NBA Draft Scouting ReportBy Gene Huh
Size will be in great abundance in this year's draft, which will include a record number of players attempting to make the jump from high school to the pros. Unfortunately for the Washington Wizards, who hold the top overall selection, there is no clear-cut number one pick. Even worse, none of the top overall talents available are over 20 years old. Due to the impact that players such as Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady have had on the NBA in recent years after bypassing college ball for the NBA, teams will be under extreme pressure to make a decision based more on a prospect's potential than on his production. In the old days, teams weighed both production and potential in order to make their decisions, but no GM will want to end up looking as foolish as the Golden State Warriors did in 1996 when they drafted productive NC State center Todd Fuller over the young and unproven Kobe Bryant. Therefore, expect highly productive collegians such as Shane Battier and Jamal Tinsley to slide down the draft rankings.
1. Kwame Brown (6-11 240 lbs.) Glynn Academy (HS)
Positives: The most gifted player in the draft, Brown is a great athlete with exceptional basketball skills. He can handle the ball like a guard and has a good-looking stroke from 15 to 17 feet. Brown also has good floor vision and passes extremely well. Brown is currently at his best when he faces up and takes people off the dribble using an excellent crossover dribble. Defensively, Brown is a devastating shotblocker with superb leaping ability, timing and reach. Because of his combination of size, strength and skill, Brown is often compared to Chris Webber and Kevin Garnett. At this point, Brown has a much more NBA-ready physique than Garnett had coming out of high school.
Negatives: Unfortunately, Brown does not enjoy posting up offensively and takes far too many three-pointers. Despite Garnett-level skills, Brown has yet to demonstrate the burning competitiveness that Garnett exhibited at the same stage of development.
Prognosis: Perhaps the best way to describe Kwame Brown is to say that he has the frame and physical skills of an Antonio McDyess and the basketball skills of a young Danny Manning. Brown could develop into a potential franchise player if he works hard on his game. Peak Projection: 22 ppg 10 rpg 4 apg 2.5 bpg
2. Eddy Curry (6-10 1/2 290 lbs.) Thornwood HS
Positives: Nicknamed "Baby Shaq" by some prep basketball observers, Curry has the physical tools to dominate in the paint. He has explosive leaping ability, quickness and agility that belies his massive frame. Curry's hands are sure and his footwork is good enough to indicate that he will eventually develop into a lethal post-up threat. Curry has a soft touch on shots in the paint and is a powerful dunker and rebounder. He blocks shots well and runs the floor effectively when he is not fatigued.
Negatives: Curry's stamina and intensity have been questioned by observers who felt that he did not dominate prep opponents as consistently as he should have. At times, Currly displays an annoying tendancy to dribble the ball in traffic, but this is a flaw that can be corrected through patient coaching. Hopefully, Curry's near Shaqesque FT shooting can also be corrected. While he is not fat, there are concerns that Curry possesses the body type to develop a weight problem down the road.
Prognosis: Curry is either the next Shaquille O'Neal or Daryl Dawkins, depending upon who you ask. In an NBA where bloated old power forwards start at center for approximately a third of the teams in the league, a team will gamble a high pick on the unpolished Curry. This is a worthwhile gamble since Curry is truly a potential franchise player. Peak Projection: 20 ppg 11 rpg 2 bpg
3. Rodney White (6-7 1/2 238 lbs.) Charlotte
Positives: White is an athletic young forward with the potential to develop into a major scoring machine. He has the shooting range to consistenly make three-pointers and the explosiveness to score in the low post. White also possesses the hands and leaping ability to sky and snatch high rebounds with power. To top it all off, White has the ballhandling skills to play small forward or even big guard at the pro level. What truly separates White from standstill shooters such as Shane Battier is a pro's ability to create his shots off the dribble.
Negatives: It is a good thing that White has the skills to play on the wing because his frame is probably ill-suited for playing power forward in the NBA. Although White has major pro talent, he would have benefitted greatly from playing another year in college to get stronger and to polish his skills. White did not rebound or block shots as well as he should have in his one season at Charlotte. Defensively, White will have matchup problems against both power players and wing forwards due to his bastard size.
