Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014 NBA Draft Preview: The Mayor's Election Day!

Compared last year's mediocre NBA Draft class, 2014's is loaded with familiar, bankable names, headlined by some, seemingly, sure-fire future professional stars.  That doesn't mean draft day arrives without any uncertainty, however. Quite the contrary, in fact. With the injury to Kansas' Joel Embiid, the top of the draft, which at one point appeared solid, has been thrown into flux.  Further, with the recent free agency announcements of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, many teams will be taking the opportunity afforded by the draft to adjust their salary cap situation, leaving the actual order of the top picks in question.  Tonight could be nuts.

Of course, I'm less concerned about all of that than I am about CU's third draftable entrant in four years: Spencer Dinwiddie.  Tonight's the night!  Tonight we learn the direction of his professional career!  I simply couldn't be more excited.
Election Day is here!
The Mayor chose to forego his final season of collegiate eligibility, despite an ACL tear that cut his junior campaign short and limited his availability for workouts.  While that injury threw his draft prospects into doubt, Dinwiddie's recovery has been ahead of schedule.  A recent ESPN article quoted both Spencer's surgeon - Dr Armando Vidal - and his trainer - Russ Paine - in praise of his progress.  He's sprinting and double-jumping without any pain, and, while he's still staying clear of contact situations, he seems to be well on his way to a full recovery.  Dinwiddie's decision to go pro was partly to open up access to professional-level rehabilitation.  From that aspect, the gamble appears to have already paid off.

Given the promising recovery schedule, we've seen recent mock drafts include the Mayor in the first round, including this one from Sports Illustrated.  While those mocks are never perfect, I take them as encouraging signs that we'll be hearing his name earlier than later this evening.  At the time of his decision, there were plenty of doubters who howled that Dinwiddie should've returned to college, and tonight those same people will be looking to the results as a referendum on his decision. I've never been a big fan of using results to justify previous actions, but a favorable draft position would go a long way to silencing those Negative Nancies.

Should Dinwiddie be selected in the first round, he'll be the third CU player to be taken in the top-30 over the last four years.  Alec Burks was taken by the Utah Jazz with the 12th overall pick in 2011, while Andre Roberson was a shock 26th overall selection last year by the Oklahoma City Thunder (via the Minnesota Timberwolves).  That would be a monumental testament to the increased quality of the Colorado talent pool in recent years, and an encouragement to future recruits that success on Boulder's hardwood can lead to future professional riches.

For the record, I think Spencer receives a coveted first round selection.  Not for nothing, but the LA Clippers, who own the 28th selection, would make for a suitable landing spot, as well as fulfill a home-town wish for the Los Angeles native.  But, even if he slips to the second round, it's still a massive accomplishment for the young man just to be drafted.

Good luck, Spencer!


Of course, Spencer isn't the only one hoping to hear his name called this evening.  Here is a list of some familiar names for BuffNation to listen for:

Joel Embiid - 7-0, C - Kansas -

The lanky Jayhawk had been considered the top prospect in the draft, but his recent injury has slid him down most boards.  Still, expect him to go early.

Andrew Wiggins - 6-8, SG - Kansas -

Wiggins is one of many that look to capitalize on Embiid's slide, with many now projecting him as going #1 overall to Cleveland.

Marcus Smart - 6-3, PG - Oklahoma State -

Smart's decision to return for his sophomore season doesn't seem to have cost him too dearly, and we should see him go in the early stages of the lottery. College basketball's pre-eminent flopper will feel right at home in the NBA.

Aaron Gordon - 6-9, PF - Arizona -

Arizona's defensive dynamo should slot in among Wiggins, Embiid, and Smart at the head of the class.  I'm still not sure he will ever score consistently as a professional, but someone's got to defend, right?

Zach LaVine - 6-6, PG - UCLA -

Many basketball experts love LaVine's raw talent, but I can't shake the feeling that he'll be stuck in development hell for the next few years.  A mid-first round selection for him.

Kyle Anderson - 6-9, PG/PF - UCLA -

'Slo-mo' may still not have a position, but he's too good of a basketball player not to be taken in the first round.  I think his team will be pleasantly surprised by the production they get out of him.

Jordan Adams - 6-5, SG - UCLA -

Rounding out UCLA's big three, Adams looks to be a fringe first round talent.  Probably more likely to hear his name called in the second.

Dwight Powell - 6-11, PF - Stanford -

Powell is eminently talented, and has the versatile skillset to earn a later pick.

Nick Johnson - 6-3, SG - Arizona -

The do-it-all All-American is proably a second round pick.  Just doesn't have the size that NBA GM's like in their off guards.

Josh Huestis - 6-7, PF - Stanford -

I included Huestis not because I expect him to be drafted tonight, but as a final testament to the fact that he was my favorite non-Buff of the past few years of Pac-12 basketball.

C.J Wilcox - 6-5, SG - Washington -

The former-Husky sharpshooter could be a late-round selection.

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