Thursday, June 30, 2005

In-Depth Look at the 2005 NBA Draft

Rob Babcock-blocked the Raptors from taking Danny Granger and instead settled on Charlie Bigglesworth-- a true draft day blunder.

By Paul Benedict

Before the draft becomes old news, allow me to get in my two cents...

-I've been killing Charlie Villanueva for over two years now, ever since I saw him dog it through a high school game and seem not to care even the slightest that his team lost. But I have to admit, I felt somewhat sorry for him last night. After Toronto made the most mind-boggling move in Tuesday's draft by selecting Charlie Bigglesworth 7th overall, the ESPN analysts (all of them) absolutely ripped Rob Babcock for drafting the notoriously underachieving, lethargic Villanueva. And then the hairless wonder had to go up for the post-pick interview with Stuart Scott, who immediately asked him what it was like having his moment in the sun spurned by all of the ESPN draft "experts". Vilanueva showed little emotion however in taking the easy route by saying he's been proving people wrong all his life and working very hard, blah blah blah. I don't know about you, but if I'm hairless and sitting up there in his position (and don't take the hairless thing seriously, I actually think it's kind of cool), I'd be pretty fucking emotional. Remember Paul Pierce from '98? Caron Butler from '02? I wish for Villanueva's sake that he had stood up for himself more than he did, but that tells you a little bit about what the guy is like.

-I may turn to be completely wrong about this, but as of last night, the absolute worst pick in the draft had to have been the Clippers' drafting of Yaroslav Korolev 12th, ahead of such immediate impacters as Antoine Wright, Joey Graham, Rashad McCants, and namely, Danny Granger. "Joe" made an interesting point yesterday when he claimed that we really have no right no jump on Korolev and praise the Celtics' drafting of Green when in essence, we have no idea how either is going to turn out. But here's my problems with Korolev-- when you want to consider drafting a kid so young, you absolutely have to consider his maturity. Korolev supposedly let that draft rumor leak out himself when he started yapping away to his teenage buddies who then proceeded to spread the word all over the internet. Korolev also reportedly spent more time on the internet checking out mock drafts then he did preparing for the draft. Now this is obviously speculation, but the mere fact that people are speaking up about this tells you that his maturity is certainly in question. My biggest problem with the Korolev pick is that the Clippers are on the brink of making the Playoffs! They haven't been there since 1994! Fuck championships, if I'm with the Clippers, I have my heart set on earning some respect in this league. Topping the Lakers last season was the first step with the Playoffs seeming like a very reasonable goal for next season, but they definitely didn't help themselves on Tuesday.

Yaroslav Korolev, the hottest selling Clippers jersey since Sofoklis Schortsanitis!

-Some phenomenal highlight packages:
-Mickael Gelabale's 6-step travel down the middle for a dunk. Priceless.
-Martynas Andriuskevicius' jaw-dropping highlight package. I understand it was presumably against a bunch of stiffs, but my goodness, this guy looked pretty damn good. He's now earned the right for me to spell out his entire name.
-Nate Robinson looking like he could have easily been an All-Pro cornerback. There's no rookie I'm more excited about watching than him. Let's pray he steps up to the plate and challenges Josh Smith in next year's dunk contest.
-I absolutely love the highlights of the big high schoolers dunking all over kids half their size. Andrew Bynum's was hysterical with one shot of an opposing team just staring in awe as he dunked in between three of them.
-That Warrick dunk against Notre Dame may have been the single most impressive in-game dunk all season. Who else can do that besides Amare and maybe Swift?
-ESPN sold Jason Maxiell short-- his package made him look nothing like he really is. I remember last season in the NCAA Tourney against East Tennessee State he made several plays that had me jumping out of my chair and chest bumping my roommates, but his highlights on Tuesday did nothing for me.

2005-06 All-Rookie 1st Team:
Andrew Bogut, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton (Top 5 Picks)

2nd Team:
Rashad McCants, Joey Graham, Julius Hodge, Wayne Simien, Sean May

Rookie of the Year:
Chris Paul

Biggest Steals:
Chris Paul at #4
Danny Granger at #17
Gerald Green at #18
Hakim Warrick at #19
Wayne Simien at #29
Ersan Ilyasova at #36
Chris Taft at #42
Martynas Andriuskevicius at #44
Ryan Gomes at #50

The Pacers plucked out a gem in Danny Granger.

Biggest Busts:
Charlie Villanueva at #7
Channing Frye at #8
Andrew Bynum at #10

Best Players When All is Said and Done:
1. Chris Paul
2. Deron Williams
3. Marvin Williams
4. Danny Granger
5. Gerald Green

Best 2nd Round Picks When All is Said and Done:
1. Roko Ukic
2. Ersan Ilyasova
3. Ryan Gomes
4. Andray Blatche
5. Chris Taft

Players That Didn't Get Drafted but Will Make an Impact:
1. Chuck Hayes
2. Kennedy Winston
3. Jawad Williams

2005 NBA Draft Rankings
-Based on how teams did with respect to their draft positions

1. Boston
#18- SG Gerald Green, Gulf Shores Academy (TX)
#50- SF Ryan Gomes, Providence
#52- PG Orien Greene, Louisiana-Lafayette

-It's amazing-- Ainge got Green at #18 after he considered trading Paul Pierce to Portland for a chance to draft him, and then he plucked Gomes at #50-- a guy he had been strongly considering at #18 before the draft. Bravo, Danny.

2. New Orleans
#4- PG Chris Paul, Wake Forest
#33- PF Brandon Bass, LSU

-I firmly believe Chris Paul will be the best player from the 2005 class, so the Hornets essentially got a steal at #4. He also happens to be probably the most marketable player in the draft which fills another need for the hapless Hornets. Bass was a nice 2nd round pick-- though he's a bit of a tweener, he has a lot of talent and can also help spark fan interest since he's an LSU product.

Let it all out Byron-- we'd be gushing, too.

3. Indiana
#17- SF Danny Granger, New Mexico
#46- PF Erazem Lorbek, Slovenia

-Is there a living soul out there that doesn't believe Granger is going to become an impact player? So how in the world did he drop to Indiana at #18?! He might struggle for minutes early on, but he certainly gives Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird the leverage to trade Artest or Jackson if either self-combusts. The Pacers are like the Spurs of the East-- they just restock and reload.

4. Utah
#3- PG Deron Williams, Illinois
#34- SG C.J. Miles Skyline H.S. (TX)
#51- C Robert Whaley, Walsh

-I love the Williams pick, he's a perfect fit under Jerry Sloan. Look for the Jazz to be a significantly better team next season simply because of this pick. Now they're just a go-to scorer away from being a Playoff team. Miles and Whaley are both NBDL projects (though Miles may go to Texas), so we'll have to wait awhile to see what happens with them.

5. Golden State
#9- PF Ike Diogu, Arizona St.
#40- PG Monta Ellis, Lanier H.S. (MS)
#42- PF Chris Taft, Pittsburgh

-I was really pulling for my Warriors to nab Hakim Warrick at #9, but Diogu might actually be a better fit with his superior rebounding and post skills. Ellis and Taft were absolute money 2nd round picks given their potential. 5 years from now the Warriors could very well have had the best 2005 NBA Draft.

6. Miami
#29- PF Wayne Simien, Kansas

-The Heat were one of the few teams who made the perfect selection with one of their picks. If Simien can stay healthy, there's no question that he's going to be even better than Haslem.

7. Milwaukee
#1- C Andrew Bogut
#36- SF Ersan Ilyasova, Turkey

-Bogut will never be a superstar in this league, but good centers are so hard to find in this league that you can't entirely blame them for picking him first-- as long as they address their other needs this summer. Ilyasova was a first round lock until he injured his ankle, so he could end up being a nice find in the 2nd round.

8. Atlanta
#2- SF Marvin Williams, North Carolina
#31- G Salim Stoudamire, Arizona
#59- G Cenk Akyol, Turkey

-Williams could turn out to be a stud, but the Hawks obviously have some wheeling and dealing to do this summer with a plethora of 3s on the roster. Stoudamire was a nice pick, but I doubt he's the answer at point guard.

C'mon, Billy Knight! Wearing a rental suit to Marvin Williams' jersey unveiling is not a good way to start a new era!

9. Charlotte
#5- PG Raymond Felton, North Carolina
#13- PF Sean May, North Carolina

-Bickerstaff could have done better, but you can't blame him for trying to spark fan interest after a humiliating inaugural season. Nevertheless, Felton will likely never be a top flight point guard in the league, and the team could have filled a more pressing need rather than drafting another back-to-the-basket power forward.

10. Seattle
#25- C Johan Petro, France
#48- SF Mickael Gelabale, France

-Neither of these guys will be able to make an immediate impact for the Sonics, but they both have a ton of upside. Petro may finally be the center Seattle has been searching for all these years, but it's going to take some time.

11. Sacramento
#23- SG Francisco Garcia, Louisville

-Geoff Petrie did like he always does and took the best player on the board at #23 in Garcia. If Cuttino Mobley bolts for another team, Garcia should beat out last year's draftee Kevin Martin for the starting 2 guard spot.

12. Memphis
#19- F Hakim Warrick, Syracuse
-Acquired PF Lawrence Roberts from Seattle for cash considerations

-West took the best player on the board in Warrick-- a nice catch at #19. Warrick's game is tailor-made for the NBA and he should enjoy a nice career.

13. Portland
#6- G/F Martell Webster, Seattle Prep (WA)
-Acquired the rights to #22 PG Jarrett Jack for the rights to #27 F Linas Kleiza and #35 F Ricky Sanchez.

-Webster has displayed an equal amount of talent and poise since landing on the draft radar, and that usually means good things for a kid coming straight out of high school. Look for him to get immediate playing time and work himself into the starting lineup by the time the Blazers fall to 7-29. Jack gives the Blazers more depth at guard and a different look from Telfair. I'm just worried that he's going to outplay Telfair right from the start next year and cause a bit of a controversy for the team.

14. Washington
#49- PF Andray Blatche, South Kent Prep (CT)

-Blatche is loaded with potential and was a great pick by Ernie Grunfeld this late in the draft. But like many of these 2nd round selections, we won't know the results for at least a couple of years.

15. San Antonio
#28- PF Ian Mahinmi, San Antonio

-I don't know much about this cat, and I don't think really anybody does. Still, it's the Spurs, so you know they have a pretty good fucking idea of what they're doing. I'd be shocked if Mahinmi doesn't turn out to be a solid player.

I have no idea who the hell this guy is, but I'm 99% sure he's going to be good.

16. New York
#8- C Channing Frye, Arizona
#30- PF David Lee, Florida
-Acquired Nate Robinson as part of the Kurt Thomas/Quentin Richardson deal.

-I'm really just not a believer that Frye can cut it as a 'good' center in this league-- I think Isiah would have been better off finding a bigger, tougher 5 either through free agency or trade. I like Lee and think he's got a future in the league-- he was superb at the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp for anyone who hasn't seen the taped coverge on ESPN U and NBA TV. But another power forward?! Nate Robinson was an excellent pick-up for Isiah, perhaps his boldest and smartest move ever (which isn't saying much). Although, the deal for Quentin Richardson wasn't exactly an slick trade. Whatever. Knicks are bound to suck until they get Zeke the hell out of there.

17. Houston
#24- G Luther Head, Illinois

-Head's stock has risen steadily over the last few weeks with nobody being able to find a true fault in his game. He should fit right in with Houston and receive minutes immediately.

