Updated Thu, Jun 27, 2013 2:24 pm
As the NBA pre-draft buzz finally comes to a close Thursday night, there’s one thing that has become obvious through it all.
D.J. Cooper has draft stock, and it is rising.
The former Ohio guard participated in five pre-draft workouts, as he strives to become the fifth Bobcat to be drafted in the first two rounds. Along with the five teams that have had him in for workouts – Cleveland, Orlando, Washington, Golden State and Portland – Cooper has received some interest from New York and Utah.
His agent Mike Naiditch told WOUB Sports that Cooper’s rising draft stock is the reasoning behind the late Cleveland workout on Wednesday.
Now, just how high is his stock?
Cooper went from being not inside some draft experts’ top 100 to being ranked No. 49 in ESPN’s Chad Ford’s rankings. He also has gotten high praise in ESPN’s Kevin Pelton’s recent WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player) projections, where Cooper was No. 2 in second round steals and No. 8 overall with a win percentage of .504 and WARP of 2.3.
Pelton’s complex formula takes into account the prospect’s age, win percentage and statistics in college. The ESPN analyst wrote, “Cooper, who led Ohio to the Sweet 16 in 2012, has the best translated assist rate in the draft and racked up steals in the MAC. Scouts are probably rightfully concerned about Cooper’s inability to finish -- his translated 2-point percentage is below 40 percent.”
The WARP has gone through major adjustments throughout the years to come up with the most accurate formula for success. Players like Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard forced Pelton to shrink the strength of schedule adjustment to improve accuracy, something that benefits Cooper coming from a mid-major.
The debate continues, though. Will Cooper get drafted?
The five teams that have worked out Cooper have a combined 13 picks in the 2013 draft, eight in the second round and four after the 40th pick.
Here’s a look at the five teams that have worked out Cooper, the measures they went through to scout the 22-year-old, and the odds that they select him in the second round.
Portland – May 31 workout
Draft picks: 10, 39, 40, 45
Current point guard situation: Damian Lillard, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, returns, but the Trail Blazers lose back up guards Nolan Smith and Eric Maynor to free agency.
Chances they select Cooper: 35%. Haven’t heard much from Portland since Cooper’s workout nearly a month ago, but the staff was “pleasantly surprised” by his defense. The Trail Blazers have three second round selections, so they could take a chance on Cooper to be their backup point guard.
Golden State – June 17 workout
Draft picks: None
Current point guard situation: The Warriors have Stephen Curry as their starting point guard, but lose Jarrett Jack to free agency. Jack played a huge role in the Warriors’ rotation last season, but could be asking for more money than the Warriors are willing to pay.
Chances they select Cooper: There’s a 0% chance the Warriors select Cooper, but a 40% chance they sign him as an undrafted free agent. Cooper’s agent Mike Naiditch told WOUB Sports, following the Golden State workout, that the staff said, “[Cooper] played well, and [they] have been a fan of his game.”
Washington – June 21 workout
Draft picks: 3, 38, 54
Current point guard situation: John Wall, the 2010 NBA Draft first overall selection, will remain the starter next year, but the Wizards lose backup guards A.J. Price and Leandro Barbosa to free agency.
Chances they select Cooper: 50%. Cooper’s projected draft position is in that 50-60 pick range, and Washington is expected to address the backup point guard position at the No. 54 pick.
Orlando – June 24 workout
Draft picks: 2, 51
Current point guard situation: The Magic’s point guard rotation last season consisted of Jameer Nelson and Beno Udrih. Nelson’s age is a concern, as he turned 31 on Feb. 9, and Udrih becomes a free agent this offseason. The Magic are turning the page and rebuilding after trading Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers last year, so they are expected to select a point guard at No. 2 or 51.
Chances they select Cooper: 65%. Out of all five teams, Orlando is the most intriguing for Cooper. They scouted him “extensively for two seasons and also interviewed him at Portsmouth [Invitational Tournament],” according to Naiditch. Naiditch also told WOUB Sports that Cooper had a “solid workout” against Missouri point guard Phil Pressey.
ESPN Chad Ford’s NBA mock draft 6.0 had the Magic drafting Pressey. Ford tweeted an update on Pressey Thursday morning, “[The Boston] Celtics [are] trying to pick up another late [first] or early [second round selection]. Target, I'm hearing, is Missouri [point guard] Phil Pressey.”
With Pressey expected to be chosen before Orlando picks at No. 51, Cooper’s chances of being chosen by the Magic have risen. As Naiditch told WOUB Sports on Wednesday, “Whether [Cooper] gets drafted or not, depends on when and which other players are available.”
Cleveland – June 26 workout
Draft picks: 1, 19, 31, 33
Current point guard situation: Kyrie Irving is arguably a top-five point guard in the NBA, but the Cavs lose backup point guards Daniel Gibson and Shaun Livingston to free agency.
Chances they select Cooper: 5%. There are rumors that the Cavs are looking to trade both of their second rounders, and even if they keep the picks, it’s unlikely they’ll choose Cooper early in the second round. At this point, it appears the only way Cooper becomes a Cavalier is if he goes undrafted.
The NBA Draft is Thursday, June 27 at 7 p.m. in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Cooper is looking to become the first Ohio Bobcat to be drafted since 2003.