Friday, July 2, 1999
By Steve Goldman, staff writer
The long-awaited NBA draft was held on June 30. As always, there were some surprises, and some picks that were pretty much expected. At least four players taken will not see NBA action for at least one year. Taking any rookie in a fantasy league involves somewhat of a risk, but it helps greatly to know all about a player’s situation before choosing him. Consider the following before doing so:
1. Elton Brand, F, Chicago Bulls- This 6-8, 275-pound power forward was one of Duke’s keystones. The 20-year-old is very athletic- he is powerful and fast. A fine offensive and defensive player who is a terror on the boards and has plenty of heart. Has a patented turnaround jump shot, but has limited shooting range. Elected to turn pro after his sophomore year, in which he averaged 17.8 points and 9.6 boards. Can block shots as well. Should step right into the rebuilding Bulls’ starting lineup. "The decision on Elton was a long one in the sense that we tried to look at every possible avenue," GM Jerry Krause said. "We wanted to bring in all the players and face them face-to-face. One of the things that impressed me about Elton when we brought him in several weeks ago is he's a tough young man. He's a building block."
2. Steve Francis, G, Vancouver Grizzlies- The 6-3, 200-pound junior was a shooting guard at Maryland, mostly because they had Terrell Stokes to play the point. Francis projects to be a point guard in the pros. Francis has great ballhandling skills, and can leap. Good shooter in pressure situations. Averaged 17.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 1998-99. Should team with Mike Bibby in the Grizzlies’ backcourt. Francis seemed to be unhappy about the fact he was chosen by Vancouver. "It didn't appear [Francis] was the happiest guy at the draft tonight, [but] at the same time it's something that we've faced in the past," GM Stu Jackson said. "At some level you learn that you have to deal with it. Like a lot of players, Steve probably will come into our situation with some apprehension like a lot of players that have been through here. I think once he gets here, he'll feel a little more comfortable."
3. Baron Davis, G, Charlotte Hornets- 6-2 point guard who is very athletic. Fine passer who needs work on his shot. Durability is questioned by some. Played at UCLA during his two collegiate years. Suffered a torn ACL as a freshman, but the Hornets are convinced it has healed very well. Slated to back up David Wesley, but will probably start in the future. Averaged 15.9 points and 5.1 assists as a sophomore. "He has a chance to win immediately and very seldom does a number three choice have a chance to win immediately," VP Bob Bass said.
4. Lamar Odom, F, Los Angeles Clippers- Projected as a small forward, but can also play both guard spots. Has all the tools. Many thought he would go #1 overall, as some consider him the most likely superstar in the draft. Left Rhode Island after his sophomore year, in which he averaged 17.6 points, 9.4 caroms and 3.8 assists. Then tried unsuccessfully to regain his eligibility to return to URI. There has been some question of his ethics. 6-9, 220. Needs work on his free throws. "If you look at all the guys in the draft, he's a guy that can help his teammates get open shots and looks," coach Chris Ford said. "This player can definitely do that. He can get into the post and score over players. If he's double-teamed, he can find the open man. And, on the perimeter, he can help you bring the ball up the floor."
5. Jonathan Bender, F, Toronto Raptors- Will be traded to Indianapolis for Antonio Davis, but not until August 1, because of salary cap restrictions. 6-11, 220-pound power forward who was chosen out of high school. Strong offensive and defensive player and rebounder. Has the potential to be a star, but is a risk at his age.
6. Wally Szczerbiak, F, Minnesota Timberwolves- 6-8, 230- pound small forward. Outstanding shooter who can also penetrate. Good passer with an excellent understanding of the game. The first senior taken, he averaged 24.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists at Miami, Ohio. "We really lacked in shooting the last two years -- there hasn't been a worse three-point shooting team in the league," coach Flip Saunders said. "With Wally and William [Avery, who was the 14th pick], that's their strength."
7. Richard Hamilton, G-F, Washington Wizards- 6-6, 195-pound swing man who helped Connecticut to the national championship as a junior, then turned pro. Excellent shooter who can handle the ball and play defense. Fine all-around offensive skills. Averaged 21.5 points per game in 1998-99. "I like the fact that he was in college for three years," coach Gar Heard said. "He had a chance to mature. I like the fact he can score. He can only get better. He has a way of scoring, and in this league we need scoring."
8. Andre Miller, G, Cleveland Cavaliers- A 6-2 point guard with well-rounded skills, although some question his shooting ability. Utah’s record-holder with 254 career steals. Averaged 15.8 points, 5.7 assists and 2.6 steals as a fifth-year senior. "All along in the last year, we felt that we needed to have a complement to Brevin (Knight)," GM Jim Paxson said. "Brevin has done a terrific job for us. We think Andre gives us a good complement to Brevin as far as his size, his ability to defend the ball. I believe, and our staff believes, he’s somebody in the pro game whose game is just going to get better."
