The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

Early Drafting - The NBA’s Top 10 Picks in 08

Posted by Blake Murphy on February 14, 2008

This article has been submitted by David Andrew Power.

What do the ten worst teams in the NBA need in this year’s NBA draft? This year’s draft class is exceptional, at least on paper. With freshmen phenoms Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley, this draft has the potential to go down as one of the deepest drafts in the history of the NBA. Now to take a look at the teams and which players will help them back into the upper echelon of the NBA…

Miami Heat (9-40)
Derrick Rose, Memphis
14.1 PPG/ 4.3 APG/ 4.3 RPG
HT 6-3 WT 190 lbs
NBA Position: PG

If the Miami Heat end up having the first selection in the upcoming NBA Draft, they would surely draft Derrick Rose. Rose has many strengths, one being his ability to be a lock down defender. He is a freak athlete who uses his body extremely well to lock down opposing players and has very quick hands and keeps his body low to the ground making it almost impossible to get around him. Another talent he has is that he is a tall PG at 6-3 but what is more impressive is the fact that he is probably the quickest player in NCAA basketball. Since coming to Memphis at the beginning of the year Rose has become a better floor general, he runs that offense and as we all know, they are perfect on the season at 23-0. Rose is a perfect fit on the Miami Heat as Dwayne Wade can move over to his natural spot at SG (hopefully that cuts his turnovers down) and newly acquired Shawn Marion can play at his regular position, Small Forward. Unfortunately the Heat front court will still have problems. Udonis Haslem is a good power forward but they will be very bare at centre, but this is a starting point and Coach Riley needs somewhere to start, so why not with the best point guard to be eligible to be drafted since Chris Paul and Deron Williams in 2005? Think of Gary Payton, a 9 time NBA all star, and now give him the athletic ability of Kobe Bryant. Well that is what you put together to get Derrick Rose. NBA, watch out, “the glove” is back.
NBA Comparison: Dwayne Wade, Gary Payton

Minnesota Timberwolves (10-39)
Michael Beasley, Kansas St.
25.2 PPG/ 12.3 RPG/ .562 FG%
HT: 6-9 WT: 235 lbs
NBA Position: SF/PF

Although Minnesota has the second worst record in the NBA, they are not in an awful position for the future. With the talent of Al Jefferson, (20.7 PPG, 11.9 RPG) they have something to work around. What they need is a true number one scorer. Michael Beasley, a 6-9, 235 lbs. freshman from Kansas State, is the obvious choice for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is averaging 25.3 PPG and 12.7 RPG, so not only would Minnesota get a player who can score, but can also get on the boards. It will be a smooth transition from NCAA to the NBA for Beasley because whenever I have had a chance to watch his games, he lets the game come to him, which is not something you can usually say about freshmen. Rarely does he force up shots or try to do too much on the offensive end. He has a good post up game and he crashes the offensive boards hard, averaging 4.5 ORPG. Additionally, he has a great mid range game and a good fade away jumper within 10 feet. He is almost impossible to defend at the college level as he takes the big men away from the rim and will dominate smaller opponents by taking them to the rim and rebounding everything in sight. The only issue he may have in the NBA is defending; he can be lazy at times on defense and gets lost on screens. He has a tough time defending guards, which he will be called upon to do in certain situations, as he is a probable small forward in the NBA.
NBA comparison – Carmelo Anthony

Seattle Super Sonics (13-37)
Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
20.0 PPG/ 4.4 APG/ 2.7 RPG
HT: 6-3 WT: 193 lbs
NBA Position: PG

