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NBA Draft Preview

Jonathan Givony
Founder and editor, Draftexpress.com
Thursday, June 26, 2008 11:00 AM

Who will Chicago select No. 1 overall, Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley? Following last season's radical trades, which players could be on the move Thursday? And whom is Ernie Grunfeld likely to select for the Wizards?

Draftexpress.com's Jonathan Givony was online Thursday, June 26 at 11 a.m. to take your questions and give you the latest info on draft day.

A transcript follows.

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Springfield, Va.: With the wizards having quality depth at the 1, 2, and 3 positions, do the Wizards take the best available player at 18 or focus on a PF/C? Who do you have rated higher between Hickson/Arthur/Hibbert/Speights and who would have an immediate impact if any? Thanks.

Jonathan Givony: I think that if an unbelievable talent falls to them at 18, they would take him regardless of position. But I've heard they are targeting a big man. They think this is a unique draft where they can get a project big man who will develop down the road -- be it McGee, Hibbert or Arthur are the three names you hear most associated with the Wizards, in that order. Out of those three, I like Arthur the best.

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Washington, D.C.: So is Pat Riley really going to pass on Beasley? If he does, has he lost his mind?

Jonathan Givony: Like an NBA team told me last night, there's a lot of smoke, but not a lot of fire in this rumor. Riley is exploring all his options and wants to make the best move for his franchise, so he's creating lots of scenarios for himself. But at the end of the day, he's going to take Beasley unless something blows him away, like Mike Conley and the No. 5 pick or something like that. ESPN is really fanning this trade big time and if nothing happens, a lot of people will be disappointed.

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Washington, DC: Hoopsworld has reported a rumored deal between the Rockets and Wiz... Washington essentially sends their 18th pick and a player for Luther Head and the Rockets' 25th. Any truth to the rumor?

If so, who would the Wiz be looking to grab at 25? Douglas-Roberts, Batum, Hendrix, Hickson?

Jonathan Givony: I've heard that trade too, not the exact parameters, but that's something that's out there. I think the Rockets want to move up and select Courtney Lee at 18. Not sure how much there is to this though, there's always a lot of rumors on draft day. As for who the Wizards could get at 25 - Ryan Anderson came in for a workout recently, Jason Thompson if he's there, Arthur if he's there, Batum, Chalmers if he's there. There are a lot of options.

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Arlington, Va.: So what are the Blazers up to here? They already have too many guys under contract, so I assume they grabbed the 27 to package with other picks and Raef LaFrentz's expiring contract to either move up to the top five or grab a veteran.

Jonathan Givony: The Blazers told me they are secretly in a mission to acquire every single pick in this year's draft. But seriously, they like to have options on draft night. You can always take a guy at 27 and send him overseas for a few years. They're not concerned about not getting anything out of the pick. And for Paul Allen, $3 million is like $3 for the rest of us. We'll see tonight what comes out of it, you never know what to expect from Kevin Pritchard and his staff.

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Crestwood, N.Y.: Can you stand a Knick question? I'll understand if you say no. What's the chance that the Knicks are lying low, pretending that they're going to make all these moves with David Lee etc., when their true intention is to pick the Italian kid, who 1. has a father who was a buddy of D'Antoni, and 2. has a style of play which might better fit the run-and-gun system that D'Antoni hopes to implement?

Jonathan Givony: I wouldn't be quite as sinister as you, but I could see the same end results happening easily. If nothing crazy happens, like a terrific trade offer, or Mayo falling, the word is they're going to take Galinari. We'll just have to see what happens.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Isn't Javall McGee basically a Patrick O'Bryant?

Jonathan Givony: We've said that many times. There are no arguments here. He has better range on his shot, but the similarities are uncanny.

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A Cubicle in Silver Spring: Where do you see Joey Dorsey being selected in the second round? I feel that he is exactly what the Wizards, and many othe teams for that matter, need but are not actively seeking, for one reason or another. Dorsey represents an active body with a high intensity level, good rebounder/shot blocker, and an above average post defender. People in basketball always refer to these type of players as necessities, yet there draft stock always seems negligble. Can you explain this?

Jonathan Givony: His size is a big concern, but I think what's hurting him more than anything are his off-the-court concerns. Numerous teams have told me they would love to take him, but there are too many red flags that have come up for them in the process. I don't have specific evidence to back that up, but that's what's been told to me. I still think he'll get drafted somewhere from 35-50 -- the 2nd round is a complicated beast, a lot depends on foreign talent, luxury tax concerns. Chad Ford says the Nets love him at 40.