9. Shawn Marion, F, Phoenix Suns- 6-7, 215-pound small forward from UNLV. Came out after his junior year, his only one with the Rebels. Great runner who can handle the ball. Averaged 18.8 points and 9.3 boards last year while shooting 52.9 percent. "His effectiveness may be enhanced by the (expected changes in the NBA rules)," director of college scouting Dick Percudani said. "He's so quick, and explosive. And I think he's going to be effective at the defensive end of the court because he's got such quick feet and he'll get up and block a shot."
10. Jason Terry, G, Atlanta Hawks- 6-2, 170-pound point guard with all the offensive skills for the position, and may be even better defensively. Should get plenty of court time with Mookie Blaylock gone. Averaged 21.9 points and 5.5 assists as a senior at Arizona.
11. Trajan Langdon, G, Cleveland Cavaliers- A surprise at this pick, especially given the presence of Derek Anderson and Wesley Person. The Duke grad is a great shooter, but is not as athletic as some of his peers, and skeptics question whether he will be able to get his shot off or play acceptable defense in the NBA. 6-3, 195. Not recommended.
12. Aleksandar Radojevic, C, Toronto Raptors- 7-3, 245-pouind center from Barton (Kansas) Community College after coming over from Europe. A project with little fantasy potential; his strength is defense.
13. Corey Maggette, G, Seattle Supersonics- The Sonics dealt him to Orlando along with Billy Owens, Dale Ellis and Don MacLean for Horace Grant and two future second-round picks. A 6-6, 220-pound shooting guard with unlimited potential- in fact has often been compared to Michael Jordan. However he is a project, having curiously left Duke after his freshman year. Defense needs some work. Averaged 10.6 points per game.
14. William Avery, G, Minnesota Timberwolves- 6-2, 185-pound point guard who came out after his sophomore year at Duke. Has the necessary skills, and is a fine shooter. Averaged 15.0 points and 5.2 assists last year. "He shoots it right now as good as any guard in the league," Saunders said. "It's the other stuff he has to work on."
15. Frederic Weis, C, New York Knicks- The second center taken, both from Europe. Weis, 7-1, 240, comes from Limoges, France. Can run, good passer, needs to work on defense. Figures to break in slowly as long as Patrick Ewing is around. The 22-year-old had successful back surgery in April. "I've watched him play since he was 18," VP of personnel Tapscott said. "And I can only equate him to (Zydrunas) Ilgauskas. He won't be a starting center right away. But he is a true center, a back-to-the-basket player. We have to work on his body. But we believe he will be a starting center, and a quality starting center."
16. Ron Artest, G-F, Chicago Bulls- 6-6, 220-pound athlete who played small forward in college but could become a shooting guard. Turned pro after his sophomore year at St. John’s. Excellent defensive player. Deadly in the open court, with good other offensive skills but could improve at the foul line. Averaged 14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists last season. "We were pleasantly surprised to find Artest at No. 16," Krause said. "One of the things we wanted to do is increase our toughness. Elton Brand is tough. Ron Artest is tough. Michael Ruffin is a tough youngster. We're very happy with our picks. We'll know how good this draft was for us about three years from now. We think we have a good foundation for the future."
17. Cal Bowdler, F, Atlanta Hawks- May have been a reach at this pick. 6-10, 245 power forward from Old Dominion whose future fantasy value, if any, will be primarily on the boards. Good defensive player, but few offensive skills, despite his 14.7-point average last year. 10.0 rebounds per game.
18. James Posey, G-F, Denver Nuggets- 6-7, 215-pounder who might play small forward or #2 guard. Primary strength is defense, although his quickness is an asset on offense. Averaged 16.9 points and 8.9 boards as a senior at Xavier.
19. Quincy Lewis, F, Utah Jazz- 6-7, 215-pound small forward. Very good all-around offensive skills and a good shooter with a propensity to run the fast break. Rebounding could use work. 23.1 points, 5.9 boards as a senior at Minnesota.
20. Dion Glover, G, Atlanta Hawks- Surprising pick this high. Played one year at Georgia Tech, showing gobs of potential, but his game needs lots of work. A project who will need lots of time. Had surgery on his knee, but appears to be doing well in that regard.
21. Jeff Foster, F-C, Golden State Warriors- Picked by the Warriors and then traded to Indiana. 6-11, 235-pound center who emerged as a pro prospect late in his senior year at Southwest Texas State. Good on the boards, has some other skills but doesn’t seem to be spectacular at any one thing. Averaged 14.2 points, 11.2 caroms last year. Keep in mind the level of the competition though.
