The NBA draft isn’t until June 27 and, between now and then, teams will conduct countless workouts and interviews with draft-eligible players.
While a couple of players could wow their potential employers and enhance their stock, virtually every one of the NBA’s 30 teams already has a firm grasp on the draft. They have already established a pecking order, one that isn’t expected to substantially change.
In the past week, seven NBA officials who are either general managers or veteran scouts were asked by The Journal Times to rank the top 14 draft prospects, ones who’ll be selected in the Lottery.
Ten players were chosen by all seven officials. They were:
Nerlens Noel, center, Kentucky.
Ben McLemore, shooting guard, Kansas.
Anthony Bennett, power forward, Nevada-Las Vegas.
Otto Porter, small forward, Georgetown.
Victor Oladipo, shooting guard, Indiana.
Trey Burke, point guard, Michigan.
Cody Zeller, power forward, Indiana.
Michael Carter-Williams, point guard, Syracuse.
Shabazz Muhammad, shooting guard/small forward, UCLA.
Kelly Olynyk, center, Gonzaga.
Maryland center Alex Len barely missed being a unanimous selection as he was chosen as a Lottery selection by six voters.
Noel was the overwhelming choice as the best player in the draft. He received five of the seven first-place votes. The other two first-place votes went to McLemore.
The third- and fourth-best players in the draft, according to those polled, are Bennett and Porter. Bennett received four third-place votes and wasn’t ranked lower than sixth place by any voter.
Porter garnered two third-place votes, along with two fourth-place votes. Nobody voted Porter lower than sixth.
After those four aforementioned players, there was a distinct drop-off in the voting. Zeller was the fifth-highest rated player by those polled, while Oladipo and Burke ranked sixth and seventh, respectively. Oladipo was ranked as high as fourth by one general manager and as low as 13 by a player personnel director.
The next four spots went to Carter-Williams, Len, Muhammad and Olynyk. Like Oladipo, Carter-Williams had his fans and his critics. He was ranked as high as fourth by a veteran scout and as low as 12th by a general manager.
Lehigh combo guard C.J. McCollum finished in 12th place in the voting, being regarded as a lottery selection by five voters. Center Rudy Gobert of France, small forward Sergey Karasev of Russia, power forward Mason Plumlee of Duke and shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Georgia each received two lottery votes.
Four players — center Steven Adams of Pittsburgh, small forward Giannis Adetokoubo of Greece, small forward Dario Saric of Croatia and Louisville center Gorgui Dieng — each received one lottery vote. That meant 20 players were regarded as potential lottery picks.
NBA officials will gather next week in Chicago for the Draft Combine. The Draft Lottery will be held May 21 to determine the order of the first 14 selections.
The Milwaukee Bucks currently have the 15th overall pick.