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Breaking down the NBA draft top 10

Breaking down the NBA draft top 10

Breaking down the NBA draft top 10    
So the ping-pong balls didn’t bounce your way at the NBA draft lottery. Now you’re one of the 28 NBA teams that won’t get to draft Greg Oden and/or Kevin Durant. But that’s only two picks out of 30 and along the line there are going to be more rookies who are stepping into good situation and bad, rookies who will have the chance to make an impact on their teams and for the fantasy owners who nab them at the opportune time (Mike Conley to Atlanta perhaps?). Is there another Brandon Roy out there ready to step into a team’s starting lineup and become a fantasy phenom? Time and opportunity will tell.

Thanks to our friends at, they’ve put together a consensus draft board based on numerous mock drafts from around the Web. With it, we can get an idea of where industry insiders think players will fall and you can get an idea of why I think a player’s a good fit or a poor one. Oh, don’t for a minute think I’ve got an interest in dissecting the whole draft – too much unknown, too many variables, too darn much time to think and re-think the whole shebang. Let’s just look at the top-10 spots and see who might be worth a closer fantasy look. If only those NBA general managers would listen to my advice.

Here’s a quick rundown of where the expert mocks have the top-10 spots slotted.

3) Atlanta Hawks – Brandon Wright, F, North Carolina.

4) Memphis Grizzlies – Al Horford, F, Florida.

5) Boston Celtics – Mike Conley Jr., G, Ohio State

6) Milwaukee Bucks – Yi Jianlian, F, China

7) Minnesota Timberwolves – Cory Brewer, F, Florida

8) Charlotte Bobcats – Joakim Noah, F, Florida.

9) Chicago Bulls – Julian Wright, G/F,  Kansas

10) Sacramento Kings – Jeff Green, F, Georgetown

Just eyeballing the list there are a couple things that jump out at me. First, there are some serious players in the 3-10 range, players who could become fantasy contributors depending on the situation they find themselves in. Second, there is only one player under 6-foot-8 projected into the top 10, meaning the industry thinks the talent of this year’s draft is up front, not in the backcourt, outside of Mike Conley Jr.

Right off the bat, the Hawks at No. 3 puzzles me. Aren’t the Hawks currently sitting with Marvin Williams and Sheldon Williams at forward, both having been first-round picks in the past two drafts? Why would you go that route again on a player with one year of college experience under his belt in Wright? Don’t they already have two young forwards with “upside?” When I look at Atlanta, the need I see more than any other is at point guard, where Speedy Claxton was a disaster and Tyronn Lue played far better than anyone expected. If Mike Conley’s good enough to go at No. 5, I think the Hawks would be fools to speculate on another big man when they could wrap up their point guard situation for the foreseeable future in Conley. A good point guard makes everyone better, including two young forwards. I also think that Conley in Atlanta offers pretty good fantasy potential along the lines of Brandon Roy in Portland last season. Wright in Atlanta? I don’t get goosebumps thinking about it, to be honest.

I like Horford at No. 4 to Memphis. If Pau Gasol is dealt, the Grizzlies will need someone who can score and board, something the 6-10 Horford does with passion. He’s a hard-working player who improved all three years in college and could be a fantasy contributor right away if Gasol is dealt. If not, he should still get minutes simply because of his energy and ability to contribute offensively and defensively off the bench.

Conley to Boston at No. 5 is fine with me, should the Celtics opt to clear up their guard situation before he gets there. The Celtics have been running guys into their PG spot by the bushel the last two years and are loaded with guards. They need to sort them out and figure out who goes where and who needs to go. Luckily, Sebastian Telfair made part of that decision easier, but there is still a logjam in the backcourt. Conley would be the “purest” of the points on the roster and offer some fantasy value if he were declared the undisputed starter from day one. As a backup, however, he would be valuable in streaks only. In Atlanta, however, there’s far less of a logjam to be had. I’m just pointing that out.