22. Kenny Thomas, F, Houston Rockets- Big (6-9, 250) power forward who can do it all, but has had eligibility problems. More significant is a reputation for attitude problems. Has great upside potential, but is a risk. 17.8 points, 10.0 rebounds last year.
23. Devean George, G-F, Los Angeles Lakers- Swingman from Augsburg (Minnesota), where he did not face top-notch competition. Good shooter, but coach Phil Jackson said that his rookies will be broken in slowly.
24. Andrei Kirilenko, F, Utah Jazz- 18-year-old talent who plays on the CSKA’s team, which won Russia’s championship. He is committed to them for two more years, so it won’t be until at least the 2001-02 season that we see him in an NBA uniform.
25. Tim James, F, Miami Heat- Good athlete with skills on both sides of the ball, but has limited shooting range and has been careless with the ball at times. Could play small forward or shooting guard in the pros, although he doesn’t seem ideally suited for either. 18.6 points, 8.2 boards per game as a senior at Miami (FL). 6-7, 200.
26. Vonteego Cummings, G, Indiana Pacers- Traded after being chosen, to Golden State with a future #1 pick for Foster. 6-4, 195-pound shooting guard who originally projected to go much higher, but had a disappointing senior year. There is some debate as to how much of that had to do with the decline of the Pittsburgh team, however. Excellent shooter who can create his own shot. Has other skills as well, both offensively and defensively. 16.1 points, 4.3 boards per game last year. A sleeper.
27. Jumaine Jones, F, Atlanta Hawks- Dealt to Philadelphia for a future first-rounder after being tabbed by Atlanta. Came out after his soph season at Georgia, to the surprise of many. Tremendous athlete, who has all the raw talent, but lacks fundamentals and experience, and is light years away from being NBA-ready. May be worth a flier in a keeper league, if you are willing to wait a long time and still risk the chance of getting nothing. 18.8 point, 9.5 rebound average as a sophomore. 6-7, 210.
28. Scott Padgett, F, Utah Jazz- 6-9,240-pound forward who might play either forward position in the pros, but who may not be ideally suited for either. Shooting is a strength, and has other skills although none that are particularly strong. Averaged 12.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 2.6 apg as a senior in the fine Kentucky program.
29. Leon Smith, F, San Antonio Spurs- 6-10, 235-pound center who is turning pro straight out of the high school ranks. The Spurs dealt him to Dallas for Gordon Giricek and a future second-round choice. Could make it some day, but is not ready yet. A project.
30. John Celestand, G, Los Angeles Lakers- Point guard with good offensive and defensive skills, but the big knock on him is his small 6-3, 175-pound frame. Also, as stated above. Phil Jackson says his rookies will be broken in slowly. Averaged 14.8 points and 4.3 assists last year at Villanova.
31. Rico Hill, F, Los Angeles Clippers- Played for Illinois State, then for a pro team in Spain last year, but only for 24 games. 6-6, 225-pound swingman suffered an ankle injury and then gained weight. 18.4 points, 7.5 boards in his junior year at Illinois State, which was his last campaign there.
32. Michael Ruffin, F, Chicago Bulls- 6-8, 230-pound power forward from Tulsa. Outstanding defensive player and rebounder. A very tough player. Scored 11.6 points per game, but most field goals he got were close to the basket. Gets to the line a lot, but not a good foul shooter. 10.3 boards per game.
33. Chris Herren, PG, Denver Nuggets- Point guard from Fresno State who has good, not great, offensive and defensive skills. Has had problems with substance abuse in the past. 11.4 points, 7.2 assists per game in 1998-99. 6-3, 190.
34. Evan Eschmeyer, C, New Jersey Nets- Fifth-year senior from Northwestern. Strengths are primarily on defense and the boards (10.1 rebounds). Did score 19.6 points last year. 6-11, 245.
35. Calvin Booth, C, Washington Wizards- Penn State athlete who is a fine defensive player and rebounder, but does have a touch from the outside. 6-11, 230 pounds. 15.3 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior.
36. Wang Zhi-Zhi, C, Dallas Mavericks- Left-handed 7-1, 250-pound center who GM Don Nelson discovered while in China. He is committed to his team for at least one year.
37. Obinna Ekezie, C, Vancouver Grizzlies- Big frame (6-10, 260), can run and has moves, and can score close to the basket, but has limited range. An injury that ended his senior campaign with Maryland is a concern. Scored 12.7 points and pulled down 5.9 boards before he did. Good defensive player with a fine work ethic.
38. LaRon Profit, G, Maryland- Another Maryland athlete, he showed a lot more promise earlier in his collegiate career. Relies more on inside moves than the perimeter to score, as the latter aspect of his game needs lots of work. 6-5, 200.
