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 (1:01 PM)
Aloha everyone, thanks for coming to the chat today. With the NBA trade deadline in the bag, I'm turning all of my attention to the NBA Draft for the rest of the season. I've got a new Big Board out today and tomorrow we'll release our Lottery Mock Draft Machine. So ... for the first time this season we'll do a full hour on the NBA Draft. Let's roll ....
Mbakwe dominated Zeller and the rest of the Indiana front line last night. . . He's also 4-5 years older than Zeller. Does this change either of their stocks any? I imagine the mid-range jumper Mbakwe has started to develop will be a key to his success moving onward.
Chad Ford (1:03 PM)
Zeller's stock has suffered a bit this year. He was considered a Top 3 pick coming into the season. While he's been good this season, he hasn't improved or dominated the way scouts expected him to. He's basically been the same player he was last year. And that Zeller can, on occasion, struggle with big, athletic physical big men. Mbakwe is 4 years older than Zeller and obviously more physically mature. But who do you think he's going to play against in the NBA every night? Mbakwe is a potential second round pick. I still think Zeller goes somewhere in the lottery. Just don't see him in the Top 5 anymore.
Oladipo- overhyped by now, or legit talent? Smaller but quicker MKG?
Chad Ford (1:06 PM)
Hard to tell. He's definitely got the hype going for him right now. But for the most part ... he delivers. I'm uncomfortable with the Dwyane Wade and young Michael Jordan comparisons. I just don't think he's as gifted of a scorer. I do like the MKG comp. Similar motors, defenders, winners. I do think Oladipo is a better shooter than MKG and that does make a difference. But imagine Kidd-Gilchrist stayed in school until his junior and worked on his jumper. They might be very close. I didn't have a problem with MKG going No. 2 last year and I wouldn't have a problem with someone taking Oladipo anywhere in the Top 10, including No. 1. Hard to see how guys with that athletic ability + motor fail in the NBA.
What's the deal with Alex Poythress? Some boards have him in the lottery, some don't even have him in the first round. Any chance he comes back to Lexington for another year?
Chad Ford (1:08 PM)
Wish I had a good answer. Some nights, like the game against Missouri, he looks like a Top 5 pick. Other nights, like his recent game against Tennessee, he looks YEARS away from being a NBA player. The draft is so weak this year that some team is likely to gamble on him in the late lottery and hope that he eventually lives up to his potential. But right now? He's the most frustrating player in this draft. So much talent, but so inconsistent.
I believe the most slept on and overated player in this years draft will be Otto Porter. Is there a realistic chance the Georgetown star could be a top 3 pick?
Chad Ford (1:11 PM)
I agree with the first part -- he's been so great all year and only recently is he getting the credit he deserves. To me he's got an upside of Danny Granger or higher. High basketball IQ. Unselfish. Does a little of everything. Cares more about winning than stats. And this year he's really taken the Hoyas on his back. His game against Syracuse last week was one of the most impressive performances in college basketball. I really think he has the chance to special. So I wouldn't hesitate to take him in the Top 3. He's No. 6 on our Big Board, but if it was just my own personal board, he'd be higher.
I have read where you say Muhammad's natural position is at SF. But I have read where lots of people (fans and scouts) who believe he can play SG in the NBA. Why do you believe he is better suited to be an undersized 3 rather than an oversized 2?
Chad Ford (1:13 PM)
I'm not sure he has the quickness, on either end, to be a two. He's strong and physical. He bullies his way around. I think he might get abused by the quicker, smaller twos in the NBA. The issue for scouts is that at 6-5, he's undersized as a three. That's why some are trying to project him as a two guard. But I just don't think he has that game offensively, and more importantly, I'm not sure he can guard twos on the defensive end. That's why he's been sliding a bit in our rankings. Teams love the motor and he's obviously a gifted scorer, but there are concerns.
Amo (Elon, NC)
What do you think of Semaj Christon? Lethal first step, and he's getting better with every game. Future first rounder?
Chad Ford (1:14 PM)
Just watched him again last night against Memphis. He's still a little wild and makes some bad decisions, but the raw talent and athletic ability are all there. He needs to stay in school, but he could be a big time prospect in another year. Really like his potential.
Your thoughts on Cauley-Stein? He seems to have trouble with some of the simple parts of being a post player such as dribbling the basketball successfully and not traveling. Is he really going to be a top ten pick this year?
Chad Ford (1:16 PM)
Upside. He checks a lot of boxes. Long, athletic, good shot blocker, an emerging offensive game. He's a long ways away from being a productive NBA player, but if he comes out now, my guess talking to scouts is that he goes somewhere in the late lottery to mid first round. I hope he stays. He still needs to learn the game. But I'd understand if he wanted to take the money and run.
Gary Harris out of Michigan State keeps rising in your projections. Do you think he really will declare this year or should he give it one more year and learn more from Izzo before he makes the jump?