Arizona has produced some solid NBA guards including Gilbert Arenas, Damon Stoudamire, Steve Kerr, Jason Terry, and Mike Bibby, and the next inline is diaper dandy Jerryd Bayless. Bayless is the top scorer on a team where he is the second option as well because he plays with one of the best offensive players in the country in Chase Buddinger (more on him later). Bayless can create his own shot with his athleticism, and if you combine that with his supposed 41 inch vertical leap you have an unstoppable jump shot and ability to finish above the rim. He has the ability and has shown flashes of being a true point (he had two games this year with 9 assists) but he is a scoring guard and should stay that way. Jerryd is an above average defender, but could do well to be as intense on the defensive end as he is on the offensive end. Being a point guard, he will have to become more of a leader, as the point guard is known to be the coach on the floor and he does not stand out yet as a true leader. He will help the Super Sonics with his scoring punch, as the pressure put on Kevin Durant will be lessened, thus letting Bayless set him up for open jumpers all day. If Durant and Bayless can get some good chemistry together, they will form a deadly one-two scoring punch and will then become a more competitive team in the NBA.
NBA comparison – Gilbert Arenas

Memphis Grizzlies (13-37)
Eric Gordon, Indiana
21.3 PPG/ 2.5 APG/ .481 FG%)
HT: 6-4 WT: 220 lbs
NBA Position: SG/PG

The Memphis Grizzlies are another team at the bottom of the league but seem to be on the right track. They have some great young talent in Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, Hakim Warrick, and even Darko Milicic. I’ll be straight with this, the Grizzlies basically gave up Gasol for nothing since the only player with any potential in the trade is Javaris Crittenton, who has not shown anything at the NBA level yet. They do still have Mike Miller but I expect him to be gone before the trade deadline as well. They have been sporting a line up of Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, Mike Miller, Pau Gasol, and Darko Milicic, and it needs a shake up. This is where Eric Gordon comes into play, if you have happened to watch any Indiana games this year, you would have seen that Gordon has limitless range and good scoring instincts. He is the type of player that will make many “rookie” mistakes but will also wow you with his ability to create space for his own game and just flat out score from anywhere on the floor. Gordon is a fantastic scorer as I have mentioned, and his game translates well to the NBA. He has no fear and will put up shots from everywhere, as well as having the ability to mix it up and take it inside. He gets to the line an average of 7.5 times per game which will help to make him a bigger scoring threat in the NBA. Like I said about Seattle, giving them a legit one two punch, this is the same situation here as Gordon and Gay will be the same, having two threats to put up 30 on any given night. Expect them to be in the basement of the league for another year or so, but with a couple of good drafts or trades they could be back to good times when the Grizzlies were winning close to 50 games a year (2003-2006).
NBA comparison – Ben Gordon

New York Knicks (15-36)
Nicolas Batum, France
8.3 PPG in Euroleague
HT: 6-8 WT: 210 lbs
NBA Position: SG/SF

The Knicks are in need of a change, they need to head in another direction and dismantle what they have right now. One way of accomplishing that is to grab the frenchy Nicolas Batum in this year’s NBA Draft. At 6-8, 210 lbs he is very long with a massive wingspan and has good skills in all departments. On his pro team Le Mans he does not get as much run because of his age and the European game is all about how long you have been there and the whole respect factor of the elder players getting the minutes. This will always be the case with young European players entering the draft-it will always be a gamble. The fact is that international scouts don’t get the chance to see these young kids perform often and when they do its in international U18 or U20 tournaments where the ability of the opposition may be skewed. But from what has been reported on Batum, he has the ability to take over games and is a clutch player, making shots at the end of the game and demanding to have the ball in his hands. He could possibly have the best career out of this draft class as he has a great NBA body as well as the skills. The way he plays the game translates very well to the NBA as well, and he should see minutes right away, I’m not ready to put the franchise tag on him for New York yet, but if they happen to pick him up I believe he will be a breath of fresh air to the Knicks faithful because he will get after it and will give them 100% every time he touches the floor. Once again reiterating that the Knicks need to clean house, all the way up through management and let a new era begin, starting with Batum. In most cases the Knicks would select OJ Mayo with this pick, but as everyone knows in Knickerbockers-land the bad attitude flows a plenty and bringing in OJ would probably only fuel the fire.
NBA comparison – Rudy Gay

Los Angeles Clippers (16-32)
OJ Mayo, USC
20.2 PPG/ 3.0 APG/ 4.4 RPG
HT: 6-4 WT: 210 lbs
NBA Position: SG/PG

