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Old 06-18-2007, 03:11 PM   #1
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Thumbs up Al Horford Moving Up To 3rd Pick

Here's the latest on the June 28 draft, based on what I heard this past weekend in my conversations with folks from around the league:

My new mock draft is coming out Tuesday, and I'll have a new player at the No. 3 position for the Atlanta Hawks.

My first and second editions of the mock draft had Mike Conley there. Version 3.0 had Brandan Wright.

For my next version, Al Horford will replace Wright. Sources say Horford is the Hawks' favorite at the moment -- though they still could trade the pick.

That news should come as a blow to both Memphis (No. 4) and Milwaukee (No. 6), both of whom also have Horford ranked No. 3 (behind Greg Oden and Kevin Durant).

Since the Hawks drafted a similar, albeit inferior, player last year when they took Shelden Williams, it's a little surprising that the Hawks would opt for Horford -- especially when they really need a player like Conley.

But then again, it's the kind of thing we've come to expect from the Hawks.

If they draft Horford, they'll probably opt for a point guard at No. 11, but the chances of landing Conley that late in the lottery are slim. Instead, the Hawks will have to settle for a combo guard like Acie Law or a project like Javaris Crittenton.

The deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft is Monday at 5 p.m. ET.

With Cal center DeVon Hardin stating he's staying in the draft and Marquette point guard Dominic James pulling out of the draft, teams around the NBA are really holding their breath on two players -- Georgetown's Jeff Green and Georgia Tech's Thaddeus Young. They are the only two top players still widely believed to be on the fence.

Word is that two international players, Finland's Petteri Koponen and Italy's Marco Belinelli, are staying in the draft.

Koponen, in particular, is a nice story. Even though the Orlando predraft camp selection committee wouldn't put Koponen in the camp, several teams, including the Knicks, Suns and Spurs, are considering drafting him in the first round.

Koponen, along with several other international clients of agent Marc Cornstein -- Artem Zabelin, Stanko Barac, Zoran Erseg, Marko Lekic and Milovan Rakovic -- worked out for representatives of more than 15 NBA teams in New York this weekend.

Several GMs, including Boston's Danny Ainge, Portland's Kevin Pritchard and the Knicks' Isiah Thomas, were at the event along with numerous scouts. The word from the workouts was that Koponen looked great.

Zabelin looked very good in that setting, but probably not good enough to get a first-round promise -- meaning he's likely to pull out of the draft.

Barac, the other underclassmen in the group, didn't fare as well in the workout, according to several sources at the event. Cornstein said it's "60-40" that Barac stays in the draft.
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