The projection of Yi Jianlian, the 6-11 forward out of China, at No. 6 to Milwaukee is intriguing. Jianlian is an athletic big man who can jump, offers good quickness, and has a multi-dimensional game – at the international level. He could be a guy that comes in and plays well right away, or he could find himself overmatched and watch from the bench – such is the gamble made on international stars. One thing to remember about Jianlian, he’s won a ton in the Chinese league, having led his team to five straight Chinese Basketball Association title games (won three), as well as earning other honors. I like guys who are winners. Fantasy-wise, there’s a lot to prove there. He should get an opportunity for the downtrodden Bucks, but I’ll need to see productivity and minutes before I buy into it long-term for fantasy purposes. And that’s all contingent on him showing up. Given the international basketball world and the vagueness of so many contracts, we’ll see.

Cory Brewer to the Timberwolves at No. 7 doesn’t do much for me. Brewer has length, quickness and a real hunger to play the game, but his offensive game seemed to struggle at times as a collegian. I believe that his contribution to the Wolves would be boards, a few blocks, steals and hustle points. He’ll hit a medium-range jumper fairly consistently, and isn’t afraid to take the ball into the paint, but it would seem his point production would come in fits and starts – nothing consistent. He also excels in the transition game, a game I’m not sure the Timberwolves are that ready to play on a consistent basis. Fanasy-wise, I think he’s doesn’t offer a whole lot.

At No. 8 Joakim Noah is projected to land in Charlotte where I can’t help but believe his passion and up-tempo style of play will have an impact. He’s a high-energy player and I would kind of liken him to a thinner (much thinner) version of Anderson Varejao. It would be interesting to see what type of playing time he could earn behind Walter Herrmann, Adam Morrison, Gerald Wallace, and Sean May in the frontcourt. I have to think his energy and passion would open some opportunities, but also think he’ll have nights when he hardly sees the court. I don’t see a ton of fantasy potential in Noah with the Bobcats, even in their sorry state.

The Bulls at No. 9 are projected to nab Kansas forward Julian Wright, a 6-8 athlete supreme who can score, board, block and play a little defense to boot. He’s versatile enough to find minutes in the backcourt as well and could very well break into the rotation because of that versatility. The Bulls need some depth in the frontcourt and Wright could certainly offer just that next season. However, I don’t see a huge fantasy upside for Wright considering the Bulls are already a playoff team and have their offensive pecking order fairly well formed.

Sacramento then rounds things out with Georgetown F Jeff Green at No. 10. I like this pairing very much because Green is a tough rebounder and plays inside offensively and defensively very hard. He has a versatile game and can score easily out to the three-point line. He’s also unselfish and willing to make the key pass for a bucket. The Kings need an infusion of young, athletic talent onto its roster and I could see Green earning significant minutes right from the start because of his willingness to be tough inside and then the added elements of his overall offensive game. In this scenario it’s not hard for me to see 20-25 minutes a game, 8-10 ppg, 4-6 rpg, 2-4 apg and assorted other fantasy perks.

The NBA draft is a crapshoot in the best of seasons. This year will be no different after Portland and Seattle do their thing. Remember, rookies don’t often offer a ton of fantasy upside, but there are a few each season who produce for long stretches, including the annual surprise or two no one saw coming.

When evaluating the potential of rookies, look for potential opportunity for playing time, look for team’s pressing needs, and look for solid minutes during the preseason. While they guarantee nothing, they do offer some indications of where rookies may find the chance to contribute – to their team and your fantasy roster.

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Re: Breaking down the NBA draft top 10

Georgetown's Green may forgo NBA for NCAA shot

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - He has been listed in several mock drafts as going to the 76ers with the 12th overall pick, but there is uncertainty surrounding Georgetown forward Jeff Green.

That's because the 6-foot-9 Green insists that there is a possibility that he will playing next year against Villanova rather than the San Antonio Spurs.

