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 and thanks for coming to the chat today. We'll be talking NBA first half hour and NBA Draft second half hour. Let's roll ...
Who are your All-Stars in the West?
Chad Ford (1:08 PM)
Based on the last vote, I think it's pretty clear that Steph Curry, Kobe Bryant, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin and Marc Gasol will be voted in as starters. Four of those five are worthy. Kobe clearly isn't -- something he would readily admit. After that Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul all feel like locks. LaMarcus Aldridge is probably a near lock as well. I'd give the last nod to DeMarcus Cousins -- even though the Kings aren't a playoff team. But if they gave it to Tim Duncan, that'd be cool too. If we could convince Kobe to sit out, then Duncan or Nowitzki would be my next choice.
What about Eastern All-Stars
Chad Ford (1:14 PM)
LeBron, Pau, Melo, DWade and John Wall all look like the starters that fans will vote in. All five are totally worthy. My other seven would be: Jeff Teague, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Chris Bosh and Al Horford are pretty much locks. Last two are tough just because there isn't nearly as much talent in the East. Probably Nikola Vucevic or Jonas Valenciunas or Andre Drummond as a big, Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker or Kyrie Irving as the other guards. Since I like to reward teams that play well I'd probably go Valenciunas and Knight.
Mike (Sandy UT)
NBA report came out with RUDY GOBERT as the #1 big man rim protector in the league right now. Is this sustainable with a possible starting role and bigger minutes? What is his ceiling comparison?
Chad Ford (1:17 PM)
He's been so dominant there. It's interesting, I went back and looked at our draft scouting reports yesterday and coming into the fall of 2012, many scouts thought Gobert was going to be a Top 5 pick. He had an uneventful season in France and was just so-so at the NBA Draft Combine and in workouts (with the exception of Utah where I was told he had an incredible workout) and his stock slipped. Do the draft over again and I think Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert go 1 and 2. That's the ceiling NBA guys are seeing for him now. Interesting to think that sometimes are first impressions are the ones we should stick with. Same could hold true for Shabazz Muhammed out of that class of 2013.
Marcus Smart can shoot! Has your opinion/forecast changed?
Chad Ford (1:21 PM)
We are talking about a pretty small sample size here. I'm not sure anyone is ready to call Marcus Smart the next Ray Allen. However, where he's really stood out to me is defensively. We knew this during the draft, but it's played out immediately in the NBA. Smart looks like a good bet to win Defensive Player of the Year someday. If he can shoot a respectable 37% or higher from 3? He's going to be an All-Star in the NBA for years.
LANFIA (PHOENIX, AZ)
Chad, will the phoenix suns beat out OKC for the eight and final spot in the west? Also, Spurs looks like a championship team with Parker and Leonard back. Please give me your top 4 in the west as far as winning the title. Please give me your top 4 in the east as well. Thanks
Chad Ford (1:25 PM)
I still think that the Thunder make the playoffs. But the Suns are going to make it very tough on them. Very tough. As far as top 4 teams in each: Warriors, Blazers and Grizzlies for sure. I think the Spurs are that other team when healthy. And again, I'm not counting out the Thunder. The truth is that there are 8 teams in the West that can win it all (Mavs, Rockets and Clippers are the other three). That's special. In the East, Atlanta is clearly the best TEAM right now. No superstars, but everyone playing at a high level and three guys worthy of All-Star consideration (Teague, Horford and Millsap) and one guy who is challenging Ray Allen as the best shooter ever. I still think Chicago and Cleveland will be in the Top 3 at the end. That fourth team is tough. Raptors or Wizards could take it. I still think, even with all of their current struggles, that the Bulls have the best chance to win it all in the East.
Harden has to be the early MVP leader right? I know Curry is nasty but he has so much help every single night. Sometimes Harden carries them on his back, right?
Chad Ford (1:29 PM)
Anthony Davis is the best basketball player in the world right now. But he's on a .500 team that looks unlikely to make the playoffs (which by the way isn't his fault). I know the MVP looks at more than just what the individual is doing, but also the team. But honestly, if you swapped Curry for Davis -- the Warriors would still be leading the West and the Pelicans would be struggling to make the playoffs. And the Warriors would do that swap in a heartbeat. Davis for Curry. So while I hear the arguments for Curry, James Harden, Westbrook, etc. Davis is the most valuable player in the NBA right now.
Loul Deng to Phoenix for IT + Plumlee?
Chad Ford (1:30 PM)
You sure you're not from Phoenix Bob? Uh ... no.
Chad, It appears to me that Kevin Love is getting a pass this year. He is getting a lot of touches and quite frankly is not doing much with it. Cavs Play better with Tristan in there(plays with energy. Your thoughts?
Chad Ford (1:32 PM)
I don't know how much of it is Love, how much of it is the system he's playing in, and how much of it is general team dysfunction. But you're right, at times it feels like Thompson is a better fit. But the Cavs are playing better and if they start winning and figuring things out, Love will look good again. But I still think the swap of Love for Wiggins was short sighted on the part of the Cavs.
Josh S. [via mobile]
How worried would you be about the reports of Embid?
Chad Ford (1:33 PM)
He's young, immature and he hasn't been able to workout because of his injury. I'm not shocked. If he's 300 pounds when he gets back on the court for the Sixers, then I think there's a major problem. But guys can lose weight and I suspect he will. Everyone knew coming into the draft that Embiid lacked the maturity of Wiggins and Jabari.
Do you see any way D'Angelo Russell passes Mudiay on the draft boards. Why or why not?