With the fifth selection in the NBA draft, the Clippers select OJ Mayo, the savior. This kid’s draft stock has been hit mostly because of his attitude and his inability to get it done like he did in high school at the college level. I’m letting everyone know, do not worry about this, whatever team OJ goes to is destined for glory. This kid has been prepared for the NBA since he was 14; he has been ready for the NBA for a while and is going to be a super star in the league. This kid has another level-wait until the NCAA tournament, because he will turn it up. He has incredible elevation on his jump shot, can score at will and is a pretty solid on the ball defender. He gets lost on defense though in the team game, he gets beat on back door cuts often and does not get over on help defence as much as he could. Those are easy things to adjust for, and will just take practice. This is a very bold prediction but Mayo is the closest thing to Kobe Bryant we’ve seen and he will be a winner in the NBA. Pairing him with the likes of Chris Kaman (top 5 centre) will give the LA Clippers a Kobe/Bynum type combination. This pick also makes sense because it keeps OJ in LA where he has grown up but he will have to learn to be the leader of the team in all aspects: verbally, the way he plays, and this will be the hardest, his off the court leadership. The only thing keeping him from becoming the “next big thing” is he has to make sure to keep away from the white women, just ask the other OJ.
NBA comparison – Kobe Bryant

Charlotte Bobcats (18-33)
Danilo Gallinari, Italy
14.9 PPG Euroleague
HT: 6-9 WT: 210
NBA Position: SF

Charlotte is a team I could see in the playoffs in the near future, as they are set at point guard with Felton and at small forward with Wallace, plus they have an upper tier centre in Okafor. I have a list of 5 players who could be the best out of this draft: Mayo, Beasley, Rose, Batum, and finally, Gallinari. Like I stated before, statistics are varied for young talent in the Euroleague because they don’t often get the minutes or shots to show NBA-caliber talent. With Gallinari it is different, as he plays lots and is spoken of as his teams best player. He has a great NBA jumper and can basically score any way you like. The only problem with him is he had a big growth spurt basically a year ago and he has become lanky and less coordinated. That will come with time, but the growth spurt also put him in the hospital and took him out of basketball for a while because the doctors were worried about his health. All signs seem normal now but that would make any NBA team weary about his longevity. He has been known to force the issue on offense which is uncommon for most European players, but on the other hand that can be looked at as a positive because he believes he is the best player on the floor always. He is a comparable player to Hedo Turkoglu and from what I have heard and seen, that looks to be the very worst he could end up being. Charlotte will have to move Wallace to the power forward spot to make room for Gallinari but in all it will make them a very high powered offense, with Gallinari being the best shooter on the team the first time he steps on the court. It is becoming commonplace now to hear about tall, sweet-stroking Italian players coming to the NBA.
NBA comparison – Hedo Turkoglu

Milwaukee Bucks (19-32)
Chase Buddinger, Arizona
17.2 PPG/ 2.7 APG/ 5.3 RPG
HT: 6-7 WT: 215 lbs
NBA Position: SG/SF

Is Michael Redd the answer? Are the Bucks in need of a new outlook? The answer to Michael Redd being the answer is no, and a new outlook is definitely needed. The Bucks have two things right now, a quality centre in Andrew Bogut (he can pass and hit the boards hard) and a young rising rookie in Yi Jianlian. Yi has the potential to be a star in the NBA with a higher ceiling than his Chinese counterpart Yao Ming. Adding Chase Buddinger as a shooting guard with a great offensive arsenal and a 6-7 frame would help to remould the Bucks. He has a great offensive game all around, and his only weakness on offence is that he does not use his great leaping ability to get to the rim as much as he should, instead settling for his pull up jumper. His defensive game is a whole different story, as he has flaws in pretty much every category: he does not use his lateral quickness well to guard other shooting guards or small forwards, and for a 6-7 player he does not crash the boards nearly as much as he should. Another problem with Buddinger is that Arizona is not winning, possibly having one of the best starting lineups in all of college ball. Being 15-7 is not quite adequate and raises questions about Chase. For the past two seasons Arizona has sported one of the nastiest starting lineups in the country and last year, as we know, they were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA’s, so there is the possibility to turn that around this year which would greatly help Chase’s draft stock. My point about the team not doing as well as they should is that he is not a proven winner, and any player brought into the NBA that can’t win is going to have problems. But take aside all of that and focus on his offensive game-he has one of the best in all of college and with his size and athleticism he should be able to convert his game to the NBA and make a great name for himself. Watch for Buddinger in the dunk contest in the future, because the kid has ups (he is a former U.S.A. High School Volleyball player of the year).
NBA Comparison – Dirk Nowitzki

