Expecting the unexpected in the NBA draft

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 26, 2014 - 9:10 AM

With the clock ticking toward Thursday’s NBA draft, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations and coach Flip Saunders was asked Tuesday if the final passing hours are getting interesting in a countdown that will end when Cleveland presumably makes the night’s first pick on stage at Brooklyn’s Barclays Arena.

“They’ve been interesting for four weeks,” Saunders said.

But now as trade discussions involving Wolves star Kevin Love continue, it reaches an intensity that Saunders likens to throwing pellets into the water where catfish lurk.

“A feeding frenzy,” he said.

Whether that frenzy will lead to Love being traded remains uncertain. Yahoo!Sports reported Wednesday that Cleveland pushed for a trade centered on its No. 1 overall pick for Love, but his refusal to agree he’d sign a long-term extension with the Cavaliers killed talks. A league source said discussions with the Wolves never formally received an offer of that No. 1 pick.

If Cleveland keeps that pick, it is expected to select either Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins or Duke’s Jabari Parker now that Kansas center Joel Embiid, about as close to a consensus No. 1 pick in a draft once deemed the deepest in years, has had surgery to repair a fractured navicular bone in his right foot and will be sidelined at least four months.

How far Embiid now falls in the draft — perhaps no further than Philadelphia with the third pick or maybe as far as eighth to Sacramento or beyond — will affect the order of nearly every pick until the time comes for the Wolves to select with their 13th overall selection.

That is if the Wolves don’t trade up, down or out of the first round by then. If they keep their pick, they’d likely be thrilled if either of the draft’s two top shooters — Creighton’s Doug McDermott or Michigan’s Nik Stauskas — fall to them. Otherwise, they’ll pick from a group expected to include UCLA combo guard Zach LaVine, Michigan State power forward Adreian Payne and Michigan State guard Gary Harris.

The Basketball Insiders website reported Thursday that the Wolves have promised LaVine they’ll take him 13th if he’s there.

European prospect Dario Saric’s decision to sign with a Turkish team for at least the next two seasons likely will drop him out of the top 10 and impact the draft order above the Wolves.

“We’re gathering information,” Saunders said, referring to his effort to understand how those two factors will change the draft. “Right now, we’re preparing for the draft that they would be there [at the Wolves’ 13th pick]. That’s how you have to prepare. … You have to take everything into consideration.”

Embiid’s only collegiate season ended early because of a stress fracture in his lower back that caused him to miss the NCAA tournament. Now his fractured foot has NBA teams seeking to evaluate his medical records and bone density and wondering if the latecomer to the game from Cameroon is the next Hakeem Olajuwon or injury bust Greg Oden.

ESPN analyst Tom Penn was Portland’s vice president of basketball operations when Oden’s career was derailed because of persistent knee injuries after the Trail Blazers selected him No. 1 overall in 2007.

“There’s this perception — and a lot of data backs it up — that big guys are more prone to get hurt,” Penn said Wednesday in a conference call. “So you have that fundamental sort of belief. Then you have to really peel back — is it true? … He has a foot fracture and bone tends to heal. Now what’s the risk beyond that long-term?

“But he’s a prototypical big of the future. He’s light and lively and covers space the way [Oklahoma City forward] Serge Ibaka does. He can shoot the ball. He runs. And he’s only been playing basketball four years. So you’ve got this chance to get a 7-1 guy with a 7-6 wingspan with those other skills. They don’t come along very often.”

If Embiid falls, it could lead teams with a lower draft pick scrambling to move up with a trade for the chance to select him. This draft has been one of the most anticipated in years for some time and yet several teams — Boston at No. 6, the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 7, Sacramento at No. 8, Denver at No. 11, to name four — have been active seeking to trade their picks.

Then you have the 76ers, who own the draft’s third and 10th picks and what Saunders calls “about 22” second-round picks, as well as the Cavaliers with that first overall pick and an owner, Dan Gilbert, who’s impatient with building through the draft.

“Nothing would surprise me,” Saunders said of the Cavaliers and the prospect they’ll trade the top pick. “They’ve done a lot of things out of the box. It wouldn’t surprise me, but I’ll still be surprised if they do. … It’s going to be active, just from history. There are a lot of things being thrown out all over the place from a lot of different teams and you kind of have to filter it through what’s real and what’s not real.”


  • related content

  • Reusse: Hold out for difference-maker for Love

    Thursday June 26, 2014

    It long has been my contention that teams — when trading a star — get too hung up on getting a return in numbers rather than one young player with...

  • Prospects get prodded before being picked in NBA draft

    Thursday June 26, 2014

    NBA prospects face quirky tests leading up to draft.

  • Chart: NBA draft info

    Wednesday June 25, 2014

    DRAFT FACTSWhen: ThursdayWhere: Barclays Center,Brooklyn, N.Y.Time/TV: 6 p.m., ESPNRounds: TwoWolves selections: No. 13 overall in first round; picks 40, 44...

  • Chart: NBA draft order for first round

    Wednesday June 25, 2014

    NBA draft orderFirst round1. Cleveland2. Milwaukee3. Philadelphia4. Orlando5. Utah6. Boston7. L.A. Lakers8. Sacramento9. Charlotte (from DET)10. Philadelphia (from NOP)11. Denver12....

  • Kansas center Joel Embiid might have been the consensus No. 1 pick in Thursday's NBA draft, but injuries to his back and foot in the past year might make NBA teams leery of selecting him.

  • Duke's Jabari Parker celebrated after making a basket against Virginia during the second half of the championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

  • Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins started a fast break during the second half against Duke on Nov. 12, 2013. Kansas won 94-83.

  • A three-way debate about Who’ll go No. 1Joel Embiid, Kansas (top): Back, foot injuries temper enthusiasm over the big man’s obvious skills.Jabari Parker, Duke (middle): Says Bucks promise to take him at No. 2 if Cavaliers pass on him with top pick.Andrew Wiggins, Kansas (bottom):  Supporters tweeted out photo displaying his 44-inch vertical jump.

  • These are possible picks for the NBA Draft, June 26, 2014 in New York. Top row from left are Adreian Payne, Michigan State; Julius Randle, Kentucky; Glenn Robinson III, Michigan; Dario Saric, Cibona Zagreb (Croatia); Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State and Nik Stauskas, Michigan. Bottom from left are Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee; Noah Vonleh, Indiana; T.J. Warren, North Carolina State; Andrew Wiggins, Kansas; C.J. Wilcox, Washington and James Young, Kentucky. (AP Photo)

  • These are possible picks for the NBA Draft, June 26, 2014 in New York. Top row from left are Gary Harris, Michigan State; Rodney Hood, Duke; Damien Inglis, Roanne (France); Artem Klimenko, Saratov (Russia); Zach LaVine and Devyn Marble, Iowa. Bottom from left are DeAndre McDaniels, Connecticut; Doug McDermott, Creighton; Mitch McGary, Michigan; Shabazz Napier, Connecticut; Jusuf Nurkic, Cedevita (Croatia) and Jabari Parker, Duke. (AP Photo)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which local team is currently the biggest disappointment?

Weekly Question