Minnesota Timberwolves: Jerryd Bayless or O.J. Mayo at No. 3?
FACE-OFF: Jerryd Bayless versus OJ Mayo
In our inaugural issue of FACE-OFF, Randy and Frank take a look at Minnesota and what they should do with the third pick overall in the NBA Draft. Please feel free to make your pick by leaving a comment below. We'll have a running tally for Randy and Frank's records for all future FACE-OFF articles.
Derrick Rose versus Michael Beasley. Michael Beasley versus Derrick Rose. We haven't even been a week removed from the NBA Draft Lottery and all the talk has been on Rose and Beasley…rightfully so, but what about the rest of the league, what about the third pick in the draft? Our writers will discuss this issue in Face-Off.
Coming out of high school, all the hype was on O.J. Mayo. He was going to be the next big thing. While he didn't exactly live up to lofty expectations during his one-year tenure at USC, he didn't disappoint either. While, I have no doubts that O.J. Mayo will be an All-Star in the NBA, I'm not sure I'd pick him over fellow Pac-10 alum Jerryd Bayless.
With Bayless, I see a much more aggressive offensive player, which I think will make him more suited for the NBA game. Bayless has great handles and is explosive with a strong first step to help him get past his defender, something I fail to see in Mayo.
This gives Bayless the ability to create off the dribble, break his defender down and create his own shot when he needs it. Mayo, on the other hand, tends to settle for his outside jumper far too often, due to his inability to attack his defender and get to the basket.
Because of his aggressiveness, Bayless gets to the charity stripe far more often that Mayo, something he'll have to continue to do if he wants to remain productive in the NBA. Bayless is also an unselfish player. This can be seen a negative, as at times he make look to appear too passive when playing the halfcourt game.
Defensively, I'll have to give Mayo the edge over Bayless. Bayless has had trouble getting around screens and at only 6-foot-3, his size at the position has been questioned by many. Mayo isn't much taller, although he's officially listed at 6-foot-5.
Despite this, Bayless does have the quickness and athleticism to stay in front with the best of them. He’s got great lateral movement and uses his speed and explosiveness to keep up with speedy guards. His size and strength are his biggest weaknesses right now, but that’s something he can surely improve on by hitting the weights a little more.
Minnesota already has a good pair of young guards in Randy Foye and Rashad McCants, but I don’t see the problem of having Foye and Bayless in the backcourt, with McCants coming off the bench like he did last year. Foye missed a significant portion of time last year with a knee injury last year.
Right now, most mocks have Minnesota taking Brook Lopez. I’m not a huge fan of Brook, and he is actually my pick to be the biggest bust in the lottery.
I’d much rather draft the best player available over need, if the talent disparity is that great. A classic case is the Raptors taking Rafael Araujo over Andre Iguodala in the 2005 draft.
There are plenty of other “big men” in the draft that will be available to them later on with the 31stpick overall, including Marressee Speights, DeVon Hardin, Roy Hibbert and other Lopez brother, Robin. Maybe B. Lo will prove me wrong and turn out to have a great NBA career but if I had to bet right now who would end up having a more successful career between Lopez and Bayless, my money is on Bayless.
With a young core in Minnesota, they won't be wrong for picking either Bayless or Mayo. Bayless gives them a much more aggressive guard who can penetrate to the basket, breaking down defenses and making the game a lot easier for his teammates, something Mayo might have a much more difficult time doing coming straight out of college ball. Mayo may have the star power and name recognition, but Bayless is more versatile on the offensive end which makes him my player to pick.
The 2008 NBA draft is being billed as a two-player draft at the top, which means Minnesota has the unenviable task of selecting third. If the Timberwolves actually do the unthinkable and draft Brook Lopez, this will only cement their franchise legacy of drafting terrible players at the top (KG notwithstanding).
There are only two players the Wolves should be thinking about drafting, and they are Jarred Bayless and O.J. Mayo. Both players played in the Pac-10 conference for only one year and they have nearly identical stats. Given all of that, the choice looks like a coin flip. Looking a little closer, it's obvious that Minnesota should not pass on the Mayo.
O.J. has a better chance of succeeding in the NBA because he has two inches on Bayless and should be able to defend both ones and twos, while Bayless can only guard point guards and can't play the point. This means a team needs a taller point guard to cover for his defensive deficiencies.
Some point to Gilbert Arenas as to what Bayless could become, but Gilbert is not a team player and really doesn't guard anybody, which is why his team was better this year without him. At best, Bayless can be a scorer off the bench but that's hardly what you want with a third overall pick. Mayo has length and instincts and has shown a willingness to defend, which is one of the great misconceptions about his game.
Just as important is the progress a player makes with time, and O.J. has improved much more than Bayless has this past year. Bayless actually came into college on fire until he was injured and didn't play four games in December and January. All of his skills are the same, he hasn't noticeably improved any aspect of his game.
Mayo has developed into a clearly smarter and more fundamentally sound player than he was when he first stepped onto campus. He has nearly stopped taking terrible shots, he trusts his teammates much more, and he has become a better team defender. Anybody who watched him in the McDonald's All-American game when he shot his team out of it and misfired on a long three at the end of the game can tell that he has improved dramatically.
In his last game against Kansas State, he actually played well, even though he shot poorly. His team lost because Kansas State's role players played out of their minds and Beasley was dominant, there's nothing to be ashamed of there.
Everybody will argue that O.J. is a huge risk of a pick because of the off-court issues that have plagued him since high school. ESPN's OTL report on his shady activities at USC certainly exacerbate that problem. He's also been labeled selfish because he wants to market himself and went to USC to do that. It's clear though that he has matured since he slammed the ball off the backboard in high school in a famous YouTube moment.
He has definitely become smarter on the court, and all of this negative press may actually force him to grow up off it as well. There's no way to trivialize his mistakes, but he is under a much bigger magnifying glass than anybody else in this draft class. O.J. could run over a squirrel and it would make headlines. This means he is used to the media exposure he will be subjected to in the NBA.
He can handle the interviews, the photo shoots, and the non-basketball things that happen in the league. OJ has been waiting and preparing his whole life to play in the NBA, and Minnesota would be wise to add him to their rebuilding efforts.
Randy and Frank are the voices for Cocky and Arrogant: A Pistons Fan Blog. Growing up as high school friends, they eventually attended the same university, where they would spend the school year making fun of Kobe Bryant, Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade and finally LeBron James. They have found that watching the Pistons lose in the Conference Finals the past two years has been a humbling experience, thus the creation of their blog: Cocky and Arrogant.
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