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NBA Draft Preview

Jonathan Givony
Founder and editor, Draftexpress.com
Thursday, June 28, 2007 11:00 AM

Will it be Greg Oden or Kevin Durant? Who do the Hawks take at No. 3? And what will the Wizards do?

Draftexpress.com's Jonathan Givony was online Thursday, June 28 at 11 a.m. to take your questions and give you the latest info on draft day.

A transcript follows.

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Washington, D.C.: Jonathan:

I would imagine the toughest hurdle in doing what you do is finding reliable sources. It would seem that most teams would peddle lots of half-truths and no-truths. Is that the case? As a result, do you mostly rely on your own analysis? Is there enough give and take between you and teams that you are fairly confident in your mock draft, or could guys you've projected at a certain spot go 10 to 15 picks earlier or later than you have projected?

Jonathan Givony: You are absolutely right about that. Over the past four years, thats been one of the toughest challenges--sorting out what's real from what's being fed to you. People know that we are in this for the long-haul, though, so we've been able to narrow down our circle of who we really trust just by examining the reputation they established. Also keep in mind that there is a lot of give and take in this business. We receive a lot of info as well that not all teams might be pivy to, so we do a lot of "trading" of information these days also. I'm pretty confident in what we have on the mock right now, but I know that one trade could send to whole thing into a tailspin. The first twenty picks isn't that hard as far as finding the range players will get drafted in, but after that its a bit of a crap shoot. A guy like Aaron Brooks for example could go as high as the late first, or he could slip into the mid-second. Things get dicy around there.

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Cincinnati: There have been a lot of rumors with the Pacers and O'Neal, any updates?

Jonathan Givony: The NJ Nets offered Indiana Nenad Krstic and Richard Jefferson for O'Neal. The Pacers are sitting on that for now, and are leaning towards saying no. There is also talk that the Lakers have rekindled trade talks, and many believe that the #19 pick (LA's) will not be made for them.

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Jonathan Givony: Hello everyone, welcome to the chat and thanks to the Washington Post for having me. You can get a lot more detailed information on the prospects we're discussing or the many rumors out there by hitting up DraftExpress.com. Enjoy what is sure to be a very eventful day...

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Deale, Md.: Would the Washington Wizards be better off trading their first-round pick for a veteran center, a position where they are below par?

Jonathan Givony: I don't believe that a major contributor is going to be available there, and the Wizards don't really have that many assests to make a big time trade. They for example talked to Minnesota about KG, but didn't have enough juice to get anything done.

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D.C.: Where does Zabian Dowdell project in the mock draft?

Jonathan Givony: He has a chance to get drafted at #28 by San Antonio, and also will get looks early in the second from Seattle and Dallas. We have him going #39 to Miami, where he would be perfect next to Dwyane Wade. We're big fans of Z and have been writing about him all year. He's a great guy.

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Arlington, Va.: Julian Wright seems like he would fit best in a system where he mostly would run the floor, crash the boards, take the occasional mid-range jumper and do a little ball distribution without having to drive a lot or create his own shot. What are some teams whose offenses suit him?

Jonathan Givony: I was told that "if he's on the board at #16 (Washington), he won't be on the board at #17." I think the Wizards would love to have him. His stock has slipped somewhat since he's not a workout guy and people are wondering about his true position, but I agree with you about his versatile skill set and think he will end up becoming a very nice role player in the NBA.

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Bethesda, Md.: Do you see Wake Forest Sr. Kyle Visser getting drafted and if so, will he ever see time at the NBA level?

Jonathan Givony: I think Visser has NBA potential for sure. He didn't play well enough at the pre-draft camp to really warrant moving up in this draft, but I do think he will get drafted and he could very well be Washington's guy at #47 (his camp seems to think so at least). He's got a lot of tools at his disposal, but he needs to become a better rebounder and play with more focus.

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N.C.: Hi Jonathan,

Having looked at all the possibilities the Wizards may have, to me it seems like center Jason Smith (Colorado State) at 7 feet, 240 pounds with his last year stats (16.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg) would probably be the best choice don't you think?

I mean with all the Haywood/Thomas drama and a lack of a big presence for so many years, how could they pass on a talented 7-foot center?

Or do you think Nick Young, or someone else will be their most prized possibility?

