NBA draft report

**There will be full analysis of the NBA Draft on my KSCR Radio show this Saturday from Noon to 2 PM, on KSCR.org and 1560 AM.

--The Clippers selected Eric Gordon in the first round today with the No. 7 pick overall. The 6-3 guard averaged more than 20 points a game for Indiana this season, and displayed all-world talent at times. But I can't help to wonder if the Clippers should have taken Arizona's Jerryd Bayless with the pick, who I think Portland got in a steal.

Both players are extremely talented, both are tremendous scorers, and there are questions about both players' ability to play the point guard position. But both players also dealt with unusual coaching situations in college, and Bayless handled his well while Gordon seemed to go into a funk. Gordon may have a bit more upside than Bayless, but Bayless is a gym rat, a mentally strong player, and he's someone who can make players around him better.

If Kelvin Sampson hadn't left Indiana midseason, and if Gordon's wrist hadn't acted up, then it's possible that Gordon could have been drafted No. 3 overall. So from that perspective, the Clippers might have gotten great value. But the Clippers have a long history of taking high-potential picks, and many have proven to be busts. Gordon is better than most of those guys, but if I were Elgin Baylor, I would have taken a hard-working gym rat in Jarryd Bayless.


--The Clippers also picked potential in the second round, going with DeAndre Jordan from Texas A&M. At 6-11 250 pounds, Jordan has a world of upside. Not long ago, people thought Jordan could be a top-10 pick. But Jordan fell into coach Mike Turgeon's doghouse and wasn't even starting by the end of the season. I've heard reports that he wasn't a hard enough worker, and that his lack of desire was on display in the draft workouts. Still, given Jordan's talent, it's probably worthwhile to take a chance on him in the second round.


--The Clippers also traded for NBA D-League prospect Mike Taylor, who might bring them some athleticism off the bench.


--As for the Lakers, they selected Kentucky guard Joe Crawford with the No. 58 overall pick. I'm not even sure if he can make the team. He's a gritty player, and he reportedly worked out well in the Orlando pre-draft camp, but he just may not have the talent to play in the NBA. I was kind of hoping Lakers would take Davon Jefferson out of USC, who could add some size to their lineup, but I guess Mitch Kupchak wasn't enamored with him.


--Looking at the local players drafted, a USC player went No. 3, while UCLA had players go No. 4 and No. 5. OJ Mayo is the highest Trojan ever selected in the NBA Draft. I'm not sure if he's exactly what the Minnesota Timberwolves are looking for, and I still wonder if he'll go somewhere in a trade. But if he stays in Minnesota, then they got themselves a guard who can score and defend extremely well. I still have questions though about Mayo's passing skills if they want him to play point guard. And I also wonder how well Mayo can really drive to the post. But a lot of scouts love him and think he can be a premier NBA player. I read one article comparing Mayo to Gilbert Arenas, which seems like awfully high praise.

I don't think UCLA's Russell Westbrook was the fourth-best player in the draft, but the Sonics got themselves an excellent player. Westbrook is not going to dominate NBA games, but he's the kind of athletic do-everything guard who will help a team win. He can defend, rebound, pass, and dive for the loose ball. Westbrook is a player who will do all of the little things well, and I think every championship team needs someone like him.

A number of people I've spoken with are down on Kevin Love, who went No. 5 overall to Memphis. But I think he can be a very good player in the NBA. Love dropped 15 pounds in the offseason, and I believe he's more athletic than people think. Memphis runs a Phoenix Suns style system, and I see him fitting in well, grabbing rebounds and then throwing precision outlet passes to Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick, and Mike Miller if they keep him. He can shoot from the outside, play down low, and I think he plays bigger than whatever height skeptics think he is.

I'm surprised that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute went as high as he did, to Milwaukee at No. 37 overall. I might be wrong, but I don't see him lasting in the NBA for long. He's too injury prone, and I don't think he's tough enough to play at the next level. If he had chosen to stay in college, then would have had a more impressive senior season with Kevin Love gone, and he might have been taken in the first round. Now he'll have to rapidly improve.

It's disappointing that Davon Jefferson didn't get drafted at all. It makes you wonder why he bothered to come out to the NBA Draft instead of continuing to develop his game at USC. But Jefferson has never been known for his academics, and I guess he just didn't want to be a student any longer. Now he's got to re-evaluate his life because USC is out of the picture.

***UPDATE***
OJ Mayo and Kevin Love came to LA together, and now they've been traded for one another. The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies just completed a blockbuster 8-player deal with Mayo and Love being the principle pieces. Honestly, I don't quite understand the deal for either team, but maybe it will play itself out over the next few days.

Love now gets to play for Kevin McHale, who he's a big fan of, and he goes alongside Al Jefferson. They both basically play the same position, but I guess they'll find a way to work in Love at center with Jefferson taking on his more natural position at the 4. That seems a bit awkward, but that might be the best way to make it work. As for Memphis, they have a glut of guards, and I'm not sure if the Suns-style system is best for Mayo. They won't be able to leverage his defensive abilities, but I guess he will add some athleticism to the squad. Regardless, it's an interesting chapter in the Mayo-Love story, which came through LA for all of one year.

June 26, 2008 9:19 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor
 

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