Prognosis: Jerry West has reportedly stated that White is the best player in the draft. There is no question that White has the polished offensive skills to develop into a multidimensional scoring threat at small forward in the mold of a Glenn Robinson or Jamal Mashburn. Don't be surprised if White is the 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year. Peak Projection: 22 ppg 7 rpg
4. Eddie Griffin (6-9 212 lbs.) Seton Hall
Positives: A gifted athlete with an immense wingspan and explosive leaping ability, Grifin makes the game look very easy. The best shotblocker in college basketball last season, Griffin gets his swats as a help defender and against his own man. He attacks the glass at both ends of the floor and runs the floor like a guard. Offensively, Griffin is the complete package, able to drain smooth three-pointers and also dominate in the low post, where he can hit difficult, contested turnaround jumpers. Griffin makes himself wide in the paint to present a big target for passers and catches everything that is thrown his way.
Negatives: There are times when Griffin tries too much on offense. He attempts too many contested shots from the perimeter and does not put the ball on the floor nearly enough. Griffin also must upgrade his ballhandling ability in order to make the transition to the NBA three position. Despite his good passing skills, Griffin will force passes at times and makes his share of turnovers. Griffin's character has been called into questions because of a fight with teammate Ty Shine after a Big East conference game last season and a fight with a 6-10 player in high school. Perhaps the most troubling thing about these two violent outbursts is that Griffin is an unemotional player who hardly looks like he cares during games and not a fierce competitor in the mold of a Latrell Sprewell.
Prognosis: With another year of seasoning, Griffin could have developed into a truly worthy top pick. However, the anger management problems that have marred his short career are very troubling question marks. Plus, it must be noted that Griffin's offensive selfishness and then Seton Hall head coach Tommy Amaker's tepid response to Griffin's attack on Ty Shine were the main reasons that a very talented Seton Hall squad went into the toliet last season. So it definitely cannot be said that Griffin is a leader or player who can elevate the play of his teammates. Still, Griffin is a major talent with more seasoning than the top high school prospects. If Griffin can learn to become more of a team player, he definitely has the upside to develop into an NBA All-Star. Peak Projection: 21 ppg 9 rpg 2.5 bpg
5. Tyson Chandler (7-0 1/2 225 lbs.) Compton Dominguez HS
Positives: Chandler has been called the next Lew Alcindor since he was in middle school. A remarkable athlete with the speed and agility of a guard, Chandler is not the protoypical post player. He shoots the ball fairly well from the perimeter and can even hit shots from beyond the college three-point line. Chandler also passes and handles the ball pretty well for a man his size. His height and wingspan will allow him to dominate the backboards and intimidate shooters with his shotblocking.
Negatives: Although he hasn't exactly regressed since appearing on the prospect radar, Chandler's game has not exactly improved by leaps and bounds during the past two years. Perhaps he has not been sufficiently challenged by his high school competition. Due to his slight physique, Chandler eschews playing with his back to the basket and prefers to instead roam the perimeter. Defensively, Chandler gets pulverized by physical opponents and needs to add much more strength and weight in order to play center or power forward at the NBA level. The similarly sized but vastly more talented Kevin Garnett absolutely dominated his peers as a senior in high school, but Chandler has not done the same despite his great physical ability and the fact that he played for a very talented high school team.
Prognosis: Chandler is not the next Lew Alcindor, but perhaps he can develop into a mobile power forward like Rasheed Wallace. Chandler has the frame to get bigger and his great speed, size and skill level make him worth a gamble as a high lottery pick. Peak Projection: 17 ppg 7 rpg 3 bpg
6. Richard Jefferson (6-7 220 lbs.) Arizona
Positives: Jefferson is one of the finest pure athletes available in this year's draft. An explosive leaper with speed and quickness, Jefferson showed great defensive ability against both quick guards and athletic small forwards during the past NCAA tournament. Most notably, Richardson absolutely dominated the equally athletic Jason Richardson during the National Semifinal. Jefferson's astonishing athletic ability also serves him well as a finalizer in transition or in traffic. Not just a runner and leaper, Jefferson also posseses a muscular physique that appears well-suited for the NBA game. Offensively, Jefferson is a work in progress. He is a smooth if not consistent shooter from the college three-point arc, handles the ball well and can make very good passes. His ballhandling skills and shooting range will allow him to play both forward and off guard in the NBA.
