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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Seriously, take mock drafts with a grain of salt

John Smallwood Philadelphia Daily News

PHILADELPHIA – The way we typically like to phrase it in the sports media is “players moving up and down the draft board.” What we’re actually saying is we don’t know.

In a year when there is a consensus top pick like Kentucky’s Anthony Davis last season, Kyrie Irving the year before that or Kentucky’s John Wall the year before that, it’s easy to guess a week out who the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft will be.

In fact, going back to Greg Oden, of Ohio State, in 2007 up to Davis, there has been a 99.99 percent chance of success in predicting whose name NBA commissioner David Stern would call first on draft night.

That isn’t the case for the 2013 draft on Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. There hasn’t been this much “movement up or down the board” since 2006, when the Toronto Raptors made Andrea Bargnani, of Italy, the first pick.

In the past month alone, no fewer than four players have been promoted as going first to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The latest rumors floating has University of Maryland sophomore center Alex Len skyrocketing all the way up the chart to the Cavaliers, moving ahead of Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel and Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore.

What’s interesting is that Noel, who is recovering from a severe knee injury and might not be ready to play until January, is still the favorite in most mock drafts.,,, and all are sticking with Noel as the predicted pick of the Cavaliers.

But to demonstrate how volatile predictions can be, on Monday,, a respected site that has been often used as an expert predictor, had Len going to Cavaliers, but its updated mock draft at 11:07 Tuesday morning had Noel back at No. 1 with Len slipping to Charlotte at No. 4. It remained that way as of Saturday.

One of the things that makes the Len talk interesting is that, like Noel, he has not been able to work out for teams because of an injury.

The team with the highest pick that Len, a 7-foot-1 19-year-old who is recovering from a stress fracture in his left ankle, has met with so far has been the Phoenix Suns at No. 5.

He has reportedly also met with the New Orleans Pelicans (6), Portland Trail Blazers (10) and Oklahoma City Thunder (11).

What all of this really means is that while mock drafts aren’t mockery, they all have to be taken with a grain of salt.