18. Minnesota
#14- SG Rashad McCants, North Carolina
#47- G Bracey Wright, Indiana

-I really have no idea what to make of McCants. I myself would never draft a guy with so much baggage (especially when you already have a team filled with degenerates), but I could easily see McCants turning into a steady 18-20 PPG scorer. It'll be interesting to see how his career pans out. I don't like the Wright pick at all-- he's injury-prone and overrated.

19. Orlando
#11- PF Fran Vazquez
#38- PG Travis Diener
-Acquired rights to #57 Marcin Gortat for cash considerations

-Vazquez was a surprising pick, but he could really benefit Dwight Howard by doing the dirty work and taking on a lot of the tougher defensive assignments. I thought they would have been better off with a 2 or a 3, but it appears that they're going to stick Franchise at shooting guard, and wait to find an eventual replacement for Hill at small forward. Diener is is a tough kid, I hope he sticks. Marcin Gortat, isn't this the guy Fraschilla claimed won a dunk contest by taking off from the top of the key?! Can somebody find a video link for this?

20. Cleveland
-Acquired a 2006 2nd Round Pick from Milwaukee for G Jiri Welsch
-Acquired C Martynas Andriuskevicius from Orlando for cash considerations

-Getting anything for Welsch at this point (even if they did give up a 1st round pick a few months ago) is a blessing, and the Andriuskevicius pick up was brilliant considering his upside. If they bring back Big Z as it appears they will, he could help bring along the fellow 7'3" Lithuanian.

21. New Jersey
#15- SG Antoine Wright, Texas A&M
#43- C Mile Ilic, Yugoslavia

-I was around a slew of Nets fans (all 7 of 'em) during the draft, and they were all doing backflips and cartwheels when they saw Hakim Warrick was going to be available to them at 15. Instead they opted to fill their mild need for perimeter shooting ahead of their dire need of finding a power forward. Wright's a talent, but where is he going to find minutes and shots while playing behind Vinsanity and RJ? Ilic is a project that we won't see for a few years, but the progress of Nenad Krstic is a sign that he could turn into something.

22. Denver
#20- SG Julius Hodge, NC State
-Acquired rights to #27 F Linas Kleiza and #35 F Ricky Sanchez for rights to #22 PG Jarrett Jack.
#52- PF Axel Hervelle, Spain

-Hodge is a tough kid on both ends of the floor that should last in the league, but he didn't fill the team's need for a shooter. I'm not sure where Kleiza fits in with the team already having Najera. Sanchez and Hervelle are both prospects who the Nuggets will likely let season elsewhere for a couple years.

23. Philadelphia
#45 - SG Louis Williams, South Gwinnett H.S. (GA)

-I get the impression that Williams is a super talented guard who fits perfectly into the college game. But if Billy King wants to try and bring along a supposed poor man's Allen Iverson who can work directly with AI himself, why the hell not give it a shot? You can afford the risk in the 2nd round.

24. Detroit
#26- PF Jason Maxiell, Cincinnati
#56- PF Amir Johnson, Westchester HS (CA)
#60- G Alex Acker, Pepperdine

-Maxiell fits in with the toughness of the team, but where the hell is he going to play? Aren't they going to play Darko next season? Johnson is a prospect, but he along with Acker will both end up in the NBDL for at least a couple seasons. I have to say, I was thoroughly disappointed that Dumars didn't go for Chuck Hayes with either of those last two picks-- a player that seems like a perfect fit for that team.

25. Toronto
#7- F Charlie Villanueva, UConn
#16- G/F Joey Graham, Oklahoma St.
#41- G Roko Ukic, Croatia

-Don't even get me started on Villanueva going 7th-- that was just downright embarrassing. I like the Graham pick even though they did pass on Granger (twice!)-- at least Babcock didn't pick fuckin' Chris Taft or John Gilchrist here, my goodness. I'm not sure even Ukic can save Babcock's reputation from entering Rick Pitino, Garry St. Jean, and Scott Layden territory.

26. Lakers
#10- C Andrew Bynum, St. Joseph's HS (NJ)
#37- PF Ronny Turiaf, Gonzaga
#39- SG Von Wafer, Florida St.

-Apparently the Lakers have no intention of trying to win in the near future-- wonder how Phil and Kobe feel about that. Bynum has a LOT of work to do if he's ever going to become a legit center in the NBA. My source who told me that Bynum is closer to Diop than Shaq confessed that Bynum has Brendan Haywood written all over him. Whoopty-fucking-do! I'll give Kupchak props on two solid 2nd round picks.

27. Phoenix
-Acquired #54 SF Dijon Thompson as part of the Quentin Richardson/Kurt Thomas trade.

-I was unbelievably pumped when I thought Nate the Great was on his way to the desert, and entirely crushed when I heard he was really off to the Big Apple. David Stern should have used his veto power to ensure that we all have even more reason to watch the NBA's most exciting team. Oh, well.

I was so amped that Nate the Great was going to Phoenix, I may as well have been high-fiving Nate himself. Of course, Isiah gave me another reason to hate him.

28. Clippers
#12- SF Yaroslav Korolev, Russia
#32- PG Daniel Ewing, Duke

-I don't care how much you may like a kid's upside, you just don't draft someone who won't help you for 3 or 4 years when you're on the brink of the Playoffs-- especially when immediate impact players like Granger, Wright, Graham, and McCants are out there. Sure it's only the Playoffs and you compete to win championships, but don't you think the Clippers at this point would just like to get over that hump?

INC. Chicago
No Picks.

-Chicago stood pat on draft night, a feeling I'm sure they were pleased with considering they had been in lottery heaven every year since '99.

INC. Dallas
No Picks.

-They'll make their moves through free agency and trades this summer.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

2005 NBA Draft Recap

Bogut's biggest fan

By Anthony Peretore

First things first. I look forward to the NBA Draft more than any other sporting event each season. An influx of young talent bursting onto the professional scene to improve teams’ chances at winning year in and year out…c’mon, who wouldn’t love it? My first order of attention however, lies with the Boston Celtics. Last night they owned pick 18 but after last year’s draft which netted them four rookies (all still on the 12-man), I didn’t expect anything too exciting to come from it. But as you all may know now, things got pretty crazy right around pick seven when the Toronto Raptors GM Rob Babcock apparently let his 95 year-old grandmother make their pick. Seriously how does Babcock rank his players? Less hair equates to more talent? The more spanish sounding a name, the better? What a moron. After that selection, it seemed like teams 10-15 were put into a trance, allowing those at 17-19 to royally cash in. It was a crazy sequence of events and in case you missed it, here’s a brief running diary of what transpired (and no I haven’t read Simmons’ yet).

1) MILWAUKEE: Andrew Bogut—The safest pick in all of the draft and one that could get the Bucks right back into the playoffs (barring the re-signing of Michael Redd and the health of TJ Ford). But honestly, how good is Bogut going to be? Brad Miller good? Doesn’t Marvin Williams “upside” make him the better pick?

2) ATLANTA: Marvin Williams—I still think they should have traded down to get Deron Williams or Chris Paul, but nevertheless, a great pick. Williams has the potential to be a top 10-20 player in the league one day and when that caliber of player is sitting there, you have to grab him—apparently Milwaukee didn’t get the memo.

3) UTAH: Deron Williams—Excellent job by the Jazz to move up and get their guy. I think looking back 10 years from now, we’ll all agree that Williams had the most impact of any player from this draft. Even if I’m wrong, did you see his girlfriend/wife? Holy SHIT! Talk about having all-around game.

4) NEW ORLEANS: Chris Paul—The Hornets got the first steal of the draft with Paul falling all the way to 4. Even though point guard wasn’t the team’s biggest concern, getting a potential 10-time All-Star is hard to pass up.

Paul: steal of the top-5

5) CHARLOTTE: Raymond Felton—Here was the first surprise of the night with Bernie Bickerstaff jumping the gun a bit to get his point guard of the future. Sure he’s the fastest guard baseline-to-baseline, has balls of steal, was the PG for the National Champion Tar Heels, etc. But couldn’t they have gotten him at 13? My guess is yes. If Bickerstaff had half the sack of Felton the ‘Cats would be sitting much prettier today.

--It was at this time that I officially named Mike Tirico the black Mikhail Gorbachev. The resemblance of their thinning hair is uncanny.

6) PORTLAND: Martell Webster—We all sensed the Blazers were going to go the high school route with either Webster or Gerald Green. The deciding factors were that Webster is ready to contribute now and is mature beyond his years, thus making him the safer pick. Green however has the potential to be an elite scorer and an all-around superstar. Honestly, what’s the rush in Portland? Couldn’t they have thrown Green and Telfair in their backcourt and let them grow up the hard way? Hey John Nash, thanks for Green.

7) TORONTO: Charlie Villanueva—I spoke with Paul briefly this morning and he said he felt bad that ESPN’s crew was giving Charlie such a hard time. My response is that he was supposed to be a top-5 pick two years ago when he contemplated making the leap rather than attend UConn. Because of his lack of hard work and commitment to improving his all-around game, he failed to give Jim Calhoun and the Huskies what they expected. Because he has slacked off and continues to be inconsistent, why shouldn’t ESPN rip into him? That’s their job to call em like they see em. It’s Charlie’s job to take it like a man, which he did. Now it’s his job to prove his naysayers wrong.

Yeah, we're pretty confused too Charlie

Stuart Scott Moment #1: Yelling “It’s Brooklyn in da house!!!!!” when Charlie came up for his interview. At this point I’m never surprised at anything Stu says anymore. You know everyone at ESPN always gives him high fives and shit when he passes them in the hall. But as soon as he leaves the room you know one hilarious guy squints up his eye and starts saying stuff like: “Yo T.O.’s got the ill na na…drop down and get yo eagle on DAWG!” I bet the Schwabb is Stu’s best friend.

8) NEW YORK: Channing Frye—If I were Isiah I would have drafted the best overall guy left on the board, but Frye should step right in and start at center. I think David Stern paid off Spike Lee to cheer the pick to help restrain Knick fans.

9) GOLDEN STATE: Ike Diogu—I love this pick for the Warriors and word is they may try and slide Troy Murphy to the 5 to give Ike his minutes at the 4. This just makes that Adonal Foyle signing looks even worse—if that’s possible. Diogu immediately cracks the top-10 for best NBA names.

--Here’s where things got really strange. It seemed as if teams picking 10-15 looked at their rosters and decided to go with the players that made the least sense. Take a look:

10) LA LAKERS: Andrew Bynum—Why would Phil Jackson allow GM Mitch Kupchak to get a kid who is at least three years away from contributing? Wouldn’t they have been better off with Sean May here? You’re telling me no one wanted to move up to 10 to get a Granger or Green? Jackson must have been fed a sedative before the Draft.

11) ORLANDO: Fran Vazquez—Hmm, a power forward, okay. But didn’t they draft Dwight Howard #1 overall last year? And aren’t Grant Hill ankles about as strong as Don Zimmer’s bladder? Why are Granger and Green not being drafted? Did they contract the West Nile Virus in the last few hours? This is getting crazy. It was here that I started crossing my fingers for one of them to fall to Boston.

--The one thing I don’t understand is why ESPN elects to interview players that don’t speak a lick of English. I mean from a comedy standpoint there’s nothing better, but as fans we get absolutely nothing out of it. Especially when Vazquez uses Sandy Cohen as his translator.