Negatives: Jefferson was only the fourth option for Arizona, despite being the most gifted player on the team. He needs to continue to play as assertively as he did in the last NCAA tournament, instead of blending in as a role player as he did during most of his college career.
Prognosis: Overall, Jefferson is an outstanding prospect with very considerable upside. He is a lot like Vince Carter in that he blends a fine shooting stroke with explosiveness. Like Carter, Jefferson did not have the pressure of being "the man" in college and will have to work on his aggressiveness to take full advantage of his talent. If he doesn't develop more of a take-charge personality, Jefferson could end up becoming a shorter version of Robert Horry. We rate Jefferson much more highly than most of the experts do because we feel that he has a lot of untapped potential. Don't be surprised if Jefferson develoops into a more explosive version of Sean Elliott. Peak Projection: 17 ppg 6 rpg
7. Jason Richardson (6-5 220 lbs.) Michigan State
Positives:A truly spectacular athlete, Richardson can run and jump all day. He nearly always plays with a high level of energy and has the potential to develop into a defensive stopper and terrific offensive rebounder. In transition, Richardson is an unstoppable finisher, able to throw it down spectaular highlight film dunks. He can also hurt teams off the dribble by taking it to the hole or pulling up explosively for short jumpers. As a jump shoter from beyond the college arc, Richardson made great strides during his sophomore season, before losing his confidence and going ice cold in the NCAA tournament.
Negatives: As a high leaper with inconsistent shooting mechanics, Richardson will need to work very hard in order to develop into a perimeter threat. He is a competent ballhandler and passer, but will need improvement in both areas to make the transition to NBA shooting guard.
Prognosis: Richardson is a great talent who could develop into a marquee NBA talent a couple of years down the road, but he will need to improve his shooting in order to make it happen. If this happens, Richardson could develop into a player very similar to Derek Anderson or Michael Finley, scoring 20+ ppg.
8. Joe Johnson (6-8 225 lbs.) Arkansas
Positives: Johnson is a fluid athlete with very good perimeter skills. He can shoot with range and put the ball on the floor to create his own shot. His gliding running style allows him to sneak up on opponents who underrate his quickness. Johnson's ballhandling skills are good enough to allow him to play full-time in the backcourt and he can make his teammates better with his playmaking abilities. His terrific size will make him a matchup problem for opposing guards and a major threat on the backboards.
Negatives: Johnson did not show a great deal of progress between his stellar freshman year and his injury-plagued sophomore season. Despite all of his obvious talents, Johnson has not dominated college competition on a regular basis. He must get more physical if he is to play small forward in addition to shooting guard.
Prognosis: Johnson has big-time offensive skills and the athletic ability to eventually develop into a competent defender. At worst, Johnson can be a versatile swingman in the mold of a Walt Williams, able to handle the ball and shoot the three. However, if Johnson becomes a more consistent player, he could develop into a major 18-20 ppg scoring threat like a Jamal Mashburn.
9. Shane Battier (6-9 220 lbs.) Duke
Positives: By winning an NCAA title during his senior year at Duke, Battier ended his Duke career as one of the winningest players in college basketball history. A thinking man's player with above average speed and leaping ability, Battier moves well without the ball and possesses virtually unlimited shooting range. As a defender, Battier is both a cerebral positional defensive player who draws charges and a terrific help-side shotblocker. The best things about Battier are his media-friendly personality and his winning attitude.
Negatives: Battier's major physical limitation is his stiffness as an athlete. This stiffness limits Battier as a low post player and athletic finisher. Battier will probably struggle creating his own shot off the dribble and will be much more effective in an offense that will allow him to spot up beyond the three point line.
