The unassuming and sharp-shooting Beal wore a plaid shirt that reflected his school colors of orange and blue. The polished and pro-ready perimeter scorer Harrison Barnes of North Carolina wore a navy cardigan with gold stripes on the left sleeve that matched his striped tie. And the defensive-minded and gritty Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky sauntered in wearing a gray sport coat with a blue carnation stick pin and a big grin. He looked around the room, grabbed his lapel and announced, “I’m the flyest one out here.”
Kidd-Gilchrist, the youngest of the trio, expressed a confidence that all three players share when it comes to their respective games, but when it comes to Thursday’s NBA draft at Prudential Center in Newark, there is too much uncertainty to feel comfortable. Kentucky big man Anthony Davis is the only player who knows exactly where his NBA career will begin, with the New Orleans Hornets set to take him No. 1 overall. After that, anything could happen — and so much already has among the teams near the top of the draft.
The Wizards sent Rashard Lewis’s expiring contract to New Orleans for center Emeka Okafor and small forward Trevor Ariza in a move that created a need for help on the perimeter. And, the Bobcats acquired shooting guard Ben Gordon from Detroit in exchange for Corey Maggette in a trade that could set them up to take a power forward or a small forward if they stand pat at No. 2.
“It’s fun, but it’s long and very overwhelming because you’re ready to see where you’re going to go and right now, nobody besides Davis knows where they are going,” Beal said. “At first, it wasn’t nerve-wracking for me, then all of a sudden it got like this. Trades started happening, then I started hearing teams wanted to trade up — teams I haven’t even worked out for. I’m very curious to see where I’m going to land.”
Beal worked out for Charlotte, Washington and Cleveland, which holds the fourth pick, and left an impression on scouts and talent evaluators in one season at Florida. Some have slated him as the second-best prospect in the draft after Davis, an assessment that catches Beal somewhat off-guard since he was one of the last players to declare.
His ability to shoot and play a shooting guard position that is lacking around the league has put him in high demand. Cleveland and Oklahoma City are among the teams reportedly considering moving up to get Beal.
“I think they see my potential,” said Beal, who turns 19 on Thursday. “Do I have fears [about playing in the NBA]? No. Honestly, because I’m confident in myself. Not arrogant, just confident that I’ll be able to succeed at that level. Being able to make an impact, as much as I can.”