12) LA CLIPPERS: Yaroslav Korolev—He’s touted as the “most complete” Euro in the Draft. But when a guy has only played at the junior level in Russia, how can this be determined? If this is the case why aren’t kids that are dominating their high school JV teams being drafted? Is this not the equivalent?

Stuart Scott Moment #2:

Scott: “So Yaroslav, why do you feel that Europeans deserve this chance to play in the NBA”

Korolev: “Because dere are so minny Europeen player in dee NBA”

Good reason.

13) CHARLOTTE: Sean May—Now I love May and think he’s going to be a really solid pro. But why on Earth does Charlotte need him? Aren’t they set in their frontcourt with Okafor and Brezec? Why not Granger? They have Gerald Wallace, fine. But why not Green? Oh yeah they have Bernard Robinson Jr., how could I forget? He sounds like a character on Family Matters.

May and Felton don't even leave the state

--It was at this point that I looked at my boy Dan (also a Celtics fan) and started to wonder who we were actually going to end up with. Granger, Warrick, Joey Graham, and Green were all still on the board…could we really get one of these guys?

14) MINNESOTA: Rashad McCants—I absolutely love this pick for the Wolves. They desperately need an outside scorer to compliment KG and I think McCants has the potential to be a 20 PPG guy. But as much as I like this, again, why not Granger? Did he lose a leg in the last hour? This officially guaranteed the Celtics to get one of the aforementioned guys. YESSSS!

--Great moment in Draft history after this pick. After McCants got hugs and daps from all 895 of his family members and friends, he went up to the stage but Stern had become so tired of waiting, he had his back to the former Tar Heel. Rashad stood up there waiting and gave a look to this crowd like, “is this dude fo real?” Let’s give Stern a break though…he’s only shaken like 600 hands over the past 20+ years, it must get to be a really complicated process.

McCants reminding Stern his hand is important too

15) NEW JERSEY: Antoine Wright—This pick almost guarantees that Rod Thorn is going to go hard after Stromile Swift this summer. Passing up Warrick to get a shooter is questionable, but not if they manage to get Swift.

Stuart Scott Moment #3: Scott asked Antoine Wright how it felt being drafted knowing that his brother was in prison. What the fuck? This is the happiest day of this kid’s life and you try and ruin it by asking about his brother being locked up? This would be like after the Spurs won the championship and Scott asked Gregg Popovich: “So how do you feel knowing you are NBA Champs but you still have those awful acne scars on your face?” You know the producers were like “STU!!! NOOOOOO!!!!”

16) TORONTO: Joey Graham—This is my best guess of what happened here.

Babcock: “Go ahead Bobby, you make the pick.”
Bobby (his 4 year-old son): “Ummmmm, Graham…I like Golden Grahams!!!!”
Babcock: “Graham it is!!!!”

Granger has to be on life support somewhere…

17) INDIANA: Danny Granger—Finally! And he seems to be walking okay…He’s not vomiting, bleeding, or defecating on himself. We’ll have to determine why he fell later on…Oh, and there it is folks. As ESPN broke for commercial, they showed a clip of Granger singing the phrase: “You watchin’ da N-B-A Draft on E-S-P-Nnnnnnn!” And to make it even worse, they aired the clip again like 20 minutes later. Teams must have been like, “No way we’re talking this guy…someone will kill his candy ass.”

Stuart Scott Moment #4: I almost urinated all over myself when I heard this one…

Stu: “Danny you grew up a Jehovah Witness. How will your field in ministry work help you in the NBA?”

--There were no better questions than that? How about, “So Danny, I heard you lead you team in most times getting laid per week at 4.68. How will that experience help you in the NBA?” Isn’t that a little more intriguing?

--It’s official, either Hakim Warrick or Gerald Green will be a Celtic in five minutes. I’m nervous, anxious, apprehensive…I feel pregnant.

18) BOSTON: Gerald Green—The same guy they call the next T-Mac is now on my team. With the C’s nabbing two of the most promising high school kids in the last two drafts (Al Jefferson), one has to think this is reward for the tragic deaths of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis. Every Celtic fan must be ecstatic, I know I am. The question is, where the hell are they going to play this kid? They already have Pierce, Davis and Tony Allen—unless a trade is coming…

This is the most excited two men have ever made me

--What makes the Green pick even sweeter is that he enjoys fishing and his nickname is G-Money. What a relief!

19) MEMPHIS: Hakim Warrick--Great pick for them especially since they’re more than likely losing Stro Swift to free agency. Warrick is his clone. Oh yeah and Hakim’s nickname is ‘Helicopter,’ and his favorite breakfast cereal is Cookie Crisp. All good things to know. What’s weird is that right as I found this out, Coco Crisp came into to pinch run for the Indians, crazy right?

--Side note: speaking of the Red Sox-Indians game, my friends and I caught an unknown Boston player feeding Manny Ramirez pudding. This is A) Not right, B) Wrong, and C) Not right. I’d rather be a Yankee fan and lose than see Derek Jeter feeding Gary Sheffield a butterscotch snack pack. Sorry, back to the Draft.

20) DENVER: Julius Hodge--I think Francisco Garcia would have made more sense, but not a bad selection.

21) PHOENIX: Nate Robinson—I was pumped to see Nate on the Suns until Ric Bucher ruined everyone’s fun and announced he was traded to the Knicks along with Quentin Richardson for Kurt Thomas. I swear ESPN gives all the disappointing news to Bucher to report.

22) DENVER: Jarrett Jack—traded to Portland for shortstop Ricky Sanchez and the newfound STD, Linas Kleiza.

--Seems like a good time to mention the fact that Brad from the Real World San Diego will be appearing at the bar we were watching this Draft from. My buddy Adam said he’s going to go just so he can repeat Brad’s famous quote to him over and over again: “Congratulations son, you’re a meathead, but don’t ever put your hands on my underwear!” That guy is doomed for life.

23) SACRAMENTO: Francisco Garcia--Excellent pick for the Kings. I can’t wait to see him and Bibby play together.

24) HOUSTON: Luther Head—Most experts loved this pick, I on the other hand, did not. Many people think Head could be a steal, but why take a chance on a guy that has never played the point? Why not address your biggest need at power forward, especially with guys like Wayne Simien, Jason Maxiell, and Chris Taft still on the board?

25) SEATTLE: Johan Petro—Should be fun hearing about Petro beating the shit out of Robert Swift every day after practice and stealing his lunch money.

Should be tooling on Swift in due time

26) DETROIT: Jason Maxiell—Great pick in terms of being a Ben Wallace clone. Awful pick seeing that they already have all the depth they need at the 4 in Antonio McDyess. Why not take a Ryan Gomes here?

27) PORTLAND: Linas Kleiza—I’m itchy.

28) SPURS: Ian Shedd, err Mahinmi—Ian Shedd was a kid who Paul and I went the high school with. He weighed 120 lbs. soaking wet, wore glasses, and got something like a 2450 on his SATs. No clue why I’m telling you this, I guess because I know a hell of a lot more about Shedd than Mahinmi, and now so do you.

29) MIAMI: Wayne Simien—Bad pick. Why draft a young 4 when you already have Udonis Haslem? Wouldn’t it be smarter to draft a project center that Shaq could mentor? I think Pat Riley’s hair is glued on too tight.

30) NEW YORK: David Lee—The Knicks fans loved the fact that they got a big white guy who averaged just 28 minutes per game as a senior. I think I can count at least 300 guys I’d rather have and like 25 of them are dead.

Mickael Gelebale was one of the highlights of Round 2

Steal of the First Round: Danny Granger (Indiana) and Gerald Green (Boston). Both of these players were slated to go in the top-10 and possibly even the top-5. When two playoff teams can add players of this caliber to their roster, they have to be considered steals.

Steal of the Second Round: Ryan Gomes (50th, Boston) and Chris Taft (42nd, Golden State). Both players were first round projections and fell pretty deep into the second. Gomes has four years of Big East ball under his belt and would have been the conference Player of the Year last season if his team didn’t suck. As for Taft, he obviously still has top-10 talent, the question is, will he ever get motivated enough to utilize it? Time will tell.

Worst Pick of the First Round: (tie), Toronto (Villanueva) LA Clippers (Korolev). Toronto needed a 3 to come in and contribute right away. There was no better guy than Danny Granger and they passed. Villanueva still has potential to be a good pro, but after watching him all of last season, I doubt it. As for Korolev, he’s still 2-3 years away and with the Clippers improvement last year, why not get a guy ready to contribute immediately? It’s not like the Clippers can afford to wait any longer to crack the postseason.

Paul and I will be coming out with more Draft content over the next few days, we’re just not sure what that will be. Stay tuned…

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Late Breaking Mock Draft

The Jazz have traded up with Portland in a move likely made to draft Deron Williams.

By Paul Benedict and Anthony Peretore

With just hours left until the June 28th NBA Draft, Paul and I would like to present you with the final 2005 NBA Source Mock Draft. Rather than bang heads and fight one another to the ground, my partner and I are going to list our respective predictions for each pick. Trades will not be factored into the mock, but we will certainly mention potential deals when appropriate.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Anthony - C Andrew Bogut, Utah

--Right now it appears that Bogut is the only sure fire pick in the entire Draft. Last week many experts were on the fence and thought the Bucks might go with Marvin Williams. Not the case in the days leading up to the Draft, as almost every mock out there has the Utah center as the initial pick.

Paul - C Andrew Bogut, Utah

--As close as there is to a lock in this year's draft. That said, anything could happen.

2. Atlanta Hawks

Anthony- SF Marvin Williams, North Carolina

--I had Chris Paul here all day until the Blazers elected to trade the #3. Atlanta must have gotten word that Billy Knight and co. were going to go with Williams instead of a PG. Marv, regarded as the Draft's best prospect, will head to a team littered with 3's and probably force Al Harrington out of town. Probably would have made more sense for them to try and get Charlotte's 5 and 13 for the 2. Oh well.

Paul - SF Marvin Williams, North Carolina

--There's still an outside chance that the Hawks elect to take either Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but it looks like Billy Knight will grab the player who he feels is the most talented regardless of the team's need. Guess he's willing to go with Royal Ivey at the point next year or to overpay for an Earl Watson.

3. Utah Jazz

Anthony - PG Chris Paul, Wake Forest

--If the Jazz were stacked with talent and on the brink of being a playoff contender then I'd say they'd probably take the play-maker in Deron Williams. Utah however, is a team with relatively little scoring punch and thus will decide to make Paul their leader of the future. Maybe this will keep Jerry Sloan on the sidelines for a few more seasons.

Paul - PG Deron Williams, Illinois

--The trade with Portland is finally complete and now Jerry Sloan can go to bed happy tonight knowing he won't have to suffer through another season of post-John Stockton syndrome.

4. New Orleans Hornets

Anthony - PG Deron Williams, Illinois

--Call me crazy, but I still think that Deron will be the best impact player from this draft 5-8 years down the road. He has the undeniable ability to make his teammates better, evident in Illinois' incredible run this past NCAA season (think James Augustine). Though New Orleans may trade down to grab Danny Granger or Fran Vazquez, be assured that Williams will be selected no later than 4, if not by the Hornets, then possibly the Bobcats or Lakers.

Paul - PG Chris Paul, Wake Forest

-The Hornets would love for Marvin Williams to slip to them here, but it's more than likely that they end up taking either Deron Williams or Chris Paul, whichever point guard the Jazz decide to pass up on.

