Now it's time to peer into that magical crystal ball and talk about the 2008 NBA Draft. My birthday's actually in early June, but keeping it real- draft day at the end of the month is my real favorite day of June. (Is that not dedication and love for the game or what?)
We get down to business after the jump.
Golden State of Mind: Over at NBADraft.net you guys always have some interesting year round mock drafts (even for the 2009 draft!). We're still nowhere near the 2008 NBA Draft, but some of the current headliners of this class are O.J. Mayo (USC), Michael Beasley (Kansas State), and Derrick Rose (Memphis). Are these 3 freshmen the best this draft class has to offer? Putting aside the fact that we won't know who will be picking in the top 3 slots till May in what order do you see them getting selected? Are these three players future NBA superstars?
Aran Smith (NBADraft.net): Actually I would separate Beasley and Rose from the pack. I think they both have a chance to be franchise talents. This freshman class is maybe the best of all time with not only great talent at the top but unbelievable depth. There are 40-50 pros in that class minimum, with numerous future NBA stars. Donte Greene, Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, and DeAndre Jordan are also bigtime talents who could all go top 5 and are near locks to be top 10 picks. Mayo is going to be a nice pro, but people were looking for another Lebron, and he just isn't that type of talent. He's a year and a half old for his grade and to me appears to be one of those guys that peaked at 16-17 years of age. I saw him play as a sophomore, junior and senior. When he was a sophomore, no one in the class could touch him, he was arguably the best player in all of high school basketball. Over the next 2 years he was overtaken by a number of guys, and although he's a spectacular talent, he needs to improve his shot selection and his ability to distribute the ball if he intends to play the PG position. Will he be willing to assume a lesser role and be a team player, or is he destined to be a top scorer for a losing team ala Stephon Marbury?
Golden State of Mind: The biggest names from the Bay Area college squads for the NBA scene are Cal power forward DeVon Hardin and the Stanford twin (literally) towers Brook and Robin Lopez. Where do you think the Berkeley senior Hardin will go in the draft and what kind of NBA career do you project for him (superstar, star, role player, journeyman, etc)? Over in Palo Alto the Lopez brothers are both only sophomores. Do you see either one declaring for the 2007 draft? What type of NBA careers do you foresee for them?
Aran Smith (NBADraft.net): Hardin's a guy I have watched progress from his freshman year at Cal and through the SF Pro Am alongside Leon Powe. Powe got all the headlines, but even early it was apparent Hardin had more NBA potential. As far as how he projects in the NBA: I see him being a bigtime rebounder and enforcer ala Charles Oakley. He's an absolute physical specimen, there just aren't many guys with that type of combination of size, strength and athleticism. He lacks great touch so that will likely keep him from being much of a scorer and superstar. I see him falling between the role player and star area depending on how much he improves his offensive game. For the Lopez guys, Brook's shooting touch clearly gives him more potential than Robin. He'll have a chance to be a late lottery pick this season depending on how well he bounces back from the academic suspension. I expect him to leave considering how little he apparently likes going to class or doing school work. Robin has better athletic ability but doesn't appear to have much offensive potential. He can find a spot in the first round, but it will probably take him another season or two. He actually benefits when Brook isn't with the team as he's able to be the guy and develop his offensive game. So the rumors of them wanting to leave together don't make a lot of sense for their sake. If Robin stays until his senior year and keeps working hard, he has a chance to develop into a starting center on the next level.
Golden State of Mind: A lot can change from now till June 2008 in terms of who comes out, but how good do you think this draft class will be? How would you rate it in comparison to the past three classes- 2007, 2006, and 2005?
Aran Smith (NBADraft.net): That's tough, because as you say a lot will happen between now and the draft with regards to who declares. With that in mind I'd say not as good as '07 because the top two (Oden and Durant) were at such a high level, plus that draft had good depth and quality throughout the lottery. Significantly better than 2006, which was one of the worst drafts in the past 10 years. And better than 2005 which had two franchise point guards (Paul and Deron), tremendous depth in the late first and early second but a number of busts littered throughout the first round.
If there was one guy that the Warriors could somehow take from the college game and add to their squad, it would have to be Blake Griffin. The Warriors had no answer for Boozer in the second round playoff series last year, and Griffin will be a Boozer type of bruiser only probably better. Plus he could run with them and would add a dynamic their team just doesn't have. Unfortunately he'll be long gone when the Warriors draft. He would probably be a bigger long term asset to their current team than both Wright and Belinelli combined.
Don't sleep on NBADraft.net for 'round the clock coverage of the 2008 NBA Draft and more!
The entire GSoM crew wanted to thank Aran for fielding our questions and dropping so much hoops knowledge. It's always fun to touch base with hoops analysts who grew up as Warrior fans and call the Bay Area home.
Hmmmm, I wonder who the Warriors will take in the 2009 NBA Draft...