Roundtable: Hot draft questions

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rubio.jpg NBA writers examine some of the most intriguing issues surrounding Thursday's draft.

1. What should the Grizzlies do with the No. 2 pick in the draft?

Ian Thomsen: They should look to trade it. If they aren't sold on Hasheem Thabeet at No. 2, maybe they can trade down through a deal with Minnesota, which has the Nos. 5 and 6 picks, as well as two other first-round selections. Thabeet probably wouldn't be available at No. 5 or 6, but the Grizzlies could get Jordan Hill and/or Stephen Curry there.

Chris Mannix: In my book, there are two sure things in this draft: Blake Griffin and Ricky Rubio. The Grizzlies should take advantage of being in position to draft a potential franchise point guard. Does Rubio have flaws? Sure. His perimeter shot needs work, the 18-year-old has to fill out and we'll see about his defense. But he's heady, flashy and a natural leader on the floor. If the Grizzlies pass because of financial issues or because they are scared he won't sign, they will regret it.

Steve Aschburner: Memphis should pick Thabeet and be done with it. He has the length, defense and shot-blocking that the Grizzlies need, and going any other direction just procrastinates on filling that void. So what if he canceled his workout? Lots of players would cancel their workouts in Memphis if they really thought it could influence whether they have to play there or not. Fact is, 12 guys do have to play there, and the Grizzlies get better if Thabeet is one of them.

Scott Howard-Cooper: If they can get a power forward with a future plus a good draft pick, make the deal. It doesn't have to be a pick this year, either. A first-rounder to spend Thursday would be the advantage of the known. But the No. 10 pick in 2010 may actually turn out to be more valuable than No. 6 or 7 in this weak draft. If Memphis plays this right, it could be a big winner from a draft most teams would just as soon go away.


2. What player intrigues you most in the draft?

Ian Thomsen: I want to see what Jordan Hill might do. Apart from Blake Griffin, he is the only offensively skilled big man in the top half of the draft. He could be a big surprise next year.

Chris Mannix: Thabeet. He is a mystery. What is he? Is he Dikembe Mutombo or Shawn Bradley? The fact that he is canceling workouts scares me a little. Individual workouts are not the end-all, be-all -- and frankly I think some personnel bosses put a little too much stock in them -- but is Thabeet that afraid his stock will fall when teams see him in drills? A lot of teams need a defensive-minded center capable of defending his counterpart one-on-one; just look at how Kendrick Perkins' stock has risen since the Boston-Orlando series. But no one is quite sure if Thabeet, who didn't pick up a ball until he was 15, is that type of player.

Steve Aschburner: I haven't gone to YouTube as diligently as I should have or poked around other international Internet sites, so I've got to say Rubio. His development will bear watching, along with the maneuvering to leave Europe or stay, and I'm eager to see how he survives defensively to make up for what he can bring to an offense.

Scott Howard-Cooper:Brandon Jennings. The speed. The ability to create openings where none existed. The constant image of defenders backpedaling as soon as Jennings breaks for the lane. The background as a playmaker, even as a scoring point guard, in a draft where so many of the other highly rated prospects at the position are combo guards trying to make a transition to distributor. The way he leads with his swagger. Jennings will not do anything low key. He will either succeed big or fail big. That's intrigue.


3. What team is under the most pressure to have a good draft night?

Ian Thomsen: The Timberwolves have four picks in the first round after packaging Mike Miller and Randy Foye for the Wizards' No. 5 pick. New GM David Kahn is proceeding on a bold, decisive path, and it will be interesting to see his next move.

Chris Mannix: Grizzlies. They blow this draft and they could be the Kansas City/Las Vegas/St. Louis Grizzlies in a few years. It's as simple as that. This draft could define Chris Wallace's tenure as Grizzlies GM and dictate whether owner Michael Heisley is operating this team for the long term. So, no pressure.

Steve Aschburner: Minnesota has tons riding on this draft. The Timberwolves have all those picks and a new, unproven basketball boss, no coach at the moment and zero buzz in the marketplace. Kahn has been prepping the team's remaining fans by preaching a rebuilding plan requiring multiple seasons, but owner Glen Taylor and his limited partners are desperate to sell tickets now. Now on record as labeling Al Jefferson as the second-best player on an eventual contender, Kahn -- sooner rather than later -- will need to come up with a candidate to be the Wolves' No. 1.

Scott Howard-Cooper:Raptors. It's the first day of the rest of their life. Toronto is a lottery team that is built to win now but isn't. The Raps have Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon and renewed encouragement by the play of Andrea Bargnani. They need to make something happen. It could be with the pick, it may be with a trade. But with the draft, the trade possibilities that will swirl around Bosh the following months and the decision on free agent Shawn Marion, they are at a crossroads and deciding the course of the next few years.


4. A few years from now, who will emerge as this draft's biggest star?

Ian Thomsen: The easy choice is Griffin, based on his raw talent, size and passion. The dark horse is Rubio, who in the right situation could be a highly exciting point guard while playing to a style entirely his own.

Chris Mannix: Rubio. Griffin is going to be a workhorse in the NBA and Tyreke Evans has many personnel execs salivating over his potential. But Rubio, once his jump shot develops into a weapon, seems destined for greatness.

Steve Aschburner:DeMar DeRozan. He has an NBA-ready body, great open-court skills, terrific quickness and, in terms of capital letters in his name, he can call and raise LeBron James. Check back in three years and tell me I'm not right.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Griffin. All the backhanded compliments Griffin has been getting -- he's the best player because it's a bad draft, he will have a successful career even if he's not a franchise-changing player -- have made it seem like the Oklahoma power forward is losing the perception game. The reminder is that he is a skilled player with great energy. Will he be a dominant pro? The consensus is that he won't be a nonstop All-Star, the desired returns on a No. 1 pick. But the safe decision does not have to equal the wrong decision. Griffin has the best chance to become the biggest star of the draft based on that dependability.