Q&A: Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress on the 2007 NBA Draft Class

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has already provided us with his sharp insights and projections for the Warriors trio of rookies from the 2007 NBA Draft, Brandan Wright, Marco Belinelli, and Stephane Lasme. Now it's time for a few of his thoughts on the much-hyped 2007 NBA Draft Class .

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Will anyone from the 2k7 NBA Draft class not in this picture blow up the spot?
(Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)

That answer, the obligatory Oden vs Durant question/ answer, and more after the jump!

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Golden State of Mind: After winning the 2007 lottery, the Portland Trailblazers found themselves in the envious position of having to decide between Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. They of course elected for the 7 footer who will sadly miss this upcoming season recovering from microfracture surgery on his knee. Did the Blazers make a horrific mistake of Sam Bowie proportions or will Oden still prove to be the better man for them in the long run despite his injury history?

Jonathan Givony (DraftExpress): Obviously that all depends on how Oden recovers from the knee injury. I don't think we have enough data at this point to make that kind of judgment, unless you can predict the future, which I can't. Even if we find out that Oden will never be the same player, I don't think the Blazers deserve all that much blame, since no one (except maybe a petty GMs leaking false information to outlets like Yahoo!) could have predicted this happening before the draft. We're on the record several times saying that we thought Durant was the better NBA prospect and should have went #1 (obviously not a very popular sentiment at the time), but until (if?) Oden comes back 100%, we're not going to know if we were right or not. I know I'd much rather see Oden come back strong and prove us wrong, then be right because of happenstance.


Golden State of Mind:
Occasionally, we see players in the 2nd round step in and become high impact players such as Gilbert Arenas and Carlos Boozer have done. First, are there any players in the 2nd round of the 2007 NBA draft class that you think will be able to duplicate what Arenas or Boozer have done? And second, with all the scouting and increase in dollars spent on analyzing players, how do these kinds of guys fall through the cracks from the 1st round?

Jonathan Givony (DraftExpress): Man, no softball questions on this blog, huh...

To answer your first question, I think the 2^nd round of the 2007 draft will be looked back on as being pretty weak. So no, I don't see any all-stars coming out of there. Solid guys like Fesenko, Taurean Green, Fazekas, Dominic McGuire, Marc Gasol yes...Max players, no.

Even though I might not have agreed with them (and I really don't know, because we weren't around for the 02 and 03 drafts and thus didn't study them), there were reasons why Gilbert Arenas and Carlos Boozer fell to the 2^nd round, at least from what I've been told. They played for extremely high profile college teams in Arizona and Duke, so they didn't slip because they weren't scouted.

In Arenas' case, I think it was a combination of him declaring for the draft too early (he was a sophomore), coupled with the fact that he hadn't really shown any point guard skills at that point. He was projected unanimously as a shooting guard, back when being labeled as a combo guard was basically a kiss of death. And they called him worse than that-- an undersized SG. He then went to the Chicago pre-draft camp and laid an egg, causing him to surprisingly fall to the second round.

I don't know this for sure, but I can imagine that if he interviewed with teams anywhere near the way he comes off today (D.C. Sports Bog represent!), they could have totally taken him the wrong way, to say the very least. But the moral of the story here is; players need to know how to gauge their stock before they decide to forfeit their eligibility by declaring for the draft. We talk about this all the time on DX. It worked out great for Arenas (and for the sake of the league and internet dorks like us, thank god...), but there are no guarantees for kids that things will always turn out that well.

As far as Boozer goes...again, this is another great example of how much the league has changed over the past five years, and how important timing is in the draft process. It used to be a curse to be labeled as an undersized college center with limited athletic ability and no face-up game, but guys like Boozer have bucked that trend and made us think twice. His numbers in college didn't lie (18 points, 9 rebounds, 67%! FG) I suppose. The thing is, Boozer didn't really do himself any favors with the way he marketed himself. He was a lot heavier in college (somewhere around 6-8, but 280 pounds) than he is today, leaving plenty of scouts even more skeptical than they already were about his ability to stay in shape (kinda like with Paul Millsap, a similar slider). Like Arenas, he also probably left school a year early (this time as a junior).

By the way, I'm not making excuses for the GMs that passed on these guys (they are paid millions to know better), I'm just pointing out why they slipped and what we can learn from them.


Golden State of Mind:
Which 3 players in the 2007 draft class do you think will have the most immediate impact and why? Which undrafted players do you think will surprise people when it's all said and done?

Jonathan Givony (DraftExpress): Hmmm, I have a hunch that this kid Durant might end up being pretty good. Why? I dunno, it's just a hunch. For my next two I would take Al Horford and Joakim Noah. Both are in great spots to make an impact, and they have the experience and maturity to do so already as rookies.

Undrafted guys...if I had to throw some darts at the wall (because that's what this is essentially), I'll take five guys, some of whom are overseas right now, who I think will end up having very good careers in professional basketball. Zabian Dowdell, DaShaun Wood, Kyle Visser, Trey Johnson, Russell Carter.

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I don't think I'll ever forget the 2007 NBA Draft. Live blogging it for a third straight year was simply an amazing experience. It was really interesting to read up on Jonathan's thoughts about the aftermath of what will most likely go down as a huge day in NBA history. And remember if Zabian Dowdell, DaShaun Wood, Kyle Visser, Trey Johnson, or Russell Carter ever blow up the spot and become NBA All-Stars or household names, you heard it here first from Jonathan!

All of us at GSoM wanted to thank Jonathan for doing this incredibly insightful interview with us. It really says something about this community when an extremely busy man like Jonathan would take the time to give such in-depth responses on such a specific subset of his basketball scouting. Like Jonathan noted, we don't exactly throw out any softball questions in our interviews. Let's just say I'm glad we're the ones asking the tough questions and he's the one giving the great answers. Trust me you should be thankful too!

If you're a true NBA Draft junkie definitely make DraftExpress a daily destination on your trips to the world wide web. There's always something to help satisfy your NBA Draft fix.

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