Jonathan Givony: The Wizards love Nick Young and would take him in a heartbeat if he fell there. I don't think he gets past 13 or 14 at worst, but you never know...

I'm not a huge Jason Smith fan even though he does have some fantastic tools (athleticism, frame, perimeter skills galore). I think that the Wizards can get a guy who can contribute quicker to help appease Arenas.

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Columbia, Md.: Jonathan, I have been a long-time fan of your Draft Express site, thanks for doing the chat. Question: Can Splitter get out of his contract to finally, finally play in the NBA? I have been very interested in Splitter for the past few years and am wondering what you think of his game now.

Jonathan Givony: Thank you first of all.

Splitter has no buyout for this year, but he can get out of his contract after NEXT season if he pays 1 million dollars. His agent Herb Rudoy indicated to us that he's already informed his team that he'll be doing that.

I am a big fan of Splitter...think he might be one of the most NBA ready guys in this draft. He's big, smart, athletic, very experienced, and is a surefire 10-12 year guy to me. He also wants to play in the NBA very badly as he told us at the Euroleague Final Four in Athens last month. If he didn't have contract issues, he'd be a top 15 pick for sure. He's a steal in the 20's.

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Arlington, Va.: Can Durant really be considered that much of an assassin? He disappeared in the second halves of some big games last year (poor conditioning?) and had trouble even getting the ball when covered by big, quick guards.

Jonathan Givony: Durant is the most talented player in this year's draft, hands down. He had some big seconds halves this year as well, even if he did waver a bit at times due to the HUGE load that was put on his shoulders. I would be shocked if he's not considered one of the 5 best players in the NBA in three years. I think he's that good.

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Springfield, Va.: Would it be better for the Wizards to draft the best big man left or the best player left in the draft?

Jonathan Givony: I was told that they are going into their war room and will put 17 names on the board-- the 17 best players in this draft. As the draft moves on, they will scratch them off and take the best guy that is left. That's the definitely the right approach, and I am certain that a guy who was highly regarded all year (Julian Wright, Al Thornton, Acie Law are candidates) will end up slipping, since there are always surprises. As one NBA executive drafting in the mid-first told me "there is always going to be some idiot that takes Nick Fazekas 10th or something...we're not worried. Its just a shame that Isiah is behind us."

That one made me laugh.

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Netanya, Israel: I have been reading online version of the Washington papers and all the various Web sites dedicated to basketball for the past few months and I have never seen any of the writers make a case for Glen "Big Baby" Davis as being the next Wes Unseld -- the only championship center in Bullet/Wizards history. Draft this guy and you can move one or both centers and give Blatche and Pech a lot more playing time and still have some "mass" (with greater scoring potential) close to the boards.

Jonathan Givony: Hello from Israel, one of my favorite places in the world.

Big Baby doesn't have value at #16 in my mind. There are too many questions about his weight problems for that. He's more of a 21-40 guy in my mind.

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi Jonathan,

I am a contributor to DX and appreciate all the work you guys do. Who have you heard would be included as "filler" in the rumored Rockets pick/Ike Diogu trade? Any idea which team(s) the Rockets have arrangements to swap picks with?

Jonathan Givony: Hi Charlie!

There is some talk that the Lakers could have a deal in place to swap the #19 pick and Brian Cook for the #26 pick and Luther Head.

The filler on Houston's end could be Bobby Sura's ending contract for example, nothing major.

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Charlottesville, Va.: Where do you think J.R Reynolds will be playing next year? After watching him shoot the lights out of JPJ Arena, I can't imagine a team passing on him in the second round.

Jonathan Givony: I'm a big J.R. Reynolds fan. We started talking about him as an NBA prospect all the way back September last year in our ACC NBA Draft prospects preview. He played very poorly at the pre-draft camp and his stock seems to be slipping. At this point I think he would be happy to be drafted anywhere in the 2nd round. He might have to go to Europe for a year and show teams what they are missing out on-- ala Charlie Bell. I think he would be an assassin there (like Drew Nicholas is) and have recommended to some GMs in Italy to take a look at him.

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D.C.: Atlanta can't possibly screw this up can they?

Jonathan Givony: If anyone can...its them!

If they take Yi like a lot of people think they might, you know its gonna be a great night. I was told this morning by Al Horford's people that he has not received any guarantees at the #3 spot.

