But the draft doesn’t stop there. Plenty more future stars will be selected, including Al Horford, Mike Conley Jr., Brandan Wright, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Julian Wright and Acie Law. And then there are rising stars on the draft board like Rodney Stuckey of Eastern Washington and Javaris Crittenton of Georgia Tech.
One NBA scout believes this will certainly be a draft to remember.
“I think there’s going to be some guys who are going to be multiple time all-stars,” he said. “I think there’s going to be guys that are definitely pieces to a championship team. I think there are some guys that are definitely high risk, but really high-reward guys in the draft. And I think there’s going to be someone picked in the late first round who is probably going to be an all-star. It’s really a fun draft to be honest with you because there’s a lot of good players to talk about and hash out.”
Oden and Durant are obviously the cream of the crop. So who has the biggest upside?
“I think Kevin Durant is going to be really, really good,” the scout said. “It’s tough to compare guys that play different positions. Statistically, I think Kevin Durant is going to put up big numbers for a long time. That’s a hard one (about who has biggest upside). They’re both still so young. It’s not like you’re comparing a senior to a freshman. Obviously they both have some upside.”
Durant has been mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan. Is he that talented?
“I don’t think there’s ever going to be another Michael Jordan, but I think Kevin Durant is going to be awfully, awfully good,” the scout said.
Durant has actually been more likened to Dallas Mavericks’ superstar Dirk Nowitzki as a big man who can shoot from outside. And Oden’s defensive dominance has drawn comparisons to Hall of Famer Bill Russell.
“People have brought up Bill Russell and David Robinson,” the scout said about Oden. “I think he’s probably somewhere in between those two guys. He’s (Durant) probably going to be a Carmelo Anthony-type producer in our league — 25 to 30 points a game for a long time.”
Can he be better than Carmelo?
“He has a chance to be, yes.”
Durant, Oden, and other top players took part in the Orlando pre-draft tests several weeks ago. Durant rated 78 of 80 players tested in Orlando, while Julian Wright ranked No. 66. Wright benched pressed 185 pounds just twice (Durant zero times), and also had a relatively slow three-quarter court sprint.
“Some guys are in better shape than others at times,” the scout said. “We factor that in a little bit some of the tests they do, but there’s a lot more indicators than that. I would more or less look for a big guy who is exceptionally fast when they do tests like that or maybe a point guard who is abnormally slow.”
The individual workouts with teams are just part of the draft equation as well.
“The workouts are more for our coaching staff and more for a chance for us to get to meet a kid and talk to him because we’re not allowed to sit down and talk to these kids when we’re scouting them,” he said. “When they bring them out here for a workout, we can sit down with them and take them to lunch or dinner and talk to them during the workout or after the workout, and kind of get the feel for their personalities and whether whether you feel their personality would fit with what you already have in place with your team.
“It gives your coaches the chance to put a name to the face and the skillset to the name, and just kind of reaffirms what hopefully your scouting staff has told your coaches what the kid can or can’t do. It’s really a small part of the process, but it’s definitely a piece of the process.”
The whole draft process culminates tonight in New York when general managers from all NBA teams select the potential stars of tomorrow. And just how many future all-stars will be picked?
“I think there’s probably about 10 guys,” the scout said.