5. Charlotte Bobcats

Anthony - SG Gerald Green, Gulf Shores Academy (TX)

--I had Green here in my first mock mostly because I think he will be the best fit for the expansion 'Cats. As a second year team, Bernie Bickerstaff and co. should still be drafting on best available talent and that will be Green here at 5. If Paul or D. Williams do indeed fall or Charlotte manages to trade up, expect them to end up with their point guard of the future. But my feeling is that they'd be better off with Green or Martell Webster here at 5 and hope that Raymond Felton is still available at 13.

Green is touted as the next T-Mac

Paul - SG Gerald Green, Gulf Shores Academy (TX)

--Bickerstaff is miffed that he doesn't end up with Marvin, Deron, or Chris Paul, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's going to get crazy and started dealing out his picks. The Bobcats need to stockpile talent more than anything and can afford to wait on a project like Green since they won't be competing for at least a couple of years. Granger or Felton could be possibilities here, but Green presents more upside than Granger and Bickerstaff will likely gamble on Felton falling to him at 13.

6. Portland Trail Blazers

Anthony - G/F Martell Webster, Seattle Prep (WA)

--Webster has significantly boosted his stock in the last few weeks, so much that he may even slide into the top-5. The more probable destination for him however, is here with Portland to team in a backcourt with fellow HS-to-NBA leaper Sebastian Telfair. Should be an interesting transition period up in Oregon.

Paul - G/F Martell Webster, Seattle Prep (WA)

--It's been widely speculated that the Blazers will grab one of the high school kids here, but I think they grab Webster even if Green slips past Charlotte. He's a top-notch shooter, he's physically and mentally ready to come in right away, and he will likely help boost a dwindling Portland fan base since he's from the northwest.

7. Toronto Raptors

Anthony - SF Danny Granger, New Mexico

--The ESPN Draft special that aired last night had Granger falling all the way to the Lakers at 10. This is what I absolutely despise about the scouting process. Two weeks ago Granger was rising faster than Barry Bonds testosterone levels, but now he's fading down to 10? Does this make any sense? I guarantee you that 3-5 years from now a handful of GMs will be kicking themselves over missing out on Granger. Toronto sure won't...

Paul - SF Danny Granger, New Mexico

--Whether Rob Babcock decides to send the 7th and 16th pick to New Orleans for Jamaal Magliore or not, Danny Granger is going in this slot if he's still out there. Babcock is big on Granger and the New Mexico product also gives the team the liberty of waiving Jalen Rose to free up a little cash.

8. New York Knicks

Anthony - C Channing Frye, Arizona

--Frye, whom Jay Bilas labeled as the 5th best prospect in the Draft last night, has allegedly been made a promise by New York at 8. There has been word that Utah may snatch him up at 6 if they aren't able to move up and draft a PG. However, I fully expect Frye to still be sitting in the green room when the Knicks are on the clock. Welcome to New York big fella.

Frye's pumped for the Big Apple

Paul - C Channing Frye, Arizona

--Both Isiah and Channing can breathe a huge sigh of relief now that Utah has moved up and Toronto has snagged Granger. Isiah has been targeting Frye for weeks and Channing has been making it clear that he has no desire to play with either Utah or Toronto.

9. Golden State Warriors

Anthony - F Hakim Warrick, Syracuse

--Warrick seems to be the consensus pick for Golden State here at 9 over the last few days. For a team littered with talent, especially at the '3,' I feel it would be wiser for Golden State to move down a bit, get another 2nd rounder, and snatch up a project such as Johan Petro in the mid-20s. But if Chris Mullin is going to use this spot, why not get a player with the potential of Warrick? He may end up running Mike Dunleavy right out of town...

Paul - F Hakim Warrick, Syracuse

--The next closest pick to a lock aside from Andrew Bogut going #1. Chris Mullin would be thrilled to see Channing Frye fall into his lap, but there's just no way the Knicks will pass him up. Instead the Warriors end up with a superb athlete who fits right into their system and can contribue right away.

10. Los Angeles Lakers

Anthony - PF Sean May, North Carolina

--Phil Jackson is reportedly enarmored with high school phenom Gerald Green, whom he envisions teaming up with Kobe Bryant to form one of the best scoring duos in the league. Unfortunately, Green isn't going to fall out of the top-7 and with only Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins to dangle as trade bait, it looks like LA will be stuck at 10. If that's the case, I'm holding my ground and going with May as the pick. He's one of the few guys that will be available that can make an immediate impact.

Paul - PF Sean May, North Carolina

--In case you haven't heard the news, Phil Jackson is in Montana right now and has informed Mitch Kupchak that he would rather leave the draft in his hands since he really doesn't know much about any of the prospects. I still firmly believe that Kupchak will draft a player that is a Phil "guy" and not someone like a Charlie Villanueva or an Andrew Bynum as some people are suspecting. Raymond Felton is a distinct possibility here, but his game doesn't spell "triangle offense" and so May would appear to be the logical selection with the Lakers in dire need of some offense from the post.

11. Orlando Magic

Anthony -SG Antoine Wright, Texas A&M

-I think the Magic have to set their sites on an eventual replacement for Grant Hill and Wright fits the bill. While they'd be fortunate to get a player of Wright's caliber and collegiate experience, don't be surprised if Orlando trades down.

Paul - SG Antoine Wright, Texas A&M

--The Magic would love for Martell Webster to fall to them here, but that seems very unlikely now that Portland has traded down to 6. I think they'll likely choose between Wright and Joey Graham and end up taking Wright for his sharper perimeter game and higher ceiling.

12. Los Angeles Clippers

Anthony - Yaroslav Korolev, Russia

--He reportedly has "the promise" from the Clips and with relatively no chance that he goes before LA drafts at 12, GM Elgin Baylor will get his man. Coach Mike Dunleavy needs depth and shooters to add to his bench and Korolev should provide both. A nice pick for the up-and-coming Clippers.

Paul - SG Rashad McCants, North Carolina

--I really believe that the Nuggets are going to send the #20 and 22 picks to the Clippers for the right to draft Rashad McCants 12th. The deal makes a lot of sense for both parties-- Kiki Vandeweghe is huge on McCants, a player that can come in and immediately give them some scoring at shooting guard. And the Clippers biggest need right now is depth, which they would get more of by taking on a 2nd pick. Couple that with the fact that Yaroslav Korolev could very well still be out there by 20, and we have a deal that just seems to make perfect sense.

13. Charlotte Bobcats

Anthony - PG Raymond Felton, North Carolina

--Bickerstaff is set on getting a point guard to eventually replace the oft-injured Knight. With neither Paul or Williams falling to him at 5, Bernie will snatch up Felton here at 13 (if the Jazz don't take him). Felton has plenty of big game experience and should team with Gerald Green to form an explosive Bobcat backcourt for the next decade.

Felton's the hard-nose type of guy the 'Cats need

Paul - PG Raymond Felton, North Carolina

--Bernie Bickerstaff didn't luck out by falling to 5th in the lottery, but his gamble of waiting on Felton till the 13th pick did pan out nicely for him. I really can't figure out why people have the Bobcats reaching on Felton with the 5th pick. The only chance Felton gets taken before 13 is if the Lakers pick him at 10 or if someone trades up to draft him-- both seem unlikely to happen.

14. Minnesota Timberwolves

Anthony - SG Francisco Garcia, Lousiville

--The Wolves and new GM Rex Chapman apparently fell in love with Garcia at his workout this past week and aren't going to let him fall past them at 14. In desperate need to replace the NBA's perpetual asshole in Latrell Sprewell, Garcia should come in and provide that same slashing style for Duane Casey and co.

Paul - SG Francisco Garcia, Lousiville

--The naming of former sharpshooter Rex Chapman as a draft consultant has made it appear as though Garcia is the very likely selection for the Wolves at #14. Chapman has been outspoken about his appraisal for the kid (probably has something to do with their Kentucky connection) and should have enough clout to convince McHale to pick him over Joey Graham.

Paul left this pic of Diogu here even though we both have him at least 4 pics lower. I was going to take it out, but I'm not letting Paul get off that easily

15. New Jersey Nets

Anthony - F Charlie Villanueva, Connecticut

- Still looking for Kenyon Martin's replacement at the 4--the Nets will settle on Villanueva at 15. Charlie has been projected to go as high as the mid-lottery in some mocks, but if GMs are smart they'll wait and let the UConn product slide. He has my prediction as the biggest bust for Paul's 2012 "Looking back--the 2005 NBA Draft".

Paul - F Charlie Villanueva, Connecticut

--Villanueva fits in nicely with the Nets' open court offense, but the team's most obvious need is some reliable defense in the frontcourt. You sure as hell aren't getting any of that with local boy Villanueva.

16. Toronto Raptors

Anthony - C Andrew Bynum, St. Joseph's (NJ)

--Many experts have Bynum floating into the lottery, the top-10 and even the top-5. This is the same kid who was going to fight for minutes at UConn and looks like a direct descendent of Fat Albert. While he does have potential to be a dominating force in the paint, at just 17 years old, he is still several years away. The Raptors can affoprd to wait.

Paul - C Andrew Bynum, St. Joseph's (NJ)

--Assuming the Raptors hold on to this pick, look for Rob Babcock to go big after taking Granger with the 7th pick. Allow me to say this-- I have sources that are very close to Bynum and they're saying that the Shaq comparisons are a complete farce. If anything, Bynum much more closely resembles Desagana Diop. Ouch.

17. Indiana Pacers

Anthony -G Roko Ukic, Croatia

--With Jamaal Tinsley nursing injuries every season, Indiana GM Donnie Walsh will draft some insurance in the form of Ukic. Labelled by some as the next Manu, Ukic's positioning has gone from somewhere in the 2nd round, to the first, and now to here in the top-20. The Croat is said to have all the skills of a play-making point guard, assets the Pacers desperately need.

Paul - G Roko Ukic, Croatia

--The Pacers may try to trade up and land one of the three guys they reportedly covet the most: Villanueva, McCants, and Garcia. But if they hold steady at 17, look for them to choose between either Roko Ukic or Fran Vazquez and keep them overseas for a year.

18. Boston Celtics

Anthony - Joey Graham, Oklahoma St.

--If Graham is still here at 18, Danny Ainge will gobble him up in a heart beat. The Celtics are desperate to find a 'big 3' and they get just what they're looking for in Graham. With plenty of collegiate experience and a former OSU teammate of Tony Allen's, JG may just be the perfect fit in Beantown. A more likely scenario may have Vazquez wearing Celtic green.

Paul - SF Joey Graham, Oklahoma St.

--I think Ainge is going to stand pat and see which players fall to him here. The Celtics could really use a big 2/3 that can come in and raise the defensive intensity of the team, so Graham seems like a nice fit ahead of Vazquez and Ike Diogu.

19. Memphis Grizzlies

Anthony - PF Fran Vazquez, Spain

--Amidst the possibility that they will lose both Stro Swift and Lorenzen Wright this summer, Jerry West should be thrilled with Vazquez falling to him at 19. Projected as high as 6 in several mocks, Vazquez's mediocre workouts over the past few weeks have scouts and GMs throughout the league questioning his potential. Fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol will be extactic over his new teammate.

Paul - PF Ike Diogu, Arizona St.

--While Jerry West may have a hard time passing up on Fran Vazquez, he has a history of drafting guys with outstanding intangibles and Diogu fits exactly that mold. And with Stro Swift on his way out the door and Lo Wright openly seeking a trade, Diogu can give them some necessary depth in the frontcourt.

