NBA Draft Rumors: Cavaliers Could Make Surprise No. 1 Pick

NBA draft rumors are heating up with just days remaining before the draft and no clear-cut top pick.

When the draft is held next week, it will be a surprise to see who the Cleveland Cavaliers select first. While there are several strong players entering the draft, there is no LeBron James or Yao Ming, the clear-cut top pick.

Jump back a few months and the picture would have been much clearer. Kentucky standout Nerlens Noel was seen as the top prospect, likely to lead the Wildcats on a deep tournament run before leaving school to become the top pick. But then the 7-foot center went down with an ACL tear, missing the rest of the season while the Wildcats failed to even make the NCAA tournament.

Noel is still atop many draft lists, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are said to be losing interest. NBA draft rumors say instead they could take 6-foot-4 Indiana swingman Victor Oladipo. Once lingering somewhere on the cusp of the top 10 on mock draft lists, Oladipo has shot up draft boards because of the jump he made in his senior year.

“Oladipo is an elite athlete with a high motor who plays with a ton of polish,” wrote SB Nation NBA analyst Jonathan TJarkas. “Given how much he improved during his last season in college, it’s hard to put a ceiling on how good he can become at the next level.”

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Oladipo has made a big jump since his junior season, when he was seen much lower on draft boards. But he’s not the only one with a chance of going No. 1 in this year’s NBA draft. Others have projected UNLV power forward Anthony Bennett at No. 1, along with Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore and Maryland center Alex Len.

While the 2013 NBA draft is considered thin at the top, there are a number of solid prospects in the middle to late first round. Tjarkas compares this year to 2011, when there were no real can’t-miss prospects but plenty of serviceable players available later, including Kenneth Faried, Jimmy Butler, and Chandler Parsons.

Fans will get to find out whether there’s any truth to the NBA draft rumors in a few days. The draft will be held in Brooklyn at Barclays Center on Thursday, June 27.