Sam Smith: Draft chatter about to get going

Enhanced draft week activities essentially begin Monday with an increase in trade talk as most teams are pretty much done with personal workouts. There's considerable uncertainty about what several teams in the top 10 want to do, especially Memphis, Wash
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Draft chatter about to get going

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Ricky Rubio
Could Spain's Ricky Rubio be the next Chris Paul for some lucky team in the lottery?

(Garrett Elwood/Getty Images)

The NBA draft is Thursday and this one isn't very clear after the No. 1 pick. It's not exactly a one player draft, but at No. 2, you could choose among a half dozen players and likely do just as well. Like a few years ago when everyone pretty much agreed you had to take Andrew Bogut and Chris Paul at No. 4 became an MVP candidate. The mission for team executives generally is to find that guy beyond the obvious.

In analyzing the current crop of players with team executives, the general consensus is there is Blake Griffin, then 10 or 11 players in the next group, and then maybe five or six in the next mix of players somewhat below the top group, though players who could be contributors. Then toward the bottom of the first round you can get a future prospect or a player to bring off your bench as a specialist. Still, no one is quite sure where the next Chris Paul may be hiding.

Enhanced draft week activities essentially begin Monday with an increase in trade talk as most teams are pretty much done with personal workouts. There's considerable uncertainty about what several teams in the top 10 want to do, especially Memphis, Washington and Minnesota. The cut off after perhaps the first dozen is why there is talk among teams of trading into a spot there, though to get into the top five or six it would cost a veteran player. So the first round still is preliminary. But here's an early look at where teams are at the last weekend before the draft.

  1. Clippers. Blake Griffin, Oklahoma power forward. There's been no talk I've heard about it. But one executive I spoke with said if he were Griffin's agent he'd have the kid spend a season in Europe (a la Danny Ferry in 1989) rather than subject him to the certain selfishness he's likely to encounter trying to get time (and the ball) trying to play with free agent Marcus Camby, and Chris Kaman and Zach Randolph.
  2. Memphis. Tyreke Evans, Memphis shooting guard. The speculation has been owner Michael Heisley wants center Hasheem Thabeet while staff is enthused with Evans. Yes, they took O.J. Mayo last year, but Evans could be part of a dynamic backcourt as he plays point as well.
  3. Oklahoma City. James Harden, Arizona shooting guard. They're a best available type mentality. Some love Harden's talent like a Brandon Roy type who also can handle the ball. Plus, you see more big twos and threes with the ball at the end of games now (Kobe, LeBron, Hedo, Carmelo)
  4. Sacramento. Ricky Rubio, Spain point guard. Doesn't really matter whom they pick with a team going nowhere (on the court, anyway). So a flashy guard could sell some tickets.
  5. Washington. Jordan Hill, Arizona power forward. They're said most anxious to trade, but are demanding quality. They really don't have a physical four with Antawn Jamison, so he makes sense.
  6. Minnesota. Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut center. They've been saying they want a veteran for the pick. Figuring he has slipped, they'll likely take the big guy.
  7. Golden State. Stephen Curry, Davidson shooting guard. No one ever quite knows what Don Nelson wants. What, another two guard? But they would like to lose Monta Ellis' big contract and with someone like Curry they can include Ellis in a deal and maybe get Chris Bosh.
  8. New York. Gerald Henderson, Duke small forward. They need to try to get potential stars to make a case for LeBron James. Henderson could be one and it's not like they couldn't use a player at every position. Though the consensus is they'll take the best point guard.
  9. Toronto. DeMar DeRozen, USC shooting guard. He's one of those guys scouts say five years from now could be the best in the draft. A make or break guy. They need athleticism and wing talent and the best players left are point guards and they have a good one.
  10. Milwaukee. Jonny Flynn, Syracuse point guard. He could step right in and with high energy and enthusiasm could learn quickly under Scott Skiles. They'd love him to fall there.
  11. New Jersey. Terrence Williams, Louisville shooting guard. He's a versatile all around talent and they have to begin to get ready for life after Vince Carter. The rumors have been Tyler Hansbrough has one lottery team interested, and this is supposed to be the one. They could take a shot, though that's why they're said to have interest in trading down with teams like the Bulls so they can take Hansbrough at No. 16 and add another pick.
  12. Charlotte. James Johnson, Wake Forest small forward. You never know with Larry Brown, who was picking Brook Lopez last year until three minutes before their pick. Johnson isn't exactly his kind of guy because of defensive indifference. But the talent begins to drop here.
  13. Indiana. Brandon Jennings, L.A./Rome point guard. They don't trust T.J. Ford's health and are said to be leaning toward a point guard for the future.
  14. Phoenix. Earl Clark, Louisville small forward. Grant Hill can't go on forever and Clark has a Tim Thomas type game that might fit with their style.
  15. Detroit. B.J. Mullens, Ohio State center. They want front court help and seem to have given up on Amir Johnson. They'll add in free agency, so probably can support a project for a few years.
  16. Bulls. Jeff Teague, Wake Forest point guard. I'd assume they'd most want size, but the best big man seems to be Pitt's DeJuan Blair, who seems more future role player. Teague can be a legit scorer and dynamic guard and insurance to give the team flexibility in deals involving Ben Gordon and/or Kirk Hinrich.
  17. Philadelphia. Eric Maynor, VCU point guard. He's not exactly Andre Miller, but there's a lot of uncertainty with Miller's free agency and they should go for a guard. I thought a month ago Maynor would fit the Bulls, but I think Teague has a bigger upside.
  18. Minnesota. Jrue Holiday, UCLA point guard. They are all about a splash and this probably would count as one, though this should change this week as Holiday has been saying he has a promise in the lottery and there is speculation it is New York at No. 8. I'm not a big fan, though that shouldn't hurt him.
  19. Atlanta. Ty Lawson, North Carolina point guard. They figure to lose Mike Bibby. He's not a replacement yet but close to a ready point guard, albeit small.
  20. Utah. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina power forward. He'd be the ideal kind of Jazz player, hard working, committed and better than you think he is. He's unlikely to fall farther than here.
  21. New Orleans. Sam Young, Pitt shooting guard. They need shooters with Chris Paul and he's not great from three. But he's a tough all around guard and more mature for a team that needs players now.
  22. Dallas. DeJuan Blair, Pitt power forward. They have Brandon Bass, who is similar. But Blair has been higher regarded and a tough guy for a team generally not known for rugged play.
  23. Sacramento. Austin Daye, Gonzaga small forward. He's a talented, versatile guy who needs a lot of bulking up. Though he could be there by the time they are competitive.
  24. Portland. Darren Collison, UCLA point guard. They want to get a veteran point guard and are said to have eyes for Hinrich and Andre Miller. But they have some cap room and maybe can make a case-though seemingly not near enough money-for someone like Hedo Turkoglu.
  25. Oklahoma City. Chase Budinger, Arizona small forward. They're an eclectic personnel team. Budinger is a talent, if not exactly a tough one. Perhaps worth a shot for a higher ceiling.
  26. Bulls. Nick Calathes, Florida point guard. He's committed to Europe for a year, so it doesn't hurt 2010 free agency. Good size and good all around talent.
  27. Memphis. Wayne Ellington, North Carolina shooting guard. Solid guy who'll make some shots and work hard as a bench player.
  28. Minnesota. Omri Casspi, Israel small forward. Would be worth a shot if they keep a third first rounder as he could play a season back in Israel.
  29. Lakers. Rodrigue Beaubois, France point guard. They don't want to spend on a guaranteed contract. He's a point guard, so maybe they figure they'll hit like the Spurs did with Tony Parker.
  30. Cleveland. Taj Gibson, USC power forward. A good all around power forward who is somewhat underrated. Could be a nice rotation player.