Green has not hired an agent and has until June 18 to pull out of the June 28 draft. And despite being projected as a lottery pick, as high as fifth and probably no lower than 13th, Green remains noncommittal.

"Things could change," Green told reporters yesterday during a break from the NBA's pre-draft camp. "Something could go wrong in the workout and persuade me to go back to school."

The draft's top players are not performing at this camp but are scheduled to undergo physicals.

Green's Georgetown teammate, 7-foot center Roy Hibbert, has withdrawn his name from the draft even though he was being projected as a potential lottery pick.

If Green remains in the draft, he said he would not be disappointed if he went to the Sixers at No. 12.

"They have the second A.I. [Andre Iguodala], a veteran like [Andre] Miller and a big guy [Samuel Dalembert]," he said. "They are striving to go back to the winning ways when [Allen] Iverson was there and they went to the championship [series]. They have a lot of young guys with good potential."

Green is known as one of the best defensive players in the draft. Although he is more suited to play small forward, he has the ability to move over to the power forward position.

"I think the way the game is going now teams are going small, and I like the versatility he shows," said Billy King, the Sixers' president and general manager.

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows Green's game as well as anyone. Rivers' son Jeremiah was a freshman at Georgetown this season, and the elder Rivers saw Green play a number of times in person.

Rivers said he would not be surprised if Green was chosen before the 12th pick.

"I like his versatility and his basketball I.Q.," Rivers said. "He sees the floor, makes the right decisions, and lets the game come to him."

Rivers says that Green is mature beyond his years. He will turn 21 in August.

The 10 other players at the news conference wore shorts and polo shirts, but Green was attired in a dress shirt and tie.

"You have to present yourself well," Green said. "You are interviewing for a job, so you have to look nice."

King said the Sixers plan to travel to Washington to work out Green soon.

Green's all-around game earned him player of the year honors in the Big East Conference. He averaged 14.3 points, shooting 51.3 percent from the field this season as he helped Georgetown to its first Final Four berth since 1985.

Green seems conflicted when talking about his possible return.

"We could come back and probably be a top-five team and have the opportunity to win a national championship," Green said. "That has been one of the things I have been looking at."

On the other hand, he would not have been invited to the pre-draft camp, along with the likes of Ohio State's Greg Oden and Texas' Kevin Durant, if the NBA did not value his talent.

"It's very encouraging that I have been invited here and it's one of the things that could possibly persuade me to stay in the draft and hire an agent," Green said. "Seeing how the NBA sees me as one of the top players in the draft, it's one of the things you have to look at in this process."

And it is a more difficult process than he had imagined.

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Re: Breaking down the NBA draft top 10

2007 NBA Mock Draft
by Robert Ferringo

OK, so here's the story: this is my 2007 NBA Mock Draft, version 1.0. At this juncture it's a bit too early to tell what people are actually going to do. There are workouts to be had and interviews to be undergone. The Early Entry Withdrawal Date isn't even until June 18 so we don't even really know who is going to be in the draft. However, I'm just going to throw out some names and places and let you kind of know whom I like and whom I think should be the top players chosen. But this is less of what I think will actually happen and more of what I think should happen.

As you will obviously see, I really prefer proven commodities and veteran college performers (like Alando Tucker and Jared Dudley) to flash-in-the-pan Potential Picks (like Marcus Williams and Jason Smith). Now, I know not everyone I have here is going in the first round or where I think they're going in the first round. But again, this is the starting point.

And without further ado, here is Doc's Sports 2007 NBA Mock Draft:

1. Portland - Greg Oden, C, Ohio State
Even though he could be Kevin Willis' grandfather, we're going to assume the Oden is only 19 and has incredible potential. I don't think he's ever going to be a dominant center, but I do think he'll be a very, very good one for 15 years. Like his grandson.

2. Seattle - Kevin Durant, F, Texas

Look, I think the kid is a great scorer. But he's not a No. 1 pick. He may be No. 1 for people who like bright lights, shiny things and "Deal or No Deal". But for anyone who knows what it takes to win on a basketball court he's a distant second.