20. Denver Nuggets

Anthony - SG Rashad McCants, North Carolina

- The word is that the Nuggets are so high on McCants that they are discussing a deal to move up to the Clippers' 12 spot. I say if they have to give up both 20 and 22 to get to 12, do ot. Rashad is an absolute steal for a team that should contend for the NBA title next season.

No Shad, you'll be going 12th or 20th, sorry

Paul - SF Yaroslav Korolev, Russia

--As I stated earlier, I'm a strong believer that the Clippers pull the trigger with Denver to obtain the #20 and 22 picks. So with that in mind, look for the Clippers to fulfill their promise with Korolev (albeit 8 picks later) at 20.

21. Phoenix Suns

Anthony - PF Ike Diogu, Arizona St.

--There's no question that Phoenix is looking to add some depth to their rather fragile frontcourt and with Diogu slipping all the way through the top-20, the Suns should be extatic. Remember that Ike was double and triple-teamed all of last season and still managed to put up All-American numbers. Has my prediction as the "steal of the draft".

Paul - PF Fran Vazquez, Spain

--While the Suns would love to see Arizona State product Diogu slip to them here, they may end up with the steal of the draft by picking up Fran Vazquez this late. The Suns really need a gritty, defensive-minded guy like Vazquez to come in give the team more toughness.

22. Denver Nuggets

Anthony - C Martyans Andriuskevicius, Lithuania

--With Marcus Camby presenting an perennial injury risk for George Karl and co., expect Kiki Vandeweghe to snatch up Andriuskevicius and stash him away for a few years. With a roster that's already stocked with depth, it makes the most sense for Denver to get their '2' at 20 and a project at 22. Could end up being the Clippers' pick.

Paul - PF Wayne Simien, Kansas

--Once again, look for the Clippers to be drafting in this slot. And with Chris Wilcox now in trouble with the law and likely on his way out of LA, Elgin Baylor can use some more upside in the frontcourt. Petro appears to be too much of a project and Taft is just too similar to Wilcox, making Simien the logical selection.

23. Sacramento Kings

Anthony - SF Ersan Ilyasova, Turkey

- Almost a clone to Peja, the Kings elect to draft their star shooter's eventual successor. With loads of potential and a deadly perimeter game, the Kings can let him develop in Europe for a couple years before bringing him over to be mentored by Stojakovic.

Paul - PF Chris Taft, Pittsburgh

--Geoff Petrie has a knack for drafting players with the most upside regardless of team need, so Taft probably won't slip past him at 23. If the kid can develop like many once thought he kid, he could make a tough addition to the Kings' frontline alongside Brad Miller.

24. Houston Rockets

Anthony - PF Wayne Simien, Kansas

- Houston arguably got knocked from the first round due to their lack of depth at the 4. With Juwan Howard hurt, Ryan Bowen was their best option. That will all change with Simien, who was regarded as one of the best players in the country at the beginning of the '04-05 season. I have a feeling a lot of teams will end up regretting passing on the former Jayhawk.

Paul - PG Jarrett Jack, Georgia Tech

--Jeff Van Gundy gets a nice addition in his point guard of the future by drafting Jack 24th. While the Rockets may look to add a power forward, they decide that Jack is too tempting to pass up, especially considering Wayne Simien and Chris Taft are off the board.

Jack is pumped to slide into the first round

25. Seattle Supersonics

Anthony - PF Chris Taft, Pittsburgh

--With Ray Allen, Antonio Daniels, and Jerome James all testing free-agent waters, the Sonics begin their plan for the future. While scouts question Taft's drive and work ethic, expect the Pitt product to tool on fellow bigs Robert Swift and Vitaly Potapenko in practice, gain confidence, and become a solid pro within the next three years.

Paul - C Johan Petro, France

--The Sonics need more size upfront and will likely end up taking the best big man available to them at 25. Like the Rockets, they too are bit discouraged that neither Simien or Taft made it to them, but they'll take their chances on the upside of Petro.

26. Detroit Pistons

Anthony - SG Julius Hodge, N.C. State

-The one glaring weakness for the Pistons this past off-season was their lack of depth. Hodge's versatility and experience should allow him to become a fixture off the pine for Larry Brown and co. Should compete for minutes will the highly touted Carlos Delfino.

Paul - SF Ryan Gomes, Providence

--With it looking more and more like a distinct possibility that Larry Brown could be back on the bench next season, expect Joe Dumars NOT to go with an international player or high school kid. More than likely Dumars will grab someone that can help the Pistons right away-- Gomes is a nice choice, although Luther Head and Julius Hodge may also end up here.

27. Portland Trail Blazers

Anthony - SF Ryan Gomes, Providence

--I think this pick will ultimately belong to New Orleans and that being the case they get a guy in Gomes that could come in and be one of their strongest players. With 4 years of Big East ball under his belt, Gomes could show J.R. Smith a thing or two and help bring this Hornets team back to respectability.

Paul - C Martyans Andriuskevicius, Lithuania

--The Blazers are known to be big on Andrisdsdkdjskjds and won't mine taking a gamble this late in the draft. It'll be fun watching Andyrsudhs and Ha-Seung Jin sharing laughs together on the bench next season.

28. San Antonio Spurs

Anthony - Andray Blatche, South Kent Prep (CT)

--Why the hell not?

Paul - SF Ersan Ilyasova, Turkey

--Nobody really has any idea as to what the Spurs are going to do, but you can be rest assured that it's going to end up being a smart move. Nobody is better at finding gems in a pile of coal than Gregg Popovich, R.C. Buford, and co.

29. Miami Heat

Anthony - C Johan Petro, France

--Shaq has no more than two years left in him, thus the time is now for Miami to find a kid for him to mentor. That will be Petro.

Paul - G Luther Head, Illinois

--In light of all this talk about the Heat possibly not bringing back either Damon Jones or Keyon Dooling next season, I'm beginning to think that they may have offered Luther Head a guarantee at this spot. Just a tough player who knows what it takes to win-- would be an excellent choice for the Heat as they look to win a title next season.

30. New York Knicks

Anthony - PG Jarrett Jack, Georgia Tech

--I think Jack will probably go a bit higher, but it's very difficult to find his ultimate desitination. If he's here at 30 expect New York to snatch him up, making Marbury expendable in a season or two. Isiah has to realize that his team is going nowhere with Stephon running the point, but on the other hand, he probably has no clue.

Paul - G Monta Ellis, Lainier H.S. (MS)

-With two first round picks, it would make sense for the Knicks to grab a project that they can wait on with this pick. Ellis had an excellent workout for them and Isiah would be more than happy to scoop up the Mississippi prodigy.

This will be the last 12 year-old allowed in the Draft

Paul's 2nd Round Board:

31. Atlanta - SG Julius Hodge, N.C. State
32. Clippers - G Nate Robinson, Washington
33. New Orleans - SG C.J. Miles, Skyline H.S. (TX)
34. Utah - C Mile Ilic, Serbia & Montenegro
35. Portland - PF Andray Blatche, South Kent Prep (CT)
36. Milwaukee - PF Jason Maxiell, Cincinnati
37. Lakers - G Salim Stoudamire, Arizona
38. Orlando - C Randolph Morris, Kentucky
39. Lakers - SF Mickael Gelabale, France
40. Golden State - PF David Lee, Florida
41. Toronto - PF Ronny Turiaf, Gonzaga
42. Golden State - PF Lucas Tischer, Brazil
43. New Jersey - PG Travis Diener, Marquette
44. Orlando - F Angelo Gigli, Italy
45. Philadelphia - G/F Kennedy Winston, Alabama
46. Indiana - SG Matt Walsh, Florida
47. Minneota - C Dwayne Jones, St. Joseph's
48. Seattle - PF Brandon Bass, LSU
49. Washington - PG Daniel Ewing, Duke
50. Boston - F Linas Kleiza, Missouri
51. Utah - SF Dijon Thompson, UCLA
52. Denver - G Louis Williams, South Gwinnett (GA)
53. Boston - F Chuck Hayes, Kentucky
54. New York - PG John Gilchrist, Maryland
55. Seattle - SF Stefano Mancinelli, Italy
56. Detroit - PF Axel Hervelle, Belgium
57. Phoenix - SF Sean Banks, Memphis
58. Toronto - PF Amir Johnson, Westchester H.S. (CA)
59. Atlanta - PG Filiberto Rivera, UTEP
60. Detroit - SF Jawad Williams, North Carolina

Monday, June 27, 2005

Looking Back - The 1997 NBA Draft

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Hello and welcome to the Tim Duncan...err...the 1997 NBA Draft."

By Paul Benedict

Throughout the year, I'm going to reminisce over every NBA draft of the past ten years. It's always fun to look back and see how your favorite team fared, see which guys totally busted, and see which draftees turned out to be the biggest steals. I'll profile each 1st round pick with a little more emphasis on the lottery picks and then discuss some of the noteworthy 2nd round picks. The grades will be based on how each player turned out with regard to their respective draft position. So without further delay, I present to you a look back at the 1997 NBA Draft.

Revisiting the 1997 NBA Draft

· Best Player: Tim Duncan
· Best Pick: Tim Duncan
· Steal of the Draft: Tracy McGrady
· Worst Player: Paul Grant
· Biggest Bust: Tony Battie
· Draft Most Known For: Producing 3 superstars (Duncan, Billups, McGrady) and a bunch of players that just haven't lived up to their potential despite sticking in the league for years.
Overall Draft Grade: C

Lottery Picks

1. San Antonio - PF Tim Duncan, Wake Forest
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 22.5 PPG, 50.7 FG%, 12.2 RPG, 3.1 APG, 2.5 BPG
Career Highlights:
-1998 All-Rookie 1st Team
-1998 Rookie of the Year
-6 Time All-Defensive 1st Team
-All-Star in every single season he's been in the NBA
-Co-MVP of All-Star Game in 2000
-1st Team All-NBA in every single season he's been in the NBA
-Two-time Regular Season Most Valuable Player (2001-02 and 2002-03)
-Has reached at least the Conference Semifinals in each season he's played except in 2000 when he missed the Playoffs due to a knee injury
-Member of Team USA in 1999, 2003, 2004
-Three-time NBA Finals MVP ('99, '03, '05)
-Three-time NBA Champion
The Lowdown:
It's hard to top what Tim Duncan has accomplished thus far in his career. In fact, only Larry Bird and Bill Russell can claim to have won 2 regular season MVP Awards and 3 NBA Championships before their 30th birthdays. And only 4 other players-- Bird, George Mikan, Bob Pettit, and Oscar Robertson, have been named 1st Team All-NBA in each of their first 8 seasons in the league. 'The Big Fundamental' isn't your prototypical NBA superstar-- he doesn't boast a particularly flashy game, he seldom lands in the spotlight for anything not basketball-related, and he very rarely draws attention to himself, yet Duncan currently ranks as the hands-down most established player in the league. And with a selfless attitude and approach to the game that has Duncan only concerned with adding to his growing collection of rings, you can expect TD to build on his already esteemed NBA legacy.
Grade: A+

