I remember the 2011 draft very fondly, but one article stood out above all the others that has helped create the lenses in which I evaluate prospects at the top of the draft. It was this article by Chad Ford and I'd like to use that as a reference so we can quickly establish what "Tiers" are.
I talk with NBA scouts and executives to get a sense of:
- The First Tier: Franchise Pieces - I hesitate to put Noel here. I'm not going to get into any sort of length, as it's pretty irrelevant to Bobcat fans now, but I will relent and place him here for no reason other than convenience. I guess we can consider this tier graded on a curve, as this draft (appears) weak when compared to its predecessors. Anyway, he's here because he's the clear head-honcho of the draft. Despite some naysayers (like Jay Bilas) who like Ben McLemore, the overwhelming consensus is Noel will be the No1 pick in the draft. So, he fits the bill.
- The Second Tier: The Next Best - These are the guys who, for whatever reason, have some glaring weakness that keeps them from being percieved as a true "franchise piece" and are as thus relegated to this tier. My person ranking (in this tier):
2) Ben McLemore - There are enough people who hold the belief that McLemore has the highest upside of this bunch, so I don't see why he shouldn't be given 2nd billing to Noel. He has something all Tier 2 prospects have, an elite tool. That tool is shooting; shooting so good that I've seen comparisons as lofty as Ray Allen. He's got plenty to work on, but you have to love kids that have an elite tool.
3) Anthony Bennett - If you know anything about me on here, you know I'm a sucker for Bennett. He's got elite athleticism (the best of this PF crop), which ticks off that box. He's got SF speed with the power of a PF, making him the ideal offensive prospect, only matched by McLemore in this crew. However, his fatal flaw is his size, in which he is undersized (PG Micheal Carter Williams is close to him in height) and that, matched with subpar defensive effort during his freshman season at UNLV), that generates a lot of questions about his defense.
4) Victor Oladipo - A defensive tour-du-force. While not having the height to actually play SF, he has the outstanding defensive ability to matchup with anyone from 1 through 3 (and his strength isn't bad either; he could probably handle some 4s). His intangibles are so outstanding that it led to incredibly outlandish comparisons to our very own Micheal Jordan, but you don't get people talking about you without doing something right. That elite defensive tool lands him on this second tier, because his offense is nothing to write home about. He's almost the exact offensive player as Bobcat Gerald Henderson's senior year at Duke, which is to say he's an above-average slasher but below average everything else.
5) Cody Zeller - I'm strongly considering him as a Tier 3 prospect, but statements from resident commenter PoAshton made me reconsider my stance that Cody Zeller is not an elite athlete (you can get a good here in the comment section). Among C prospects, his eye-popping combine numbers show that he has elite athleticism for a C. Here's the rub though, his ranking on this Tier in contingent on him predominately playing Center at the next level. I see him more as a PF personally, but I don't like pidgeonholing players before seeing how they play.
- The Third Tier: Significant Upside - These guys have a good shot of contributing at the next level, and have the potential to be even more, but for various reasons are just a longer shot of ever reaching that ceiling. Either that or their floor is great but their ceiling is limited. Maybe its because of the weakness of the top, but this draft seems to be chock full of Tier 3 guys. More than I can remember, comparative to the last two years at least. Anyway, for the sake of brevity, I'll simply list these guys: 6) Otto Porter 7) Trey Burke 8) Alex Len 9) Shabazz Mohammad 10) Rudy Gobert 11) Michael Carter Williams 12) CJ McCollum 13) Steven Adams 14) Dennis Schroder
Moving on... Here's a really quick mock of the lottery. I'll keep it devoid of any explanation, as it's merely my assumptions and beliefs based on my initial reactions. They are subject to change as new information arises. If this piece is well enough received, I'll gladly elaborate in a future post, and this would be as good a version as any. Please also leave me your thoughts on my mock draft, and if you're so inclined, you can make a mock draft instead of Tier.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - C Nerlens Noel 2. Orlando Magic - SG Ben McLemore 3. Washington Wizards - PF Anthony Bennett 4. Charlotte Bobcats - SG Victor Oladipo 5. Phoenix Suns - SF Otto Porter 6. New Orleans Pelicans (lol) - PG Trey Burke 7. Sacramento Kings - PF/C Cody Zeller 8. Detroit Pistons - SF Shabazz Muhammad 9. Minnesota Timberwolves - C Alex Len 10. Portland TrailBlazers - SG C.J. McCollum 11. Philadelphia 76ers - C Rudy Gobert 12. Oklahoma City Thunder - PG Michael Carter Williams 13. Dallas Mavericks - C Steven Adams 14. Utah Jazz - C Mason Plumlee