Reminder: I will be using my Twitter page to comment on the NBA Draft in real time. You can follow me at http://www.twitter.com/danshanoff or just look at the area in the upper-right corner.
So here are a few pieces of intrigue, heading into the Draft:
Will Pat Riley really pass on Beasley? This is the lead of today's Sporting News column. Either he trades the No. 2 pick and the team trading up takes Beasley (and Miami regrets not taking him for, oh, ever) or Miami keeps the No. 2 pick and drafts Mayo over Beasley, which seems incomprehensible -- and I agree Mayo is arguably the 3rd-best pro prospect in the draft class.
I floated this one notion in the column today, and it echoes something that Chad Ford said during his debate with Simmons: If Beasley had come before Durant, we would have talked about Beasley as the transformational player, and Durant -- a year later and by comparison -- would have been picked on for being skinny, a poor defender and a sub-par rebounder. I'm just positing that everyone -- well, certain folks -- invested so much energy in claiming that Durant was this transcendent prospect that the idea that a player could come along a mere year later and not just top Durant's college production, but be a better NBA prospect, causes, what Ford aptly ID'ed as, "cognitive dissonance." Anyway...
Who gets Mayo? I think it's a foregone conclusion that - as long as the Heat trade away the No. 2 pick -- Mayo goes No. 3. (If the Heat keep the 2 and take Mayo, the T'wolves will quickly snatch up Beasley and wonder how they got so lucky.) But assuming it's Rose-Beasley at 1-2, the only question is whether the T'wolves will keep their pick and take Mayo or let one of the drooling teams behind them trade up -- the Sonics? the Knicks? the Bobcats? the Blazers?
What do the Knicks do? With Walsh and D'Antoni replacing Isiah and the home-court advantage for the draft crowd, the Knicks' new era begins tonight. Do they trade David Lee and collect the Grizzlies' No. 5 pick to go with their No. 6 pick? Can they trade up to get Mayo, a new franchise face? Do they trade down, knowing that the pick at No. 6 isn't much different from a little further down? Do they take the Best Guard Available at No. 6? (Bayless? Westbrook? Gordon?) Do they do what I predicted they would and take Jumpin' Joe Alexander?
Who rises? Who falls? Sounds like Russell Westbrook is high on everyone's list, as high as No. 4 after Rose-Beasley-Mayo. Sounds like Marreesse Speights is falling. Seems like DeAndre Jordan is up and down. Seems like Anthony Randolph is the biggest question mark -- most potential, cutting both ways. It is a truism of the draft: Someone gets stuck with a bust; someone gets a hindsight steal. Plural, more than likely.
The draft's biggest winner? Kansas. The national champs won't have a player taken in the Top 10, but they could have 3 taken in the next 10 after that: Brandon Rush (who has tons of momentum); Mario Chalmers (ditto); and Darrell Arthur (less momentum, but still enough potential to go Top 20). If the players in the Top 10 are stuck on perennial Lottery teams, then the players taken in the teens actually have the potential to impact playoff teams' fortunes.
There is more, obviously. You can find the complete column here. As news and rumors break, I'll post updates throughout the day. And don't forget the Twitter event tonight.
Meanwhile, I would say that if any event from yesterday got my attention, it was this Nash charity soccer game on this little field on the Lower East Side in New York. I didn't go, but from the accounts and videos, it sounds like it was (a) pretty amazing to watch, and (b) one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that you wonder why more athletes don't try, given the positive buzz it creates within the local and national communities. (Actually, things like this happen all the time in hoops summer leagues, when NBA players show up to suit up -- GMs may cringe, but I love it.)