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Feeling the Draft

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Chad Ford heard a rumor (Insider required) in Orlando that Atlanta was looking at Brandan Wright with the third pick, and point guard Javaris Crittendon with the eleventh.  Of course, it makes no sense, which makes perfect sense, because we're talking about the Hawks.  Brandan Wright is an inexperienced, athletic wing (like Josh Smith and Marvin Williams and half their roster), so of course they'll take him.  Meanwhile, desperate for a point guard after passing on Chris Paul and Deron Williams two yeras ago and Randy Foye last year, this has them passing on Mike Conley at 3, and looking at Crittendon with the 11 pick instead of Acie Law, even though Law is rated higher than Crittendon by almost everyone.  Of course, Crittendon is younger and may have more 'upside' and he played his college ball in Atlanta at Georgia Tech, but still.  Those guys are really weird down there in the A-T-L.  

All this leaves Law available at 14 and going to the Clippers in Ford's book.  Surely, SURELY the Hawks will take one point guard with their two picks.  Who else in the top 13 will go for a point guard?  And would anyone else consider Crittendon over Law?  I doubt that the Clippers would consider Crittendon if Law is off the board at 14.  He's only 19 and considered a long term bet - the Clippers need someone to run the point NOW while Livingston is recovering.  A 19 year old 6'5", skinny, athletic point is redundant.

For my part, I have a new favorite point guard in the draft - Jared Jordan of Marist.  Maybe I'm prejudiced - as a slow, undersized point guard myself, I can't help but root for the guy.  And there are some out there who think he could be another Steve Nash - who, by the way, was picked 15th in the 1996 draft.  Most scouts agree that no one in the draft - no one - runs a team better or passes better than Jordan.  He led the NCAA in assists last season playing for the Red Foxes.  Bear in mind also that a guy like this - if he is who I think he is - could actually be a better pro.  As a distributor and floor general, he'll be most effective when he is surrounded by 4 guys capable of scoring.  In college, he was far and away the best player on his team, and the best scorer as well.  And yet he led the nation in assists.

At the Orlando camp he put up some pretty impressive numbers like a game of 7 assists and 0 turnovers (remember, this is in limited minutes in the equivalent of a pick up game).  Apparently, he was the talk of the camp.

According to Ford, here's what one scout had to say after Day 2 (Insider required) in Orlando:

When Steve Nash played at the old Desert Classic in Phoenix, all the scouts said he couldn't guard anyone and was too little to be a NBA player. Ninety million dollars later and two MVPs, it shows you what we know. All I can say is that I'd rather have this kid, weaknesses and all, run my team than any other point guard in this draft -- including Mike Conley.

I have to admit, I have never even seen Jared Jordan play.  I've read a lot about him, including a fascinating piece on SI.com by Rand Richards Cooper who actually played a game of pickup against an 11-year-old Jordan 11 years ago.  Again, my point guard prejudice shows through, but when you read about the leadership skills, passing and court awareness of this guy, you have to take notice.  I mean, we're talking about some intangible stuff here, but if it stands out that much - if everyone sees it and comments on it, well, there's got to be something there, right?  

At any rate, I'm not advocating the Clippers draft him at 14 - but if he's still on the board in the second round at 45, I know who I would pick.  Unfortunately, many of the other second round prospects at the point played poorly in Orlando, including Dominic James, Sean Singletary and Aaron Brooks.  As is the case with Law in the first round, it's entirely possible that Jordan may be taken just ahead of the Clippers draft position in the second round.

Would the Clippers take point guards in both rounds with their only two picks?  Would you?  The answer is, probably not.  But if Law is off the board in the first, and the Clippers opt for an athletic shooter like Nick Young there, Jordan might be the perfect fit with that second round pick.  Of course he's a long shot to actually help.  But remember, we're talking about a four year player in college.  He's got a better shot at helping next season, holding down the fort until Livingston's return, than a 19 year old like Crittendon.  And as the best pure point guard in the draft, he could end up being a steal.