Draft deep, but few difference makers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

If the shoe fits, wear it. If the player fits, draft him.

That’s the theme for this year’s NBA draft to be held tonight and televised live by TNT at 7:30 p.m.

Bart Burcham, assistant basketball coach at Ironton High School, handicaps the draft each year and he said there will be two guarantee picks, but nothing is for sure after that.

Email newsletter signup

“Greg Oden will be the first pick and Kevin Durant No. 2. Those main two have a chance to turn a team. The rest of the players need the right fit,” said Burcham.

One reason for the deep talent is the NBA rule that does not allow players under the age of 19 to enter the draft.

‘It’ll be deeper because they made guys go to college for at least a year. You’ll still have some guys come out who aren’t ready, but they have a chance to be good players later,” said Burcham.

Numerous trade talks are swirling that could effect the outcome of the draft. Given all things remain stable, here are Burcham’s projections:

1. Portland: Greg Oden, C. Ohio State. You’d be tempted to take Kevin Durant, but I don’t see how you can pass on Oden. He takes the pressure off the other guys and they can gamble more on defense.

2. Seattle: Kevin Durant, F, Texas. They have the easiest spot in the draft. Whoever Portland takes, they get the other one.

3. Atlanta: Al Horford, F, Florida. They pass on point guards every year and they probably will again. They have a pick at No. 11, but if they want Mike Conley they better take him here or he won’t be available.

4. Memphis: Mike Conley, PG, Ohio State. They’d love to have Horford, but their point guards are so bad they take Conley.

5. Boston: Yi Jianlian, F/C, Guangdong, China. He’s a bigger guy (7-foot) who goes out on the court and shoot the 3s.

6. Milwaukee: If Conley is gone, they’ll take Brandan Wright, F, North Carolina. They need a point guard, but Wright has a lot of potential. He was projected as the No. 3 guy, but he didn’t work out for anyone until late.

7. Minnesota: Will they trade Kevin Garnett is the big question, but GM Kevin McHale loves Spencer Hawes, C, Washington. They need a lot more than one pick.

8. Charlotte: Corey Brewer, F/G, Florida. They need another wing guy. He’s the perfect fit, but Michael Jordan is calling all the shots so don’t be surprised if they trade the pick.

9. Chicago: Joakim Noah, F, Florida. If he’s still there, this is the pick because the Bulls interior defense is so bad. Noah could go anywhere from No. 4 to here.

10. Sacramento: Jeff Green, F, Georgetown. Look for the Kings to get rid of Ron Artest and maybe Mike Bibby. Green can handle the ball and guard somebody. He’s an Artest-type guy without the baggage.

11. Atlanta: If they don’t get a point guard here, the season ticket holders should ask for a refund. If they take Horford earlier, they get Acie Law, G, Texas A&M. In the last two minutes of the game the last two years, he averaged outscoring the other team. He can take over a game.

12. Philadelphia: They take Al Thornton, F, Florida State. He’s a good scorer who really plays hard.

13. New Orleans: Thaddeus Young, F, Georgia Tech. He’s a wing-type guy and a scorer. He’s a nice player, but don’t get real excited about him.

14. Los Angeles Clippers: They take the best guy available who is Julian Wright, F, Kansas. He came out early. He’ll swing between wing and power forward.

15. Detroit: If you watched LeBron James run around them, you can see they have to get more athletic. They could take Rodney Stuckey, but I’ve got them taking Nick Young, G, Southern Cal. He’s got a chance to be really good. He’s more of a two guard, but he can play the point.

16. Washington: Derrick Byars, F/G, Vanderbilt. Good shooter, really good defender. He’s just a real solid guy.

17. New Jersey: They need to focus on the inside so they take Jason Smith, F, Colorado State. He’s a good rebounder and a good defender, but a really good shooter for his size. He can step outside.

18. Golden State: They’d love to have Smith, but they take Rodney Stuckey, G, Eastern Washington. They need a shooter.

19. Los Angeles Lakers: This could be anything. They could trade Kobe Bryant, tradefor Kevin Garnett, or pick anyone. The pick is Javaris Crittenton, G, Georgia Tech. He came out after one year. He’s like Young. He’s 6-5, and a pretty good defender and ballhandler. He needs to mature a little.

20. Miami: Gabe Pruitt, G, Southern Cal. He’s a 6-4 point guard who shoots pretty well and doesn’t turn the ball over. They need to get younger in the backcourt.

21. Philadelphia: They like to take high-profile college guys, so they take 6-10 Josh McRoberts, F, Duke. I think he’ll be better in the pros than college.

22. Charlotte: Morris Almond, G, Rice. He was third in the nation in scoring and shot 45 percent from 3-point range. He’s the best shooter in the draft.

23. New York: Sean Williams, F, Boston College. He was one of the top shot blockers and rebounders in the ACC. He’s a good player, but he got kicked out of school so he had a down side.

24. Phoenix: If they don’t’ make a trade, they go for shooters. The pick is Marco Belinelli, G, Bologna, Italy. He’s a Ginobli-type but he’s a stronger guy.

25. Utah: Arron Afflalo, G, UCLA. They’re looking for a stronger two guard who can play defense. He’s a hard-nosed player.

26. Houston: Glenn Davis, F, LSU. After they traded Juwan Howard, they have to fill this spot.

27. Detroit: They’ll go for another athletic guy with Wilson Chandler, F, DePaul. He led his team in scoring and rebounding this year and in rebounding as a freshman.

28. San Antonio: Jared Dudley, F. Boston College. He’s going to take Bruce Bowen’s place. Bowen has a year or two left. He’s a good role player.

29. Phoenix: Daequan Cook, G, Ohio State. He could go as high as New York, but he may not have the maturity. He could have been a top 15 pick if he had stayed in school another year.

30. Philadelphia: They’ve had two picks, so they can take a chance. I have them taking Marc Gasol, C. Girona, Spain. He’s 6-11 and a classic center who stays on the low block. He is the brother of Pau Girona of Memphis and, if he’s half as good as his brother, he’ll be a good player.