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NBA Draft Week - Shooting Guards

This is Part 2 in a 7-part NBA Draft Preview Series here at The On Deck Circle. While I apologize to our readers who aren’t NBA fans, Thursday is the NBA Draft, one of my favorite nights of the year, and as such our coverage will focus primarily on the draft this week (supplemented, of course, by a bunch of non-basketball stuff, too). The series will take a look at the draft, position by position, attempting to amalgamate information from ESPN and Draft Express and condense it into digestible profiles for the top players of the Class of 2008. Yesterday, I started with Point Guards , today will feature Shooting Guards and Small Forwards, tomorrow will examine Power Forwards and Centers, and Thursday will look at potential Toronto Raptor draft picks. The week-long coverage will commence with a live-blog of the actual draft on Thursday night, starting at 7PM. Up next, the Shooting Guards.

O.J. Mayo , USC
Measurements: 6’5”, 195lbs., Age 20
Draft Express Rank: 1
ESPN Rank: 1
Projection: Top 3
Synopsis: Originally thought to be a risk and mid-season was projected to go later in the lottery, a strong second half and improved reputation have Mayo looking at a chance to crack the Top 2. While unlikely, it wouldn’t be a terrible decision on the part of the Bulls or Heat. After all, the criticisms of Mayo are eerily similar to those of LeBron James. At this point, there’s probably very little to tell you that you don’t already know about Mayo – he has been hyped since elementary school for his big-time scoring ability, great body and athleticism, and off-the-charts potential. The knocks are largely personality-based, citing attitude and discipline problems as well as turnovers and poor decision making. Even so, he was extremely productive at USC, has a fantastic Basketball IQ, and most importantly, an NBA-ready game that could translate into immediate All Star consideration. You really can’t go wrong with Mayo, especially if you can surround him with a franchise geared to help with the intangible issues.
Interesting Fact: O.J. - Ovinton J’Anthony. Yup, drop that on your friends on draft night.

Eric Gordon , Indiana
Measurements: 6’3”, 215lbs., Age 19
Draft Express Rank: 2
ESPN Rank: 2
Projection: Top 7
Synopsis: There is a good deal of buzz surrounding Gordon right now, not necessarily because of improved stock, but because several of the picks in the 4-10 range are potential trade bait, making a potential suitor wildly uncertain. Whoever does jump on Gordon will be getting a potential combo-guard with great court intelligence, attitude, and NBA-readiness. His game at both ends of the floor is ready for the big time, with only his ball handling and court leadership in question. While his draft stock fell with a shaky end to the season, this is a talent many thought could have gone as high as #1 heading into the season. His instincts and approach to the game should make him an immediate impact player.
Interesting Fact: Gordon originally committed to Illinois and attempted to convince Derrick Rose to join him there, but changed his commitment early in his senior year of high school.

Chris Douglas-Roberts , Memphis
Measurements: 6’7”, 200lvbs., Age 21
Draft Express Rank: 3
ESPN Rank: 4
Projection: 20-27
Synopsis:CDR is a as NBA ready as any player in this draft, with impressive size and great athleticism. He has the height, wingspan, and first step to be effective at the professional level, and also has a strong scoring mentality and ability to get his shot off. His toughness and defensive potential have also impressed scouts. The main drawbacks to his game are that he may be a little thin at this point and he plays a very unorthodox style of basketball, making him tough to evaluate in pre-draft workouts. Still, a good team picking him up late in the first should be happy as you usually don’t find this kind of productivity this late.
Interesting Fact:Not really a fact, but he is from Detroit and would be a great fit on the Pistons. He also taps the tattoo on his arm, Psalms 37:1-3, three times before each free throw.

Courtney Lee, Western Kentucky
Measurements: 6’5”, 200lbs., Age 22
Draft Express Rank: 4
ESPN Rank: 5
Projection: 20-30
Synopsis:A bold statement, yes, but I’m going to flat out state that Courtney Lee will be the steal of this draft late in the first round. Playing for Western Kentucky hid him from the limelight a little bit, as does being a senior, but Lee is a player who can contribute immediately and has a high ceiling on both ends of the floor. While his rebounding and assist rates weren’t off the charts in college, his scoring was, and he shot the ball efficiently from everywhere on the floor. He has NBA 3-point range, solid fundamentals, and great perimeter defense, making him a fantastic role player candidate, especially if he slips to a contender.
Interesting Fact:When asked how he can help a team most nest season, Lee pointed to his character and personality, not his on-court game. Yup, he’s an intangibles guy alright.

And once again, we end early at a position. Not to be lazy, but there are few details that matter about potential mid-to-late second round picks, where the rest of the Shooting Guard class lies. Vanderbilt’s Shan Foster and New Mexico’s J.R. Giddens have a chance to go earlier in the second round, while Washington State’s Kyle Weaver may be the best of the remaining crop. On the low-end, Tennessee’s Chris Lofton, Nevada’s Marcelus Kemp, and Duke’s Demarcus Nelson are names you’ll probably recognize but won’t hear on draft night (but look for Lofton to make a splash in Summer League and training camps).

Check out yesterday’s piece on Point Guards, and check back later for Small Forwards, Wednesday for Power Forwards and Centers, and Thursday for Potential Raptor Picks and a Live-Blog of the Draft.

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