Thursday, June 28, 2007

NBA Draft looms

Site Management: Blogger finally got around to fixing my sidebar snafu, and I have added multiple links as a result. The first one that needs to be mentioned is another upstart Buckeye blog, this one called Buckeye Lane. The author, Adam Kiefaber, is a great writer and his entries reflect that. Also added to the sidebar are Greg Oden's and Mike Conley's blogs. I'm not sure how much these will be used after the draft tonight, but they're still fun to go back through. Also added to the sidebar is a scrolling news ticker I applied via widgetmate. The ticker will display all of the hottest Buckeye-related news, so that way if I haven't covered a topic on the blog, you can still read about it!

Conflicting Reports: ESPN is reporting that Portland will draft Greg Oden over Kevin Durant with the number 1 pick in the NBA draft tonight. Oden's agent, Mike Conley Sr., however, claims that Portland told neither he nor Greg about their intentions, and Portland GM Kevin Pritchard told Fox Sports that the article was prematurely published and that, "Nobody has been promised or told anything. Nobody."

Chances are, Oden will be the number one pick, but Pritchard is downplaying the whole situation. I like to compare this situation to the 2004 NBA Draft when the consensus top two players available were can't-miss franchise big man Dwight Howard and UConn superstar Emeka Okafor. Orlando had the top pick, and took Howard simply due to the fact that big men like Howard come around very rarely, and although it may take a few years for him to develop into a consistent offensive performer, he is well worth the wait. Charlotte then took Okafor with the #2 pick, and Okafor went on to win rookie of the year over Howard. However, as both players are preparing to enter their fourth season as professionals, Howard is widely considered the best Center in the Eastern Conference, and has led Orlando to the playoffs far earlier than anyone had imagined. Okafor, on the other hand, has not seen as sharp an improvement as Howard, and although he is still considered one of the premier big men in the league, the disparity between the two is enormous. I kind of expect the same scenario to begin to play out on a much larger scale tonight when Portland takes the can't-miss, franchise player Oden over the exciting Durant. Chances are, Durant will have a better rookie season than Oden. His numbers were just too huge in college, and the transition from high school to college to the professional ranks in just two seasons is a much more difficult adjustment for a Center than it is for a swing man like Durant. However, if both of these players develop into the superstars that we all expect them to, there is an excellent chance that Oden will win more championships. He's just that type of a cornerstone player that you would be crazy to pass up on.

What about the other Buckeyes? Oden is the only ex-Buckeye to have his draft spot secured for him tonight, as the range of possibilities for Conley, Cook, and Lewis is incredibly wide. Although Conley is a surefire lottery pick, he could go anywhere from 3-13, simply based on where teams have him on their boards compared to Acie Law, and if teams decide that their priorities are elsewhere. Conley's destination could be dependent on Kevin Garnett. If the Timberwolves are able to dish out the superstar in a three team trade involving Phoenix and either Boston or Atlanta, the Timberwolves could end up with multiple lottery picks. If that is the case, Conley should be a guaranteed Timberwolf, but if no trade happens tonight, he could go anywhere from Atlanta at 3 to Atlanta at 11.

Daeuqan Cook is a player that should go in the early 20s, but could be taken as high as the Lakers at 19. From what I understand, the Knicks loved him in his workouts with them, but if he were to go there, he would definitely be a project. Cook struggled with the limelight at Ohio State, and in New York, it would only be magnified. He definitely has all of the tools to make it at the next level, but it would probably be to his benefit if he did it in a smaller market than New York.

Ron Lewis will be the most anxious of the three remaining Buckeyes tonight. He won't be drafted in the first round, and he may not even be drafted at all. Apparently, the Bulls liked his defensive ability and athleticism in his workouts, but he is still no guarantee to be picked up by them at the 51st pick. Although he may not be a superstar in the league, his all around ability and more importantly, his will, will carry him far longer than any GM that passes on him expects.

Conley Overrated? In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Luke Winn assesses some of the overrated and underrated prospects in tonight's draft. He states that Acie Law is the underrated point guard, and that Conley is the overrated one. This strikes me as odd, considering every mock draft I've seen has Conley drafted healthily above Law. Winn's main point of argument here is that Law has a better three point shot than Conley. Although that might be true, Conley's impact as a floor general is something that could give him a Chris Paul-like rookie season, and eventually lead him to multiple All-Star games (On a side note, if Conley ends up out West, how cool would it be to see he and Oden play in NBA All-Star games together?). There are tons of shooters in this league. True point guards, however, are a premium. What was the deciding factor in San Antonio's sweep of Cleveland? The fact that San Antonio's point guard won series MVP while Cleveland was a disorganized mess offensively. Steve Nash is bound to win a title here eventually, and Chris Paul nearly led an absolutely awful supporting cast to the playoffs. Meanwhile, some of the featured "shooters" in the league such as Ray Allen, really had no chance from the beginning. I'll take Conley over Law 10 times out of 10.

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