2. Philadelphia - F Keith Van Horn, Utah
*Traded with Don MacLean, Michael Cage, and Luscious Harris to New Jersey for Tim Thomas, Jim Jackson, Eric Montross, and Anthony Parker.
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 16.7 PPG, 83.5 FT%, 36.0 3PT%, 7.1 RPG
Career Highlights:
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-1st Team All-Rookie in 1998
-5th in the NBA in scoring in '98-99 (21.8 PPG)
-Has averaged at least 17 PPG and 6 RPG 5 times in his career
-Was on the Nets team that reached the NBA Finals in 2002
The Lowdown:
Van Horn arrived in the league after a much-ballyhooed college career at Utah and displayed promising signs of NBA stardom in his first two seasons with the Nets. But two essential factors were necessary if Van Horn was going to take his game to All-Star status: 1- He was going to have to find a way to step it up to a respectable level defensively; 2- A player with his size and versatility was becoming more common in the NBA so it was up to him to remain a step ahead of the pack offensively. Van Horn has never been able to accomplish either of these necessities and so his career has seen a steady decline since a stellar 1998-99 season. He is now with his 4th team in the last 3 seasons and has earned the unfortunate reputation of being one of the most overpaid players in the NBA. Everyone loves to dog Van Horn at this point in his career, but the guy still has a lot of game left in him. If cast into the right situation, he can still be a highly effective small forward in the league.
Grade: C

3. Boston - PG Chauncey Billups, Colorado
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 13.6 PPG, 87.8 FT%, 38.0 FT%, 4.6 APG, 1.0 SPG
Career Highlights:
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-Finished 2nd in NBA in FT% in 1999 (91.3%)
-2nd Team All-Defense in 2005
-Member of 2004 Pistons Championship Team
-2004 NBA Finals MVP
The Lowdown:
Billups has lived perhaps the most intruiging career of any player from the 1997 draft class. After a breakthrough sophomore season at Colorado in which he was named 2nd Team All-American, Chauncey's stock soared in the weeks prior to the NBA Draft leading to Boston coach Rick Pitino selecting him 3rd overall, which was considered a reach by many. Despite a respectable start to a rookie season in which Billups showed flashes of his potential, Pitino decided he didn't fit into his system and shipped him off to Toronto in a package deal essentially made to acquire a more veteran point guard (Kenny Anderson). And just like that, Billups' seemingly promising career started to represent that of a veteran journeyman. By the time Chauncey had signed with Minnesota on August 8, 2000, he had already been a member of 4 different teams. But it was with the Timberwolves that Billups' career started to take a positive turn as he assumed a scoring role off the bench that earned him a much-deserved opportunity to show what he could do in the league. Two years later, Billups took less money to play for Detroit in order to seize a possible chance to start for a Playoff-caliber team. Now in 2005, after having lead the Pistons to two consecutive NBA Finals appearances including a title in 2004 in which he was named Finals MVP, Billups is the one who has had the last laugh. If there's ever been a player who's made GMs and coaches think twice about letting go of a young player too early, Chauncey Billups is Exhibit 'A'.
Grade: B+

"If I had a free hand, I'd extend a middle finger out to all those teams who gave up on me too soon."

4. Vancouver - PG Antonio Daniels, Bowling Green
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 7.8 PPG, 44.9 FG%, 77.4 FT%, 3.3 APG
Career Highlights:
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-Led NBA in Asst/TO Ratio in 2003-04 (4.89) and finished 2nd in 2004-05 (3.96)
-Member of 1999 Spurs Championship Team
The Lowdown:
Despite being considered one of the NBA's most outstanding citizens, Daniels hasn't exactly lived up to the lofty expectations many bestowed upon him after the 1997 NBA Draft. Daniels also worked his way up the draft board like Billups after some tremendous workouts-- scouts loved his size, defensive tenacity, and ability to play both guard positions. Unfortunately none of those attributes has translated into stardom, although all of them have enabled Daniels to enjoy a moderately successful career as a role player. As he heads into free agency this summer, Daniels will likely look for an opportunity to play a key role on a team that offers him an opportunity to win his 2nd ring. Though it's unlikely that Daniels will be able to do enough with the rest of his career to justify being drafted 4th overall, he certainly can be a contributor on a title-contending team and retire happy knowing that he has reached the promised land at least once in his NBA career.
Grade: C-

5. Denver - C Tony Battie, Texas Tech
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 6.5 PPG, 48.9 FG%, 5.7 RPG, 1.0 BPG
Career Highlights:
-Starting center on 2002 Celtics team that reached Eastern Conference Finals
The Lowdown:
Anytime you've earned the nickname "El Busto", you probably haven't enjoyed a significant amount of success in the NBA. And so is the case of Tony "El Busto" Battie, a nickname rightfully deserved by the Texas Tech product for failing to live up to the promise so many people thought he had. Despite an abundant of athleticism and the capablity of running the floor like a small forward, Battie lacked the desire to play tough and to put in the effort during the off-season required of him to develop into an effective big man. To his credit, he has matured a great deal since the days when Dan Issel publicly ripped him for not having the motivation needed to succeed in the NBA, and Battie is now considered as one of the league's more outspoken 'locker room' guys. But that doesn't exactly detract from a career that never saw him average more than 8 PPG or 6 RPG.
Grade: D

6. Boston (from Dallas) - SG Ron Mercer, Kentucky
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 13.6 PPG, 25.0 3PT%, 80.8 FT%, 3.1 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.1 SPG
Career Highlights:
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-1st Team All-Rookie in 1998
-Averaged at least 15 PPG his first four years in the NBA
The Lowdown:
Mercer was hand-picked by his college coach Rick Pitino to join him in Boston after reaching two consecutive national championship games at Kentucky together. Though he didn't boast outstanding athleticism or exceptional touch from outside, Mercer was known for being a pure scorer, the type of player who just has an uncanny knack for putting the ball through the net. After two impressive seasons in Boston, Pitino shipped Mercer off to Denver after he decided that he wasn't worth the hefty long-term contract extension he was seeking. Luckily for the Cs, this turned out to be one of the only smart moves made by Rick Pitino during his tenure in Boston. Mercer's lack of a solid perimeter game kept him from ever raising his play to the next level and his career started to take a turn for the worse in 2001 when he consistently encountered injury problems. Since then he has remained an injured-list regular and now appears to be on his way out of the league.
Grade: C

7. New Jersey - F Tim Thomas, Villanova
*Traded with Jim Jackson, Eric Montross, and Anthony Parker to Philadelphia for Keith Van Horn, Luscious Harris, Don MacLean, and Michael Cage
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 11.9 PPG, 44.3 FG%, 36.8 3PT%, 76.6 FT%, 4.0 RPG
Career Highlights:
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-2nd Team All-Rookie in 1998
-Runner-up for 6th Man Award in 2001
-Has averaged at least 11 PPG in every season but one ('99)
-6th Man on 2001 Bucks team that reached Eastern Conference Finals
The Lowdown:
Thomas bolted for the NBA after only a year at Villanova (much to the disappointment of Wildcat fans) in which he left scouts high-fiving each other over the promise he displayed. With Kevin Garnett quickly blossoming into a unique kind of superstar, everyone was searching for a similar kind of player, and Thomas appeared ripe for the comparisons. With a long, sturdy frame and skills that allowed him to play 3 positions (SG, SF, PF), Thomas seemed destined to blossom into a superstar in due time. Many people felt the time had come in 2001 when he seemingly took the 'leap' during the Bucks' march to the Eastern Conference Finals, but Thomas failed to rev up his game the next season. Now back close to home with the Knicks a few years later, there are people still waiting for Thomas to realize his potential and to burst into NBA prominence. It ain't happening. Some players have that burning desire to achieve greatness no matter what it may take-- Tim Thomas is simply not one of these players, which is unfortunate because he has always had a world of potential.
Grade: C+

8. Golden State - C Adonal Foyle, Colgate
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 4.6 PPG, 47.0 FG%, 49.0 FT%, 5.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG
Career Highlights:
-All-Time Warriors leader in blocks
-Has finished in the top ten in BPG 4 times ('01, '02, '03, '05)
The Lowdown:
As if the Warriors didn't learn their lesson with Todd Fuller being an immediate bust the year before, they went out and drafted offensively inept big man Adonal Foyle in 1997 (whose college GPA of 3.47 doesn't quite top his career PPG like Fuller's did). I'll never quite understand why naturally gifted big men like Foyle don't ever develop in the NBA. Here you have a guy who's truly a class act both on and off the floor, nobody has ever questioned his willingness to put in the work, and he'll occasionally blow you away with a 10 point, 9 rebound, 5 block performance in only 15 minutes. My only assessment is that no matter how imposing or athletically talented a player may be, it's a lot tougher to teach coordination and agility (as we've seen with Ben Wallace who just can't seem to develop as an offensive player) than many of us bargain for. At this point, all Warriors fans can hope for is that Foyle stays far away from the injured list and continues to give them an exceptional effort on the defensive end (which may be asking too much considering Chris Mullin foolishly signed the injury-prone Foyle to a long-term deal last summer). But as NBA fans, let's hope and pray that Samuel Dalembert doesn't fall in line with the likes of Adonal Foyle, Calvin Booth, Ervin Johnson, Acie Earl, and Doug Smith-- talented big men who could just never get over that offensive hump that seems to limit their careers.
Grade: C-

9. Toronto - G/F Tracy McGrady, Mount Zion Academy (N.C.)
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 22.0 PPG, 44.4 FG%, 6.4 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.1 BPG
Career Highlights:
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-Named NBA's Most Improved Player in 2001
-Named to the All-Star Team in each of the last 5 seasons
-Named to an All-NBA Team in each of the last 5 seasons (1st Team in '02, '03)
-Led NBA in scoring twice ('03, '04)
-Scored 99 points in back-to-back Playoff games at Detroit in 2003
The Lowdown:
If the 1997 NBA Draft were to have taken place 5 years later, McGrady almost certainly would have been drafted right behind Tim Duncan, but a lot of GMs were still somewhat afraid of gambling on a kid coming straight out of high school. Though it was generally understood that T-Mac was going to be a work-in-progress, nobody could deny that he was far and away the most gifted player in the draft class. The Raptors used him primarily as a defensive-stopper off the bench early in his career despite the fact that many onloookers claimed he was dominating practices with cousin Vince Carter right from the get-go. McGrady was unleashed during his third and final year in Toronto when he and Vinsanity really put Toronto on the NBA map, but T-Mac loudly expressed his desire to play elsewhere and was delivered to Orlando during the summer in a sign-and-trade deal that left the budding superstar happy and filthy rich. Since then McGrady has proven himself as arguably the NBA's most dynamic athlete and its most prolific scorer, yet there remain questions abound concerning his attitude and willingness to become the kind of leader that refuses to let his team get pushed out of the 1st Round of the Playoffs yet again. T-Mac showed signs of maturity in his first season with the Rockets this past year, but it's going to require more than just "signs" if he is going to imprint his name among the NBA's greats when all is said and done. Of course he's only 26 years old, so there's still plenty of time.
Grade: A

"Tracy, we could rule this league together if you stay in Toronto with me!"
"Don't be silly, Vince. This is fun and all, but I have to think about myself right now and that means going where the money is."

