The Sixer Sense team has been hard at work prepping for the 2013 NBA Draft, but our own contributions weren’t enough. HinkieFest 2013 demanded additional expertise to assess the big board.
In steps James Kerti, professional basketball scout and native of the Philadelphia area. James is the Managing Editor at Premier Ball, a scouting service subscribed to by most of the traditional college powers, from Duke to UCLA. He was gracious enough to talk to me about a few burning questions surrounding this year’s draft. For a few thoughts on potential Sixers like Cody Zeller, C.J. McCollum, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, read on below.
KN: Who is your favorite player in this year’s draft? Can be Top 5 guy, second rounder you’re in love with, whatever.
JK: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is one of the guys I’m most interested in. An unheralded player who was supremely productive at Georgia, he brings a lot to the table with his shooting and defense. He’s been flying under the radar.
KN: Step into the shoes of a GM: what guy scares you the most in the top 15? Conversely, what player’s success would you stake your reputation on?
JK: Alex Len scares me personally due to injury concerns. I wouldn’t stake my reputation on anyone, because each player’s success is largely dependent on where he ends up, but Caldwell-Pope and McCollum are two of the players I feel most confident about at the moment. Not necessarily as All-Stars, but definite contributors.
KN: Regarding C.J. McCollum: it seems like he’s benefiting greatly from Damian Lillard’s stellar rookie season. People are assuming he’ll transition well because of another small school guy’s success. Do you think he’s in play in the lottery because of his own merit, association with Lillard, or the relative weakness of the class?
JK: Make no mistake: C.J. McCollum has earned his place in the lottery. But Lillard’s story being fresh in people’s minds certainly helps alleviate some concerns.
KN: A lot of mocks have the Sixers going with a big man at 11, namely Cody Zeller. Do you think Zeller is worth picking based on “need”, or are the Sixers better served selecting the best player available regardless of fit?
JK: The Sixers are in an interesting spot because they don’t have a coach (as of this writing) and it remains to be seen what they do with Andrew Bynum. If their intention is to bring back Bynum, picking Zeller would be a good fit there. If not, they might consider Pittsburgh’s Steven Adams as someone they can develop and build around.
KN: Is the talk about the weakness of this year’s class overblown, or are we looking at another 2000 Draft? Kenyon Martin coming off a broken leg and going #1 overall seems almost too similar to the Noel situation.
JK: While this draft doesn’t have the franchise-level superstars you see some years, it’s filled with rotation players, all the way into the second round. That will pay off especially for teams in the latter half of the first round who have a better track record of player evaluation.
KN: Last one, prediction time. Who do you think the Sixers take? (Please don’t say Zeller)
JK: I’m guessing based on who is expected to be available and what I think I know about Sam Hinkie. I think they try to bring Bynum back, and they draft Cody Zeller.