In a podcast with CBS Sports, Jonathan Givony was asked to name one player that is “confounding him” right now — meaning that his opinion differs significantly from what he’s hearing from NBA teams. His response:
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has really moved up draft boards significantly over the last few months. He has a really good chance of being a top-ten pick on Thursday now. And while I like his talent — I like a 6’6″ guy that can really shoot the ball and is committed to playing defense — that can really score, I wonder if he has the mindset to be a top-ten draft pick and really carry an NBA team; to be a go-to option early on in his career. I wonder about that. I think that he is more comfortable being a complementary type — being a third or fourth option player. I liked him a little bit more when he was projected just outside the lottery, in that 15 to 25 range as opposed to a top-ten pick. I think really that’s what the draft is all about, it’s all about value. I think all these players are talented. I don’t think there’s a single guy that’s going to go in the first round that cannot play. I just think that it’s a matter of expectations. It’s a matter of where you fall in the draft and what opportunity you get to how you can actually become.
When asked to compare — in terms of overall value — Trey Burke and Ben McLemore, Givony had this to say about the Kansas swingman:
McLemore has a little bit of that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope mindset where he would rather be in the shadows a little bit. I’m not necessarily sure he wants to be in the spotlight.
Givony has KCP ranked 21st out of all prospects at his Draft Express Top 100. Interestingly, he is one of the few that continues to rate Shabazz Muhammad as a lottery talent, pegging him 11th overall as of June 17. All indications that I have seen — and Givony’s remarks seem to acknowledge this — project KCP to go in the lottery (very possibly to the Wolves) and Muhammad to slip into the later teens or even the twenties.
Chad Ford had an interesting post today, based on 1 to 10 ratings provided to him by various — and anonymous — NBA general managers and scouts. This ranking system placed KCP in a tie for 13th overall, between his lofty statistical projections and Givony’s relative doubts. Ford’s commentary (Insider link):
Caldwell-Pope is all over the board. One team rates him as highly as 8 while others rate him as a 4 or 5. His team’s poor performance last season probably has something to do with it — while he put up strong stats, he often did it in a losing cause. The advanced metrics guys, however, love him. His range on draft night is 9 to 15.
And over at Sports Illustrated, Seth Davis also had a cool post with snippets from anonymous league scouts. On KCP, “Finch” said:
He takes tough shots, but he makes a lot of ’em. He can score in a multitude of ways. He scores really high in our analytical projections. His weight is a concern because he’ll have to defend some of the stronger two guards, but that’s about it. He’s a great kid, just a southern nice guy, not overwhelmed by the process.
Of course it’s still a long way from Thursday Night. There have been little birdies flying around that suggest Flip Saunders would love nothing more than to move up and draft Victor Oladipo from Indiana. When Flip said “Derrick Williams would be a top-three pick in this draft” the Punch-Drunk Wolves bullshit meter nearly shattered. But his posturing is understandable. Certainly the team would love to trade Williams if it can get back better-fitting value. It seems likely that Saunders would view a player like Oladipo or even McLemore as exactly that. If the team stays at Number 9, however, and if KCP is on the board, the signs are starting to point toward the Georgia Bulldog donning a Minnesota Timberwolves cap as he shakes David Stern’s hand. With that in mind, all of the above information is worth considering in the final days before the draft.