10. Milwaukee - PF Danny Fortson, Cincinnati
*Traded along with Johnny Newman and Joe Wolf to Denver for Ervin Johnson
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 8.7 PPG, 47.0 FG%, 78.5 FT%, 7.6 RPG, 0.2 BPG
Career Highlights:
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-Led NBA in offensive rebounds in 1999
-Finished 4th in RPG in 1999 (11.7) and 2002 (11.6)
The Lowdown:
Typical of most former Cincinnati players during the Bob Huggins era, Fortson came in with a reputation of being a talented and physical player, with one nasty mean streak to boot. Though undersized for a power forward (listed at 6'8", but closer to 6'5"), scouts felt that Fortson's robust frame (260 lbs.), soft shooting touch, and unteachable fearlessness would allow him to succeed in the league. While he has stuck around all these years, he has proven to be incapable as a starter because he simply can't guard bigger or quicker power forwards who either jump right over him or drive right past him. Fortson did find a nice role off Seattle's bench this past season where his rugged demeanor fit right in with a team in dire need of some toughness. Of course he could end up playing himself right out of a roster spot if he continues to treat the NBA as though its the WWE.
Grade: C+

11. Sacramento - G/F Olivier Saint-Jean (Tariq Abdul-Wahad), San Jose St.
Career Stats:
6 Seasons: 7.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.8 SPG
Career Highlights:
-1st France-born player ever to play in NBA
-Helped France earn Bronze Medal in 2000 Olympics
The Lowdown:
-Typical of most players who change their names midway through their careers (Chris Jackson, Brian Williams), Abdul-Wahad's career went south as soon as he ditched his given name. Abdul-Wahad was another player who worked his way up draft boards thanks to superb workouts and camp showings where he displayed natural tendencies on the defensive end that left many pegging him as the next great on-the-ball defender. Unfortunately, Abdul-Wahad has been bogged down by crippling knee injuries over the years and has never been able to show the ferocity on defense that many felt would lead to a successful NBA career.
Grade: C-

12. Indiana - F Austin Croshere, Providence
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 7.4 PPG, 40.5 FG%, 86.0 FT%, 4.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG
Career Highlights:
-Played in all 2000 NBA Finals games against the Lakers averaging 15.2 PPG and 6 RPG
-Member of 2004 Pacers team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals
-Has spent his entire career with the Pacers
The Lowdown:
Croshere's career peaked a bit too early after his impressive Playoff run with the Pacers to the 2000 NBA Finals. Indiana straight-up paid him during that summer (7 years, $50 million) and he has stayed a Pacer ever since even though the results from Croshere have been far from satisfying. It's nothing really against the former Providence stud who supposedly works as hard as anyone in the NBA, it's just that Donnie Walsh (in one of his very rare mistakes) assumed Croshere had the makings of a solid NBA starter even though he was far too slow on defense and wasn't enough of a threat on offense to make up for it. After a disappointing 2000-01 season, Croshere was sent permanently to Indiana's bench where he has since remained a stable and reliable member of Indiana's reserve unit.
Grade: C+

13. Cleveland - SG Derek Anderson, Kentucky
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 13.1 PPG, 41.1 FG%, 85.4 FT%, 3.4 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.2 SPG
Career Highlights:
-Selected to participate in 1998 Rookie Game, but did not play due to injury
-2nd Team All-Rookie in 1998
-Has averaged double-figures in scoring and at least 3 APG in all but one season ('05)
-Was the 2nd-leading scorer on the 2001 Spurs-- many thought his knee injury in the Playoffs prevented them from winning it all.
The Lowdown:
Anderson had already dealt with a series of knee injuries before he even started his NBA career, yet he was just too talented and too fierce of a competitor for Cleveland to let him slide any further in the draft. He hurt his knee once again in just his 2nd season before the Cavs decided the risk just wasn't worth the award and shipped him off to the Clippers in exchange for Lamond Murray. Once he escaped NBA purgatory under Donald Sterling, Anderson fled for San Antonio where he had one of the real breakout seasons in 2000-01. With the Spurs coasting through the Playoffs and everyone's favorite to win the title, their season essentially ended when DA blew out his knee yet again during the Conference Semifinals (they would go on to get swept by the Lakers in the Conference Finals). Since then Anderson has had to readjust from being an explosive scorer to becoming a steady, system-fit shooting guard. After three respectable seasons in Portland, Anderson suffered through a tumultous season this past year in which he spent as much time worrying about his notoriously drunk Mother as his increasingly diminishing role with the Blazers. If Anderson's history of bouncing back is any indication, look for him to make a splash with whatever team he ends up with next season.
Grade: B

The Rest of the 1st Round

14. LA Clippers - PF Maurice Taylor, Michigan
Career Stats/Highlights:
7 Seasons: 12.0 PPG, 46.7 FG%, 4.8 RPG, 0.5 BPG
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-2nd Team All-Rookie in 1998
-Led Clippers in scoring in '99 and '00
The Lowdown:
Maurice Taylor falls right in line with the rest of the 1997 draftees whose careers have been plagued by nagging knee injuries. Though Mo Taylor never could play a lick of defense, he immediately established himself as one of the league's best back-to-the-basket power forwards in the three seasons he spent with the Clippers. Taylor was forced to miss the entire 2001-02 campaign after having season-ending knee surgery and he has since seen his mobility and effectiveness dwindle on an almost year-to-year basis. He's still a threat when he has the ball 15 feet and in, but he can't be relied upon for any more than 25 minutes a night.
Grade: B-

15. Dallas (from Minnesota) - PF/C Kelvin Cato, Iowa St.
*Traded to Portland for Chris Anstey and cash
Career Stats/Highlights:
8 Seasons: 5.7 PPG, 51.2 FG%, 5.6 RPG, 1.3 BPG
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-Has averaged at least 6 RPG and 1.3 BPG 4 times ('00, '02, '04, '05)
The Lowdown:
Cato was drafted out of Iowa State for the superb athleticism he exhibited for someone his size. He spent two seasons with Portland as a reserve where he demonstrated outstanding defensive instincts and seemed poised to take his game to another level if given the opportunity to play a larger role. Houston then acquired him as their key target in the Scottie Pippen deal, but Cato never really developed the way they were hoping he would. Though he can always be relied upon for some tough defense and consistent rebouding, Cato's lack of an offensive game has essentially limited him into only being a role player in the NBA.
Grade: B-

16. Cleveland (from Phoenix) - PG Brevin Knight, Stanford
Career Stats/Highlights:
8 Seasons: 7.6 PPG, 15.8 3PT%, 78.0 FT%, 6.5 APG, 1.8 SPG
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-Led all rookies in assists and was named 1st Team All-Rookie Team in 1998
-2nd in the NBA in APG in 2005 (9.0)
-Led the NBA in steals in 1998
The Lowdown:
Knight has always been the kind of player that everyone appeciates-- nice, young kid from Jersey who went out west to Stanford with every intention of receiving a valuable education to go along with a shot at an NBA career. After graduating from Stanford, Cleveland selected him to be their point guard of the future, which was a bit of a surprise considering Knight's draft stock was sinking due to his slight frame and mediocre perimeter game. But he took the job with the Cavaliers and was their starting point guard for three seasons before being shipped off to Atlanta in a trade to acquire Jim Jackson. Since then he has settled in as mainly back-up in the leagueThough Knight never exactly lit up opposing teams, he
Grade: B

17. Orlando - SF Johnny Taylor, Tennessee-Chattanooga
Career Stats/Highlights:
3 Seasons: 54 Games (9 Starts), 4.7 PPG, 40.2 FG%, 2.2 RPG, 0.6 SPG
The Lowdown:
After guiding the UTC Moccasins to a Cinderella run in the 1997 NCAA Tournament, Taylor watched as his draft stock soared about as high as his jaw-dropping vertical leap. The Magic thought they were getting a potential steal in Taylor, but they must have forgetten that you have to be able to shoot, pass, and perhaps play a little defense in the NBA. He lasted just 20 games with Orlando before being given his walking papers-- a couple DNP-CD-laden seasons later, Taylor was out of the league.
Grade: F

18. Portland - PF Chris Anstey, Australia
*Traded with cash to Portland for Kelvin Cato
Career Stats/Highlights:
3 Seasons: 5.2 PPG, 41.3 FG%, 3.4 RPG, 0.4 BPG
The Lowdown:
Direct quote from Don Nelson following the 1997 NBA Draft: "Chris Anstey is the best running big man in the entire draft." After an unimpressive rookie campaign, Nelson decided that Anstey wasn't the player he thought he was getting and once again went searching for the best running big man in the next year's Draft. The result? Dirk Nowitzki-- perhaps the best running big man the NBA has ever seen. As for Anstey, he took a back-up role with Chicago in '99-00 and performed respectably, but decided to leave the NBA on his accord following the season to seek opportunies playing overseas.
Grade: D+

19. Detroit - C Scot Pollard, Kansas
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 4.8 PPG, 49.8 FG%, 5.0 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.7 BPG
-Has reached Playoffs in every season except his rookie year
-Reached Conference Finals with Kings in '02 and Pacers in '04
The Lowdown:
Scot Pollard is like that guy we've all worked with at least once in our lives-- he goes to work, does what they (the employers) tell him to do, rarely tries to do anything more than what's asked of him, and never complains about anything to anyone. He might not get noticed and you might not like him for whatever reason, but damn it, you have to respect him. And I'm giving him bonus points for being the catalyst in the NBA's outpouring of donations to the relief funds in Southeast Asia after the Tsunamis this Winter.
Grade: B

It might not be pretty (no, it never is), but Scot Pollard gets the job done.

20. Minnesota (from Charlotte) - PF Paul Grant, Wisconsin
Career Stats/Highlights:
2 Seasons: 16 Games (0 Started), 111 minutes, 29 Points, 18 Rebounds, 3 Assists
The Lowdown:
Considering that Grant is the first player with whom I've used career stat totals instead of averages for, that should tell you that his NBA career was barely distinguishable from that of mine-- aka, it was non-existent. Despite a senior season at Wisconsin that didn't exactly raise eyebrows, Grant was able to work himself into the 1st round by wowing scouts at both the Portsmouth Invitational and Nike Desert Classic. Unfortunately, serious foot injuries kept Grant from ever realizing his dream of NBA stardom, let along playing time.
Grade: F

21. New Jersey (from LA Lakers) - G/F Anthony Parker, Bradley
*Traded with Tim Thomas, Jim Jackson, and Eric Montross to Philadelphia for Keith Van Horn, Luscious Harris, Don MacLean, and Michael Cage
Career Stats:
3 Seasons: 55 Games (0 Starts), 2.4 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.5 APG
The Lowdown:
Let's make sure we're clear here-- this is Anthony Parker, not Tony Parker-- the latter might sic Eva Longoria's monstruous bodyguard on our asses if we confuse the two. Like we've seen with many players over the years, Parker encountered serious injury problems early in his career and was never given a fair chance to succeed once he fully recovered. Fortunately for Parker, he has gone on to enjoy a very successful career in Europe which includes two Euroleague championships and one Euroleague MVP award.
Grade: F

22. Atlanta - SG Ed Gray, California
Career Stats/Highlights:
2 Seasons: 60 Games (6 Starts), 6.2 PPG, 33.9 FG%, 81.4 FT%, 0.5 SPG
The Lowdown:
You can throw Ed Gray into that flock of former big-time Pac-10 guards who never experienced success in the NBA-- Harold Miner, Khalid Reeves, Ed O'Bannon, Ron Riley, Miles Simon, Toby Bailey, Jeremy Veal, Isaac Fontaine, Jason Garnder, etc. Gray actually showed that he could play in the league during his rookie season (7.6 PPG in only 15.6 MPG), but after being arrested for six traffic violations, including a DUI, he played his way right off the Hawks and right out of the league.
Grade: F

23. Seattle - G Bobby Jackson, Minnesota
*Traded to Denver for James Cotton and a 2nd Round Pick in 1998
Career Stats:
8 Seasons: 10.0 PPG, 43.0 FG%, 80.0 FT%, 3.2 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.0 SPG
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-2nd Team All-Rookie in 1998
-6th Man of the Year in 2003 after being the runner-up in 2002
-Has averaged double-figures in scoring 5 times
-6th Man on 2002 Kings team that reached Western Conference Finals
The Lowdown:
Jackson fell to 23rd despite being one of the most talented and exciting prospects in the draft. Scouts annointed him with the dreaded "tweener" label because they weren't sure he could run the point and he was clearly too small (6'0") to play the two. And the truth is, their assessment was exactly right. Except sometimes people forget that you don't always have to plan on using players for 35 to 40 minutes a night. Jackson has proven to be the best change-of-pace guard in the league over the duration of his career and it's tough to get anything more than that this late in the draft.
Grade: B+

Is there anyone out there who doesn't like Bobby Jackson?!