Prognosis: Battier is already mature enough to step in and help an NBA team from day one, but does not have the talent to develop into a superstar. Battier is often compared to Rick Fox, but he has a bit more speed, quickness and competitiveness than Fox. Do not be suprised if Battier develops into a player much more along the lines of Wally Szczerbiak, scoring about 15-17 ppg and grabbing 6 to 7 boards a game. However, it should be noted that Battier does not possess the athleticism or scoring acumen that Szczerbiak possesses. Still, Battier is the type of player that could turn out to be a third option on a championship team.
10. DeSagana Diop (7-0 310 lbs.) Oak Hill Academy (HS)
Positives: Diop is a legitimate center with rare size and strength. He has a nice touch in the paint, especially on turnaround jumpers and jumphooks. As a foreigner without bad habits, Diop's fundamentals are solid, especially the way he rebounds and keeps the ball high after grabbing boards.
Negatives: Diop is a naturally massive human being, but could stand to get into better shape. He is not a super athlete and does not leap explosively. As a relative novice, lacking the playing experience that top American prep players such as an Eddy Curry or Tyson Chandler have accumulated, Diop has a lot to learn about basketball. His low post moves especially need refinement.
Prognosis: Overall, Diop reminds me a lot of Stanley Roberts, before Roberts ballooned out as a pro. He could develop into a very good center if he is willing to work hard. However, his inexperience makes him very hard to evaluate.
11. Pau Gasol (7-0 227 lbs.) Barcelona
Positives: Gasol is a player with the height of a center and the skills of a guard. He can shoot the long-range jumper and handle the ball effectively. Like many finesse Euro big men, Gasol passes the ball very well and enjoys that part of the game.
Negatives: Gasol has never been known for his passion for the game and is not considered a fierce competitor. His physical strength and bulk are both subpar. Although he is fairly mobile for a 7-footer, Gasol does not possess the footspeed or quickness of a player like Tyson Chandler or Eddie Griffin. This lack of true quickness will be quickly exposed on the defensive end, where he will be unable to guard anyone.
Prognosis: Gasol is considered one of the finest talents in Europe and will unquestionably become a true NBA player. However, the comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki may be overzealous. It should definitely be noted that most European finesse big men are too soft to dominate in the way that the gifted Nowitzki now does. Still, the addition of zone defenses to the NBA next season will make zone-busting shooters like Gasol very valuable.
12. Loren Woods (7-1 240 lbs.) Arizona
Positives: Woods is a remarkably athletic center with very good offensive skills. A terrific free throw shooter, Woods is a very effective shooter facing up from 15-17 feet. With his back to the basket, Woods can hit soft turnarounds and jump hooks. His footwork is not the most dynamic, but overall, Woods is fundamentally sound offensively. On the defensive end, Woods is a superb shotblocker with great timing and endlessly long arms.
Negatives: Woods does not grab as many rebounds as he should because of his lack of physical strength and mass. There are major questions as to whether Woods has the heart or toughness to play in the NBA. He has been labeled soft ever since he departed Wake Forest, unable to live up to the expectations of being Tim Duncan's immediate successor. It also does not help that Woods was frequently seen hitting the deck after being rough-housed by smaller but tougher opponents. However, Woods did show an ability to dominate against finesse-oriented opponents like the Duke Blue Devils front line in the NCAA title game. Another major concern is a back condition that has required major surgery in the past.
Prognosis: Woods plays a lot like a shorter version of Ralph Sampson. Like Sampson, Woods prefers facing the basket offensively and avoiding physical contact. Chronic back injuries and a lack of strength will push Woods down the draft rankings, much lower than a 7-footer with his skills and athleticism should ever be ranked. With increased toughness and bulk, Woods could be a steal in the middle of the first round.
13. Zach Randolph (6-9 270 lbs.) Michigan State
Positives: Randolph is a big, wide-bodied horse with excellent hands and long arms. He will eventually dominate on the glass, using his strength and big mitts to corral rebounds. Offensively, he is a surprisingly nimble low post threat with good footwork and surprising quickness. The left-handed Randolph has a very delicate touch in the paint and will be able to face up from 15 feet. His most effective weapon with his back to the basket is an accurate little hook shot.
