ATLANTA (AP) -Joakim Noah mocks those who publish NBA mock drafts.
``I heard one of them is like a kid who is 16 years old in his basement,'' Noah said.
But Noah knows enough to realize the NBA draft guessing game this year begins with the Hawks' No. 3 pick, and that's why he was in Atlanta on Friday for a workout.
Greg Oden and Kevin Durant are almost certain to be taken by Portland and Seattle with the first two picks on Thursday.
Some draft projections have the Hawks taking a Florida teammate of Noah's - center Al Horford - or Ohio State point guard Mike Conley Jr.
Noah, a power forward, tried to convince Hawks general manager Billy Knight and coach Mike Woodson that he should be the third pick.
``That's why I'm here,'' he said. ``If I didn't think I had a chance I wouldn't be here.''
The Hawks also pick 11th, but Noah hopes he's not around by then.
The draft decision by Knight, who wasn't talking on Friday, will affect the rest of the first round. Noah is as curious as anyone.
``You know who's going one and two,'' Noah said. ``Then you have no idea.''
It's a big decision for the Hawks.
``It's huge for our franchise,'' Woodson said. ``We're in a position where we can either trade them if the trade makes sense or we pick two young guys who come in and fit in with the young guys we already have. I think the big thing about this draft is you can pick a guy who can come in and play right away. Last year we got caught when the injuries occurred, we just didn't have backup players that were ready to play.''
Noah also has worked out for Boston (picking at No. 5), Minnesota (No. 7), Charlotte (No. 8) and Chicago (No. 9). He will work out for Memphis, which has the fourth pick, on Saturday.
Noah said trade speculation involving NBA stars Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett and the phone call he got Friday from the Phoenix Suns adds more mystery to the draft.
``The craziest thing about it is you have no idea also what's going to happen if these big guys go in trades, these superstars,'' he said. ``As a player you just have to be ready for anything.
``Just today, I had an opportunity to go work out in Phoenix. Phoenix isn't in the lottery. Why would they call my agent and say 'We want him to work out?'''
Noah said he accepted the invitation of the Suns, who aren't scheduled to pick until No. 24
The 6-foot-11 Noah averaged 12.0 points and 8.4 rebounds as a junior to help Florida win its second straight national championship.
Florida's wealth of talent made it difficult for any player to consistently play a lead role, and Noah's scoring average fell from his 14.2 points per game as a sophomore.
Woodson said he doesn't consider Noah to be a ``great scorer.'' Woodson also said the 232-pound Noah will need to add weight and strength to be a productive inside player in the NBA.
Even so, Woodson said he thinks Noah could make an immediate impact.
``You kind of cue in on what he actually does for his team,'' Woodson said. ``The fact he defends and he rebounds and he runs the floor, for a 7-footer that's all you can really ask for. He's not a great scorer. He can finish at the rim. The fact he gets up and down the floor, he'll get buckets that way.
``I look at guys who can rebound and play defense and run the floor, and if you can do those three things you have a future in our league.''
Knight has been criticized for failing to draft a point guard while instead picking versatile forwards in recent years. Knight picked forwards Shelden Williams and Marvin Williams in the first round the last two years, and in 2004 he took wing player Josh Childress and forward Josh Smith with two first-round picks.
The Hawks, who hit bottom with 13 wins in 2004-05, improved to 30 wins last season. Still, they finished in last place and missed the playoffs for the eighth straight year.
Last year the Hawks signed point guard Speedy Claxton to a four-year, $25.5 million deal, but Claxton missed 36 games with a sore left knee and started only 31 games. The team's lone All-Star, Joe Johnson, missed the final 21 games with a bruised right calf.
Woodson said he believes Claxton and another veteran point guard, Tyronn Lue, will be stronger in the 2007-08 season, possibly influencing their decision on Conley.

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