In a half hour, the NBA draft will begin on ESPN. As a certified basketball nut, let me make a few predictions here.
1. The team that decides to draft Rudy Gay instead of Adam Morrison will regret that choice very much in a couple years. Rudy Gay is an athletic marvel, with enormous natural gifts, but everyone in the NBA has talent or they wouldn’t be there. There’s only one thing that separates an all-star from a benchwarmer: determination. There are a hundred guys in the NBA who are 6’6 with 40 inch verticals. What makes one Michael Jordan and another one Harold Miner? Jordan is the most competitive man on the planet. He’d run over his grandmother on the way to the basket in a tight game. Rudy Gay, with all that talent, averaged 15 points a game for UConn last year and disappeared in some games, only playing hard here and there during the season. Adam Morrison, on the other hand, is so intensely competitive that when he loses – at anything – he becomes furious. Adam Morrison will be twice the player that Rudy Gay will be, write it down and take it to the bank.
2. If you’re looking for maybe the gem of the draft, look no further than Randy Foye of Villanova. He’ll go in the top 7 and may be the second coming of Dwyane Wade. He’s got similar speed and quickness, and he’s mentally as tough as they come. If anything, he’s a better long range shooter than Wade. We may look back at this draft in 5 years and say that this guy was the best player in it.
3. JJ Redick may fall further than people expect. Two weeks ago, he was thought to be a lock for Houston with the #8 pick, which would have been a perfect situation for him. But with the herniated disk in his back, his stock may be slipping. I still think he goes in the lottery, but it’s possible that he drops as far as 17 or 18. Shelden Williams, on the other hand, will easily go in the lottery as expected.
4. Want a sleeper or two for later in the draft? Don’t overlook Shannon Brown from MSU, a spectacular athlete (I’ve seen him do a 360 dunk from the free throw line at just over 6 feet tall), who will be a late first round pick and could step into an ideal situation. Another one to watch out for is Mardy Collins of Temple, likely an early 2nd round pick. He’s a 6’6 point guard who can defend anyone. Lastly, keep an eye on PJ Tucker of Texas. Yes, he’s a 6’5 power forward, way too short to play that position in the NBA. Uh huh. Ask Charles Barkley and Larry Johnson about that. And yes, Tucker could be that kind of player. He’s a warrior on the inside and he works his tail off. Someone in the early 2nd round may just end up with an all-star on their team in 3 or 4 years if they snag this guy.
5. The Sports Guy’s running diary of the draft will be hysterical, as usual.