39. A.J. Bramlett, F, Cleveland Cavaliers- Played center at Arizona, but projects to be a power forward. However, he might be too thin (6-10, 220) for that position. He does have good inside and outside offensive skills, can play defense and rebound. 14.2 ppg, 9.4 rpg as a senior. Not a good free throw shooter.
40. Gordon Giricek, G, Dallas Mavericks- Traded to San Antonio. Excellent shooter who plays for Cibona of Zagreb, Croatia. He is committed to that team for the next two years, at least.
41. Francisco Elson, C, Denver Nuggets- A 7-0, 235-pound center from California who is a project. Most of his potential is on defense.
42. Louis Bullock, G, Minnesota Timberwolves- Traded to Orlando. 6-2, 195-pound guard. At Michigan, he played the #2 guard, but will try to move to the point in the pros. Has good offensive skills; can shoot. 20.7 point average as a senior.
43. Lee Nailon, F, Charlotte Hornets- Averaged 22.8 points and 9.3 caroms in his senior year at TCU. Some expected this 6-9, 225 athlete to go in the first round. However he doesn’t fit into the typical power forward image, as he is more of a scorer.
44. Tyrone Washington, F, Houston Rockets- 6-10, 260-pound power forward from Southern Mississippi. Good scorer from the inside who can run, play defense and rebound. However he was also very erratic and inconsistent. 12.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg as a senior. Not a good free throw shooter.
45. Ryan Robertson, G, Sacramento Kings- Kansas Jayhawk who is turning pro after his sophomore year. Can play either guard position, but is probably better suited to the point. An unselfish player but can shoot too. Scored 12.8 points as a sophomore. At 6-5, 180, his frame is a concern.
46. J.R. Koch, F, New York Knicks- Projected as a power forward, but many think he isn’t strong enough for that role in the NBA. 6-10, 225-pounder who does have a variety of skills, including a shot. Averaged 10.4 points and 4.2 boards as a senior despite having his court time somewhat limited at Iowa.
47. Todd MacCulloch, C, Philadelphia 76ers- 7-0, 270-pounder who is not a great athlete, but can rebound and score close to the basket. Will need lots of work, though, to make it in the NBA, and is considered a project. 18.7 points and 11.9 boards per game as a senior at Washington. Great field goal percentage, but needs work on free throws.
48. Galen Young, F, Milwaukee Bucks- 6-6, 210-pounder who played forward, primarily, at UNC-Charlotte, but will probably have to adjust to off guard. Does have shooting skills and good moves, but many question whether he can make the adjustment. 14.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg as a senior.
49. Lari Ketner, F, Chicago Bulls- Had a very promising first two years at Massachusetts before fading in his latter two campaigns. Improved his stock in post-season workouts. When on his game, plays intensely on both ends of the floor, and is a good rebounder. Horrid foul shooter though. 10.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg as a senior. 6-10, 270, projects as a power forward.
50. Venson Hamilton, F, Houston Rockets- Averaged 15.6 points, 10.1 boards as a senior at Nebraska, capping a fine career. Then disappointed mightily in post-season camp. 6-10, 235. Needs lots of work on his foul shooting, but does have the ability to score on jumpers from fairly close in. Power forward.
51. Antwain Smith, F, Vancouver Grizzlies- Athletic power forward, but played mostly against small schools at Division II St. Paul, Virginia. 6-6, 210.
52. Roberto Bergersen, G, Atlanta Hawks- Subsequently traded to Portland. Athletic shooting guard who averaged 22.2 points as a senior at Boise State. Doesn’t seem to be well-suited to the pro game, though. Level of competition is also a concern. 6-6, 200.
53. Rodney Buford, G, Miami Heat- 6-5, 190-pound shooting guard who has relied more on drives inside to score. Good attitude. Played at Creighton.
54. Melvin Levett, G, Detroit Pistons- Point guard who sometimes looks more like a #2 guard on the court. Can penetrate; great leaper, but can pop the outside jumper too. Good defensive player. Was somewhat inconsistent at Cincinnati though.
55. Kris Clack, G, Boston Celtics- Can run, jump and drive inside. Not a very good shooter though, and is probably a bit overweight. Played guard and forward at Texas, averaging 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds as a senior. Needs improvement on free throws. 6-5, 205.
56. Tim Young, C, Golden State- 7-1, 245-pound center from Stanford who can shoot, but doesn’t have other good offensive skills. A project. 10.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg as a senior. Sat out 95-96 season with a back injury.
57. Emmanuel Ginobili, G, San Antonio Spurs- Played in Italy, and is locked up there for at least another two years. Good shooter.
58. Eddie Lucas, G, Utah Jazz- Played at West Virginia after transferring from the Navy. 6-7, 205 guard who used his strong shooting skills to land in the draft.