In the midst of the NBA Conference Finals, the NBA Draft Lottery and Jay-Z were busy setting the stage for next year. Despite having a 1.7 percent chance of grabbing the first pick of the draft, the Bulls and GM John Paxson pulled it off.
Executive VP of business of operations, Steve Schanwald, was both energized and shocked as his fist pump and look of astonishment represented the Bulls franchise.
The Miami Heat, who had the best chance of landing the top pick, fell to second, followed by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Seattle Supersonics, and Memphis Grizzlies, who rounded out the top 5. The rest of the lottery begins with the Knicks at #6 and concludes with the Warriors at #14.
Now that the draft order has been decided, it is finally time to debate what collegiate players will fill in those draft spots. Barring trades that are sure to fill draft day per usual, teams will have some serious scouting to do, with a draft full of freshman entrants and depth from pick one through 30.
With the lack of experienced players entering the draft, there is arguably no guaranteed future NBA star, but loads of potential. As a result, there should be much debate leading up to the draft from the #1 pick to the NBA Champions at #30. With that in mind, this is just one of the many ways in which the top ten picks of the 2008 NBA draft could sort out.
#1 Chicago Bulls: Michael Beasley 6-9 PF, Kansas State, Freshman
Of course the debate of who should be #1 will undoubtedly be the main subject of the Bulls front office and the NBA nation. Although I'm not a huge fan of either Beasley or Derrick Rose, Beasley does have Carmelo Anthony-level talent.
Despite his high rebounding average in college, Beasley doesn't seem to have the defensive ability to match his overwhelming offensive prowess. With the body of a power forward, Beasley plays like a small forward who has no problem getting off his shot.
His immaturity on and off the court is what really worries me about Beasley. He doesn't seem to have the leadership skills that past collegiate stars have shown in their successful leaps to the NBA.
Beasley will undoubtedly be a serious threat on the offensive end, but if you're an NBA team, you shouldn't count on him to be a defensive stalwart anytime soon.
With the Bulls set with Kirk Hinrich at the point and no real offensive threat inside the paint, Beasley is the ultimate choice for the Chicago front office and whatever coach they hire in the future.
#2 Miami Heat - Derrick Rose 6-4 PG, Memphis, Freshman
With the Heat needing a talented backcourt running mate for Dywane Wade, Rose is the clear choice. Even if the Heat landed the #1 spot, Rose would still be the ideal choice, with no established point guard on the Heat roster.
His quickness and athleticism will definitely give him the capability to help him compete with NBA players, but his point guard skills need some refining. Like most point guards coming out of college, his ability as a scorer far surpasses his passing ability.
He has the potential to be a very good all-around point guard, ala Devin Harris, and his strength will allow him the best chance to do so. T
he big weaknesses for Rose are his perimeter shooting and inability to be the constant floor leader who reads defenses. With Wade and Shawn Marion, Rose will definitely have teammates to dish the ball to on the break as he did at Memphis.
If the Heat play the type of run up-and-down the court game that will allow Rose to utilize his athleticism, the Heat could have the makings of a very strong core for the future.
#3 Minnesota Timberwolves - Brook Lopez 7'0 PF/C, Stanford, Sophomore
Although I was tempted to go with O.J Mayo at this pick, the Timberwolves need some frontcourt help for Al Jefferson. With both Jefferson's and Lopez's ability to play both the center and power forward positions, the Timberwolves would have the versatility and size to compete with the other bigs in the West.
Although Lopez doesn't have the extreme athleticism that other draft entrants have, he does have the ability to knock down the mid-range jumper. He also has the fundamentals and determination to establish himself inside the paint and get to the free throw line.
The knock on Lopez will continue to be his lack of athletic ability, but his physical abilities will allow him to be a very good role player in the NBA and can possibly become as good as Sacramento King Brad Miller.
#4 Seattle SuperSonics - Jerryd Bayless 6'3 SG/PG, Arizona, Freshman
With Seattle set at the wing positions with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, they seem intent to change the guard (no pun intended) from Luke Ridnour to a fresh face at the point. Although Bayless is, in my humble opinion, best suited as a 6th man off the bench ala Monta Ellis, the Sonics might push for him to start.
His explosiveness is usually unmatched on the college level and his ability to get inside the paint and get off his shot comes with ease. The big problem with Bayless that I saw at Arizona was his lack of floor leadership at the point guard position. Instead of scoring 39 points in a loss, Bayless might have spent his time better dishing the ball to fellow Wildcat Chase Budinger and maybe pulling out a win.
Hopefully the Sonics or any NBA team will utilize his scoring punch off the bench rather than pushing him to start too quickly.