24. Houston - G/F Rodrick Rhodes, USC
Career Stats/Highlights:
3 Seasons: 72 Games (14 Starts), 5.3 PPG, 34.7 FG%, 62 FT%, 1.7 APG, 1.0 SPG
The Lowdown:
There's usually one player who inexplicably sneaks his way into the 1st Round every year. In 1997, Rodrick Rhodes, whose topsy-turvy college career and lack of apparent upside led to him not even being included in the NBA Draft media guide, became that guy. It was amusing because the last time Houston drafted in the first round was 1993, so many pundits joked that the NBA had forgetten to send the Rockets a media guide in 1997. Not to anyone's surprise, Rhodes was anything but stellar in his rookie season and played his way right out of the league by 1999.
Grade: F

25. New York - PF John Thomas, Minnesota
Career Stats:
4 Seasons: 2.8 PPG, 50.6 FG%, 58.7 FT%, 2.1 RPG, 0.2 BPG
The Lowdown:
Thomas would never play a single game with the Knicks, but it doesn't seem as though they missed much with Thomas being out of the league after a quiet 2-year stint with Toronto. He would actually retire from basketball soon afterwards only to rediscover his love for the sport a few years later. With a reputation among NBA circles as a heady guy who has always been willing to put in the work, Thomas received offers from both Portland and Minnesota within days of each other to hop on board the team and help out their frontlines. The decision for Thomas, who was born, raised, and attended school at U of Minnesota was easy and he sticks with the Wolves to this day.
Grade: C-

26. Miami - SG Charles Smith, New Mexico
Career Stats/Highlights:
4 Seasons: 120 Games (32 Starts), 5.4 PPG, 40.8 FG%, 26.9 3PT%, 60.4 FT%, 0.7 SPG
The Lowdown:
Charles Smith, nicknamed "Spider" for his ridiculous 84" wingspan, was drafted by Pat Riley in '97 with the hopes that he could become a defensive stopper off the bench. Despite rave reviews from Riley after Smith put together a solid summer league season and training camp, the 2 guard was shipped to the Clippers at the February trade deadline in order to acquire Brent Barry and his career went into oblivion from there. He enjoyed a modest stint with the Spurs during the '01-02 season, but hasn't been able to stick with a team since.
Grade: D-

27. Utah - PG Jacque Vaughn, Kansas
Career Stats/Highlights:
8 Seasons: 5.0 PPG, 78.6 FT%, 2.7 APG, 0.6 SPG
-Reserve for the 1998 Jazz team that reached the NBA Finals
The Lowdown:
Because Jacque Vaughn came out of Kansas with such a heralded reputation, many people instantly dubbed him as the heir apparent to John Stockton in Utah. Unfortunately for Vaughn, this has led many to believe that he has lived a disappointing NBA career when he has indeed actually succeeded just from sticking around all these years. With limited athletic ability and a perimeter game not much better than Adonal Foyle's, Vaughn has proven that you can defy NBA standards by approaching your goals with hard work and the utmost professionalism.
Grade: B

28. Chicago - SF Keith Booth, Maryland
Career Stats:
2 Seasons: 45 Games (4 Starts), 2.9 PPG, 32.5 FG%, 9.1 3PT%, 56.3 FT%, 2.2 RPG
-Won NBA Title with Bulls in 1998
The Lowdown:
Booth earned a ring with the Bulls' championship team in '98 despite playing a grand total of 17 minutes during the season. You might think his limited playing time was simply because he was the youngest guy on a title-winning team, but consider that he couldn't even stick with the 13-37 Bulls team the next season before he saw his way right out of the NBA. He resurfaced last season as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Maryland.
Grade: D-

Notable 2nd Rounders

38. Golden State - C Marc Jackson, Temple
Career Stats:
5 Seasons: 9.0 PPG, 44.8 FG%, 80.7 FT%, 4.7 RPG, 0.3 BPG
-Participated in 2001 Rookie Game
-1st Team All-Rookie in 2001
-Has averaged double-figures in scoring twice ('01, '05)
The Lowdown:
For all of the Warriors' draft-day blunders over the years, P.J. Carlesimo deserves credit for nabbing burly big man Marc Jackson out of Temple in 1997. Of course the Warriors didn't bother offering him a contract after they selected him in the 2nd Round, so Jackson skipped off to Europe for 3 seasons where he dominated competition. The Warriors did bring him back in 2000 and reaped the benefits as he put together a 1st Team All-Rookie season (he probably would have taken Rookie of the Year honors had he played more than 48 games). But the Warriors failed to make a substantial contract offer after the season much to Jackson's chagrin, and the Rockets signed him to an offer sheet in the Fall. And then the Warriors inexplicably (like so many of their personnel moves) matched the offer, but decided they weren't going to play a pouty Jackson at all during the season. He was shipped off to Minnesota by the trade deadline and so goes the story of another puzzling Golden State player transaction. Jackson has since gone home to Philadelphia where he has become the Sixers' most imposing post threat since Derrick Coleman in 1998 (which really isn't saying much, but let the dog have his bone).
Grade: A-

40. Sacramento - PG Anthony Johnson, College of Charleston
Career Stats/Highlights:
8 Seasons: 5.2 PPG, 40.3 FG%, 2.6 APG, 0.7 SPG
-Led Kings in assists as rookie (4.3 APG)
-Reached the NBA Finals twice with the Nets ('02, '03) and the Eastern Conference Finals with the Pacers in 2004.
The Lowdown:
Anthony "Beetlejuice" Johnson (as NBA Source has dubbed him for his unprecedented likeness to 'Howard Stern Show' regular Beetlejuice) actually earned himself a starting gig with the lowly Kings in the '97-98 season, but did little to retain the spot and has since bounced around the NBA as a back-up point guard. Johnson is now coming off his best season ever with Indiana and seems assured to last in the league as long as his body is willing.
Grade: B+

In his free time, Anthony Johnson can often be found making guest appearances on the 'Howard Stern Show'.

43. Phoenix - SG Stephen Jackson, Butler CC (Kansas)
Career Stats/Highlights:
5 Seasons: 13.1 PPG, 42.1 FG%, 77.9 FT%, 3.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.4 SPG
-Participated in 2001 Rookie Game
-Starter for the 2003 Spurs Championship Team
-Has averaged 18 PPG, 4 RPG, 2 APG, 1 SPG in each of the last two seasons
The Lowdown:
Jackson was set to join Lute Olson at Arizona in 1998 and help the Wildcats repeat as NCAA Champions, but he instead opted for the NBA Draft where he slipped all the way to Phoenix in the 2nd Round. He didn't make the Suns roster to start the '97 season and bounced around the professional ranks until he landed with the Nets in 2000. After a moderately successful rookie season in New Jersey, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs signed him in the summer of 2001 and like they have with so many unknowns, turned Jackson into an effective and highly respected player within just two seasons. Nobody in San Antonio will forget how instrumental Jackson was in the Spurs 2003 Championship run. Though he has since developed a reputation as one of the NBA's true nut-jobs, Jackson has proven that he can be a quality starter for just about any team in the league
Grade: A

45. Cleveland - SF Cedric Henderson, Memphis
Career Stats/Highlights:
5 Seasons: 7.3 PPG, 14.0 3PT%, 2.9 RPG, 0.9 SPG
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-2nd Team All-Rookie in 1998
The Lowdown:
The high-flying Henderson was one of three key rookies along with Brevin Knight and Derek Anderson for the playoff-bound Cavaliers in the 1997-98 season. He would spend the following season as a starter for the Cavaliers before seeing his NBA career go down the sink due to injuries that limited his leaping ability and athleticism.
Grade: B

48. Portland - G Alvin Williams, Villanova
Career Stats/Highlights:
7 Seasons: 9.1 PPG, 76.2 FT%, 4.1 APG, 1.2 SPG
-Participated in 1998 Rookie Game
-Did not miss a single game in each of 3 seasons ('99, '01, '02)
-Has played more games in a Raptors uniform than any other player
The Lowdown:
Scouts loved Villanova-alum Williams for his size and ability to play both guard positions, but he still managed to slip all the way to Portland late in the 2nd Round. He proved to be a steal right from the outset of his career and has to this day rocked a Toronto Raptors uniform more than any other player in NBA history. Williams missed the entire 2004-05 season after having knee surgery, but hopes to challenge Rafer Alston for the starting gig next season.
Grade: A-

49. Washington - C Predrag Drobnjak, Yugoslavia
Career Stats/Highlights:
4 Seasons: 7.9 PPG, 42.5 FG%, 79.9 FT%, 3.5 RPG, 0.4 BPG
-Member of gold medal-winning Yugoslavian team during 2002 World Basketball Championships in Indianapolis
The Lowdown:
The Sonics brought Drobnjak over from Turkey in 2001 after he earned a reputation as one of Europe's best big men. He has since earned significant back-up roles with 3 teams thanks to his size and smooth shooting touch, but hasn't been able to secure a starting spot due to his lack of defense and reputation of being too "soft".
Grade: B

51. Atlanta - SF Chris Crawford, Marquette
Career Stats/Highlights:
7 Seasons: 6.6 pPG, 82.4 FT%, 2.2 RPG, 0.6 APG
-Has spent entire career with Atlanta
-Averaged double-figures in scoring for first time in career in 2003-04
The Lowdown:
Nobody really believed Crawford, an athletically-challenged and slow swingman, would stick in the league for as long as he has. It just goes to show you that even a scrub can sustain a career in the NBA so long as he's willing to work out of Atlanta.
Grade: B

55. Seattle - C Mark Blount, Pittsburgh
Career Stats/Highlights:
5 Seasons: 6.7 PPG, 51.6 FG%, 4.6 RPG, 0.9 BPG
-Member of 2002 Celtics team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals
-Finished 2nd in the NBA in FG% in 2004
The Lowdown:
It's hard to fault Mark Blount on what he's accomplished during his NBA career given that he was one of the very last selections in the 1997 Draft, but all of you that read the NBA Source regularly know how I really feel about him. After struggling for 3 seasons and showing very little promise of developing into a legitimate NBA-caliber center, somebody whispered into Mark Blount's ear during last season that he was in the midst of a contract year. And from that point on, Blount played with the tenacity and heart that GMs drool over when it comes to big men. The Celtics ended up outbidding the 76ers for his services last summer and signed Blount to a preposterous 6 year, $41 million contract. And in a stunning development, Blount seemingly forgot how to rebound and play defense right at the moment he stroked his John Hancock on those contract papers. If you're wondering why NBA owners demanded that the maximum-length in which players could sign contracts be cut down from 6 years to 5 in the latest CBA, look no further than Mark Blount.
Grade: B

"Hey, isn't that criminal mastermind Mark Blount?!"
"Yeah! He's that guy that stole MILLIONS from the Celtics last summer! Let's get a picture with him!"