Chad Ford (1:18 PM)
I keep hearing he's staying. I don't think he ever considered himself a one-and-done type player. He also has some nagging injuries (like a shoulder that keeps popping out) that he'd like to get cleaned up over the summer. With that said, the more NBA scouts and especially GMs see him, the more they like him and I've had over the course of the past few weeks a number of them mention him as a Top 10-15 pick. That might be enough to entice him to leave. I do love his game. He's a guy who will can get it done on both ends of the floor. Just wish he was a few inches taller or longer.
Brian (Portland, OR)
We all know how good Marcus Smart is but will he be able to transfer his game to the NBA? Your thought on whether he needs to wait another year and mature?
Chad Ford (1:21 PM)
Everyone thinks so. He's such a hard worker, a gym rat, he's going to put in the effort. Everyone comes into the NBA with weaknesses. In Smart's case, he needs to improve his jumper and tighten up his handle. The guys who make the leap to superstars are the guys who put in endless work on their game. He's that type of player and why teams are more comfortable projecting him as a Top 5 pick. Noel and Smart are my two favorite players in this draft right now.
Why is MCW still considered a lottery pick? I've watch the last few games... at best I see a kid picked in the 20s.
Chad Ford (1:22 PM)
He's starting to slide. NBA scouts have an infatuation with big point guards. They always do. That's buying Carter-Williams some wiggle room right now. I'm a bit skeptical that he can thrive right now in the NBA. If he doesn't finish strong, he could be a draft night slider if he declares. Some teams are worried about off the court issues as well.
Hoops (Cleveland, OH)
Have you noticed James-Michael McAdoo's biggest issue? And by that, I mean that he cannot catch the basketball from any distance or angle?
Chad Ford (1:24 PM)
That might be an overstatement, LOL. But he does have questionable hands and he has an even harder time holding onto the ball when he does catch. His penchant for turnovers is troubling. But he is a terrific athlete, has a NBA body and is very quick. But everyone I know thinks he needs another year at UNC and needs to put in some serious work on his offensive game this summer.
Jeff (Boston, MA)
Ben McLemore has really been struggling lately. Is his stock holding up?
Chad Ford (1:29 PM)
Sort of. He's been struggling the past few games. Bill Self is pulling out his hair trying to get McLemore to be more assertive. Teams love his athletic ability and shooting stroke. They already know his weaknesses. He struggles to create for himself off the dribble and can be very passive when his shot doesn't fall early. He's a freshman and I think a lot of teams believe he'll work on those things. As a high school player, he played mostly the power forward position ... so he's still learning how to be a wing and create. Those things are fixable I believe. In a normal draft, he probably isn't a No. 1 pick, but this year, with so many top teams in need of a two guard who can shoot the basketball, he's got a good chance of going No. 1.
Paul (New Orleans)
Could Trey Burke overtake Michael Carter-Williams as the #2 point guard in the draft?
Chad Ford (1:30 PM)
For sure. He's only a few spots behind him on the Big Board. He's the best point guard in college basketball right now. His lack of size and explosive athletic ability are the two issues that hold him back. But there aren't any point guards in this draft who are more efficient and steady than Burke.
Thoughts on which Mich players will return to school? Burke is obviously gone, but do you think Hardaway and GR3 will/should return??
Chad Ford (1:33 PM)
Both players are on the bubble. Lots of scouts love Robinson's game. But he's still very raw and as we've seen lately, he struggles against the top tier talent in the Big 10. Hardaway has a tough choice. He's playing great, he's a junior. I'm not sure what else he can do to bolster his resume. Scouts like him, they just don't love him. He's a likely second round pick.
Should Nerlens Noel declare for the draft, where might he get picked? Does the ACL injury knock him down far enough to remove him from a first round pick?
Chad Ford (1:35 PM)
He's a lock for the Top 5 as long as there aren't any complications with his surgery or rehab. Players completely recover from ACL tears these days. In fact, he might be ready to go by NBA training camp in October. I'm not sure if he will declare or return to school. Either option will be a good choice. I know GMs were a bit hesitant right after the injury to say he could be the No. 1 pick, but I've seen them back off that assertion lately. If the right team gets the No. 1 pick, he could still be the guy.
Do any scouts that you've spoken with see a place for Joe Harris in the league?
Chad Ford (1:36 PM)
Yes. He's probably a second rounder right now. Maybe bubble first. But his shooting ability has caught their eye.
Is Vander Blue on the radar of NBA scouts?? He looks to be a consistent jump shot away from being an NBA caliber shooting guard.
Chad Ford (1:37 PM)
Having a great year. Love his defensive ability and his offensive game is really starting to come along. A second round sleeper. Those Marquette kids are so tough. It really helps them in the draft process.
Greg (Alexandria, VA)
What is Erick Green's draft status right now? Any way he slips into the first round?
Chad Ford (1:37 PM)
Could. He's a terrific scorer. The question is ... can be play point guard in the NBA. He's undersized as a two guard.
scotty (miami beach)
Before the season would you have put Kelly Olynyk's name in any round of a draft? If he comes out this year is he a top ten??
