Five Guys To Watch: The 2014 NBA Draft process has begun in earnest for a number of NBA teams who have already started scheduling and conducting workouts in advance of the annual Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago, which will get underway next Wednesday.
While most teams have some names they like, there is a growing sense among NBA scouts and talent evaluators that outside of the top five or six names, the bulk of the first-round talent pool is far from slotted and that there are some names that are drawing real interest from NBA teams in such a way as to suggest that there are a couple of guys that could go significantly higher in the process than they are currently being projected. Here are a few of the guys getting a lot of Pre-Combine love from around the NBA.
James Young – Kentucky – SG/SF – 6’7″
Young’s name continues to surface in conversation as one of the guys NBA teams seem to be locking in on as a possible top 10-15 player. This may be a case of curiosity, although there has been a sense all season that NBA teams have valued Young’s game a lot more than it may have seemed during his season at Kentucky. Much like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope last season, Young could be one of those players that goes into workouts and swings opinions his way. There does not seem to be a consensus on a specific team that’s targeting Young, but word is he has a lot of teams trying to schedule him for workouts and if things go well for him at the combine, he could be a player on the rise in the process. Interest does not equal draft pick, but strong interest usually translates into higher draft stock and there appears to be a lot of interest in James Young especially among those teams holding multiple first round picks.
K.J. McDaniels – Clemson – SF – 6’6″
Digging into McDaniels’ stats, especially on the advanced side, it’s easy to see why his name keeps popping up. Like Young, McDaniels isn’t ranked incredibly high on most top 100 lists, but it seems teams are significantly higher on McDaniels than maybe the media. McDaniels will have to overcome some concerns about his height, but if he can show in workouts what he was able to put on tape last season he could be one of those players that could creep into the top-15 discussion. There seems to be some interest from teams projected to have later lottery picks in trying to get him in for workouts. The logjam of small forward-types is fairly significant, so it’s unlikely that all of them climb into the late lottery discussion, but it should make the workout process a little more interesting for sure.
Rodney Hood – Duke – SF – 6’8″
After spending the day in the gym with Hood at IMG Academy yesterday, it’s clear why his name keeps popping up in discussions. A silky shooter with a wiry frame, Hood could be one of the best pure shooters in the 2014 NBA Draft. He has a crafty game and is significantly quicker off the bounce than he looked at Duke. He is a lefty, which makes guarding him a little tougher for most players that are used to right handed movement. The knock on Hood is his defense, however in workouts his shooting, ball handling and overall presence on the floor becomes really intriguing. Hood looks like he’ll have a full dance card of workouts. He is a player that will need to shake some of the labels on his game, but after watching him work it’s easy to see why teams holding on to picks in the 11-20 range want to see him.
Cleanthony Early – Wichita State – SF – 6’8″
We have talked about Early in this space a few times, and maybe it’s a case of teams not having really scouted him this season but there is some real interest in Early. He may be the Andrew Nicholson of this draft. Two years ago, virtually every GM/Executive listed Nicholson as the sleeper of the draft; when asked that same question this year a lot of scouts and personnel people list Early in much the same way. It’s doubtful that Early gets himself into the late lottery discussion, but it is looking fairly good for Early that he’ll go somewhere in the 20’s, which is about where most Mock Drafts have him.
Jarnell Stokes – Tennessee – PF – 6’9″
After two visits with Stokes at IMG Academy, it is hard to imagine Stokes not getting drafted in the first 35 picks. He is physically dominant. His lower body is arguably the most developed we have seen coming into the draft for a non-center prospect. He has a nice array of offensive moves, with range out to the three-point line. Stokes is considered a bubble first rounder, but depending on what he shows in workouts, he could be in the running for one of the bottom picks in the first round. Stokes is clearly a power forward at the next level and is likely going to clock some impressive physical measurements at the combine. When teams see him work on the low block, especially defensively, opinions on Stokes could change pretty significantly.
Did you miss the first Basketball Insiders 2014 Consensus Mock Draft? Make sure to swing by every Wednesday for the newest version complete with notes and insight from around the process.
Who Lands The Warriors Job?: The Golden State Warriors have been working the process fairly aggressively and it seems they may be down to two serious front runners – TNT’s Steve Kerr and former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.
Kerr is said to be leaning toward taking the New York Knicks coaching job and could reach a decision next week, although there are reports saying that Kerr wants to finish his current playoff assignment with TNT before taking day to day responsibility in New York.
There is a precedent for Kerr – former Warriors coach Mark Jackson accepted the Warriors job, held a press conference then returned to finish out his broadcasting agreement, and the same could be true for Kerr.
The Warriors are said to be very much in the discussion for Kerr, who is reported to have doubts about how much control and power Phil Jackson will ultimately have in New York with the history and track record Knicks owner James Dolan has with coaches and front office people. The word is Kerr questions Dolan’s role in his career, not Jackson’s.
Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob is said to have a close relationship with Kerr and that is supposedly something Kerr is weighing as he makes his decision.
Stan Van Gundy grew up a huge Warriors fan, so this job might amount to his dream job, especially given the young talent the Warriors have on the roster. Van Gundy told Basketball Insiders in March that he did want to coach again, but that he had made a promise to his family that they could finish school in Orlando before he’d take another job. Van Gundy said then that if the right situation presented itself he’d let the family weigh in.
Van Gundy has been doing a variety of media gigs in radio and broadcasting and said he’d be happy continuing those relationships, but it’s clear that unlike some of the jobs that Van Gundy has been linked to and dismissed quickly, Golden State is getting a little more consideration.
The Warriors have been linked to former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and former Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, both are considered the fall back options should the Warriors miss on their primary targets.
Six Things You Need To Read: Here are the six things you may have missed on the flurry of the week.
- Studs and Duds from Week 3 of the NBA Playoffs.
- Chicago Can’t Afford to Sell Off Thibodeau.
- What’s Next for the Memphis Grizzlies?
- Is It The End For Mark Jackson In Golden State?
- Predicting The 2014 NBA Playoffs – 2nd Round.
- Best Postseason Duo In The NBA Playoffs.
More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @JabariDavisNBA , @NateDuncanNBA , @MokeHamilton , @JCameratoNBA and @YannisNBA.
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