#5 Memphis Grizzlies - Kevin Love 6'9 PF, UCLA, Freshman
With the Grizzlies giving away Pau Gasol for little proven talent and a lot of cap room, the rebuilding process continues. Ideally for the Grizzlies, Lopez would fall to them at this spot. In such a situation, the Grizzlies need to feel some serious Love.
With Love in the mix the Grizzlies will have an inside force to compliment Mike Miller's outside shooting and Rudy Gay's athleticism. With Love taking a page out of "the big fundamental," Tim Duncan's book, he is probably the most polished freshman in the entire draft.
The big problem with Love is his lack of athleticism. He will definitely struggle with quicker power forwards like New Orleans' David West. If Love can lose some weight and still keep his prowess in the paint, he will definitely be a cornerstone for the Grizzlies or another team in the future.
Love seems to compare best to Elton Brand who continues to be one of the most underrated players in the NBA.
#6 New York Knicks - Danilo Gallinari 6'9 SF, Armani Jeans Milano, International
Although a point guard is necessary to run new coach Mike D'Antoni's offense, D.J. Augustin seems to be a reach at this point. Knicks fans may be hoping for SG/PGs Eric Gordon and O.J Mayo, but with.the new regime in New York, D'Antoni needs shooters to spread the defense and implement his offense.
With the international flavor that D'Antoni will undoubtedly urge GM Donnie Walsh to bring to New York, Gallinari would be the perfect start. At 6'9 Gallinari has the size to play multiple positions on the floor. Yet his lack of athleticism on the defensive end will definitely hurt him if forced to defend the athletic small forwards in the East.
In the long run Gallinari seems to project anywhere from New Jersey Net Boki Nachbar to Hedo Turkoglu of the Magic.
#7 Los Angeles Clippers - O.J. Mayo 6'4 PG/SG, USC, Freshman
With the Clippers looking for a future point guard to replace the injured Shaun Livingston, the decision for L.A will come down to Mayo and Augustin. At 6'4, Mayo can play both guard positions both on the offensive and defensive ends.
Mayo is an amazing jump shooter and has solid range out to the perimeter. If he is forced to run the point in the NBA, he has the ability to be an above average floor leader. The problem with Mayo is his recklessness with the ball, which ultimately leads to his bad shot selection and turnovers.
Mayo has the physical tools of Chauncey Billups and if all goes well that would be his best comparison.
#8 Milwaukee Bucks - D.J Augustin 5'11 PG, Texas, Sophomore
Although Milwaukee just gave a serious amount of money to Mo Williams last offseason, they still need a lead guard who can do more than score the ball. Augustin combines the scoring ability of Williams with excellent court vision.
Averaging almost six assists per game at Texas, Augustin is the opposite of Mayo in regards to turnovers. Despite having the vision and ball skills that Mayo has not developed, he also lacks his size. Because of his size, his defensive chances are also at a disadvantage.
With his ability to lead a team at a less than ideal size, Augustin compares favorably with Orlando Magic guard Jameer Nelson.
#9 Charlotte Bobcats - DeAndre Jordan 7'0 C, Texas A&M, Freshman
With the small forward and shooting guard spots locked up in Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson, the Bobcats go grab some frontcourt help for Emeka Okafor. Jordan has a tremendous wingspan and athleticism.
Jordan has possibly the highest overall ceiling from where he is now and could be an excellent defender eventually. The problem with Jordan is his lack of strength and awareness. Being such a raw player, Jordan is the true definition of a project and could possibly end up being the biggest bust in this draft.
As of now Saer Saene seems to be his best comparison in regards to strength and raw defensive ability.
#10 New Jersey Nets - Nicolas Batum 6'8 SF, Le Mans, France
Although everyone is expecting the Nets draft a big man with this pick, they still have a glut of big men on the roster and maintain the possibility of resigning Desagna Diop in the offseason. With Richard Jefferson probably on the way out with trade rumors galore, the Nets need another wing scorer to play either the small forward or shooting guard position.
With Batum being the second most talented international player, he could come in and fill in for some of the offensive punch lost if Jefferson is traded or possibly be the Nets #1 wing man off the bench. With size, immense athleticism, and very excellent perimeter defense, Batum has one of the highest ceilings of anyone in the draft.
Batum's problems come with his inability to be the go-to scorer and perimeter threat that he will have to develop into in order to become the all-around offensive threat a team could build around.
A combination of Rudy Gay and Danny Granger seems instore for Batum in the future. If the Nets have the future in mind aka Lebron James, they may instead look for a shooting guard like Eric Gordon or Russell Westbrook.
Picks 11 through 20 @ 9:00pm ET, May 22nd.