3. Atlanta - Mike Conley Jr., PG, Ohio State
I would be all over Portland trying to give Zach Randolph, Jarrett Jack and another pick for this spot. The Blazers already said they'd love to have Conley and Oden stay together and I think it would be a win-win.

4. Memphis - Brandan Wright, PF, North Carolina

I'm not a big fan of this pick but I know it's coming. I mean, it's Marvin Williams Version 2.0. But for a team that's lost and rebuilding this is a hopefully piece for the foundation.

5. Boston - Al Horford, PF, Florida
Whatever you do, don't take the seven-foot Chinese guy here. Instead, how about taking the most physically gifted player from the best college team of the past decade.

6. Milwaukee - Acie Law, PG, Texas A&M
The lefty is easily one of the best players in the draft. He can handle with both hands, pass, shoot, defend and was the best clutch player in college last year. Except that damn missed layup against Memphis. Not that I'm still bitter.

7. Minnesota - Yi Jianlian, C, China
They're going to need someone who can score inside, rebound and block shots since Kevin Garnett is gone. Wait, he's still there? Really? Why did I think that KG was gone?

8. Charlotte - Corey Brewer, F, Florida
The Bobcats went from pathetic to terrible between 2006 and 2007. Is Brewer the man that can help them take the next step? No. But he may be a better version of Tayshaun Prince and is a guy that will be in the middle of a title run during his career.

9. Chicago - Derrick Byars, SG, Vanderbilt
This is definitely a reach and there's no way Byars goes in the Top 10. But he fits a need: scoring. The Bulls can go a number of ways, including Jeff Green or a big man like Josh McRoberts or Tiago Splitter.

10. Sacramento - Julian Wright, F, Kansas
The Kings can't shoot, rebound or defend. Oh, and they have the Human Jinx Shareef Abdur-Rahim. I suppose there's no way to go but up, and Wright is an enticing package. Also, the fact that his teams constantly choked in big spots should help him fit in.

11. Atlanta - Spencer Hawes, C, Washington
If the Hawks get a point guard at No. 3 you can bet that they either A) take someone white and foreign or B) take Spencer Hawes, a guy who has one shaky year on a losing team under his belt. Why? Because they're the Hawks. Hawes absolutely shouldn't be a first round pick.

12. Philadelphia - Jeff Green, SF, Georgetown
Sometimes I feel like Green is a system guy. Other times I feel like he'll be a steal wherever he's taken. The 76ers have a lot of holes, so I guess it's a good thing Green can do a lot of things.

13. New Orleans - Al Thornton, F, Florida State
Here is the athletic freak - think Jason Richardson or Andre Iguodala - that could be a steal if he lands on the right team. I think filling the lane next to Chris Paul could be the spot.

14. Los Angeles Clippers - Arron Afflalo, G, UCLA
In a lot of ways he's the quintessential Clipper. He shows flashes and he looks like a player, but there's just something missing.

15. Detroit - Thaddeus Young, F, Georgia Tech
As if certain numbing offensive performances in the postseason weren't a good indication, the Pistons have trouble scoring. Young is exactly that, and with an array of offensive potential I think he would be an apt pupil to Sheed and C-Webb.

16. Washington - Jo Noah, PF, Florida
Personally, I don't think The Predator should be a first round pick. He was a good college player with very limited NBA potential. But some foolish team will pull the trigger, and I'll leave it to the organization that gave us Kwame Brown, No. 1 overall pick.

17. New Jersey - Nick Young, SF, USC
The man with the goofy ears and the smooth mid-range jumper would be another weapon for J-Kidd to utilize. They could go after a foreign big man, but with Nenad Krstic and Mikki Moore I think they have enough characters underneath.

18. Golden State - Rudy Fernandez, SG, Spain
He's a deadeye 3-point shooter and he doesn't play defense. He'll fit right in. Oh, and I hope he likes rap.