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Arlington, Va.: In Bill Simmons and Chad Ford's mock draft, three Kansas players went in the lottery, even though Chalmers almost never has been rated that high and Arthur is perceived to be slipping. How many do you think actually make it tonight? And do you think Jackson or Kaun get tabbed in the second round? Does Kaun's Russian deal (the monetary equivalent of getting drafted 22 overall tonight) help or hurt his chances?

Jonathan Givony: We don't have any Kansas players in the lottery right now. We have Rush at 15, Arthur slipping -- he's a guy I'm going to spend most of the day doing mock drafts with teams, and he's a guy I'm curious about, he's being pegged from 11-24.

Chalmers is another guy I dont have a feel for -- I could see him going 17 to Indiana. I need to do more research on him.

Kaun could get drafted in the 50s, but I don't ever see him playing in the NBA -- he'll be making something like $2 million annually in Russia, because there's a rule in Russia that says you have to have 2 Russian players on the court at all times, so someone like Kuan is very attractive, and the top team in Europe, CSKA Moscow, decided to sign him for three years, and they paid a fortune to do it early.

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Hoya, SAxa: Any expectations on where Hibbert, Ewing and (might we hope) Wallace might end up?

Jonathan Givony: Hibbert has a chance at 18, and a lot of teams think he's not getting past 20, Charlotte. He had a great workout there, Larry Brown loves him, thinks he's ready to play right now, loves his character, raves about him. They want to move Okafor to the 4. And if not 20, I think the Jazz would love to get him at 23. I think he'll be a great backup, I think people are underestimating him right now, and they're forgetting he's only 21 years old -- the other guys in this draft like Jordan and McGee aren't much more than a year younger than him. There's a lot to be said for graduating from a school like Georgetown, of being such a good worker. I don't think though, that physically he acn hold up for more than 15-20 minutes a game for an 82 game season. But I do think that he's going to bring a team a lot in the minutes he does play, especially if he lands in the right situation, like Washington, Charlotte or Utah.

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Jonathan Givony: Oh -- and I don't think Ewing or Wallace are getting drafted. They're probably going to Europe or the d-league.

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Upper Marlboro, Md.: Were or do you think James Gist from Maryland will be drafted? He seems to be a solid back-up but I don't see him on any draft board.

Jonathan Givony: I think we have him getting drafted late in the 2nd. He has a chance at 39 or 41, beyond that it's anybody's guess. He's not very big, and for being as big as he is, you would like to see him be more skilled, or a better rebounder. He's not a skilled 3, but he's not a hustling 4, either. I could see him on an NBA roster, for sure, it wouldn't shock me to see him get picked with his athleticism and pedigree, but he'll have to make major improvements to stick in the league.

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New Orleans: Who is the possible bust in this year's draft?

Jonathan Givony: I would say that's a tie between Javell Mcgee, Andre Jordan and Anthony Randolph. Now, to define what a bust is -- if they go in the lottery, then the expectations are much higher if they go from 15-25 or later. I thought these three were wildly overrated when they were being discussed as possible top-10 picks. But now that they're stock has fallen, I like their chances of living up to more reasonable expectations much more.

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New York, New York: I'm wondering why this trade hasn't been discussed...Zach Randolph and #6 Pick for Marcus Banks, Mark Blount and the #2 Pick...

The Knicks get Beasley, a guy who they can build around, the Heat at #6 should be able to grab Bayless, a guy who they are reportedly very high on, and Zach Randolph, an all-star caliber player who may have some personal red flags but has the talent to make such a gamble worth while, not to mention 2 salary dumps!

Is it possible that a move like this could be in play and fly under the radar the same way that the Channing Frye/Zach Randolph deal did last year???

Jonathan Givony: I don't think there's anyway Miami does that. That would be an awful trade for them. With Randolph's contract and track record, he has negative value right now. Riley wants to change the culture of the locker room in Miami,and the last thing you want is to get a guy like Randolph in there.

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Washington, DC: Have any of this year's top draft choices indicated that they won't play for certain teams, as Yi Jianlian did last year, or Kobe did when he came out? I've always wondered why the league doesn't crack down on this behavior, as it would seem to defeat the entire purpose of a draft.

Jonathan Givony: I haven't heard about anything of that nature. I know certain players have decided not to workout in certain places, but I don't know about anyone saying "no, I won't play for you." I think Milwaukee really stepped up last year for the rest of the league by taking a stand against Yi and his agent and I dont think that behavior will be tolerated this year.

