In covering what some experts are calling a weak NBA Draft tonight, ESPN plans to include free agency storylines and use a salary cap expert for the first time.
"This year being the biggest year for free agency, we are going to tie in some of the free agency stories," ESPN coordinating producer Pat Lowry said.
Former Portland Trail Blazers executive Tom Penn will serve as a "capologist," analyzing the salary cap space for teams heading into the free agency period, which includes top stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Stuart Scott will host ESPN's coverage with analysts Jay Bilas, Jon Barry and Jeff Van Gundy. Mark Jones will interview players after they are drafted.
ESPN will have videoconferencing capability with 13 teams, including the Thunder. The other teams are Boston, Chicago, Dallas, L.A. Lakers, Miami, Memphis, Minnesota, New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington.
In a conference call this week, Bilas and analyst Fran Fraschilla described it as a weak draft.
"The way I analyze it, there might be nine guys that realistically will be in a team's rotation next year," said Fraschilla, who once again will serve as ESPN's expert on international players.
OU PROSPECTS SLIGHTED
Fraschilla called OU guard Willie Warren "probably the most disappointing guy in the draft probably because of where I thought his potential was," but noted he might be a bargain late in the first round or early in the second.
"Not just the attitude issues surfaced, but he has some inherent weaknesses with his game. He cannot go left. He proved to be a very streaky shooter."
Fraschilla said he didn't believe center Tiny Gallon, who left OU after his freshman year, was an NBA prospect.
"I was very disappointed in his game overall. I think his work ethic is below average. He has no desire to be a low-post player. Weight is going to be an issue with him."
OSU junior guard James Anderson earned higher marks but his athleticism was questioned.
"I think his maturity level and his skill level are such that he can help a team in the mid-first round, but he doesn't have overwhelming athleticism," Fraschilla said.
Said Bilas, "Given the fact that this is a weak draft and there are a lot of guys between 10 and 30 or 35, I think he picked a great time to leave school."
NBA TV ADDS SELF
NBA TV has added Kansas basketball coach Bill Self to its pre- and post-draft coverage shows at 5 and 11 p.m. today. He also will join former New York Nets coach Lawrence Frank to analyze the draft during "Division Review Shows," 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.
While ESPN is covering the actual draft, Self and host Matt Winer will provide analysis of key selections on NBA.com. Self will have plenty of opportunity to comment on two KU players — Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry — who are expected to go in the first round.
NBA TV draft coverage will be hosted by Rick Kamla, with analysts Kenny Smith and Steve Smith, and college expert Chris Dortch.