19. Los Angeles Lakers - Aaron Brooks, PG, Oregon
I think they should spend a second-rounder on a bib for Kobe. They have to hope that one of the athletic swingmen - either Young or Thornton - falls to them. They could use some size, and Big Baby Davis would be intriguing here, but I say they take a guy that I think projects very well at the next level. Oh, and I think Kobe would go on a sodomy spree if the Lakers take Token White Foreign Guy.

20. Miami - Glen Davis, PF, LSU
I'm not going to lie: I have no idea what the Heat are looking for. They need scoring, but do they want a big guy or a guard? Who knows, so I say Shaq takes another LSU big man under his wing.

21. Philadelphia - Alando Tucker, F, Wisconsin
This is another guy I love to take his game to the Next Level. He has a fantastic mid-range jumper and 3-point range. Also, his elevation and overall athleticism is underrated. He can be a very good half-court player.

22. Charlotte - Jared Dudley, PF, Boston College

Duds is another player that I think projects well to the NBA. He would bring an interesting dynamic to the Bobcats team and seems to fit the mold - strong NCAA track record - of what Charlotte has been building.

23. New York - Tiago Splitter, PF, Brazil
Because he's Isaiah Thomas and he's stockpiling assets. Or assholes. I forget which.

24. Phoenix - Marco Belinelli, SG, Italy
Foreign dude that can shoot and play offense but is soft and doesn't play defense. Sounds perfect.

25. Utah - Morris Almond, SG, Rice
I don't even know whom to say here because I think they'll grab one of the seniors that I've already listed - Dudley, Tucker or Afflalo. The Jazz desperately need someone who can create on the perimeter.

26. Houston - Javaris Crittenton, PG, Georgia Tech
I'm not a fan of this guy, but someone will gamble. The Rafer Alston Experience has to have gotten old by now.

27. Detroit - Marcus Williams, SG, Arizona
Flip Saunders is a bit more offensive minded so he'll try to find someone that can learn under Rip and Chauncey.

28. San Antonio - Josh McRoberts, PF, Duke

The Spurs would actually be getting great value here. McRoberts is also already skilled in the skills that San Antonio values: flopping, whining and a sense of entitlement.

29. Phoenix - Marc Gasol, C, Spain
Foreign dude that can shoot and play offense but is soft and doesn't play defense. Sounds perfect.

30. Philadelphia - Aaron Gray, C, Pittsburgh
A poor man's Eric Montross, I think the 76ers reach here because they don't know any better. This is a vintage Billy King pick because Gray will be a huge bust.

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Re: Breaking down the NBA draft top 10

Oden Clear-Cut No. 1 Pick
by Robert Ferringo

Let's just say that the last five minutes of the Sopranos season finale were infinitely more suspenseful than the National Basketball Association is these days. The Prize of the Present, the NBA Championship, is all but a formality as San Antonio toys with Cleveland. And the Prize of the Future, the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft this month in New York City, is just as much of a blowout.

That's right boys and girls: Greg Oden, the freshman center from Ohio State, is going to be the No. 1 pick in the draft on June 28. That's not the surprise. The real shocker is that it's not even close. In fact, if anyone in your crew suggests that Kevin Durant, the freshman forward from Texas, should be taken ahead of Oden, you should put your fingers in the pose of the "Hook 'Em Horns" signal and gouge their eyes out.

As it stands right now there are no odds on which player will be chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers with the No. 1 selection available at any online books. That alone tells me that it's a virtual certainty that Oden is going No. 1. And if any odds are posted between now and the big night in the Big Apple you can be certain that I'll be betting my mortgage payment on it.

