Kentucky's Nerlens Noel has long been the favorite to go No. 1 overall in the upcoming NBA Draft, but the hype has been growing in the past week for Alex Len. The Maryland big man has been sidelined this summer after having surgery for a stress fracture in his ankle, but that has not stopped him from rising up draft boards.
Len (scouting report) received more good news on Tuesday, as he was cleared to walk without crutches, according to the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell. Based on the suggested timetable for recovery, Len should be able to start running again in August and make a full recovery in time for training camp in October.
While Len has his own injury concerns, ESPN's Chad Ford says in his latest mock draft that there are some in the Cleveland Cavaliers organization that prefer him over Noel (scouting report) due to lingering questions about Noel's knee. Joe Kotoch of SheridanHoops has heard similar rumblings, which is why he has Len on the top of his latest mock draft. Barring a setback, Len will be back several months before Noel and could help contribute more to a possible run to the playoffs, a goal of owner Dan Gilbert.
Speaking of Noel, Mary Schmitt-Boyer of The Plain Dealer reports that the Kentucky star will visit with the Cavs on Thursday instead of the weekend as initially planned.
-- Kansas' Ben McLemore (scouting report) has seen his stock slip because of poor workouts, which could be great news for Indiana's Victor Oladipo (scouting report). Ford says that McLemore and Oladipo are seen as the two-best fits in Orlando, but Oladipo has the upper hand in part due to McLemore's less than stellar workout with Orlando.
-- It has been known for a while that the Dallas Mavericks want to get rid of the No. 13 pick in order to make cap space for a run at Dwight Howard, and Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News reports that there's essentially a zero percent chance that pick will be on the Mavs' roster next season. The most likely scenario is a trade, but a draft-and-stash is also a possibility. Ford believes Russian star Sergey Karasev (scouting report) would be the most logical pick if Dallas keeps it.
-- The Minnesota Timberwolves hosted Lehigh's C.J. McCollum (scouting report) on Tuesday, but Ford believes the team has zeroed in on Georgia's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (scouting report) or UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad (scouting report). The Wolves need shooters, and Caldwell-Pope is arguably the best one in the draft.
-- The Utah Jazz need a point guard, and they have worked out almost every top prospect available at that position -- every top point guard except for Michigan's Trey Burke (scouting report), that is. And according to The Salt Lake Tribune's Steve Luhm, the Jazz aren't expected to work out Burke prior to the draft, as it's extremely unlikely that he'll fall all the way to No. 14. Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams (scouting report) likely won't fall that far either, but he was in for a workout on Tuesday.