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Draft Watch: Odds now favor Rose as No. 1 pick, not Beasley

Originally Published: May 12, 2008
By Chad Ford | ESPN.com

In 2007, one question dominated the months before the NBA draft: Who is the No. 1 player in the draft?

Greg Oden, a once-in-a-decade center prospect?

Or Kevin Durant, who had been arguably the most productive freshman in the history of college basketball?

After more than a month of deliberation, the Portland Trail Blazers decided to take Oden with the top pick.

This year, again, the focus is on two players.

The consensus two months ago was that Kansas State forward Michael Beasley was, far and away, the likely choice for the No. 1 pick.

Beasley had a freshman season that, in almost every way, was even more impressive than Durant's. He ended the season as the country's leading rebounder and one of its top scorers -- impressive feats for an 18-year-old freshman playing in an elite conference such as the Big 12.

Beasley, a 6-foot-10 power forward, has the physical tools and basketball skills to be a great NBA player. He's a prolific scorer both inside and outside, with elite athleticism, great range on his jump shot, the power to bang in the paint, the speed to run the break and the nastiness to mix it up down low -- with the cockiness to think that he can deliver a victory for his team every night.

But a late charge by Memphis point guard Derrick Rose has dramatically changed the game. Rose, not Beasley, was a dominant force in the NCAA tournament, putting on a performance that would've garnered him MOP honors for the tournament had Memphis not blown a late second-half lead in the championship game versus Kansas.

Rose is considered a cross between Chris Paul and Deron Williams, with excellent size, athleticism and leadership abilities. The lack of a consistent jump shot is the only real mark against him.

In the last 20 years, only one player shorter than 6-6 -- Allen Iverson -- has ever gone No. 1. When in doubt, NBA GMs almost always opt for a big man. However, as we watch point guards such as Paul, Williams and Tony Parker dominate in the playoffs, the thinking is beginning to change. It's no longer considered a given that a big man is the key to winning in the NBA.

Over the past few months, I've talked to scouts and/or executives from almost every team in the draft lottery in an effort to determine what each would do with the No. 1 pick. Some were open, while some refused to answer.

With character questions still swirling around Beasley, and Rose gaining stock in the eyes of NBA front-office decision-makers, Beasley is no longer the favorite to be the No. 1 pick -- and he has dropped to No. 2 on our Top 100.

With about a week to go before the NBA draft lottery, Rose has emerged as the most likely candidate for the No. 1 pick.

The race remains close: We're projecting seven lottery teams opting for Rose and seven for Beasley. But if you break down the likelihood of each team's landing the No. 1 pick, it's a landslide for Rose. According to our latest intel, Rose has a 66.3 percent chance of becoming the No. 1 pick -- up dramatically from the 10.5 percent chance we gave him in March.

Here's the team-by-team breakdown:

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