Chad Ford isn’t buying into the noise. While Maryland’s Alex Len has worked his way into many conversations to be selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 1 pick, Ford is sticking to his initial inclination that, once on the clock, Chris Grant will select Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel.
In one of his latest blog entries, Ford lays out his logic as to why he feels the flat-topped shot blocker will be the No. 1 pick:
- Noel told Louisville’s Courier-Journal on Sunday that the Cavs’ lead doctor, Dr. Richard Parker, had medically cleared him. I’ve had that confirmed by several sources. The Cavs have no serious issues with his knee.
- The Cavs are stressing that they’re taking the best talent available, regardless of team needs or development curve.
- The Cavs believe that given the strength of their roster, it’s unlikely that they’ll draft a starter. They believe their core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao is better than anyone they could draft at No. 1. They also believe that while they have a huge hole at small forward, they’ll use their cap space to find a veteran small forward to fill that hole. Regardless of who they draft, he is likely coming off the bench.
- That means the Cavs are less likely to focus on which prospect will have the greatest impact now. They are free to take the player they think will be better down the road.
- If history is any guide, the Cavs have a proven track record of taking young, less experienced prospects that show big upside.
- They also have selected players that have, historically, graded out strongly in the various analytic measures they employ. Irving, Thompson and Waiters all ranked very highly by virtually every analytical tool.
This method of thinking, while sound, conflicts with recent local reports that consider Len to be the selection, and Noel considered to be the “surprise” if taken. Len, a legit 7-footer with a more developed offensive game, was first linked to the Cavaliers back on June 15. Suffering a severe foot injury, he was once considered to be a lottery pick at best.
Meanwhile, Noel has seen his name stay atop many mock drafts despite recent rumors surrounding his allegedly ahead-of-schedule rehabilitation as well as the friends with whom he surrounds himself. The 19-year-old Noel has recenty been given the clearance of his knee being “100 percent fine.” Though a project on offense, many consider the Kentucky product to be the most defensively-stout big man in the draft, an area that was easily the biggest weakness for the Cavaliers who ranked dead last in the NBA in opponent field goal percentage (.476) in 2012-13.