Draft Day Finally Here

Phog.net takes you inside the war room to look at some of the very factors general managers and coaches will be pondering in the next 24 hours about some of KU's top stars.

Ahhhh…the great debate rages on. Beasley or Rose? Who should the Chicago Bulls christen (or curse depending on how you look at it) with the number one pick in the 2008 NBA Draft? It’s one of the many questions being pondered across the country less than 24 hours before the draft.

But the question KU fans want the answer to is where and how many, of the 2008 national championship Jayhawks will be taken by NBA teams in this draft?

Like with any player taken in the draft, strengths and weaknesses will be weighed. Some teams will pass but rest-assured, Thursday has the potential to be a proud night in Jayhawkland.

The draft is based on talent, let’s face it. Yes, being part of a winning program helps but so does having untapped talent, and the sky appears to be the limit with most of Bill Self’s players who are eligible for this year’s draft.

We take a look once again at some of the pluses and minuses compiled over the last few weeks as most of our Jayhawks have been on a whirlwind tour visiting NBA cities across the country.

Brandon Rush

Why you would draft him:
He’s a first round lock, he’s NBA-ready and possesses the build, frame, body, and size to prove it. He’s built for this level. Rush packs a ton of athletic ability in that 6-6 frame and regained his quickness over time last season. Rush thrives in the open floor and would be best suited for a team that likes to play up tempo.

Some believe Rush’s game is better suited for the NBA than college. He’s a spot up shooter on one end and a versatile defender at the other end. The junior possesses long arms, with an outrageous wingspan which certainly helps him on the defensive end. Brandon recovered from ACL surgery, never hung his head, never pouted, and led his team to a national title. Plenty of NBA big wigs know this guy is a winner.

He has a sneaky good nose for the ball and when he puts his mind to it, can make an impact on the glass, and is an adept passer.

Why you wouldn’t draft him:
Kansas fans are well-aware he’s disappeared at times and failed to push down the gas. But he found a different gear for the stretch run and led his team to a conference championship along with the most coveted title of all. His ball-handling has improved but has been questioned during his tenure at KU. Does Brandon have the ability to take a couple dribbles and blow by his defenders, especially going left? Or can he survive as more of a spot up shooter.

Darrell Arthur

Why you would draft him:
Shady is another first round lock and produced one of KU’s most impressive performances in the title game with a double-double to remember. Surely that didn’t hurt his stock. Arthur was a likely candidate to skip college had the NBA not instituted the age restriction. Even the Dallas native would admit now that he benefitted from two years of tutelage under Self.

The Texan has crazy hops, decent lateral quickness, size, and athleticism. Did we mention he runs the floor like a deer? If that doesn’t spell lottery pick I don’t know what does. He showed off an accurate mid range game for most of the year and certainly displayed enough back-to-the-basket ability to appease front office decision-makers.

Why you wouldn’t draft him:
For some reason his stock seems to have fallen a bit. Once thought to likely be a sure-fire lottery pick – being one of the NBA’s first 14 picks is no longer a foregone conclusion. Arthur is on the cusp of being the crème de le crème of the first round but he’s at the mercy of who is drafted in front of him. He will be in the green room at the Garden on Thursday but he’s no longer a lock to take the stage as a lottery pick.

His KU career was foul-plagued and who knows what his production would’ve been if he could’ve stayed on the floor more often.

Mario Chalmers

Why you would draft him:
He’s long and really gets after you on the defensive end but the most attractive attribute Chalmers possesses has to be his gusto. Chalmers willingness to not shy away from the big moment and always looking to rise to the occasion will attract a lot of general managers.

His shot against Memphis is not the only reason that he will be taken in the first round of this draft but his stock has never been and probably would never be as high as it is right now. If the dagger through the heart of the Tigers is not enough, he’s certainly done his fair share to make an impression on general managers with first round spots in the draft. Mario has been wowing teams in workouts with his shooting ability and has certainly proven he belongs in the draft and should be taken in the first round.

Why you wouldn’t draft him:
One reason Mario might be tough to commit to is that he’s a “tweener”. The questions about his point guard ability linger and let’s face it with his size that’s likely where he’ll need to play at the next level. At Kansas his experience as the lead guard was minimal so there are plenty of teams that will be asking is his ball-handling good enough?

Sasha Kaun

Why you would draft him:
6-11, athletic, and runs the floor like a deer. He’s got a long wingspan and is an adept shot blocker on the defensive end. Sasha possesses character and is a quality person which does count for something. He’s worked hard and improved and remember, he hasn’t played organized basketball for THAT long. His development is still on the uptick.

This draft is a win-win for Kaun who has signed on for a seven-digit salary to play pro ball for a team in Russia. This move likely locks him into a late second round draft spot.

On the defensive end of the floor Kaun is not afraid of contact and spent a lot of time in his KU career in foul trouble, but I’m not sure there’s a player in the draft who defends the pick-and-roll as good as Sasha. We all know pick-and-roll is surely popular in the NBA.

Why you wouldn’t draft him:
His offense still needs improvement though he can score with both hands. Kaun came a long way with his shooting ability (especially from the free throw line) his senior year but he still doesn’t finish everything he should around the rim. Sasha’s Russian deal will not impact his draft day decision but it may influence teams to stay away. Kaun admitted to the Lawrence Journal World he will honor that commitment no matter what happens on Thursday - not very attractive for a team looking for immediate help. But on the other hand, a team, like the Celtics, that has the ability to wait could draft the senior standout late in the second round, let him hone his skills in Russia, and still own the rights to a much-improved Kaun in a couple years.

Darnell Jackson

Why you would draft him:
Statistically Darnell’s game improved by leaps and bounds during his senior season putting him on the radar for many NBA scouts. He’s efficient on offense and rarely forces the issue. His toughness is certainly one of the positives Jackson displays consistently along with his 12-15 foot jumper.

Jackson has been through the rigors, is experienced, and is not afraid to mix it up down low. He’s active on the glass and brings a certain energy to the floor that can’t be replaced. The guy can dunk and bring a crowd to its feet. His workouts have served him well and it’s hard to imagine the KU forward would go undrafted.

Why you wouldn’t draft him:
Darnell is a decent defender but he will need to improve to succeed at the next level. He’s gotten beaten off the dribble in the past especially off pick-and-rolls and will need to fix that. He will have to continue to be able to score over bigger players and at 6-8 might be undersized a bit to play power forward in the NBA. If he can work on his range and ability to score off the dribble, maybe small forward could work into his future plans.

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