Before I explain to you why Oden is the clear-cut, no doubt, hands-down choice over Durant I want to get one thing clear: I'm not a Durant hater. The kid is impressive, and the numbers he put up in one collegiate season were absolutely incredible. But when you get down to it I think he's a 6-feet-9, 6-feet-10 swingman that can shoot and score. All in all, that's not exactly a novel concept in The League. I have no doubts that both will put together solid pro careers. But which do you think has the best chance to be the difference maker on a title team? I'll go ahead and take the big man that can dominate the paint, own the boards, and generally control the tempo of an entire series over the guy that can shoot and score and manage the occasional highlight-reel breakaway jam. But that's just me.

That's where the argument should start and finish: which player are you most likely to be able to build a championship team around? But there's even more to it than that.

Durant devastated the Big 12 last year. But who exactly was he devastating? Beyond the rosters of the Longhorns and the Kansas Jayhawks, the Big 12 wasn't exactly bursting with NBA talent. In fact, apart from Acie Law and Julian Wright I'd be willing to bet that no other Big 12 player will even be selected on June 28. Is that Durant's fault? Or course not. But it definitely should be taken into consideration when espousing his "greatness". He isn't going to get three cracks at Baylor in the NBA, though he will get a couple games against the Celtics.

I'll even take it one step further: while Durant was consistently the best player on the floor amongst a bunch of lightweights, when he did run up to someone on his level he was rarely, if ever, the best player on the floor in crunch time. In that classic triple overtime game against Oklahoma State, Durant missed a shot to win the game at the end of the second OT and watched as Cowboy Mario Boggan (who outscored Durant in the extra time) drilled the game winner. In the double OT win over Texas A&M it was actually Law that stole the show with two miraculous shots to force both extra sessions. And finally, Durant was powerless as Kansas rallied from a 22-point deficit in the Big 12 Championship to win in overtime.

In all three of those contests, Durant came up small in extra periods. He was outscored 11-9 by Boggan, 11-6 by Law and was shutout in OT against the Jayhawks. Clutch can't be taught, boys and girls. And before you drop a few dimes down on the Sonics in a big game a few short years from now, I hope those games pop into the back of your mind.

The Big 10 wasn't leaps and bounds better than the Big 12, but by marching to the Final Four Oden found himself matched up against two of the best frontcourts in the country (Georgetown, Florida) and a handful of Lottery Picks. Judging by his performance in those clashes (38 points, 21 rebounds, five blocks) I'm going to say that while he's not ready to rumble with The Big Aristotle right now he's more than capable of banging with Emeka Okafor and Marc Jackson for 35-40 minutes a night.

The next issue I had with Durant this year was that no player in the nation - and I mean nobody - got more preferential treatment from the officials than the lithe forward. Believe me, it wasn't because he was going strong to the rack. It was easy to fall into a trance because of Durant's array of offensive abilities, but the officials in the Big 12 never made him earn his reputation and never made him grind out points in an opponent's home gym. Don't think for a second that Durant is going to step onto the same court as guys like Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and Dwayne Wade and that he's going to get gift and bail-out calls. I don't think so.

Further, there's the small fact that Durant can't lift more than a 16-year-old Slovenian girl. It was reported that the 20-year-old Durant couldn't bench press 185 pounds a single time at a pre-draft camp in Orlando. Not once. As a result, he was ranked as the 78th-best athlete at the camp. Again, the kid is 6-feet-10 but just over 210 pounds. He's a toothpick, and I think he's going to get knocked around by men for at least his first few seasons in The League.

The fact that he was so unprepared for such an event could be considered a red flag. Again, it's not like Durant is going to slip to No. 7. He's going second. But does anyone really know what they will getting? And are you that certain that he'll fill out as he gets older?

Conversely, Oden dominated the collegiate level with one hand. He basically held the Big 10 in the palm of his off hand, fighting weaklings like Purdue and Penn State with one hand behind his back. No one is going to question his toughness. And besides the two extra inches and 35+ extra pounds that Oden carries on his frame, you can't underestimate the overwhelming difference in beard potential that the big man has over Durant. To me, that makes all the difference.

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