x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Plenty of intrigue ahead of draft day

Next Wednesday, the NBA draft will take place in New York, captivating basketball fans around the world.

Next Wednesday, the NBA draft will take place in New York, captivating basketball fans around the world. The Memphis Grizzlies are to pick second, however it is anyone's guess what they will do. The latest rumour has Memphis trading their pick for a proven veteran and a lower draft position. This move makes sense as the team do not really need another inexperienced rookie who will take time to adjust to the NBA.

The team must win games now, and then attract an investor because the team are having a hard enough time paying the electricity bills, let alone the millions of dollars in player salaries. Predicting the Grizzlies moves is just one example of how difficult it is to handicap this year's draft. Some months back, pundits proclaimed this year's crop of players to be short on talent. However, as time has passed it has become clear that many decent players are available.

"This is a deep draft. There may not be a great deal of elite talent other than Blake Griffin, but there are numerous players who could help a team," an NBA executive recently said. "I think any team, whether selecting fifth or 55th, could end up getting a decent player or two this year." Some names dominate the field. Stephen Curry, star of the little-known Davidson University, has developed into one of the best shooters in the NCAA, a fact that shouldn't come as a surprise considering his bloodlines.

Curry's father Dell was one of the sweetest shooting guards the NBA has seen. I had the opportunity to watch Dell go through his shooting drills when he starred for the Toronto Raptors some 10 years ago. His shooting form was a thing of beauty and he could go for what seemed like an hour without missing a shot. Needless to say, like father like son. After measuring out at 6ft 4in in shoes and having shown good strength in the bench press, Curry Jr has convinced his critics that he has the size and strength to be more than just a shooting specialist.

Curry Jr's stock has risen and is now one of the surefire bets to go in the top ten and perhaps the top five. Ricky Rubio, Spain's basketball boy wonder, is another player who is considered to be among this year's best draft talents. Rubio wowed NBA scouts with his virtuoso talents at the Olympics in Beijing, playing against the world's best at the tender age of 17. He is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with his Spanish club as he tries to secure his release to eventually play in the NBA.

The possibility that he won't be able to buy his way out of his contract in Spain could very well prejudice his draft position. Teams might well not want to draft someone who won't be able to play for them. There is a new development in the Rubio story. It has been rumoured that the Sacramento Kings are really keen on selecting him with their fourth overall pick. Interestingly enough, Sacramento's new assistant, GM Jason Levien, was an NBA agent up until recently. Levien's sports agency business recently merged with current NBA agent Dan Fegan. And Fegan represents Rubio. Long story short, given the Chinese wall between Fegan and the Kings, there might well be a deal in the works.

In addition, perhaps all this business in Spain is just a smokescreen to scare teams ahead of the Kings in the draft. The NBA is full of intrigue, never more so than on draft night, when players, agents and teams collide to create great theatre. The 2009 draft should not disappoint. @Email:gdole@thenational.ae