Ford: Draft Buzz (6/1)

Ford: Draft Buzz (6/1)

Postby JSM on Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:08 pm

Chad Ford of ESPN wrote:• With draft day now less than a month away, a number of teams are looking to either get in the draft or grab another first-round pick.

The Knicks are trying to use their considerable wealth (a team can pay up to $3 million for a pick) to search for a seller. They have the eighth pick in the draft, but would like another pick. With the team trying to manage its cap, draft picks are a cheap source of labor. And with the economy turning sour for NBA teams, the Knicks might seize the opportunity.

The Rockets, who don't have a pick in the first round, are tying to get one.

The Pacers, who are picking 13th, also wouldn't mind one more pick and shouldn't have a hard time finding a taker. A number of teams don't seem too enthralled with this year's talent and are willing to sell for the right price. The Wizards have a high lottery pick they'd consider moving.

The Pistons at No. 15, the Hornets at No. 21 and the Blazers at No. 24 are also all willing to deal. And a few teams with multiple first-round picks -- the Thunder, Grizzlies and Bulls -- might be willing to sell, too.

• Gonzaga's Austin Daye continued to generate buzz -- both good and bad -- on the last day of the combine. He measured taller and longer than virtually any small forward prospect in the history of the draft. However, he also measured as the skinniest. Kevin Durant clocked in at 215 pounds at the combine two years ago. Daye? 191 pounds.

Daye's going to be one of the more difficult players to project. He has the skill set and height of a lottery pick, but his lack of strength and questionable motor are being heavily taken into account.

A number of teams in the late lottery to mid-first round -- including the Bobcats, Pacers, Suns and Pistons -- are all giving him a hard look right now.

• Daye's main competition might be Louisville's Earl Clark, who was also very impressive in drills. He measured out at a legit 6-foot-10 in shoes, has a huge 7-foot-2½ wingspan and weighs nearly 40 pounds more than Daye.

He definitely has the size to play the 4 in the NBA, and that could go a long way toward securing him a pick in the lottery.

While Clark isn't the shooter that Daye is, he is a better rebounder and athlete, and he's getting a pretty strong endorsement from his head coach Rick Pitino, who has told a number of GMs that Clark is a good kid and has limitless potential. He's just a follower. If he's in the right situation with good influences around him, he could be a player in the mold of Lamar Odom.

But if he's in the wrong situation with a bad mentor, it could spell disaster.

The Nets are giving Clark a long look at No. 11. The Bobcats and Suns are, too. I doubt he slips past the Pistons at No. 15.

• Another player who really seems to have helped himself at the combine was UNC's Tyler Hansbrough. He has been knocked for being too short to play in the NBA, but he measured over 6-8 in socks, had a solid 6-foot-11 wingspan and a standing reach that was an inch taller than Blake Griffin's. While Hansbrough isn't the explosive athlete that Griffin is, he isn't terrible, either.

I hear the Bulls are looking at him as high as No. 16.

• Ohio State's B.J. Mullens continued to impress in drills, with a number of GMs comparing him to last year's second-round slider DeAndre Jordan.

Jordan, like Mullens, began the year as a projected top 10 pick, but his lack of playing time combined with criticism from his head coach caused his draft stock to plummet all the way into the second round on draft night.

Still, Jordan had a very solid rookie season with the Clippers, who believe he could be a Tyson Chandler-esque player in the league.

Mullens' so-so play, along with some questions about his background and character, seem to be having the same effect on his draft stock. But a number of teams are now double-checking to make sure they don't let someone with his talent slip through their fingers. In a draft devoid of bigs, it's hard to imagine that Mullens, who stands 7-1 and is a very good athlete, slips as hard as Jordan did. However, his stock is very much up in the air.

"You watch him in the combine and it's pretty easy to fall in love," one GM said. "There are a lot of raw tools there to work with. But in the interview you get the sense that it's going to be a project. I think he's a good kid, but he's got issues to work through."

Mullens got pretty mixed reviews from his interview process, with one GM saying "He's better than you think," and another one saying "This kid doesn't get it, and I don't think he's going to get it."

• Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair wowed a lot of people with his improved physique on the first day of camp. But one GM scolded Blair in the interviews for the way he was jogging up and down the floor the first day.

"It does you no good to lose all that weight and still play like you're fat," the GM told Blair.

Blair took the constructive criticism to heart and raced like a guard through the second day of workouts.

• Speaking of bigs, Arizona State's Jeff Pendergraph received quite a bit of love from GMs. He measured out at a solid 6-10 and 240 pounds and showed a solid offensive game in the drills.

A number of teams I spoke with said they thought he was a lock for the first round. He hasn't been in our first two mock drafts, but that might change Tuesday.

• USC's Taj Gibson also got some buzz from the camp. Not only did he show a pretty polished inside-outside game, he had terrific measurements -- he was 6-10 in shoes and had a whopping 7-foot-4 wingspan and an impressive 9-foot-1 standing reach. With so few quality bigs in the draft, it's not impossible that Gibson finds his way into the first round as well.

• Finally, Miami's Jack McClinton wants a do-over in the measurements. He measured under 6 feet in socks and just a little under 6-1 in shoes, which were essentially the same measurements as Syracuse's Jonny Flynn. However, McClinton insisted to me that he's an inch taller than Flynn.

I think he's right. He went up to Flynn, they stood back-to-back and McClinton definitely looked taller. Either McClinton hunched in the measurement or Flynn stood on his tippy-toes.
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JSM
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