Negatives: Despite looking reasonably trim during his one season at Michigan State, Randolph is a guy who will always have a propensity for putting on weight. He will easily top 300 pounds if he gets lazy about off-season conditioning. Excess will not help his leaping ability, which is below average for an NBA power forward. This lack of leaping ability makes Randolph absolutely no threat as a shotblocker. There are also concerns about Randolph's character because of some trouble he was involved in as a high schooler in Marion, Indiana.
Prognosis: Randolph should have stayed in school for one more season so that he could answer questions about his character and conditioning. However, Randolph is already a polished interior player with the talent to develop into a force on the interior. He plays a lot like Danny Fortson, but his rebounding is not nearly as aggressive. If Randolph does not eat his way out of the league, he could become a very good starting power forward in the NBA, averaging 17 ppg 10 rpg.
14. Brendan Haywood (7-0 265 lbs.) North Carolina
Positives: Haywood is a manchild with immense size and very good agility. He has huge, soft hands and very long arms. He has become a very good shotblocker and has the size to eventually become a good overall low post defender. Offensively, Haywood stays close to the basket and has the shooting touch to convert shots in the paint. Despite having stayed at UNC for four years, Haywood is still only 21 years old and still has considerable upside.
Negatives: Haywood has been maligned throughout his Carolina career and has pretty much been labeled a soft underachiever. His stamina is poor and when he gets tired, he tends to absolutely disappear. Haywood does not have a true low post arsenal and brings the ball down too low in traffic, allowing smaller players to strip him.
Prognosis: Haywood is not a very good player right now, but he possesses the raw materials to develop into a low post monster. He is young and talented enough to become a big, dominating center like a Bob Lanier, if he were to become hungry. However, if Haywood stays at his current pace, he will at best develop into a Benoit Benjamin or Erick Dampier type player. So basically, Haywood is a boom or bust player.
15. Michael Bradley (6-10 245 lbs.) Villanova
Positives: Bradley was one of the best players in college basketball last season. A true inside-outside performer, Bradley can post up or face up from 15 to 17 feet. With his back to the basket, Bradley has a variety of moves, turnarounds and hook shots. He hits the boards hard and gives good effort defensively. Although he is not spectacular athlete, Bradley is mobile and jumps reasonably well.
Negatives: Despite his good shooting stroke, Bradley is a disaster from the free throw line. Bradley will be outmatched against explosively athletic fours and probably does not have the size to play full-time at center. Prognosis: Bradley is polished power player who is ready to step in and contribute from day one. Tom Gugliotta and Christian Laettner are two players Bradley gets compared to on a regular basis. If given the opportunity, Bradley could put up 16 ppg 8 rpg.
16. Gilbert Arenas (6-3 190 lbs.) Arizona
Positives: As the go-to-guy on a loaded Arizona squad last season, Arenas was one of the most explosive scorers in college basketball. A long-armed athlete with great body control, speed and quickness, Arenas excels as a finisher both off the drive and in transition. His perimeter shooting has improved to the point where he must now be respected as a threat. Arenas handles the ball and passes well enough to spend some time at the point and can defend at both backcourt spots.
Negatives: Some scouts are concerned about whether Arenas possesses the size to play off guard in the NBA, but his wingspan allows him to play much taller than his listed height.
Prognosis: Arenas is vastly underrated, despite having starred for one of the most high profile college basketball programs in the nation. He has the athleticism and explosiveness to develop into a player similar to Cuttino Mobley. Do not be surprised if Arenas is suddenly a 15-16 ppg scorer.
17. Steven Hunter (6-11 225 lbs.) DePaul
Positives: Hunter is extremely athletic for a big man. He runs and jumps extremely well. Offensively, Hunter is relatively underdeveloped but has the ballhandling and shooting ability to develop into something special. With his back to the basket, Hunter flashes a nice turnaround and jump hook at times. Defensively, Hunter is an effective shotblocker who can cover a lot of ground.
Negatives: Simply put, Hunter is not yet a player. During his two seasons at DePaul, Hunter flashed a lot of talent, but never put it all together. His rebounding was unacceptable and he never did develop into a dominating inside scorer. Hunter will have to put on a lot more muscle in order to play inside at the NBA level.
