By Mike McGraw
With the first pick of the 2013 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers could take the slender center who played 24 college games before suffering a torn ACL.
Or they might take the Ukranian center who says he played on a stress fracture in his ankle at the end of last season and is unable to work out for teams.
Or they might look at the college freshman from UNLV who will be out until at least August because of a torn rotator cuff.
That, in a nutshell, helps explain why this is not billed as a strong draft.
The Bulls have two picks, No. 20 overall and No. 49 in the second round. If they keep the first-round selection, they’ll be looking for a backup big man or potential shooting guard.
Anything seems possible, with the Bulls checking the league for potential options with Luol Deng, who is entering the final year of his contract.
Some teams — mainly Dallas and Houston — may be looking to unload players or picks to clear cap space, and the Bulls do have a trade exception available from last year’s Kyle Korver deal.
One rumor has Houston looking to move Thomas Robinson, the No. 5 pick in last year’s draft. The 6-foot-9 power forward already was traded from Sacramento to the Rockets during his rookie season.
After signing Taj Gibson to a four-year extension that kicks in this season, the Bulls don’t appear to have a need for Robinson. But Carlos Boozer may be let go after one more year with the Bulls, so maybe they’ll look ahead.
Robinson averaged 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds last season. When he played at least 20 minutes, the former Kansas star posted 8.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in 21 games, which is a little more impressive.
If the Bulls keep their first-round pick, they should have a variety of big men to choose from. For an NBA-ready backup, they could turn to Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng, who anchored a national championship defense. Kansas’ Jeff Withey is a strong shot blocker but may never be much of a scorer.
For projects, they could take a flyer on Rudy Gobert from France, who has an insane 7-9 wingspan, or Brazilian Lucas Nogueira, who has some potential, but carries a very thin frame.
Many of the shooting guards bring similar size, skills and athleticism. Knowing the Bulls, ties will be broken by judging who will gladly report to Camp Thibodeau in the summers and work the hardest to improve.
Among the players who may be available at No. 20 are Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr., Georgia Tech ex Glen Rice Jr., New Mexico’s Tony Snell, California’s Allen Crabbe or San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin.
At the top of the draft, Cleveland is expected to choose between Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, recovering from a torn ACL, or Maryland’s Alex Len, who has the stress fracture.
The guess here is Len will be the top pick. He has quick feet reminiscent of former Bulls center Omer Asik but brings more of an offensive game. Len will knock down a faceup jumper once in awhile, something Asik doesn’t even try.
Noel was a fantastic shot blocker during the time he was on the floor as a college freshman. He has a slender frame, though, that rarely succeeds in the NBA and not many scoring moves beyond the lob dunk.
Next on the wish list are a couple of tweener forwards — UNLV’s Anthony Bennett and Georgetown’s Otto Porter — along with a trio of Big Ten stars — Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Trey Burke.
A potential goal of this year’s lottery teams is to be in the same spot next year, when a talented group of college freshmen — led by Kansas recruit Andrew Wiggins — are expected to be available.
In the second round, watch out for some local players who could be chosen, including former Illinois star Brandon Paul. The graduate of Warren High School in Gurnee turned in one of the better vertical leaps (39.5 inches) at the NBA’s predraft camp.
Another player with draft potential is Illinois State forward Jackie Carmichael. A long-armed, 6-9 bruiser, Carmichael averaged 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds last season.
firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.