February 12, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) and teammates huddle up against the Florida Gators during the first half at the Stephen C. O

Chad Ford Predicts Cleveland Cavaliers to select Nerlens Noel

It seems obvious at this point that the Wine and Gold will select Nerlens Noel No. 1 overall even though the Cleveland Cavaliers are being, and are going to keep being, secretive about their draft strategy for June 27. Otto Porter’s name has been floating around even before the draft lottery took place, Ben McLemore comes close to being as talented as Nerlens and Victor Oladipo’s defense would be something that would vastly improve an area that Cleveland struggled immensely in last season.

But anytime an expert comes out with their updated version of a mock draft, we as basketball fans feel the need to flock to it and see who the insiders think who each team will pick on draft day. Chad Ford of ESPN is one of those expert analysts, and his analysis of why the Cavaliers will select Nerlens Noel in a few weeks goes like this:

Until we hear otherwise, Noel is the default pick here. General manager Chris Grant has been a fan of Noel’s all year and even recommended his doctor. Assuming the rehab is going well (his doctor, James Andrews, insists Noel is ahead of schedule while other NBA team doctors are wringing their hands a little), Noel should come out on top. He’s the top prospect in the draft and the Cavs can afford to be patient while he gets back to full health and gains a little weight. If the Cavs decide to go in another direction, Georgetown’s Otto Porter and Maryland’s Alex Len appear to be the top candidates to supplant Noel.

Ford also pointed out something interesting on why the Cavaliers have probably not come to a decision yet and are seriously considering options via player workouts:

Typically, by this juncture in the draft, we know who the No. 1 pick is. Right now, however, we’re just offering educated guesses. That’s because Cavs sources say that the team won’t be close to making a decision until workouts are done and the team has a chance to make a thorough pass through the medical information. With three potential top picks unable to work out because of injuries, those reports have never been more important.

So Ford’s pick matches what three writers at Right Down Euclid think will happen on June 27 when the draft begins. But what about the 19th pick? Since Ford has Cleveland selecting the big man at No. 1, choosing a small forward, one of the most dire needs for the Cavs this offseason, just makes sense. International prospect Sergey Karasev fits the bill:

If the Cavs grab Noel at No. 1, look for them to add a small forward or a shooter with their second first-round pick. Karasev is interesting. His performance in Vegas on Friday wasn’t stellar thanks to some jet lag, but scouts are very high on him at the moment.

Here is why Ford thinks Karasev will work out just fine in the NBA style of play:

He has the size to play both wing positions, is a terrific shooter, has a high basketball IQ, and at 19, already has significant professional experience averaging 18.4 PPG in the Russian League. A few scouts compare him to smaller version of Toni Kokoc. Karasev could go as high at No. 9 to the Wolves  but would be a great get here by the Cavs.

So whether or not you agree with what Ford has to say, this is all we have to look at until the draft is here in a few weeks. By the time June 27 rolls along, we will be looking at version 15.7. Enjoy the anticipation.

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Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Draft Nerlens Noel Sergey Karasev

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