NBA Draft: Answer Man #2

    
June 24th, 2007

Adam Stanco answers your questions.. and the one’s you should be asking. If you have a question, send it to BasketballWriter@cs.com

Where would O.J. Mayo be drafted in this year’s draft?

(Submitted by: Todd Kapostasy of Perry, OH)

Mayo would have been battling with Mike Conley for the right to be the first point guard chosen.

In this theoretical scenario, what would really hurt Mayo is recent history.

No high school point guard has made a successful jump directly to the NBA and the only true point guard drafted out of high school was Sebastian Telfair. Telfair’s struggles on the court and with the law would have owners and GM’s thinking twice about taking a lead guard with no college experience. Especially considering some of Mayo’s off-the-court tribulations.

But Mayo is only a month younger than Conley and he has a better outside shot. Quite a few in the league question whether Mayo is a natural point guard, but he’s a born leader and seems to play better when the stakes are high (except for this year’s McDonald’s All-American game).

On draft day, the Hawks would think awfully hard about taking the 6-foot-5 Mayo, but if they passed on him, Conley would get selected ahead of him. Still, I can’t foresee a scenario where Mayo would fall out of the top ten.

You can expect Mayo and Memphis recruit Derrick Rose to have a similar battle for the honor next year.

What do you think the Celtics will do with the #5 pick? Will they be drafting or trading with it, and if so for which player(s)?

(Submitted by: Tim Hines of Waltham, MA)

Since this lottery is stocked with so many desirable prospects, the Celtics – and anyone else with picks No. 3 through No. 10 – would be foolish not to explore trade options.

However, if they keep the pick, a source inside the Celtics organization says the team is thinking seriously considering drafting Joakim Noah.

The pick makes sense. Noah’s energy and charm would be infectious for a team needing a big chemistry boost. Plus, he would team with Al Jefferson to form an imposing frontline that the franchise could build around.

But considering that the C’s lost any hope of snatching Greg Oden and Kevin Durant during the lottery and certainly won’t have Kevin Garnett on the roster either, there’s really no pick that would really thrill Boston fans. Some Celtic faithful are pining for Jeff Green or Corey Brewer, but the arrival of another wing player would stunt the growth of promising youngster Gerald Green.

Do you think a player like Roy Hibbert, who was more than likely going to be a lottery pick, truly has anything to gain by coming back to school for another season?

(Submitted by: Kenny Williams of Landover, MD)

Under the current early entry rules, Roy Hibbert is the first player to declare for the draft, find out that he is almost certainly a lottery pick, and then pull out prior to the deadline.

So you’d really have to ask him. There really is no precedence set for this situation.

But each situation is unique and Hibbert chose the path less traveled.

The 7-footer’s return, plus the addition of fabulous freshmen Austin Freeman and Chris Wright, will have Georgetown vying for their first national title since 1984.

And, judging by his recent history, Hibbert’s decision will certainly benefit him individually as a player. His improvement over the last three seasons has been nothing short of monumental and another season under John Thompson III will only enhance his ever-developing skill-set.

The earliest he probably could’ve been drafted this year is No. 4 by the Grizzlies, yet it is more likely that he would’ve gone a little later in the lottery. It would be hard to imagine him slipping past the Kings at No. 10.

Next year’s draft class is much weaker and, without any franchise centers crowding the lottery, he should be taken somewhere in the top five.

However, the move is really interesting financially. While he could jump up a few slots by going back to school, his rookie deal will also kick in one year later. So even though he might be gaining money on his first contract, his big NBA payday will be delayed.

After Kevin Durant, who is the going to be the best NBA small forward… Jeff Green, Julian Wright, Al Thornton, or Thaddeus Young?

(Submitted by: Chris Kopas of Weston, CT)

This is a difficult question to answer because each of the other prospects has serious question marks. In the end, it will come down to how hard each one works to improve his weaknesses.

What are those weaknesses? Funny you should ask…

Green doesn’t play with a burning intensity all the time. He disappears for stretches of games and doesn’t dominate offensively like a go-to-guy should. But those who have seen him at Georgetown say his seemingly lackadaisical play is just a result of the system and that he will be a standout at the next level.

As talented as Wright is, he can’t hit anything outside of the paint. His intangibles will keep him in an NBA rotation, but he won’t live up to his star potential until he develops a consistent jumper.

Thornton could be the guy. He destroyed some serious competition last season, which is always a great indicator of how college studs will perform at the next level. He posted 29 points and 12 rebounds against UNC, 28 points and 9 rebounds against Florida, and 30 points and 16 rebounds at Virginia.

However, Thornton also turns the ball over far too much (2.5 tpg, compared to 0.7 apg) to be counted on as a competent small forward in the pro’s. His carelessness with the basketball will have to be remedied very soon.

Young has actually measured out smaller than he appeared to be at Georgia Tech and, if he’s going to play the wing at the next level, he’ll need to improve his ball-handling. He could be very good in a few years, but he will probably be the last player on this list to get playing time in the pros.

Overall, I expect Green to make the most immediate impact, Thornton to put up some fine numbers within a year or two, and Young – if he puts the work in – to come out on top when all is said and done.

Adam Stanco answers your questions.. and the one’s you should be asking. If you have a question, send it to BasketballWriter@cs.com