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John Schuhmann

Yi Jianlian was the sixth pick of the 2007 Draft, but has yet to show consistent play.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Some picks from '07 Draft running out of time to develop

By John Schuhmann,
Posted Jul 30 2009 4:00PM

Led by Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, the draft class of 2007 was going to make a big impact on the NBA. But two years later, we're still waiting on several lottery picks to show us something in the league.

Durant, of course, is doing just fine and looks ready to lead the league in scoring. Others like Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Thaddeus Young, Carl Landry, Aaron Brooks and Glen Davis have shined in the postseason spotlight and given us a taste of what they can be.

But five of the top eight picks in 2007 have had disappointing starts to their careers, and it's time to wonder if they'll ever turn out. If these guys can show serious progress this season, their teams could surpass expectations. If they can't, then it may be time to label them as disappointments.

Below are the five 2007 Lottery picks who need most to make the leap.

Greg Oden, C, Portland (No. 1)

Oden is finally getting to enjoy a healthy summer and a chance to work on his game. But those who saw him at USA Basketball mini-camp last week realized that he's still got a long way to go, especially on the offensive end of the floor. Meanwhile, Durant, the guy the Blazers passed on to select Oden, is already two steps ahead.

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The question is: Is it just a matter of time (and reps in the practice gym) before Oden sharpens his skills, or does he just not have the dexterity and mobility to be more than a good interior defender? Every team needs someone to patrol the paint, but Oden was projected to be a franchise center, not a role player. Plus, the Blazers already have a steady defensive center in Joel Pryzbilla.

As long as Oden stays healthy, this should when we'll find out what his ceiling truly is.

Mike Conley, PG, Memphis (No. 4)

Oden's high school and college teammate was in a point guard log jam before the Grizzlies traded Javaris Crittenton (to Washington) and Kyle Lowry (to Houston) this year. Before the Lowry trade, though, Conley was handed the starting job by new coach Lionel Hollins.

As the starter for the last 43 games of the season, Conley shot the ball well and played with more confidence, though he averaged just 5.5 assists per game in that span. The Grizzlies hope he can build on that second half and clearly gave him a vote of confidence by drafting Hasheem Thabeet with the No. 2 overall pick instead of the many point guards available.

The only question is: Why is O.J. Mayo trying to be a point guard too?

Yi Jianlian, PF, New Jersey (No. 6)

It is often inferred that the Bucks drafted Yi and the Nets traded for him more for what he can do for the marketing department than for the basketball team. The main question is: Does have the tools to be an impact player in this league?

There are seven-footers that can shoot and seven-footers that are athletic. But you don't find many that possess both qualities. Still, Yi needs to add confidence to his great shooting form and aggressiveness to his athleticism. Recent photos and video of him look promising though, as he seems to have added some muscle to his frame this summer.

A personality makeover is a lot to ask, but the Nets are quietly building a talented young core and will give Yi every opportunity to build that confidence.

Corey Brewer, SF, Minnesota (No. 7)

Many were high on the 2007 Final Four MVP before the draft. He was raw offensively, but long, quick and smooth, and thought to be the next great defensive stopper in the NBA.

But Brewer's rookie season was quite disappointing. He shot just 37 percent from the field and didn't have a clear role in the rotation, even though the Timberwolves had nothing to play for but their future. He began last season as the starting small forward, but lost his job by Nov. 16 and tore his ACL against Denver on Nov. 29.

Brewer returned to action in the Summer League earlier this month, and with the trade of Mike Miller to Washington, there's a spot in the starting lineup for him again. The Wolves clearly have young talent at the point and on the frontline, but Brewer needs to prove he can be one of their wings of the future.

Brandan Wright, PF, Golden State (No. 8)

It wasn't too hard to see this coming. As a freshman with length and athleticism, but one who was inconsistent and not nearly the best player on his college team, Wright was drafted for potential. Two years later, it has yet to be realized. Worse yet, we've seen the same things at Golden State that we saw at North Carolina.

Injuries were an issue last season, but so were inconsistency and the whims of Warriors coach Don Nelson. Of course, the Warriors also have a slew of players that do the same things that Wright can do, only better -- such as rising second-year forward Anthony Randolph.

It's very possible that the Warriors won't pick up Wright's fourth-year option by Oct. 31, making him an unrestricted free agent next summer. A change of scenery might not be a bad solution for the forward who doesn't turn 22 for another two months.

If you have a question or comment for's John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail. You can also follow him on twitter.

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