NBA Draft Week always generates constant rumors and gossip, and Bleacher Report has kept an ear on the NBA’s door.
Most of the chatter we hear is about the concerns of the Charlotte Hornets and the Houston Rockets: who are they considering and what prospects will come up the teams’ boards.
We’ve made significant changes to the latest versions Lottery predictionsthough we also keep tabs on lesser-known leads in an effort to position themselves for first and second round consideration.
Here’s the latest rumor roundup after speaking with scouts, executives and agents.
Rival teams speculated that the Charlotte Hornets would take on Brandon Miller for second. But no source has been able to trace the origin of the rumors or if there is any substance behind them.
Memories have been brought up of last year’s draft, when Jabari Smith Jr. was supposed to be the Orlando Magic’s first-choice pick — a rumor that doubled as a perceived certainty before Orlando drafted Paulo Panchero.
Sources tell Bleacher Report that there are pro-Miller and pro-Scoot Henderson voices in Charlotte’s front office, but the majority of NBA polling sources we spoke with still favored Henderson over Miller in the void.
Both prospects worked out with Charlotte last week, and Miller and Henderson are expected to meet owner Michael Jordan on Monday. All indications are that Charlotte is still debating Henderson’s suitability alongside LaMelo Ball, and who would be the best prospect in the void.
For the Houston Rockets’ fourth-place pick, two names keep popping up: Amin Thompson and Cam Whitmore.
Sources close to the situation say Thompson is probably the best option out there for the players. But some uncertainty surrounds James Harden’s free agency — specifically his price. What happens with Harden can influence how Thompson influences their decision.
Whitmore, more than a year younger than the Thompson family, closed the hole at fourth place during the pre-draft process. His understated athleticism and shooting during drills suggest a high floor and high ceiling.
However, a week before the draft, sources still said Amen Thompson had the advantage in terms of playmaking and defense needed alongside Jalen Green.
Of all the pre-pull risers, Dereck Lively can start the earliest. League sources say he’s getting attention in the top 10 after impressing with his shooting during his pro day and practices.
Looking back at the bar in high school, when Lively played some 4 stretch next to Jalen Duren in the team final, it seems teams are more than willing to buy the 7-foot shooting development despite Duke’s lack of attempts.
Regardless, interest in Lively is mostly driven by his potential to improve the team’s defensive identity through rim protection. The Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans are all potential lottery applicants, a group we can no longer expect Lively to come out of.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper, one of the biggest winners of the NBA Combine, continued to impress more executives during a stellar training tour that included visits with at least 16 teams.
League sources believe he’s now getting interest from teams in the top 20, with a number of them suddenly rising in his competitiveness, movement, defensive rise and improvement potential as a shooter. Multiple lottery teams remain interested, though it’s unclear if they see Prosper as a quid pro quo.
It has become attractive to different types of rosters, with playoff teams interested in the idea of adding an influential wing defender right away. Team Rebuild also sees value in its ability to set tone. He brings relentless energy and the ability to make an impact without the need for quirks.
Where he can descend into the team’s belief in his shooting development. Last season, Prosper improved to hit 39 triples in 36 games (33.9 percent) while hitting 73.5 percent on his free throws. We hear it can go as early as the late lottery, though the mid-to-late first round seems more realistic.
- While the Bradley Beal deal could throw a bold into the Washington Wizards’ draft, opposing teams don’t think they pass on Anthony Black for the eighth overall. Regardless, he’s expected to be off the board by the time the Dallas Mavericks pick him up at No. 10, whether it be for the Washington or Utah Jazz.
- Teams expect Kobe Bufkin to go as early as and no later than the 13th-place Toronto Raptors. He’s been involved in limited workouts and there’s been silence from his camp, a sign he may have promise. Bufkin has emerged as one of the biggest risers late in the season, checking boxes with his shooting, passing, finishing and defensive instincts.
- With Derek Lively, Hood Cheveno, Bufkin and France winger Bilal Coulibaly suddenly emerging as lottery picks, Qent George and Nick Smith Jr seem most likely to fall into the 15-20 range. Both were ineffective at scoring, while George struggled with pick shooting and defense, and Smith, at 185 pounds, showed no convincing signs of any playmaking or edge pressing.
- Scouts admit Ben Sheppard’s post-Collection rise is real. They’re just wondering how early the team is ready to take him in. Sources say he’s a swap target for multiple teams midway through the first round, where he earns legitimate consideration.
- Teams and agents don’t expect the Houston Rockets to maintain the #20 spot. This will be a place on the board where Houston will simply be looking for a future protected first manager in return.
- Rival teams believe that once Grady Dick gets off the board, teams focused on adding shooting will get Jordan Hawkins, who we hear could make it to the #11 Orlando Magic.
- The only non-NBA invitee that generated the most love: Colin Castleton of Florida. The 6’11” skilled marksman caught the attention of teams in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
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