Chicago Bulls (20-30)
Hasheem Thabeet, UConn
11.2 PPG/ 7.5 RPG/ 4.0 BPG
HT: 7-3 WT: 263 lbs
NBA Position: C

7-3, 265 lbs. If that doesn’t sound scary to opposing players coming in the paint, I don’t know what does. He is the best defensive player in the NCAA since Emeka Okafor, and what is very odd about Thabeet is that in his sophomore season he is posting numbers quite close to what Okafor (former Husky and Player of the Year,) did in his sophomore season. That shows one thing at least, that coach Calhouln can find African giants that can be developed into great college players. Averaging 4.0 blocks per game this year, opposing players have definitely been changing their own shots to keep them from ending up in the third row. One thing that is usually noticeable about shot blockers is that they can get into foul trouble easily because they want to block every shot, but this is not the case with Thabeet as he rarely leaves his feet before the offensive player does. Thabeet has only played 5 years of organized basketball at this point, so he is still very raw. However, you cannot teach height and what has been noted by many coaches is that Thabeet has never picked up any bad habits. He shoots at a 69% clip from the free throw line, which is decent for a center in college who is still learning the game. The Bulls need a centre since Ben Wallace seems to be moving towards the end of his career, and if Thabeet were to get coaching from any center in the league, Ben Wallace would be a great choice since they are both alike in their offensive games and have a similar mind frame on defense. I have one problem with Thabeet-if he were to stay in school for one more year he would have the possibility of being a top 3 pick in next year’s NBA draft, plus that one more year would benefit him more than any person in the draft this year. He will probably decide to leave because he feels he needs to support his family as soon as possible.
NBA Comparison: Dikembe Mutombo

Philadelphia 76ers (21-30)
Kevin Love, UCLA
17.5 PPG/ 11.1 RPG/ .608 FG%
HT: 6-9 WT: 260 lbs
NBA Position: PF/SF

Kevin Love from UCLA is the most developed post player in the NCAA, as he has a post game ready for the NBA already. This is also incredible because he is only a freshman. At 6-9 he is an under sized power forward but makes up for it with his beautiful post play. He is the best player on one of the best college teams in the NCAA, averaging 17.7 PPG and 11.1 RPG. Something that people don’t realize about his game is his ability to outlet the ball. He can be frequently found ripping down a rebound and outletting the ball all the way down the court for lay-ups. It is a forgotten art in the NBA, and he is incredible at it. This creates easy baskets for teammates without even having to leave the paint. His only fault may be his speed, as he has great quickness and athletic ability but his court speed is still in doubt. Kevin Love and Samuel Dalembert would make a solid NBA front court, and it would be hard to grab any offensive rebounds with those two working the paint.
NBA Comparison Chris Kaman

This draft could be very deep. I think there is a possibility of 4-6 superstars coming from this draft class, but aside from that I also believe there are a lot of guys who could flourish as a second or third option on many NBA teams. For anyone who watches NCAA ball or pays attention to drafting, you will note that there are some players who could have been on this list that I don’t believe will end up declaring for the draft yet. Those players are: DeAndre Jordan, Austin Daye, James Harden and Brook Lopez.

All of these players would benefit from staying at school for another year. Brook Lopez may be ready for the NBA but he has a legitimate shot at an NCAA title next year with him and his Brother Robin patrolling the paint at Stanford (both Robin and Brook are 7 footers).

This article has been submitted by David Andrew Power.

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