Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller set to hit lottery in NBA Draft
By Andy Proffet Post-Tribune correspondent June 26, 2013 8:34PM
Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo
Updated: July 30, 2013 7:56AM
Thirty-six years have passed since Indiana’s Kent Benson was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.
Whether Victor Oladipo becomes the third Hoosier, after Benson and Walt Bellamy, to be the draft’s top pick depends on whether the Cleveland Cavaliers think he’s a better prospect than Kentucky center Nerlens Noel or Kansas guard Ben McLemore.
A poll by ESPN’s Chad Ford showed that Oladipo is the favorite player of several NBA general managers and scouts. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be the top pick in tonight’s draft.
His improvement as a junior last season for the Hoosiers, primarily on offense, has made Oladipo a sure lottery pick, however.
Oladipo will almost certainly be a top-10 pick, perhaps even top-5, after a season in which his offensive stats took a dramatic leap. Most mock drafts have Oladipo going anywhere from second to sixth. A 49.8 percent shooter in his first two seasons at Indiana, he shot 59.9 percent last season, including 44.1 percent on 3-pointers.
And his improvement came without losing a step on defense. He was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and NABC National Co-Defensive Player of the Year while setting a school record for steals in a season.
His versatility on defense coupled with his improved offense made it a no-brainer for Oladipo to forego his final season of eligibility at Indiana.
Of course, he’s not the only Hoosier who left IU early for the NBA. He’ll be joined in the green room at the draft by Cody Zeller, who left after his sophomore season.
Zeller considered going pro after his freshman season but decided to stay at IU. Although he’ll still be a lottery pick, questions about where Zeller fits in the pro game have dropped his stock somewhat.
In the Hoosiers’ offense, Zeller rarely had the chance to show his midrange game. And defensively, he was sometimes pushed around in the post by wider bodies.
He’s still expected to go early, although the first team he worked out for was the Utah Jazz, who pick 14th.
While not mentioning any specific teams, Zeller said Monday on Dan Dakich’s radio show, “Some of (the teams) have been pretty honest, they don’t expect me to be around when they draft.”
The drafting of Oladipo and Zeller will mark the first time two Hoosiers have been taken in the first round of the NBA Draft since 2008, when Eric Gordon and D.J. White were picked.
Christian Watford, who considered leaving early for the NBA last year before returning for his senior season, has worked out for a number of teams, including the Indiana Pacers. But he’s not expected to be drafted, leaving his best chance of making the NBA as a free agent. Playing overseas or in the D-League are options as well.
Jordan Hulls has also worked out for a number of teams, but at 6-0, his height will likely hinder his chances at making an NBA roster.