Just doesn't have that one thing in his game that he does great and it hurts him. If he were an elite shooter, or lock down defender or unstoppable getting to the basket, he'd be a first rounder for sure. But as it stands right now he's a second round pick.

Justin (Cleveland)

Is it just me or does Otto Porter seem like a perfect fit for the Cavs?

Chad Ford
  (1:21 PM)

Perfect fit. Porter was made for the Cavs. They'd probably take Noel if they get the No. 1 pick, but after that ... I think Porter is No. 2 on their board.

Nick (Wisconsin)

Chad, every year we see someone rise up the draft boards and become a lotto pick during workouts. Who are some players you think can do that this year? My money is on Steven Adams or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Chad Ford
  (1:26 PM)

Those are two really good picks. Caldwell-Pope is already on that climb and if he shoots it well in workouts, he'll climb higher. Adams was projected as a Top 10 pick at the start of the year. He obviously faced a very steep learning curve, but at the end of the season you could catch glimpses of what he could become. I'd add two more names to the list -- Croatia's Dario Saric and Louisville's Gourgi Dieng. Saric didn't have a great year in Croatia, but he was 18 starting on a D-1 team in Croatia. NOt sure many American kids in this draft would've fared better. Lots of NBA guys love his game. Dieng is old for his class, but his improvement offensively this year has some scouts convinced that he might start in the league someday.

Andrew (Rock Hill, SC)

Would the Bobcats really take Bennett over McLemore if Noel isn't available? Bennett's lack of size seems to be a bigger risk than McLemore's aggressiveness.

Chad Ford
  (1:27 PM)

I have the Bobcats taking McLemore over Bennett on our Lottery Mock Draft. They could really use the shooting.

Yoni (Pittsburgh)

What are a couple of Negatives in Trey Burkes Game, they're really hard to find?

Chad Ford
  (1:28 PM)

Small. Good athlete, but not an elite one. Can sometimes look to score too much.

Eric (Los Angeles)

Chad, I'm a huge UCLA fan. However I was never sold on Shabazz. Does his game seriously translate to the NBA at the level he is being hyped as? A lottery pick? Really! I thought other players on his own team showed more promise then he did.

Chad Ford
  (1:31 PM)

Lots of people feeling this way now. I think the LA Times story gave everyone, including NBA people, the excuse they needed to drop him. What we saw at UCLA just didn't fit with the hype coming out of high school. Very one dimensional, undersized for his position, plays selfish and can't shoot off the dribble. Oh, and he's not an elite athlete. If he slid out of the lottery, I wouldn't be shocked. He can score and he plays hard. Those are two big plusses, but he's got a lot of work to do in the next couple of weeks to rehabilitate his stock.

Spencer (East Lansing)

What percentage do you see Gary Harris leaving and Payne as well?

Chad Ford
  (1:33 PM)

Sounds like Harris is still leaning toward returning, but the longer he waits the more it makes me think he's finding it hard to turn down a potential lottery pick -- especially with the strength of next year's class. He has injury issues to address ... but he could address those in the pros too. As for Payne, I think he's leaning toward going pro. He would get a lot of looks in the 20s.

Chad Ford
  (1:36 PM)

Oklahoma State press conference going on right now. LeBryan Nash announced he's coming back. Then Markel Brown did the same.

Chad Ford
  (1:37 PM)

Then Marcus Smart made it official and sent the crowd into a frenzy by saying he's coming back too.

gregg (dc)

Obviously down year talent wise, but there seems to be a surplus of 7 footers. Do you see Olnyk, Dieng, Withey, Adams & McGary all being productive pros?

Chad Ford
  (1:39 PM)

Yes. All of them. Right now I have them ranked 1. McGary 2. Olynyk 3. Dieng, 4. Withey 5. Adams ... but that's very much in flux ... they'll see a lot of each other in workouts.

Marty (DC)

Gregg forgot to mention Alex Len. Where would he rank amongst the other 7 footers?

Chad Ford
  (1:41 PM)

He goes ahead of all of them. He goes somewhere between 4 and 10.

Owen (DC)

He also forgot Mason Plumlee.

Chad Ford
  (1:42 PM)

True. He's in that mix as well. But of that group, he seems to be the guy that scouts are cooling on. We'll see ... workouts will probably separate those guys

Rick (Portland)

You coming to the Nike Hoop Summit? What do you think of it?

Chad Ford
  (1:47 PM)

I am. Leave in a few hours for Portland. Looks like a great event. Not only are all of the top guys for 2014 there -- Wiggins, Parker, Harrison, Randle, Gordon, Vonieh, Embiid, Dante Exum. But also some good international prospects for this year including Sergey Karasev, Mouhammadou Jaiteh and Dennis Schroder potential first rounders this year. GREAT group.

Scott (Portland)

Hi Chad. When you look at the body of work covering this entire NBA season, how do you justify selecting Anthony Davis over Damien Lillard for ROY?

Chad Ford
  (1:48 PM)

Love Lillard. Was as high on him as anyone last year and think he exceeded even my expectations. However, if you look at virtually every stat, Davis had a better year. PER, Win Shares, WARP, you name it ... all of them show Davis clearly as the best rookie last season.

Chad Ford
  (1:51 PM)

Gotta run a few minutes early guys. Sorry, have a plane to catch to Portland ... After Portland I'm overseas for a few weeks so we'll pick up the chats again in May. In the mean time look for stuff on international prospects, the 2014 class and a new Mock coming early next week!