7-foot-3 Walter Tavares could join NBA next season

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The deepest draft in a decade has plenty of talent, but its lacking size.

Only one 7-foot center cracks the DraftExpress top 30: Joel Embiid. And Embiid, though listed at 7 feet by Kansas, wasn’t even officially measured at the combine.

But big-man reinforcements could be on the way for the 2014 NBA draft class’ first round.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Walter Tavares, one of the best 7-foot prospects in the world, is working on a contract buyout with his team in the Spanish ACB League and will travel soon to the United States to work out for several NBA teams, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Several NBA executives believe that Tavares, who is 7-foot-3, has a strong chance to work himself into the first round of June’s NBA draft and several teams choosing in the range of the 20s plan to bring him to town for closer inspections, sources said.

If Tavares is actually 7-foot-3, that could immediately make him the tallest player in the NBA. Currently, just Roy Hibbert (7-foot-2) and Hasheem Thabeet (7-foot-3) are listed taller than 7-foot-1. (Obviously, Tavares and Thabeet would be splitting hairs – if Thabeet even sticks in the league next season).

That type of size alone makes Tavares intriguing. Add his raw ability – he didn’t start playing until he turned 17 – and huge hands – Wojnarowski quotes an official saying Tavares possesses the biggest mitts he’d ever seen – and it’s easy to see why Tavares could climb into the first round.

Teams will want to mold him, and if they can get him to the NBA sooner, that should help also his draft stock (though some teams might prefer to stash him).

Tavares is too old to withdraw from the draft. At 22, he’s an automatic qualifier into the pool, not an early entrant.

But he’s still young – and unpolished – enough to become the type of project teams love undertaking.