Prognosis: Hunter has the physical skills to develop into a player in the mold of a Marcus Camby and really did a lot to help his draft status during the postseason. Due to his lack of production in college, Hunter is at best a developmental project.
18. Joseph Forte 6-3 185 lbs.) North Carolina
Positives: During his two seasons at UNC, Forte was unquestionably the go-to-guy for the Tar Heels. Forte is a true scorer who can hit the long-range jumper or drive into the lane. He uses his long wingspan and underrated leaping ability to finish effectively off the drive, despite his ordinary size.
Negatives: Forte was very effective from beyond the college three point line, but few consider him to be a pure shooter in the mold of a Ray Allen or Allan Houston. Defensively, Forte lacks great quickness, strength or size. He will definitely have difficulty guarding NBA two guards due to his lack of physical ability. As a ballhandler, Forte is competent but does not possess the skills to play point guard.
Prognosis: Although Forte was only at UNC for two seasons, he is polished player with a track record of success against big-time competition. Questions about Forte's size will definitely hurt his draft position, as the track record for undersized off guards lacking point guard skills is fairly poor.
19. Tony Parker (6-0 180 lbs.) Paris Basket Racing
Positives: The 19 year-old Parker is a very quick shooting point. A very good shooter with range and the ability to create his own shot, Parker is a deadly scorer who can really fill it up. As a point guard, Parker is a very good passer and ballhandler who can make plays for his teammates. Parker has the quickness to get into the lane and pull up for short jumpers. Parker abused top American prep point guards at the Nike Hoops Summit a couple of years ago.
Negatives: Parker is on the short side and is not well-built. He must get much stronger in order to withstand NBA-style punishment. Parker must also make an adjustment to the American-style game, after spending his formative basketball years in France. Perhaps due to his European training, Parker is not nearly as creative as an NY-style point guard such as Omar Cook or Jamaal Tinsley.
Prognosis: Parker is a major sleeper who, unlike Omar Cook and Jamaal Tinsley, can really shoot the ball with three-point range. In time, Parker will be a solid point guard who can make teams pay from the perimeter. At worst, Parker can be a better version of current Washington Wizards point guard Chris Whitney or better yet, a much quicker version of Mark Price.
20. Jamaal Tinsley (6-3 195 lbs.) Iowa State
Positives: Tinsley clearly demonstrated his value this past season by leading Iowa State to a Big 12 season without the help of lottery pick Marcus Fizer. A powerful guard with great savvy and moxie, Tinsley makes up for his lack of great quickness by changing speeds and using spin moves. Tinsley has the passing ability and point guard mentality to run a team like a true quarterback. He is not a great pure shooter, but can stick set shots when left open Tinsley can get into the paint at will using his excellent ballhandling skills and strong frame to power past opposing guards.
Negatives: Tinsley's lack of leaping ability will make it more difficult for him to finish his below-the-rim drives at the NBA level. Scouts are not enamored with his body type and do not feel that his top-level speed is sufficient. Tinsley's shooting will remain a question because he doesn't get good extension or elevation on his "jump shot" and because his shooting percentages were so low at Iowa State. Prognosis: In some ways, Tinsley plays a lot like another fellow NY point guard -- Mark Jackson. Like Jackson, there are questions regarding Tinsley's quickness and ability to shoot. If Tinsley can replicate Jackson's success, he will be an absolute steal in the later part of the first round.
21. Kedrick Brown (6-7 225 lbs.) Okaloosa-Walton CC
Positives: Brown is a big-time run/jump athlete who appears to have a body built to NBA specifications. He was an effective inside player against junior college competition and has shown in workouts for NBA teams that he can stroke the NBA three. Scouts also like his ability to handle the ball and feel that he could play shooting guard.
Negatives: Although Brown was considered the top talent in the junior college ranks last season, he remains a totally unknown commodity. Very few players have successfully made the jump directly from juco ball to the NBA. Even top former juco players such as Steve Francis and Shawn Marion served one year apprencticeships at major college basketball programs before taking the NBA plunge.