--One of the so called guides—at least that fans look at-is the previous picks a team has at their spot in the draft. Below is a look at the No. 16 picks in the last 20 years. It's generally not a good guide because there can be an exception, like Karl Malone going No. 13. Still, this list of former No. 16 picks is not encouraging as only two were regular NBA starters, Ron Artest and Hedo Turkoglu. Neither has been an All Star. Chris Gatling made an All Star team and the 1990 World Championships team, but bounced around the NBA. Alan Henderson had a role players' starters position. Terry Mills also had a good run with the Pistons but was also more the sixth man type. So you're looking at a five percent chance of the player being an All Star and, at that, one time on a fluke, and maybe a 20 percent chance the player could start sometime in his career.

I also thought I'd take a look at the No. 16 pick by taking out the exceptions. After the list of former No. 16 picks I decided to take a look at the four picks around 16 to balance out the exceptions. So I looked at the Nos. 14 through 18 picks in the last 10 drafts.

Of the 50 players, there are 11 NBA starters. That's just above a 20 percent chance of getting a starter from that spot in the draft. There were two All Stars, Danny Granger No. 17 in 2005 and David West No. 18 in 2003. So, you had to be lucky—or really smar—to find the right guy. But looking at 50 picks and two All Stars, that suggests a four percent chance of getting an All Star at No. 16.