Galinari has said he would like to be in New York or NJ, but he's also worked out for Memphis and Minnesota, so I think his quote was taken out of context.

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Annapolis, Md.: With the obvious success of the Celtics and Lakers resulting from blockbuster trades, will that become a trend this year? Ernie Grunfeld is a smart guy, but is it wise to continue to stand pat as other teams in the East make big moves? Might we see some sort of big trade involving the 18th pick?

Jonathan Givony: We're off to a flying start -- there has already been 3 trades, and the draft hasnt even started yet. So that's a great sign -- we all love trades. Whether that continues, I mean, let's hope. It makes the draft much more exciting, and it gives me a lot more excuses why I'm not 100 percent right in my mock draft.

I think the Wizards like their team, I really do. I don't see them making any huge moves, because they don't really have the kind of assets Boston did. Gilbert and Jamison can't be traded, Butler has to be close to untouchable, and the rest of the pieces aren't that attractive. I think they need to stay healthy, make some smart moves in their backcourt, and they can compete next year for the Eastern Conference finals.

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New Orleans: Who do you have as a dark horse. A player not picked in the lottery but will excel in the NBA?

Jonathan Givony: I like Richard Hendrix a lot as a potential Paul Milsap-type sleeper. Every year, the 6-8, undersized but super-productive power forward drops to the 2nd but ends up being much better than 1/2 the players in the first, and I think this year it's Hendrix. I also like Courtney Lee, especially if he goes in the 20s. I like Shean Foster, as a Jason Kapono-Kyle Korver type sniper who can change a game with his shooting.

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Toronto,Ontario, Canada: Doug Smith from The Toronto Star is saying that the Raptors are trying to get a pick in the 1st round after the JO/TJ Ford deal...any validity to that claim and if so, who may they be looking to take?

Jonathan Givony: I haven't heard anything of that nature. But you never know. Some team might end up in a situation where they're not interested in anyone available at their pick, and Toronto might make a move for a player they like, like Batum, Lee, Bill Walker, DJ White. There are definitely picks to be had late in the first round, partially because teams don't want to be locked into guaranteed contracts, and partially because they aren't enamored by any of the guys there and they think they can do better by signing someone to the veteran minimum.

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New Orleans: Is this one of the deepest drafts you've seen in awhile?

Jonathan Givony: Every year, we say that the draft is deep, and every year, seemingly, it ends up disappointing. But, once again, it seems like a deep draft, especially for project big guys. We have 8 being selected from 16-25, which is almost unprecedented. I think 2 or 3 could turn out to be solid rotation players, but I think there will be a lot of busts. You can't cut corners with player development, and NBA teams dont' develop players as well as colleges.

And when I say solid rotation players, I mean they're more likely to be like Sam Dalembert or Theo Ratliff, not Andrew Bynum.

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Ernie (Denver): Any rumors on the Nuggets front since they have no draft picks? Also is Sean Singletary going to get picked?

Jonathan Givony: Not really -- they're sitting this one out.

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Houston, TX: Is Brandon better than his brother and if you had a choice between CDR, C Lee and Batum who would you pick.

Jonathan Givony: Between those three, it all depends on the type of team I have. Batum is more of a small forward to me, and clearly has the best upside, he's the most athletic, he has the best wingspan, the best potential on defense. But I really like Lee, I think he's polished, versatile and can step in and help a team off the bench right away, and he's going to do whatever it takes to improve. If the Wizards trade the 18, he could go there, at 22 for the Magic, or at 25 to the Rockets.

Douglas-Roberts will have to make some adjustments -- expand his range, play better without the ball, play better defense. But I think he has the confidence and toughness to overcome his lack of athleticism and become a solid NBA player.

And yes, Brandon is better than either of his brothers.

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Cleveland,OH: Do you see the Cavs going after a SG like Rush,Lee or CDR? Or do you think they will go after a PF/C like Speights,McGee or Hibbert? What are the chances that they will trade up and/or get a 2'nd round pick?

Jonathan Givony: I think the talk of them trying to trade with Portland, I've been told that's not really a consideration. They would like to get a guy like Rush. Lee is on their board. But if someone like Randolph of Kosta Koufis falls in their lap, I can't see them passing up one of them.

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Jonathan Givony: Thanks for all the great questions and check us out on NBA TV tonight at midnight. We'll be recapping the entire draft and it's going to be a lot of fun.

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