1. Character does count. Of course, it matters when it is put alongside talent. But the two players in the NBA draft lottery who continue to get high marks for character, performance and readiness are Indiana's Victor Oladipo and Georgetown's Otto Porter. In a draft that may lack franchise players, teams are searching for low-maintenance players who can help. And Oladipo and Porter are fitting that more than others, according to a number of a teams. Oladipo can come in and contribute in more than one way, offering up a high-energy second-unit player. Porter can be a scorer who may flourish more in an open game. Neither Oladipo nor Porter will likely last long on draft night.
2. NBA teams are like college coaches in that they will buy into the latest trend. And the search for the next Paul George is the latest example. The player who is creating a George-like buzz is Georgia's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The 6-foot-5 Georgia wing was a high-level scorer for the Bulldogs. Now, Georgia is obviously a higher-profile school than Fresno State where George played, but the Bulldogs, like their same mascot named team to the West, were hardly known nationally the past two seasons. Caldwell-Pope isn't someone who was featured much at all nationally. But there are already comparisons being drawn between the two players. Don't expect Caldwell-Pope to last late in the lottery.
3. Indiana's Cody Zeller is a perfect example of a player who won't be affected at all by one poor performance on a national stage. I was in Washington, D.C., in March when Zeller played small and short against Syracuse's zone. He had no lift against the zone and couldn't find his shot, let alone get out and be effective as a big man. That is now deemed much more of an aberration than the performances Zeller had during the season when he did run the floor and was effective. Zeller's athleticism on display in Chicago at the draft combine last month and his workout regimen is making him much more of a safer pick than other big men. Zeller didn't look like an NBA player during that Sweet 16 loss, and the media didn't hold back in referencing his in ability to stand out. But he'll be one of the first big men to hear his name called on June 27, making his decision to leave look like the right one.