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Peter May's Top 5 by position

CENTER
Wouldn't you love to see a Don Nelson team have a guy like Greg Oden available? But it will be Portland, not Golden State, that gets first crack at the Ohio State behemoth, perhaps the best pure center to come into the draft since Shaquille O'Neal and the best big man since Tim Duncan. Oden has all the tools to be a certifiable force for a number of years. He has the size (7 feet, 250 pounds) and will, by his sheer presence, give the Trail Blazers a defensive sheen. Should be an easy call for the Blazers. The rest of the field isn't that attractive, although that is due in part to Oden's large shadow. Ex-Boston College shot-blocker supreme Sean Williams should hear his name called in the first round. Roy Hibbert's decision to go back to Georgetown means he's at or near the top of the list next year.

1. Greg Oden, Ohio State
2. Spencer Hawes, Washington
3. Sean Williams, Boston College
4. Jason Smith, Colorado State
5. Aaron Gray, Pittsburgh

POWER FORWARD
There's always debate as to whether a guy is really a "4-man" or a center or even a small forward. Some players, like the Celtics' Al Jefferson, end up playing more than one position in the NBA. Is Kevin Durant a small forward or a power forward? The NBA Draft Guide lists him as a power forward. We're putting him at small forward, even though he plays like a power forward. The top power forward on this list is Florida's Al Horford, who may go as high as No. 3 to Atlanta. He gets company from teammate Joakim Noah, who might well have been selected No. 1 overall last year had he come out. Now he won't even be the first Gator picked. This is a solid class: Eight or nine so-called power forwards may get picked in the first round.

1. Al Horford, Florida
2. Yi Jianlian, China
3. Brandan Wright, North Carolina
4. Joakim Noah, Florida
5. Tiago Splitter, Spain

SMALL FORWARD
Welcome to the homepage of Kevin Durant, who can do everything but bench press 185 pounds. He left tongues wagging after a workout in Portland but probably won't get there. If Seattle doesn't take him at No. 2, you know something is up. He is a 6-9, do-it-all guy with absurd range who can also get down and dirty. He led the Big 12 in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots -- as a freshman. Bobby Knight is still recovering from Durant's 37-point, 23-rebound submission against Texas Tech. He's also an excellent free throw shooter. After Durant, there are a number of intriguing choices, two of whom (Jeff Green, Al Thornton) the Celtics like -- both should be long gone when the draft heads into the mid-teens. Thornton is a bit of a curiosity in that he is a grizzled 23, nearly five years older than Durant. Somewhere in this group is BC's Jared Dudley; he could end up going late in the first round.

1. Kevin Durant, Texas
2. Jeff Green, Georgetown
3. Al Thornton, Florida State
4. Julian Wright, Kansas
5. Thaddeus Young, Ga. Tech

SHOOTING GUARD
This is not the strongest group of candidates, but it boasts at least one surefire lottery pick. Then again, this is another category in which some guys could be reclassified as small forwards. The top candidate here is Corey Brewer, yet another Gator, who has range, athleticism, and can play defense with the best of the bunch. One NBA player he is compared to is the Pistons' Tayshaun Prince. He's also tall (6-9) for a shooting guard, which will enable him to guard bigger guys on the perimeter. Beyond Brewer, there are a couple of intriguing early entries, including what could be the first first-rounder from Eastern Washington (Rodney Stuckey). Southern Cal's Nick Young should hear his name well before his more celebrated cross-town rival, Arron Afflalo of UCLA.

1. Corey Brewer, Florida
2. Nick Young, Southern Cal
3. Rodney Stuckey, Eastern Wash.

4. Morris Almond, Rice
5. Daequan Cook, Ohio State

POINT GUARD
Do you ever wonder what would have happened to Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. had Ohio State lost that thrilling NCAA Tournament game to Xavier? It's hard to remember a player like Conley, who has gone from Oden's sidekick to a lottery pick after just one season. Then again, this isn't a great class for point guards, which may explain why Conley and Georgia Tech's Javaris Crittenton opted to leave after their freshman seasons. The two could be gone after Atlanta makes its second pick at No. 11. The other potential lottery pick at the position is Texas A&M's Acie Law, who may have the honor of being the first senior taken (it's either him or Al Thornton). After that, the pickings are a tad slim.

1. Mike Conley Jr., Ohio State
2. Acie Law, Texas A&M
3. Javaris Crittenton, Georgia Tech
4. Gabe Pruitt, Southern Cal
5. Petteri Koponen, Finland

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