Chad Ford (1:39 PM)
No. There was some buzz in the preseason from Gonzaga coaches and players about how much he had improved, but I think it's safe to say that few people really saw this coming. He's No. 22 on our Big Board right now. I'm not sure he's a Top 10 type of prospect, but big do rise as the draft gets closer and I could see Olynyk rise into the late lottery to mid first round.
Chad, what are you thoughts on Reggie Bullock? He's certainly not sexy, but he seems like a typical guy that gets drafted in the 2nd round but manages to stick on a team and contribute.
Chad Ford (1:40 PM)
I like him. He's a good shooter, is a good athlete and has decent size for his position. He hasn't dominated the way I think he could, but he's shown flashes of being that type of player. He'd be a great get in the late first to second round.
With so much talent coming in next year, is it a given that Archie Goodwin leaves lexington despite the fact he obviously needs more time?
Chad Ford (1:44 PM)
Goodwin, Poythress and Cauley-Stein all really need another year under Cal. The problem, and no one talks about this as much as they should, is that Cal has a big time incoming class who are all expecting to start. It puts pressure on everyone if they stay. In addition, especially in Goodwin's case, I'm not sure he's as good as the player (Aaron Harrison) that is coming in who play his position. Ditto for Poythress is Andrew Wiggins commits to UK. That's a dilemma for everyone involved and why these kids typically end up leaving.
Alex Len. Where does he go? What team would he fit well with?
Chad Ford (1:46 PM)
He's a hard one to project right now. He's had some breakout games against Kentucky and Duke, but mixed in with those games are quite a few duds. Most scouts are willing to give him a pass on his poor games because of the poor guard play at Maryland. They don't make it easy on the big fella. I know some teams consider him a candidate for the No. 1 pick. I think he'll likely go somewhere in the Top 7 or 8 picks.
Any thoughts on Kyle Andersen at UCLA? Will he stay another year?
Chad Ford (1:48 PM)
The most unique player in the draft. It's hard to describe his game or peg him with an accurate NBA comp. Boris Diaw might be the closest I can get. He's still inconsistent, but I really like him as do scouts. While most feel he needs another year at UCLA, I think he finds his way into the first round if he declares.
Do you think A. Bennett could be a SF at the next level?
Chad Ford (1:49 PM)
I think most scouts project him as a four who will have the ability to stretch the defense. He's a little undersized, but has a big wingspan and an explosive vertical jump to make up for it. He's one of my favorite players in this draft. I think he could have a big NBA career if he lands on team who uses him the right way.
Any chance someone takes a flyer on Memphis' D.J. Stephens? He's too small to play PF in NBA but he plays great d and rebounds and brings a lot of energy!
Chad Ford (1:52 PM)
I remember watching warm-ups at the Maui Invitational last year and watching this kid who played like he was on a trampoline. I'm not sure I've ever seen a player as explosive as Stephens. Go YouTube some of his dunks. It's insane. He can really score, but he blocks shots, hustles and man can he finish at the rim. I do think teams will take a serious look at him because of his unique physical abilties. Ditto for Geron Johnson. Unfortunately everyone is falling out of love with Adonis Thomas right now.
Can Mike Muscala get into the first round? Either way, remarkable that two Patriot League players are getting drafted.
Chad Ford (1:53 PM)
Yes. Not sure he makes that cut, but he'll get serious consideration as a first round pick. Go Patriot League!
Todd J (Mars)
why wont the scouts and other NBA personnel just tell some of these guys to stay in school ?
Chad Ford (1:55 PM)
They do. The NBA actually has a special committee set up to give advice to underclassmen and give them a realistic take on where they are going. I speak to a number of people who sit on that committee. But it's also in their best interest to have as large of a talent pool as possible each draft and obviously there are agents and family members who have an interest in them coming out. It's tough. I understand why young people make the decisions to come. It's hard to say no to the possibility of being a millionaire and living a dream.
I was looking at your updated big board this morning and I noticed that there are a lot of pretty good players all the way through your top 30. Everyone talks about how bad this draft is at the top with no star, but if I can get a Withey, Franklin, or Mitchell near the end of the 1st round that is a pretty solid draft. And size wise you have a lot of 7 footers all throughout the first round. Maybe a little weak on point guards but as long as I don't have a top 5 pick as a GM this draft makes me pretty happy no?
Chad Ford (1:57 PM)
I think that's a pretty good read. The depth in the draft, assuming everyone declares, is impressive. When scouts talk about this being a bad draft they mean that there doesn't seem to be a lot of future All-Stars here. But I can tell you I have a hard time making the cut every two weeks on the Big Board. Lots of value in the mid to late first round.
Chad Ford (1:58 PM)
Gotta run everyone. Thanks for coming to the Chat today. Check out our updated Big Board today and look for the launch of our Lottery Mock Draft Machine tomorrow! Aloha!