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Thursday June 28, 2012 A mid-day look at Brad Beal and tonight's NBA Draft

Beal at draft GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- I swear, Bradley Beal didn’t face this much scrutiny during his entire freshman season at Florida combined.

Then again, the guys doing the analyzing now are the ones who have to answer to an owner regarding a rookie contract that figures to call for about $5 million per season.

“Remember,” Billy Donovan said Wednesday. “Greg Oden went to Portland with the first pick ... and then Oklahoma City took Kevin Durant.”

How could we forget? That was just four years ago.

Or what about this one?

In 2003, Cleveland takes LeBron James at No. 1. Easy call. Next up, Detroit takes ... drum roll, please ... Darko Milicic.

The next three picks: Carmelo Anthony (Denver), Chris Bosh (Toronto) and Dwayne Wade (Miami).

And, of course, we can go all the way back to 1985, when Houston nabbed Hakeem Olajuwon, Portland went with Sam Bowie and Chicago took Michael Jordan.

The full-court press by NBA executives at the top of the draft -- where Beal is not expected to last beyond the No. 3 overall pick tonight -- is completely understood and justified.

“As Brad mentioned to me, the workouts were not that bad. He was prepared for them. He was in good shape and there was nothing he wasn’t ready for or had not been exposed to,” Donovan said. “But a lot of guys asked some very strong questions that were probing and aggressive.”

Beal wasn’t necessarily ready for that, but Donovan assured him this wasn’t personal.

It was business.

“My thing with him, like I told him, that’s their job,” Donovan said. “If a guy like Thomas Robinson or Jared Sullinger or a handful of guys five picks after him blow up with incredible rookie years and become better pros, that GM has to answer for that.”

Unlike the countless talking heads providing their analysis or mock drafts. ESPN noted loud mouth Skip Bayless, for example, called Beal the most overrated player in the draft.

[Worth noting: Wonder how Mark Cuban would respond to Skippy about that, but I digress]

What’s not debatable, however, is that Charlotte holds the key to how the top of the draft breaks down.

If Jordan, team president of the Bobcats, keeps the No. 2 overall pick he’s expected to go with Kansas forward Thomas Robinson. If some team antes up to move into that second spot -- presumably the Cleveland Cavaliers, who need a shooter to pair with 2012 Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving -- that team will take Beal, considered by most to be the second-best player in the pool after Kentucky center Anthony Davis.

If Beal is still there at No. 3, he’s going to the Washington Wizards for all the reasons I laid out on lottery night May 30. ... ... Right now, that looks like the best fit. The Wizards love everything about Beal and covet a backcourt mate for franchise point guard John Wall.

But there’s nothing like draft day speculation.

If you can’t get enough of this stuff:

* Here’s a couple Bobcats takes from the Charlotte Observer. What they’re thinking and how pivotal it is for Jordan to get this one right and draft a superstar.
* Two looks from the Washington Post. The Wizards options and why Beal is their No. 1 guy.
* A couple Cleveland Plain-Dealer breakdowns. The Cavs narrowed focus and a glance at their history of trading under GM Chris Grant.
* And the longshot look at how Beal might end up in Oklahoma City.

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