Chad Ford (1:36 PM)
Yes. It's possible. Russell is a very hot name right now and Mudiay isn't playing. But overall I think scouts believe Mudiay is a superior prospect because of his elite athletic abilities. That typically wins out. Mudiay should go 1-3. I think Russell will go somewhere between 4-7. At least if the draft were held today. We still have a lot of basketball, combine, workouts, etc. Things can change.
Should Kelly Oubre enter the draft or wait a year?
Chad Ford (1:38 PM)
He's improved so much. Watching the Oklahoma game on Monday and he's a completely different player than the guy that showed up in Lawrence. He's tougher, he's aggressive on defense, he's throwing himself on the floor and he's a very good shooter and finisher at the rim. Really just waiting on that mid-range game. Ton of credit to both Bill Self for having the leadership to sit an elite prospect like Oubre because he wasn't competiting like he needed to and to Oubre for responding by improving his game. One thing I'll say about Bill Self, almost all of the guys he gets improve under his watch. He develops players.
What's the talk around NBA circles regarding Porzingis? His camp came out last week saying that their aim isn't to be drafted as high as possible, but they will aim to land with an organization where they see him developing, getting PT and where there is order. So that rules several teams out of the race. They also mentioned they won't work him out for teams they don't like. How do NBA teams view this kind of development, is it rare?
Chad Ford (1:40 PM)
Dante Exum's agent did the same thing. Ditto for Yi Jianlin. In both places the player was drafted by a team that DIDN'T get a visit. It doesn't work. If a team likes Porzingis (and they all should) they'll draft him regardless of what the agent wants. Everyone knows the player just wants to play. I think Porzingis is a lock for a Top 5 pick right now.
Mike (Sandy, UT)
Where is the talent drop off in this draft.
Chad Ford (1:43 PM)
After the 12th pick. Our Top 12 has remained very steady for months: Okafor, Mudiay, Towns and Porzingis have been the Top 4, in that order since July. Kevon Looney has been No. 5 since November. Lots of movement after that, but the core 6-12 spots have been occupied by the same players -- D'Angelo Russell, Willie Cauley-Stein, Kelly Oubre, Myles Turner, Stanley Johnson, Mario Hezonja, Justise Winslow -- in some order. After that it's been hard to find No. 13. We just moved Bobby Portis there last week. He's having a very good season. But I'm not sure he's in that other group just yet.
As a Hawks fan, I am rooting like crazy for the Nets to miss the playoffs since we can swap picks with them. If the Nets miss the playoffs and that pick is in the 9-11 range, what players could you see as good fits for the hawks?
Chad Ford (1:46 PM)
Oh the Nets. If the Pistons keep coming on strong, the Nets may very well fall out of this. If that happens, it will be a huge boon for the Hawks as they would likely be drafting 9, 10, 11. All in the range to get another very good prospect. One of those wings, especially, could be a good get for them -- Winslow, Johnson, Oubre or Hezonja. It's good to be a Hawks fan right now and Lord knows, they deserve some good fortune.
Do you agree with Danny Ainge's claim that this draft is very similar to last years in that its top heavy and then deep with average rotation guys (on T&R show on 98.5)
Chad Ford (1:48 PM)
Yes, but I don't see Andrew Wiggins in this draft. Okafor is going to be a very good All-Star, but I don't think he's a superstar like Wiggins upside is. Maybe Mudiay. He's the hardest to get a read on. He has the tools. This is a good draft but again, after 12, not sure the depth is really there.
What position do you see Myles Turner and Karl Towns playing in the NBA? I've seen them projected as both PF and C
Chad Ford (1:49 PM)
They can play both positions offensively. Both players can really stretch the floor -- especially Turner. And defensively, they can protect the rim and rebound. I think it just depends on the scheme. But why both are regarded so highly. Versatility sells right now in the NBA.
Eddie (Baltimore, MD)
What are your thoughts on the Terps due of Jake Layman and Melo Trimble's pro prospects? Should they enter the draft this year?
Chad Ford (1:50 PM)
They are both bubble first rounders right now. Given that Layman is a junior, he should at least explore the draft. Some teams have him in the first round. Another year in school should really help Trimble's stock -- especially if he can prove to scouts he's a point guard.
How much will Caris LeVert's injury hurt his draft stock?
Chad Ford (1:52 PM)
Not as much as you'd think. His stock has been a little volatile all year. Some teams had him as a late lottery pick coming into the season, others in the mid-to-late first round. He hasn't had a great year, and his team has been awful. But the talent is there and it's unique. He sees the floor so well for his size and he can shoot it. He should be healthy enough to compete in pre-draft workouts. If he plays well there I still think he's a mid-to-late first rounder.
The Shlaef (Kansas)
Cliff Alexander, destined for greatness or just an average rotation guy in the pros?
Chad Ford (1:54 PM)
He's young so it's hard to see. I love that he has a NBA body, he's tough, aggressive and tries to dunk everything. He's a very good athlete and that motor helps. But he's pretty undersized and his basketball IQ is fairly low. I worry he might be a little less versatile Thomas Robinson. He's in the 20s on our Big Board and I think 15-25 is about right from what I've seen.
What are your thoughts on Rondae Hollis-Jefferson?
Chad Ford (1:57 PM)
Might be the single best on the ball defender in the draft. He can guard four positions on the floor. Thought he gave Delon Wright fits the other night. He's a very good athlete and a guy who just does what it takes to win. But his jump shot is a major, major concern. With that said, I'm not sure why scouts would necessarily be higher on Justise Winslow than Hollis-Jefferson. Similar players to me.
Chad Ford (1:58 PM)
Gotta run everyone. Thanks for coming to the chat today. We'll do it again next week! See ya!