Prognosis: Brown has been climbing up many teams' draft charts thanks to his impressive workouts. Brown has talent, but former junior college stars such as Cory Hightower and Ernest Brown were also very highly regarded. This is another boom or bust pick.
22. Vladimir Radmanovic (6-10 227 lbs.) Yugoslavia
Positives: Radmanovic has gone from being a relative unknown to being one of the hot names in this year's draft. A big guy with good athletic ability, Radmanovic is considered a very good shooter out to three-point range. He can handle the ball and has the frame and leaping ability to develop into a post-up threat.
Negatives: As a finesse-oriented Euro big man, Radmanovic does not yet have what he takes to be a defender at the NBA level. He will have to become much more physical in order to rebound and play inside in the NBA.
Prognosis: The 21 year-old Radmanovic is both young and talented. The rule change allowing for zone defenses and the success enjoyed by players such as Peja Stojakovic, Dirk Nowitzki and Hidayet Turkoglu have enhanced the demand for perimeter-oriented European big men like Radmanovic. Expect Radmanovic to go much higher in the draft than we have him ranked here.
23. Gerald Wallace (6-7 210 lbs.) Alabama
Positives: Wallace has the type of athleticism that puts him on par with players such as Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady. An explosive leaper with phenomenal body control, Wallace is extremely difficult to stop around the basket. He is a greyhound in transition and cannot be kept off of the offensive glass. Wallace plays very hard and always hustles for loose balls. In time, Wallace could develop into a defensive stopper because of his reach and athletic ability.
Negatives: If Wallace had a respectable jump shot, he would be a top five pick. Last year as a high school senior, Wallace was rated by some as a better prospect than both Darius Miles and Eddie Griffin, but this was before the terrible shooting performances of his freshman year at Alabama.
Prognosis: If Wallace could upgrade his shooting to a respectable level, he could develop into an All-Star. However, if his shooting remains as poor as it is now, Wallace will have to buy a Berlitz phrasebook and head over to Europe.
24. Omar Cook (6-1 190 lbs.) St. John's
Positives: A true NYC point guard, Cook possesses that special sixth sense the top point guards all have. He is a superb passer who makes his teammates better using his superb distribution abilities. Athletically, Cook is strong, well-built and very quick. He can push the ball very well in transition and break down opponents off the dribble using a very good crossover move. Once Cook gets into the lane, he definitely knows how to finish.
Negatives: Cook shot an awful percentage from beyond the arc during his one season at St. John's. Until he becomes at least a competent outside shooter, teams will back off of him and take away his driving game. He also makes way too many turnovers because he has so much confidence in his passing ability that he forces passes that should not be thrown.
Prognosis: Cook is a pure point with scoring abilities. If he was a decent shooter, there is no question that Cook would be a top pick. However, his shooting is enough of a question mark to push his ranking down to about the end of the first round. He's definitely worth a gamble at that point in the draft.
25. Ousmane Cisse (6-8 240 lbs.) St. Jude HS
Positives: In a world where big men want to be finesse guards, Cisse is a throwback to a time when big men were warriors. Cisse is an absolute monster on the backboards and as a shotblocker. Despite his lack of size, Cisse destroyed much bigger opponents using his strength, explosive leaping ability, long wingspan and desire. Very quick off the floor, Cisse scores well off of putbacks and is tough to stop around the basket.
Negatives: Cisse is undersized for an NBA power forward and does not possess the offensive skills to be a major low post threat. As an offensive player, Cisse is primarily a garbage man who gets dunks and lay-ins. There are also questions about a knee injury that affected Cisse during his senior year in high school.
Prognosis: Cisse does not have the offensive skills to be a high first rounder, but no big man in this year's draft can match Cisse's toughness and heart. He is a small forward who plays like a 7-footer. Even if Cisse were to never develop into an offensive threat, there is always a place in the league for a player who is willing to play physical defense and rebound. At worst, Cisse is a valuable role player in the Ben Wallace or Michael Smith mold.