The No. 16 picks in the last 20 NBA drafts:

2008. Marreese Speights
2007. Nick Young
2006. Rodney Carney
2005. Joey Graham
2004. Kirk Snyder
2003. Troy Bell
2002. Jiri Welsch
2001. Kirk Haston
2000. Hidayet Turkoglu
1999. Ron Artest
1998. Bryce Drew
1997. Brevin Knight
1996. Tony Delk
1995. Alan Henderson
1994. Cliff Rozier
1993. Rex Walters
1992. Randy Woods
1991. Chris Gatling
1990. Terry Mills
1989. Dana Barros

The Nos. 14 through 18 picks in the last 10 drafts:


14. Anthony Randolph
15. Robin Lopez
16. Marreese Speights
17. Roy Hibbert
18. JaVale McGee


14. Al Thornton
15. Rodney Stuckey
16. Nick Young
17. Sean Williams
18. Marco Belinelli


14. Ronnie Brewer
15. Cedric Simmons
16. Rodney Carney
17. Shawne Williams
18. Oleksiy Pecherov


14. Rashard McCants
15. Antoine Wright
16. Joey Graham
17. Danny Granger
18. Gerald Green


14. Kris Humphries
15. Al Jefferson
16. Kirk Snyder
17. Josh Smith
18. J.R. Smith


14. Luke Ridnour
15. Reese Gaines
16. Troy Bell
17. Zarko Cabarkapa
18. David West


14. Freddie Jones
15. Bostjan Nachbar
16. Jiri Welsch
17. Juan Dixon
18. Curtis Borchardt


14. Troy Murphy
15. Steven Hunter
16. Kirk Haston
17. Michael Bradley
18. Jason Collins


14. Mateen Cleaves
15. Jason Collier
16. Hedo Turkoglu
17. Desmond Mason
18. Quentin Richardson


14. Williams Avery
15. Frederic Weis
16. Ron Artest
17. Cal Bowlder
18. James Posey

NBA News and Notes

-- Have you seen that guy around Chicago who looks like Tyrus Thomas and is wearing a cast on his wrist? It turns out it is Tyrus, who apparently has some issues with his wrist. Thomas was told to wear a cast to immobilize it for two or three weeks and no real problems are expected. But it was a surprise to me and one of my loyal correspondents, who sent me this e-mail from the Chicago Theatre last week: "I was at the Chicago Theater enjoying the TBS Very Funny Comedy Special feast (very funny, I heard). I ran into Tyrus Thomas on the way to my seat. He appeared to have a large cast on his wrist. Being the ever prying fan that I am, I asked if he was alright, though he was, not surprisingly, mum on the subject. Is Tyrus alright? I'm worried." The Bulls told me not to worry when I inquired, but didn't elaborate. Then I was directed by a reader to Tyrus' twitter account, where Tyrus offered these observations: "Another road block.... But hey, I'm going to turn it into another stepping stone. I ain't changing my destination. Just my route! Luke12:48?. ?" "As usual, Mission Accomplished for today. Now I'm at the damn doctor. I hate this place!!!?" My disappointment is I just learned Morse code.

-- No one I know has seen Derrick Rose lately, but it shouldn't be too long. Rose is scheduled for the USA Basketball camp in Las Vegas July 21 and Aug. 4-7 each day will be running a basketball camp at Joy of the Game Center at 158 S. Waukegan Rd. in Deerfield. Former Bull B.J. Armstrong will be a regular that week for the kids nine through 18. With a summer of controversy with the picture with the gang sign and the academic allegations at the U. of Memphis, Rose probably will have a lot of media attention as well. Not sure if they have to pay the $375 cost.

-- I'm guessing Pat Riley was a bit taken by surprise when Dwyane Wade told the Ft. Lauderdale Sentinel he believes the Heat should get serious about improving the roster now. This came a few days after Riley said it wasn't that urgent now as 2010 was the key. In other words, Riley and the Heat are on the clock, and you have to say that gives a team like the Bulls a chance to make a move and look even more appealing to Wade. Most assume Wade remains in Miami and just wants to keep the organization on its toes and not relaxing and thinking they have Wade in their pocket because they can offer much more money. "I'm there. Why not fast-track this thing anyway while I'm there and let's not give it a chance to get to 2010?" said Wade. "I'm in my prime right now, playing the best basketball I've ever played, and I feel as good as I ever felt. So let's not wait. Let's do it now if we can do it." I read that as Wade suggesting that perhaps the Heat look at a major deal now involving Michael Beasley instead of waiting another season. Miami has no first round draft pick.

-- So now I've heard Tyreke Evans, Hasheem Thabeet, Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, Jordan Hill and James Harden as possible No. 2 picks either by Memphis or from a trade. Going into draft week, the talk is DeJuan Blair, Chase Budinger and Ty Lawson have dropped, while Jrue Holiday, Tyler Hansbrough and Jonny Flynn have moved up. ... Louisville's Earl Clark blew off the Bulls Sunday with an "injury," which suggests he's gotten a promise higher than No. 16. ... I can't say I follow the international players that well, but here are the comparisons: Omri Casspi to Andres Nocioni, Victor Claver to Rashard Lewis, Jonas Jerebko to Linas Kleiza and Rodrigue Beaubois to Leandro Barbosa. Of course, I seem to recall Nikolz Tskitishvili was Kevin Garnett and Darko Milicic was David Robinson. ... Dan Bickley, the sports columnist for the Phoenix daily, wrote he expects this to be Steve Kerr's final draft as team general manager with one year left on his contract.


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