Tuesday night was a busy one in the Association: in addition to the Spurs beating the Grizzlies in the Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, the NBA Draft Lottery was held. The fourteen NBA franchises drafting in the lottery had that draft order determined by fate and ping pong balls. That order, which included some surprises, has implications for where Georgetown star Otto Porter might begin his NBA career.
First, the headline. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the first pick, somewhat beating the odds, given that they had just the third-worst record in the league. The jump from third to first might result in Porter becoming the first draft pick. Chad Ford, ESPN's draft guru, called Cleveland the "perfect fit" for Porter before the draft order was determined. After Tuesday's lottery, Ford predicted that the Cavs would instead use the pick on notorious hair artist Nerlens Noel, but conceded that Porter the "dark horse" for the first pick. With budding star Kyrie Irving and fellow lottery pick (and onetime Syracuse gunner) Dion Waiters forming the back-court of the future in Cleveland and Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller both young front-court options, Porter could fit well on the wing in Cleveland.
One dark horse for No. 1 pick? Georgetown's Otto Porter.Cavs love him. Perfect fit. Helps right away.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 22, 2013
Even if Porter slides from the first spot, he probably won't slide far and perhaps won't even leave town. In his latest mock draft, Ford has the Washington Wizards picking Otto third, and others agree with him. In D.C., Porter obviously would have the support of the hometown fans, and also would flank a promising young guard combination, this time John Wall and Brad Beal. The Wizards are a bit of a jumble, as they've drafted several forwards in the first round in recent years, but almost entirely unsuccessfully (Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely and his girlfriend, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin). Still, Washington appears to be headed in generally the right direction, and Porter likely would get plenty of playing time early as a Wizard.
For his part, Jonathan Givony of draftexpress.com has Porter going to Phoenix, fifth. The Suns have fallen from their Steve Nash heyday, and unfortunately Porter becoming a Sun might mean becoming the understudy of the talented but underachieving Michael Beasley. Let's all hope Otto does not end up an Arizonan. New Orleans, Sacramento, and Detroit, which draft sixth through eighth, all could stand an upgrade at small forward, Porter's presumed NBA position. The Pelicans (name change alert!) and Pistons both are showing signs of life thanks to recent lottery picks, which in Detroit include former Hoya Greg Monroe. Meanwhile, the Kings are a train wreck, perhaps even more so than the Suns.
Irrespective of the team drafting and its needs, Porter generally has been ranked between third and eighth on most draft boards, behind Noel and (usually) Kansas' Ben McLemore and in the same range as Indiana's Victor Oladipo and Michigan's Trey Burke. Porter very likely will be the first small forward drafted, with UNLV's Anthony Bennett as another forward likely to go in the lottery.
All of these predictions come on the heels of the NBA Draft combine in Chicago, where Porter fared reasonably well. Like most players projected to be taken in the first few picks, he did not participate in the various skill drills. However, he was measured, and both was taller and had a longer reach than expected. Porter also took part in the athletic drills, where his results were more mixed, though still better than the worst-case fears. He also interviewed or was expected to inverview with several teams selecting in the lottery, including Orlando (which ended up with the second pick), Washington (3rd), Phoenix (5th), and Oklahoma City (12th). In all, Porter's stock may have taken a slight dip after the combine, but probably not an appreciable one.
While Porter measured well and undoubtedly impressed in interviews, he's obviously no workout wonder. Rather, Porter's high draft stock is based on his consistently excellent performance over two years at Georgetown, including a sophomore year in which he was Big East Player of the Year and a first-team All-American.
So what now? For Porter, workouts, interviews, and speculation until June 27, Draft day. For Hoya fans, how many days til Kenner League begins?