With the NBA Draft now just three days away, we asked Chad Ford of ESPN.com to share his insight into one of the wildest periods of the NBA season. In a Q&A with The Oklahoman, Ford discusses Blake Griffin’s prospects, Thunder general manager Sam Presti’s maneuvers and exactly how he managed to become, well, Chad Ford. Darnell Mayberry: What’s this time of year like for you? Chad Ford: On the phone. On the phone. On the phone. I’ve spent all my time watching video on the players. I’ve gone out and seen them live. I’ve scouted. So now I’m constantly calling people, agents, GMs, scouts. I have six to seven trade rumors or things every day that I’ll spend the entire day tracking down. And of those, maybe one actually makes it into a column. And so there are a lot of dead ends. DM: How did you become the NBA Draft guru for ESPN.com? CF: I started a Web site in 1996 called Sportstalk.com. Our idea was to do something that ended up being kind of the forerunner of blogs and Hoopshype. A number of people in the league, from agents to coaches to GMs began reading it religiously. And over time I just began to develop relationships with them. Eventually our Web site was bought by ESPN in 2001. DM: Do you believe teams should draft for need or take the best player available? CF: I actually think the tier system that a number of teams use is probably the best approach. You break the players down into tiers based off of talent, and then you rank the players within five tiers based off of position of need. Teams that use this method have historically done better in the draft. DM: What are your impressions of how Sam Presti has built this team thus far? CF: I think he’s one of the brightest, most intelligent GMs in the league. He’s innovative. He’s willing to experiment. He’ll look at different things rather than the way it’s kind of always been done. If you look at what he’s done in short order to teams in comparison to when he took over the Sonics, he went from a team that was just a disaster to a team that I believe is one of the best up-and-coming teams in the league and a team that’s going to be very well-positioned to be a legitimate title contender. And that’s not easy to do. DM: How do you see Blake Griffin developing down the line? CF: I think he’s fantastic. I know there have been questions about whether Griffin would be the No. 1 pick in any other draft. I think if he had had the year that he had this year he would have been the No. 1 pick last year over Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley. He’s so tough and he’s so strong, physical and athletic there are so few guys in the league who have those combination of skills. He’s going to have an advantage night in and night out because of the way he plays.