26. Jason Collins (6-10 260 lbs.) Stanford
Positives: Collins is a big, physical widebody who can take up a lot of space. Offensively, Collins can play with his back to the basket and also step outside to hit the 17 to 20 foot jumper. He passes well and has a very good understanding of the game. Collins also rebounds very well, using his size to create space.
Negatives: Collins has missed nearly two full seasons due to knee and wrist ailments. He is not a great athlete and lacks the explosiveness of the top interior players. This lack of explosiveness indicates that Collins will not be much of a shotblocking threat in the NBA. Collins also does not have a variety of good moves with his back to the basket, relying more upon his size and strength than on his footwork. Despite his reputation for physicality, it was disappointing to see Collins get abused by the smaller Lonnie Baxter during Stanford's upset loss to Maryland in the NCAA tournament.
Prognosis: Collins is a good, solid player who can score and take up space. He will never be superstar, but there is a good chance that Collins could develop into a reasonably competent starting center.
27. Troy Murphy (6-10 245 lbs.) Notre Dame
Positives: Murphy was an extremely productive player for three years at Notre Dame. He scores using face-up 15-17 footers and short turnarounds. Murphy has the shooting stroke to eventually develop into a legitimate threat from the NBA three-point line. Despite his lack of leaping ability, Murphy has been a very effective defensive rebounder.
Negatives: During his college career, Murphy possessed the physique of a man who had never seen the inside of a gym. As a result, he did not play with power or explosivness. Allegedly, Murphy has slimmed down during the offseason, dramatically improving both his speed and explosiveness. Still, it is hard to imagine that Murphy has suddenly become an athletic player during the summer. Murphy's lack of athleticism and strength will make him a defensive liability against most NBA big men.
Prognosis: Murphy is an NBA player with solid shooting skills and limited athleticism. He will not be a good starter at the NBA level, but does possess enough positive assets to develop into a good role player in the Danny Ferry mold.
28. Terence Morris (6-9 220 lbs.) Maryland
Positives: Morris is a fluid athlete who has all of the physical measurables. He runs well, jumps explosively, and has very good quickness. Offensively, Morris is a true inside/outside threat. His jump shot is ultra smooth and ranges out well beyond the three-point arc. Due to his height and high release, Morris can consistently make threes with defenders in his face. Morris also handles and passes the ball like a guard. With his back to the basket, Morris uses his quickness to beat defenders for turnaround jumpers and soft jump hooks. Morris uses his reach and leaping ability to board strongly and block shots defensively.
Negatives: For some strange reason, Morris has lost all confidence in his offensive game. After emerging as a potential dominator during his sophomore season, Morris regressed to the point where he was only the third or fourth option on Maryland. Many consider Morris to be a soft and heartless player, despite his vast array of skills. He disappears for long stretches of time and never looks like he is playing with passion. Physically, Morris is still very thin and does not appear to have spent a lot of time working on his physique.
Prognosis: Based on skills alone, Morris would be one of the top selections in the draft. However, his lack of toughness and the mysterious disappearance of his offensive game will push him down to the bottom of the first round. Of course, if Morris was Yugoslavian, he would be commended for his great perimeter skills and would probably get draftd in the lottery. Morris can be compared to Derrick McKey as a player, but McKey was at least a dominant player in college before he became a lifeless NBA journeyman. However, if Morris would ever get serious about the game, he could easily contribute 15-17 ppg and good all-around play like McKey did in his prime.
29. Brian Scalabrine (6-9 250 lbs.) USC
Positives: Scalabrine is a big, mobile power forward with very good scoring ability. He can face up and drill three pointers or back defenders down to shoot turnarounds. Scalabrine is also athletic enough to put the ball on the floor and drive by opponents that play him too close for the jumper. He is big, physical and appears to play with toughness and intensity.
Negatives: Scalabrine's rebounding at USC was unacceptable for such a big, strong player. He is not a super quick or explosive player, therefore, expect him to get victimized on the defensive end.
Prognosis: Scalabrine is a player who will be able to step in and contribute immediately. He plays a lot like Tom Gugliotta, although it would be a total surprise if Scalabrine ever put up 20 and 10 like Googs did in his prime. Still, this is a player who can help a team like the Spurs or Lakers.
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