ESPN analyst Chad Ford took the time to share his thoughts on Kentucky’s four freshmen and their NBA Draft prospects with the Herald-Leader this week. You can read most of what Ford had to say about Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin by clicking on this link.
But the NBA analyst also said some interesting things that didn’t make the story, which you can read below.
Ford has Noel ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the draft and said that a majority of NBA scouts “still believe he’s the No. 1 pick” despite his knee injury. When asked if there are any teams at the top of the draft that seem to be a particularly good fit for Noel, Ford went with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who currently have the third-worst record in the NBA.
Ford: “The Cavs seem to be the best fit. They have their backcourt set. They have a young, up and coming, power forward. Adding Noel to the mix adds a dynamic shot blocker and athlete to the front court. And with Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller, they have time bring him along slowly.
When discussing Cauley-Stein, Poythress and Goodwin, the analyst said, “None of them are close to being ready for the NBA.” What is one major area that each of those three players specifically needs to work on?
Ford: “Cauley-Stein just needs more playing time and needs to add strength. He’s obviously talented, but his basketball IQ is still low. Poythress needs work on his confidence. All the tools are there, he just doesn’t seem to know it. Goodwin obviously needs to spend all summer shooting jump shots.”
At one point early in the season, Ford was hearing Poythress being mentioned by NBA personnel as a possible No. 1 overall pick. But his failure to impact games against lesser competition became apparent as the season wore on. What the heck happened to him?
Ford: “I don’t know. I’m not sure John Calipari knows. He demonstrated some of this behavior in high school. Of all the three, he’s the one who’s main effort needs to be mental. I’m sure UK will have a sports psychologist working with him if he stays.”
There’s talk before every NBA Draft of certain teams giving “guarantees” to certain players that they’ll be selected at a certain point in the first round. Do those guarantees really happen, and how confident can a player like Goodwin or Poythress be if they get a promise like that?
Ford: “Yes, it happens, but it’s rare. It’s usually used by NBA teams to entice a player to stay in the draft or to keep them from working out with other teams. I don’t see it happening for either Goodwin or Poythress.”
Ford has said that the 2014 NBA Draft could be an epic one for Kentucky. The possibility is there for the Cats to put as many as eight players in the first round — nine if they land a commitment from Andrew Wiggins. Ford said his official “Big Board” for 2014 won’t come out until the day after the 2013 draft. But he’s already sure who’ll be No. 1.
Ford: “Wiggins is the consensus No. 1. No one else is close to him right now.”
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