Feeling a Draft: Love & Mayo

by June 11, 2008

By Jeff Fox

The Great Debate is not Obama-McCain, but rather Love-Mayo. Or, more precisely, how good will Kevin Love and O.J. Mayo be in the NBA? There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground on the issue, with vocal supporters on both sides of the fence. This Slamonline columnist has already expressed his views on the subject – Mayo has the makings of a star, while Love will be a solid, but not spectacular, pro and may end up getting picked too high.

To try help settle this debate (but more than likely throwing fuel on the fire instead) Slamonline contacted several experts in the field and posed this simple question: “What type of NBA career will O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love have and why?” But before you fire off an angry rebuttal to your loyal Slamonline draft columnist, remember – “Don’t shoot the messenger!”

“If a player is picked in the lottery the expectation is much higher in hopes that a player will have an impact on a team within two years.”

“O. J. Mayo has enough talent plus the professional work ethic to have that impact and to gain experience.”

“Love has all the fundamentals to make an impact at either end. I think he is a safe pick that could be a 10, 10 guy for many years with an upside to be even better as he continues to focus on conditioning.”

-Ryan Blake, Assistant Director of NBA Scouting

“I think both Mayo and Love are underrated prospects. Mayo gets dogged for all the wrong reasons, but the fact is the kid can play and is easily the third best prospect in the Draft. The agent nonsense doesn’t bother me in the slightest, because on the court he’s all business. He has legitimate all-star potential. Love deserves to be a top 7 or 8 pick even though he’s projected to go late in the lottery. The guy has sick hands and is a better athlete than people realize. Love isn’t an all-star, but he’s one of only 10 guys or so in the Draft who could be consistent starters.”

-Shawn Siegel, editor CollegeHoops.net

“O.J.: Love the defense, the knowledge of the game, the drive to score. Scared about his height, point-guard skills and athleticism. I think he will contribute as a rookie and start—or at least be a 6th man—in the NBA by his second year. All-star games? Maybe a couple, but I don’t think we’re talking about a dude that will be an All-Star year in and year out. As far as guards in this Draft, I’d take Rose and Bayless over him, but I like O.J. more than Gordon, Westbrook or any other backcourt players in it. Very curious to see how he reacts to ESPN after the way they put him on blast for doing something that applies to most people in the Draft (prematurely getting $ from agents).”

“Kevin Love: Love the wide build, knowledge of the game and passing ability. Scared about his relative lack of height and athleticism compared to some of the hyper-athletic 4 men in the League now. I actually see his career unfolding a lot like O.J.’s, only with a little less individual success and at a different position. I think Kevin will contribute right away and eventually be a starter. Don’t think he will ever be an All-Star because I don’t think he will ever score like one. Really tough to call where he should get drafted without seeing him work out against other guys. Of other “big men” slotted high, I think Darrell Arthur and Anthony Randolph have higher ceilings but also lower basements, which makes them both tantalizing but scary. As for Brook Lopez, Kevin may be the better player, but Lopez has that center size which is also tempting. I think somewhere in the 7-11 range makes sense for Love.”

“One more thing on the two of them: Kevin might be more equipped to have team success than O.J. because he may be quicker to accept a “role.” Even at UCLA he didn’t get as many shots as he felt he deserved, but he contributes in many other ways. O.J. has the ability to be a role player on a great team thanks to his defense, but for a guy who has always been able to take whatever shot he wanted without repercussions, he might struggle as a third- or fourth-option on offense.”

-Ben Osborne, Editor-In-Chief, SLAM

“I think they’re both going to be good pros with the chance of, yes, being All-Stars and stand-out players. I think O.J. might be a little surer bet just because he’s got size and strength at the guard position and he’s going to put up points.”

“Love, I think, has an All-Star skill set. The only question about Kevin is his explosiveness around the rim and his ability to run the court and play with the better athletes. Now, to say that, he’s always played well against athletes and certainly his combine scores are impressive. So maybe Kevin’s got us tricked and he’s a better athlete than we realize. Strength goes a long way and both these players have great physical strength. I think that is one of their greatest attributes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kevin Love in an All-Star game by any means.”

“I think both of these players are going to do everything that they can do to be the best players that they can be. They have great work ethics. They’re serious about the game and I think they want to great. They don’t want to just play, they want to dominate and be great. I think the deciding factor will be the fit – which player lands in the best system for his skills and his ability and has teammates who can compliment what he can do.”

-Jerry Meyer, National Analyst, Rivals.com

Jeff Fox writes more extensively about the NBA draft and college basketball at www.collegehoopsnet.com. All hate mail can be directed to him at foxyjj@sympatico.ca.