Pre-2007 NBA Draft Q&A w/ Tim Kawakami (6/26/07)

In one day GSoM friend Tim Kawakami from the Mercury News took on the Brian Sabean defenders, looked at whether Monta Ellis could trigger the Warriors' final push for KG, AND fielded our questions about the upcoming 2007 NBA Draft. It was a good day for Bay Area sports fans.

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Check out Tim's blog and our Q&A:

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Golden State of Mind: What are the odds that the Warriors are going to trade up, trade down, or keep their pick? For each scenario, can you give us a prediction of what will happen? Do you see the Warriors fulfilling The Yi Movement in any of these scenarios?

Tim Kawakami: Well, there's a fourth scenario there and I'm still the only one talking about it, so that makes for risky typing at draft time. So what? All I can do is sound more foolish, and I've committed myself to full-time fool-dom: I think the Warriors have a shot at moving up in order to make a strong play for Kevin Garnett, because I keep hearing that the Timberwolves need a top-8, top-7 pick if they're going to move KG.

That's my possible scenario: Warriors try to dangle Monta Ellis to get a top-8 pick, then offer that, along with Jason Richardson and whatever else (besides Baron and Stephen Jackson and probably Biedrins) it takes and see if Minnesota bites.

Maybe a 40% shot at moving up, maybe a 30% for the whole KG thing happening and I'll almost be sad if it all takes place at the draft, because, gee, how else can I maintain my stupidness if the KG-to-the-GSWs actually happens? Nobody will be able to rip me for KG writing. How sad that would be.

I'd say there's very little chance of moving down from 18. Maybe 5%. If they're not able to pull off the KG thing, my sense is that Mullin and Nelson aren't particularly in love with any one gettable player in this draft (not even Yi), and they feel pretty comfortable hanging back and letting one of the swingmen drop to them. I'd circle Thaddeus Young, Julian Wright (if he slips badly), Al Thornton, Nick Young and one big guy, Jason Smith.

This plays into the move-up-just-to-pick-somebody-scenario, too: One of those swings or Smith or Rodney Stuckey will be there at 18, so I don't think Mullin and Nelson will see the need to give up a value like Ellis to get Yi, Brandan Wright or Noah. Just a guess.

My point-blank question and answer: Does Yi stop Boozer in the playoffs? No, he doesn't. So maybe Mullin and Nelson don't risk part of the future on him.

Now, if Yi starts tumbling past Sacramento at 10 (I really don't see that happening, however), then maybe the Warriors start calling around to see if they can jump up, since it probably won't cost as much.

Golden State of Mind: Outside of Kevin Durant and Greg Oden who do you think will be the best player from this draft and why? In other words, who would you take if you had the 3rd pick in the draft?

Tim Kawakami: Right now, I think it's pretty clear that Al Horford is the third-best player in this draft--he would've gone ahead of Bargnani last year, for instance, though that isn't saying too much. As it works out, Horford is tailor-made for the Warriors. He's a strong, mobile pure power forward who can muscle the post but also can hit the mid-range jumper and run a little.

I used to be higher on Noah, but the offensive limitations are scary. I used to be higher on Brandan Wright, but again, he might be two years away from being able to hit the 15-footer and his rebounding is a question mark. Horford can hit that shot, he banged around against top competition in college, and I think he can step into anybody's rotation right now and produce. He's my pick at 3.

You didn't ask, but I'll keep going, taking specific team need out of the equation: Conley would be my pick at 4, Yi would be 5 overall, Brandan Wright would be 6, Jeff Green 7, Noah 8, Spencer Hawes 9 and Corey Brewer 10.

Golden State of Mind: Are Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins held in high enough esteem around the league where they could be traded for a top 5 pick in this year's much hyped NBA Draft?

Tim Kawakami: I think Biedrins could get you into the top 10, though I doubt Mullin wants to deal him. I think Ellis, possibly paired with No. 18, might get you into the top 8, though we'll find out on that one soon, probably. With Ellis, it's a one-time only thing: He's super-cheap right now and he scores.