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At the Abyss, Boston: How strong is the No. 5 pick for the Celts? Who do you think will be left for them to pick and who do you think they will take? How do you rate Ainge's drafting ability? Strangely enough, I think he does okay at the draft but is abysmal with free agent deals and trades. Is there hope for this once-proud franchise?

Jonathan Givony: The recent indications seem to be leaning towards Yi Jianlian. I think that would be a mistake personally, but Boston has certainly done their homework on him. They might have both Conley or Noah on the board there, and to pass on both of them would be foolish in my mind. I think Ainge has a good eye for talent, but he can't seem to decide on what he wants to do with this franchise. Taking Yi is going to be the final nail in the Paul Pierce staying in Boston coffin.

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D.C.: Jon -

Love the podcasts, keep up the great work. You stated in one of your podcasts that European teams are starting to pay big money to keep their players. Are NBA general managers going to take a different approach now, i.e. they will think twice about drafting a European guy because of buyout issues. Juan Carlos Navarro is a great example...one of the best European prospects and it seems as though he will never play in the NBA.

Jonathan Givony: You are right on the money. From a very selfish standpoint, I would like to see Navarro come to the NBA this summer because I think he could really help the Wizards take that next step towards competing for the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately Barcelona has other thoughts...working out his buyout doesn't seem likely.

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College Park, Md.: How are things shaping up for DJ Strawberry? Does he have a shot at getting drafted at all?

Jonathan Givony: I spoke with one of DJ's guys this morning, and he sounded VERY optomistic. Apparently he has a draft party organized and everything. They feel like he's got a great chance to get drafted. Teams that like him include Phoenix, Portland and the Lakers amongst others. He's done well in workouts and a few people I talked to see him being a great guy to have in an NBA lockerroom and practices his first year or two. Being ranked the #1 athlete in the draft has ALWAYS helped historically-- ask David Noel, Troy Bell, Kirk Snyder, Joey Graham, etc...

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Washington, D.C.: Biggest surprise tonight (though I guess if you can predict it, it won't be a surprise)?

You've predicted that Julian Wright will drop to Washington at 16. If he doesn't, which top guy do you think might be the mostly likely to drop to 16?

Personally, I'm hoping Ernie Grunfeld is wearing his catcher's mitt tonight and just picks whatever upper tier player drops to him. But do you have the sense that the Wizards have a particular guy in mind that they will pick if he's there, regardless of whether someone else drops to them? It concerns me that the Wizards haven't worked out hardly anyone projected to go in the top 15.

Jonathan Givony: That's what the Wizards are planning on doing.

My picks besides Wright would be: Al Thornton (people are worried about his wrist, he would be a STEAL), Acie Law (who I love), Javaris Crittenton (not a huge fan) and Thaddeus Young (ditto). I believe two of those five(including Julian Wright) will be there on the board for them to choose from.

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Arlington, Va.: What are the specific skills that set Oden apart from the other draft-eligible centers?

Jonathan Givony: His physical tools-- size, frame, athleticism, but also his mind-- he's got a great feel for the game for a guy that size. His intangibles are off the chart. His timing is fantastic. He's just a natural unlike a lot of 7-footers who stared playing the game just because they are tall. He's obviously the real deal...you heard it here first! :)

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Boston: How badly does GS want Yi?

Jonathan Givony: Very badly, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why. They are doing so well right now. I went to a Warriors playoff game last month and it was just amazing. They don't have any problems with their fan base or selling jerseys. The jerseys get split 30 ways anyway between all the teams. If they trade Andris Biedrins to get Yi, I think that would be a HUGE step backwards. They are going to get outrebounded by 20 boards a game.

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Washington, D.C.: Who do you see as possibilities for being this year's Paul Millsap?

Jonathan Givony: Herbert Hill is a guy that I think people are forgetting about to a certain extent. He had a legit case for Big East player of the year. He's improved SO much over the course of his career. The problem is that he's not a workout guy and has looked very nervous everywhere he's gone, including the pre-draft camp. Not playing in the tournament hurt him, since people haven't seen him in nearly four months. He's a good player that I think will end up being a contributor in the mid-late 2nd round.

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Washington, D.C.: I don't like the idea of Wright to the Wizards. They don't need a guy who can "become a role player," they need a guy who can BE a role player THIS YEAR. Big Baby, Sean Williams, Bellini, these guys seem like they can contribute right away.

