FORT WORTH, Texas — In an attempt to be polite, one NBA team executive describes Kansas State forward Michael Beasley as "a bit of a goof."

Beasley defends himself by pointing out that despite being 6-8, 235, "I'm still a kid."

And he acts like it, which has led to speculation that Miami team president Pat Riley — who is hardly a practical joking sort of guy — might not be comfortable using the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft on a young free spirit.

Most NBA player personnel executives are not buying that, however. If the Bulls select Memphis guard Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick Thursday, Riley will have no choice but to take Beasley, who led the nation in rebounding with 12.4 a game and was third in scoring at 26.2 points a game as a 19-year-old freshman.

"Outside of the top two," one team scout said, "you don't have any impact players. If Chicago takes Rose, there is no way Miami will pass Beasley. He will be an All-Star by his second year in the league."

On paper, all Beasley seems guilty of is being a class clown. An article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel detailed some of Beasley's exploits —putting a dead rat in a teacher's drawer, signing his name with a felt pen in various places in high school, including on the headmaster's car, and putting glue in his cousin's underwear.

But at least he has been consistent. Beasley was actually suspended in kindergarten for cutting off a girl's pigtail.

"I just turned 19 years old in January," he said. "How mature do you want me to be? I'm still a kid. I'm not 20 yet. I'm not legal. I can vote, but that's about it."

If the Heat adds Beasley to a team with a healthy Dwyane Wade and forward Shawn Marion, they could again be formidable in the East despite a 15-67 record last year.

Beasley is by far the best forward in the draft, but there are others who could develop nicely. The next best is probably UCLA's Kevin Love, who, like Beasley was listed at 6-10 in college but checked in at 6-8 in the NBA pre-draft camp.

"I think length is a big question, depending on what he's good at," New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower said. "Does he rely on things close to the basket where that length is really going to be challenged? Or does he have the versatility and the skills to step outside? I think Love's got the skills to offset any disadvantage he might have with height."

Love also has a skill that has rarely been seen since the 1970s and '80s — he is perhaps the best two-handed outlet passer since another UCLA player, Bill Walton.

There are intriguing prospects after Beasley and Love. Joe Alexander of West Virginia has been a workout warrior. In one workout, he bench pressed 185 pounds 27 times. He will be taken in the top 10.

Danilo Gallinari is a talented 19-year-old Italian who is an excellent shooter and ballhandler. He plays aggressively, which enables him to get to the foul line a lot. He has been compared to former Bull Toni Kukoc.

"Forward is definitely the position with the most depth in this draft," NBA draft consultant Chris Ekstrand said. "You are going to find that teams can get good players even late in the first round. There aren't many stars, but there are a lot of forwards who will be able to contribute at some point."

Two sleepers are Alexis Ajinca, a 20-year-old 7-footer from France, and Serge Ibaka, a 6-10 forward from the Congo.

Ajinca has a wingspan of 7-8 and a nice jump shot, but he averaged only 5.0 points and 3.1 rebounds with his team in the French league. He's had good workouts with NBA teams, however, and could go in the middle of the first round.

Ibaka has 17 siblings and grew up in poverty in the Congo, where he lived in a house with no electricity or running water. He played basketball on a court with tennis shoes that had cardboard inserts because they had holes in them.

Ibaka has impressive athletic skills, but he's only 18 years old and does not speak English. Still, he is considered a first-round pick, perhaps even in the top 20.


Top forward prospects

Name . . . Ht. . .. Wt. . . . Age . . . School/country

Michael Beasley . .. 6-8 . . . 235 . . . 19 . . . Kansas State

Kevin Love . . . 6-8 . . . 275 . . 19 . .. UCLA

Joe Alexander . . . 6-8 . . . 220 . . . 21 . . . West Virginia

Danilo Gallinari . . . 6-9 . . . 212 . . . . 19 . . . Italy

Alexis Ajinca . . . 7-0 . . . 240 . . . 20 . . . France

Anthony Randolph . . . 6-11 . . . 200 . . . 18. . . . LSU

Serge Ibaka . .. .6-10 . . .220 . . . 18 . . .Congo

Donte Greene . . . 6-10 . . . 225 . . . 20 . . . .Syracuse

Darrell Arthur . . . 6-9 . . .225 . . . 20 . . . .Kansas

Nicolas Batum . . .6-8 . . . 210 . . . 19 . . . .France

Best of the rest

JaVale McGee, 7-0, 237, Nevada; J.J. Hickson, 6-9, 240, NC State; Ryan Anderson, 6-10, 225, California; Joey Dorsey, 6-9, 260, Memphis; Bill Walker, 6-6, 235, Kansas State; Jason Thompson, 6-11, 250, Rider; D.J. White, 6-9, 240, Indiana; Nathan Jawai, 6-10, 270. Australia; Richard Hendrix, 6-9, 260, Alabama; Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, 6-7, 215, UCLA; Josh Duncan, 6-8, 225, Xavier; Davon Jefferson, 6-8, 215, Southern Cal; Othello Hunter, 6-8, 220, Ohio State; James Mays, 6-8, 227, Clemson; Pat Calathes, 6-10, 204, St. Joseph's; Patrick Ewing Jr., 6-7, 224, Georgetown

NBA Draft

Thursday, WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York

TV: 5:30 p.m., ESPN.

First round

1. Chicago

2. Miami

3. Minnesota

4. Seattle

5. Memphis

6. New York

7. LA Clippers

8. Milwaukee

9. Charlotte

10. New Jersey

11. Indiana

12. Sacramento

13. Portland

14. Golden State

15. Phoenix(*)

16. Philadelphia

17. Toronto

18. Washington

19. Cleveland

20. Denver

21. New Jersey(**)

22. Orlando

23. Utah

24. Seattle

25. Houston

26. San Antonio

27. New Orleans

28. Memphis

29. Detroit

30. Boston

(*)From Atlanta

(**)From Dallas