Weekly Countdown: Rose has edge on Beasley in No. 1 sweepstakes
5 Things learned at the predraft camp
ORLANDO, Fla. -- With most of the first-round picks refusing to participate in the games -- they show up to be measured and to conduct press interviews -- the annual predraft camp serves mainly as a four-day convention for league coaches, scouts and executives.
5. Derrick Rose is the likely No. 1 pick. Let me start by respecting the statement of Chicago general manager John Paxson on Thursday that he has not agreed to terms with Doug Collins to become Bulls coach. My understanding was that the negotiations were not complete, and until that contract is signed, the possibility remains that Collins will choose to not return to coaching. A long shot, yes, but one never knows ...
Assuming that Collins does take over the Bulls, there is a feeling that he would prefer a point guard like Rose over a finisher like Beasley. Collins is going to want a team leader to carry out his strategies on the floor. As proved by their unfocused play this season, the Bulls have no such leadership. Rose would fill that role.
My take all along has been that the Bulls should use the pick on the best talent available regardless of position, because the No. 1 choice in the hands of a losing team precludes picking for need. They should simply pick the best player and rebuild the team around him. The Bulls don't have nearly enough information to make their decision, as much will depend on their personal interviews (especially their talk with Michael Beasley, whose focus is questioned by some NBA people). While this will be a personnel rather than a coaching decision, Collins would undoubtedly have input. This is always going to be a subjective choice when it comes to rating talent, and while it's a tight decision between Beasley and Rose, the coach may cast the decisive vote.
4. The definition of a point guard is changing. After Rose, a number of point-sized players are expected to go in the lottery -- 6-foot-3 Jerryd Bayless, 6-5 O.J. Mayo, 6-4 Eric Gordon and 6-3 Russell Westbrook -- but none is considered a traditional point guard.
"What really is a traditional point guard?'' said Bayless, the speedy freshman who averaged 19.7 points and 4.0 assists for Arizona. "Steve Nash is a 'pure' point and he can score 40 any night -- or he could when he was younger. Chris Paul is a guy who can go for 35 [points] and 18 [assists]. I don't know what a pure point guard is now.''
Bayless, Mayo and Gordon talked about playing point guard at least part time in the NBA. Westbrook is seen as someone who can make a full-time move to point guard, though he hasn't proved he can do it yet. There is greater demand for scoring at the point, especially in this era of hands-off perimeter defense that has liberated guards to drive to the basket. The dearth of traditional points entering the league (see below) combined with this class of combo guards means that there will be more scorers at the playmaking position like Gilbert Arenas, Allen Iverson and Mo Williams.
"What point guard in the league can't score?'' Bayless said. "Chris Paul knows when to score and when to pass. To be a point guard is all about knowing how to make the right play.''
While these rookies must prove they can make those decisions, it appears they'll be given opportunities to learn on the job.
3. Elston Turner will be a head coach someday. The longtime assistant to Rick Adelman (at Sacramento and now with Houston) is among the leading candidates to take over the Suns."He's done everything but actually be a head coach,'' Adelman said. "He's very good with players. He's very even-keeled. He was that way as a player, and he's that way now.''
Other "rookie" candidates (with little or no head-coaching experience) for the NBA in the near future are Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin and Lakers assistants Kurt Rambis and Brian Shaw -- all ex-players, like Turner. As a former player, Turner carries himself like a head coach with a quiet presence that commands respect.
"I've been fortunate to work with a guy who has really allowed me to do head-coaching duties without the title,'' said Turner, 48, who played eight years in the NBA as a 6-5 guard. "You're going to have to wear a number of different hats, which I know I can do and have done, in order to run an organization like [the Suns]. But their roster is already intact with a nucleus and good pieces to the puzzle, so whoever gets it, it ought to be a smooth transition.''
2. The two sides of the Brook Lopez question. The Stanford 7-footer is the top center in the draft and could go as high as No. 3 to Minnesota. He averaged 19.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks as a sophomore, but there is great debate over his future.
"I think he is going to be very pedestrian,'' an NBA personnel scout said. "His rebounding numbers are so-so; if he's going to be a rebounder, he hasn't shown it yet. He's a guy who will have a career of 10 or more years in the league, but I doubt very seriously whether he'll distinguish himself.''
Another scout sees Lopez's glass as half full.
"I agree he won't be a great rebounder or a great shot-blocker,'' he said. "I see him as a spurt player who will be very good in bursts of time -- four or five minutes -- and then he might disappear for a while. But he's a very big guy with big hands, and he's very skilled. I think he'll always be a scorer and the kind of smart center who can be a good complement to Al Jefferson in Minnesota. I don't think he'll be a bust, not at all.''
1. Paul Wissel resembles Bruce Willis. The Wissels are a famous family within the NBA -- father Hal is among the league's preeminent shooting coaches, and sons Scott and Paul are highly regarded advance scouts -- but Paul was missing from their annual trip to the predraft camp. That's because Paul Wissel has been working as stand-in for Willis on the set of The Surrogates, a feature film currently being shot in Massachusetts.
At 6-foot and 195 pounds, Wissel is the same height and five pounds lighter than Willis. Wissel is working 12-to-14 hours per day as a stand-in for the star, enabling the lighting and cameras to be set properly before Willis takes over to film the scenes.
"Bruce has been very good to me,'' said Wissel, a scout for the Sonics. "We talk -- though we don't have any long conversations -- and he always addresses me by my first name.''
He doesn't know if Willis is aware that he works in the NBA. Wissel became his stand-in after trying out as an extra in The Surrogates, a futuristic thriller in which Willis plays a cop investigating the murders of surrogate robots. Wissel is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, with his big break coming in the 2000 Sean Connery film Finding Forrester, in which he played an assistant basketball coach.
"Bruce will probably be done filming at the end of July,'' said Wissel, who figures to make $18,000. "That will be good for me, because that's when I run my boys' and girls' camps in Connecticut.''