Jonathan Givony: All those guys have major question marks about their game, even more so than Wright. Sean Williams is a terrible rebounder, has almost no offensive game, and bites on every pump fake. And I haven't even brought up his rap-sheet. Big Baby is undersized, plays WAY too much on the perimeter and has some serious weight issues. Belinelli to me is fools gold. He'll score 20 points, but he needs 20 shots to get there. I'm not a big fan of his. Julian Wright is indeed a project player, but if you look at the history of the #16 pick (http://www.draftexpress.com/drafthist.php?eyear=2006&syear=1957&spick=16), its basically a crap shoot anyway.

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Toronto: Hey Jonathan, do you anticipate a lot of trades/movement going on in the draft?

Jonathan Givony: Honestly...no. I think there's going to be a ton of talk and at the end of the day, very little action. It always seems to play out like that on draft day and the trade deadline. But hey, I'm ready to be wrong, so lets get this show on the road already. Someone give Isiah a call! I heard he might trade the beloved Jared Jeffries...

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Cleveland: Will any first round picks end up for sale? Can Cleveland get into the draft?

Jonathan Givony:27, 28, 29, 30...all can be had for the right price. If Danny Ferry wants, he can easily trade a future first to get in there. 3 million would help, and I heard the Cavs' owner is willing to shoulder that. They might pick up Udrih in the process. There is definitely some talk about that. Maybe they go for Fesenko?

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D.C.: How good will Morris Almond be?

Jonathan Givony: I like Morris, as a player, but even more as a person. I think he'll end up being a really nice guy to bring off the bench and knock down shots for you. Solid pick in the 20's.

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UMass in Alexandria: I'm really excited for the draft. Where and when do you see Stephan Lasme drafted?

Also, why hasn't he created as much buzz? He's the top shot blocker in the draft with 5.1 a game, 9.5 rebounds, 13.5 pts per game. He had four triple doubles in one season!

Thank you for taking my question.

Jonathan Givony: Cause he's 25 years old, has just OK hands, and no real offensive game. You have to wonder how much better he's going to get...with that said, it wouldn't shock me if Detroit or San Antonio gave him a look in the late 2nd.

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Los Angeles: From HW: With all the chaos going on with the Lakers, what on earth are you hearing that's going to happen? And what about that Greek guard they just made an offer to?

Jonathan Givony: Who knows man. I wish I did. I hear that the Indiana talks are back on, and that the Lakers don't anticipate having the #19 pick at their disposal.

The Greek guard Papaloukas is the real deal. The best player in Europe and an absolute killer with the ball in his hands on the pick and roll. He didn't have 13 assists last summer against LeBron and Team USA for nothing. They won that game for a reason. He can play, but they need to put him at the point. Putting him on the wing isn't going to work since he's not a great shooter.

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Bayside, N.Y.: So, what are the Knicks doing? Are they really going to reach for a guy like Chandler?

Jonathan Givony: That seems to be the indication. He had a physical in New York the other day. As we detailed on our podcast last night, the web connecting him and Isiah Thomas is ridiculous. I believe they told him that he's their guy already in May. There might be some funny business going on there.

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Washington, D.C.: What veterans do you really see, if any, moving tomorrow? There have been a lot of names and teams being thrown with nothing solid being mentioned.

Jonathan Givony: Like I said before, I think most of the trade talk is just going to end up being one big tease. Phoenix seems to do this every year.

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Washington, D.C.:"I'm not a big fan of his. Julian Wright is indeed a project player, but if you look at the history of the #16 pick, its basically a crap shoot anyway."

But this is supposedly a VERY strong draft. To me, a lot of these guys being discussed at 16 woulda gone in the lottery most years. I don't think it's so much of a crapshoot this year.

Jonathan Givony: Wright was projected as a top 5 pick all year long. There is definitely a reason for that. This draft is very strong at the top, but it definitely loses some steam after the first 8 or 9 picks or so. A LOT of guys ended up pulling out. Had Hibbert and Tomic and Rush and the rest stayed in, this draft would have been a lot better.

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Herndon, Va.: One other draft site has the Wizards selecting SG Marco Belinelli form Italy.

