Transcript: Chad Ford Talks Trail Blazers Draft On 1080 AM
ESPN.com draft insider Chad Ford
joined the Travis and Wilcox show today to talk about the Trail Blazers and the 2013 Draft (you can listen to the podcast here
). Ford discusses the likelihood of trading the No. 10 pick, the chances of Portland acquiring Indiana guard Victor Oladipo, whether or not it makes sense to draft a big man, how C.J. McCollum would fit on the current roster, which players might be second-round sleepers and Neil Olshey's prowess as a general manager and the perks of having Paul Allen as an owner.
Questions are paraphrased, answers are verbatim.
A lot of fans think the Trail Blazers should trade the No. 10 pick. How difficult is it going to be to trade a pick in this year's draft in that range?
Well when you have 25 teams selling, it's tough, and that seems to be the consensus on virtually every team, including the team at the top, the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is a draft where there's no clear No. 1 pick. There's no clear top-tier players in the draft. A lot of the teams in the lottery don't really want to be in the lottery, don't want to take the long route of building through the lottery so they would like to go ahead and try to find a player maybe that can help them now. And so you're seeing literally from every team in the top 10 talk about trading this pick. That makes it much harder. If people were coveting draft picks and you were one of the few teams willing to give it up, you could get a lot for that. But right now this is a buyers market all the way because so many teams are trying to sell.
A lot of projections have the Trail Blazers selecting a big man with their pick, be it Alex Len (if he falls that far), Kelly Olynyk or Cody Zeller. How much sense does it take for Portland to draft a center considering they already have Meyers Leonard, who is a project in his own right?
I think it's okay. I think, personally, that they're much more likely to go get a shooter and I think there's a lot stronger batch of shooters in this draft than there are bigs right now. If you're going to draft a big at ten, my feeling is you're reaching a little bit to draft him. I think the Blazers reached just a little bit even with Meyers Leonard but that happens every year with bigs, teams will reach a little ahead of time. If you want value, you go for a shooter, and I think one of two guys, either C.J. McCollum out of Lehigh or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope out of Georgia, those guys should be there when the Blazers are drafting. To me it makes a lot more sense for their roster and it makes a lot more sense for value. I think those players are better than the bigs they might be reaching for at ten.
How quickly can C.J. McCollum adapt to the NBA?
I think he has a lot of similarities with Damian Lillard. They're not the same player, don't get me wrong there. Lillard is much more of a point guard than McCollum is. But if you watched how they dominated their conferences and you watched all of the various strengths that they have and basketball IQ, I absolutely think that they can play together. One, McCollum is even a better shooter than Lillard was coming out. And two, yeah, there's some size issues there, but at 6-3, 6-4 there's so many teams in the league that have undersized guards right now because it's hard to find big two guards, I don't think it kills you and probably the Blazers look at him being a guy they bring off the bench to play both the one and the two.
How likely is it that Victor Oladipo is available at No. 10? And if the Blazers were to somehow get him, how would he fit in this the team?
I think he should be one of the first two or three players off the board personally, so I have a hard time believing he's there at ten. Look, the thing he brings to the table immediately is that he's an elite defender that can guard multiple positions, a Tony Allen-esque player on the defensive end. The question mark is can he continue to improve offensively to the point that he's a real threat in the NBA. Right now, if he just stayed where he was, he projects as a 10 to 12 point a game scorer in the NBA. But he's such a hard worker and we've seen his development curve be so steep the last two years, it seems to me that he's going to continue to improve that jump shot, he's going to continue to improve his handle and I think we may look back on this draft in five years and say "Gee, that guy should have been the No. 1 pick in the draft."
There are a lot of different opinions about the quality of this draft. What is the overall feeling of this year's draft? What will we say about the 2013 Draft in five years?
There's no sure-fire franchise all-star players at the top and that's why people are generally down on it. There isn't a star in this draft to really hang their hat on and say, like Anthony Davis was or Derrick Rose or Blake Griffin or we could go on and on and on. Those guys just aren't there. However, there's a lot of depth. Teams like their picks in the teens, they like their picks in the 20s. I think that there will be a lot of really good rotations players. And every single draft has had an all-star, which means one of these guys -- I don't know who it is -- but one of these guys will be an all-star, so if your expectations are I'm getting a guy who is going to turn around my franchise or be the No. 1 or No. 2 guy on my team, I think you're going to be disappointed in this draft. But if you just need help and you start thinking about a starter or rotation player, I think there's a lot of talent in this draft.
The Blazers have the number 39, 40 and 45 picks in the second round. Is there a sleeper somewhere in that range?
Typically the players that do that are either international players -- and the Blazers have a bunch already and I'm not necessarily sure that's what Neil Olshey really wants to do now -- but there's some young players that have slid in this draft because they went too early. They were young, they didn't do well on their college teams and then they slid, a guy like an Archie Goodwin out of Kentucky, a guy like a Ricky Ledo who was supposed to play at Providence but didn't qualify academically, a guy like Grant Jerrett who really didn't get a lot of minutes at Arizona but was ranked as a Top 10 player coming out of high school. All of those guys right now are looking like players that are going to be selected in the second round, and if you're patient with them, they have enormous upside and in a couple of years, especially playing in the D-League, they could look a little bit like Lance Stephenson looked for Indiana this year, like one of the steals of the draft.
What is the consensus on Neil Olshey's ability to make moves and how aggressive he will be?
Oh, I think he's very aggressive. I think he's a very creative GM and I think he's one that has good relationships with people around the league. And look, he's got Paul Allen behind him, which means he has the resources to make moves if he wants to make moves. I think the challenge this year -- as we just talked about at the beginning -- is it's crowded. It's crowded. There's a lot of teams wanting to make moves, a lot of teams wanting to trade. That typically means you don't get high returns.