He's not a long-term point guard, which is why the Warriors might be thinking of moving him, and he might not be a starting shooting guard, either, at his size. He's an exotic. Nellie loves exotics, but I think it's the potential for 22 a night at $770k that gets people intrigued with Monta. Heck, I'm still intrigued by him... I could see moving him, too, however.

Golden State of Mind: Who do you think is going to be the biggest sleeper in this draft class? The biggest bust?

Tim Kawakami: My potential sleeper is USC's combo guard Gabe Pruitt. This is partly about the Pac-10's point-guard line of succession, from Kevin Johnson to Jason Kidd to Damon Stoudamire to Mike Bibby and Baron to Gilbert Arenas to Ridnour and to Brandon Roy (sort of a point guard). That's a pretty good list. I can go with that list. No other conference has a list like that.

Now Pruitt didn't do nearly as much in college as those guys. So that's why he's a sleeper. He has some size, he has toughness, he has some speed, and he can shoot it. I didn't like that he disappeared from a bunch of games last season, but two years ago he was the real deal and if you're the real deal as a point in the Pac-10, you usually can do some things at the next level.

My potential bust... I'd say Josh McRoberts, but nobody's actually that high on him, so that's too easy. I'll go with Julian Wright--he's reportedly sliding, and I can see why. He was an automatic top-five guy during the season, but when I looked at him up close at the San Jose regional, man, he looked slow and passive. Great talent. Some good vision and passing ability, but if you defer to two or three of your teammates in college... what's the NBA going to be like for you?

Golden State of Mind: The NBA rumor mill has been going nuts the past week even more so than usual for this time of the year. Some of the players being tossed around in the rumors include big names like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire, Jermaine O'Neal, Paul Pierce, and Warrior Nation favorite Jason Richardson. Help us sort through the facts from the fiction. Which of these players do you see wearing a new jersey come November?

Tim Kawakami: I've dealt with the Garnett issue a little, but I'll say it again, since I've said it for years: Minnesota has to wake up and realize he must be traded. This is a ridiculous situation and Kevin McHale should've been fired two years ago for letting it get bad back then, and it's only gotten worse.

If Garnett isn't dealt by the draft--or if the agreement isn't in place and the trade can't be announced until July 11 because it involves pending free agents--then McHale would've pulled off just another genius move and I'll have to fly out to Minneapolis myself to congratulate him for his brilliance.

Kobe Bryant isn't going to get traded for a while, though I do think he'll be traded at some point before February. The Lakers just aren't equipped to deal with that now. They'll keep hunting for Garnett or somebody to team with Kobe to make him happy, but geez, it took Kobe screaming at the top of his lungs for three weeks for the Lakers to realize they should probably try to trade for another great player? Yeesh.

I think Marion will be moved for a top-10 pick, but I think Stoudemire is staying put. You can't get rid of both of them if you're Phoenix and still expect to keep things purring, but you have to get rid of at least one of those monster contracts if you're going to stay out of luxury tax for the long-term.

The Marion talk probably helps block potential J-Rich movement, because Marion is a much more valuable player so the Suns automatically cut in front of the Warriors for any prospective good deal with a team willing to take on long-term money. Plus, I think Mullin will only move Richardson if it's for something of Garnett Magnitude.

Pierce? I never know what Danny Ainge is doing, but I just don't know if he can get equal value for a beaten down scoring wing who doesn't play a ton of defense or create shots for teammates. I'd guess no trade.

I think Jermaine O'Neal will be traded--if I'm Jermaine, I'm a little scared that I've gone from one of the top five post-talents in the league to an after-thought. I mean, who wants him? Every team in the league is racking its roster trying to get KG or trying to see if the Lakers want to move Kobe... but Jermaine is being publicly dangled... and almost nothing, no buzz.

Indiana will have to move O'Neal, but the Pacers (as is their new tradition) won't get anything close to equal value once they move him. Then they can play Troy Murphy at center! Which always works! It's his destiny!

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All of us at GSoM wanted to thank Tim for another fun Q&A. A big reason this community has grown so strong is because of his continued support.

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