I don't follow the Europeans much. Who the heck is he and isn't No. 16 too high for essentially someone to spell Agent Zero?

Jonathan Givony: Belinelli would play next to Arenas on the wing. That's definitely a position of need, but I think there will be better players on the board there. Belinelli is a lights out shooter who shoots the ball way too much for my taste. He likes to make things a lot more difficult for himself than he should with incredible degree of difficulty of shots he takes.

The Wizards are covered up and down internationally thanks to Tim Connelley..if you're reading this Tim, don't do it! Go for Rudy!

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Falls Church, Va.: Will anyone take a chance on BC's Sean Williams or will he have to play elsewhere to prove he can stay out of trouble?

Jonathan Givony: I think the Nets will take him at #17. They are basically desperate since they don't have any money to help themselves out this year (owner's being tight) and they need to win right now because of Kidd and Vince's age. They will roll the dice and hope that Sean Williams can give them some Kenyon Martin action running with Kidd in transition.

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Jason : What do you feel about Colangelo's plan of making the Toronto Raptors the NBA version of the United Nations? So far it's worked out very well.

Jonathan Givony: I like it a lot. Colangelo is one of the smartest GMs in the league. A very classy guy. Can't wait to see who they sign this summer. It wouldn't shock me if they tried to jump into this draft either to take a Rudy Fernandez for example.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Do you see David Andersen ever joining the Hawks? If so, when?

Jonathan Givony: Not gonna happen. That boat sailed a long time ago. They never showed much interest from what Andersen's people told me. Now he makes way too much money playing for CSKA Moscow (the richest team in Europe).

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Annapolis, Md.: Heard Doc Walker mention a Shaq to D.C. rumor on the radio this morning. Is he nuts?

Jonathan Givony: As someone that was born in Miami and still follows the Heat, I would love that. I don't think there is anyway that happens. His contract is way too big.

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SA-Town, Tex.: What are the chances of the Spurs bringing in Scola, the third Argentinian star?

Jonathan Givony: Zero.

He's about to sign a 5 year contract for the equivalent of 25 million dollars. Even though he's a free agent this summer, the Spurs can't match that. Its a shame because I think he would be really good in the NBA.

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Arlington, Va.: Where do you see Pitt's Aaron Gray going? He is a hard-worker with a big body but can't play up-tempo. Can he stick in the NBA?

Jonathan Givony: Somewhere in the 2nd round. I think he could be a decent backup and it wouldn't surprise me to see him stick around for a while. He's better than people think. If he's there at #47 I think the Wizards would be ecstatic.

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Napolis, Indiana: If you were Larry Bird, wouldn't you consider contacting the Bobcats for a sign and trade involving a combination of Gerald Wallace, Matt Carrol, some salary filler and some picks for Jermaine O'Neal? Seems like a fit for both teams.

Jonathan Givony: Don't think that's the direction the Bobcats are heading in. Their owner won't let them do that (he's losing lots of money) and O'Neal's contract is way too big. They should be patient and keep building.

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D.C.: Who's the best shooting guard in this year's draft? Taking into account defense, passing, etc...

Jonathan Givony: Rudy Fernandez. He's gonna be a steal for someone if he slips past 15. You don't become one of the best players in Europe at age 21 if you can't play. The guy is very good.

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Frederick, Md.: I think the Wizards should trade down and pick up the 21 and 30 picks to get Morris Almond, who could be like Gibson was for the Cavs this year. Then get J. Dudley or G. Davis.

Is there a chance for that happening and are they going to be able to get rid of Haywood?

Jonathan Givony: We speculated about that a week ago or so. I could see that happening. Would be a good trade for both teams I think. Not sure why you would want to get rid of Haywood. He's got a cheap contract and is a pretty good defender. Definitely a serviceable guy if you put him next to a better power forward.

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Los Angeles: From HW: At the end of the day, where does KG wind up?

Jonathan Givony: My guess is LA.

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Charlotte, N.C.: Jon,

What are the latest trade rumors surrounding the Bobcats and their No. 8 pick?

Jonathan Givony: Golden State would like to move up if Yi is still there. If they get offered Biedrins for the #8 pick, I would take that.

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Jonathan Givony: Thanks to the Washington Post for having me. This was a lot of fun. I am going to keep working the phones. Check out DraftExpress later in the day for an update as well as our final mock draft. Peace!

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