Thursday, June 26, 1997
èDenotes possible starter
è1. Tim Duncan, San Antonio, center, 6-10, 249, Wake Forest. An all-around complete talent, Duncan's expected to be a scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker extraordinaire right off the bat. He's also versatile enough to play either forward position since he is a finesse player rather a power guy. "One thing you should know about him is that, unlike a lot of today's big guys, he isn't afraid to be thought of as a center." said Wake Forest's Dave Odom. "He soaks up learning like a sponge and in four years he never missed a practice. The best way I can describe Tim Duncan is to say that he is never in a hurry, on or off the court. The thing about Tim is his sense of fearlessness. He isn't afraid of winning, and all the responsibility that brings, and he isn't afraid of losing, either. He doesn't like losing, but he will find some way to make it better. And he will never stop trying to find a way to win." Duncan's upside is big and he is the type of player who will get better every year.
è2. Keith Van Horn, New Jersey, poward forward, 6-9, 235, Utah. Has big offensive potential as an outside shooter but plays too soft at the moment to tout big-time. He needs to bulk up and work on his defensive skills.
[The Nets-Sixers trade sent Van Horn, forward Don MacLean, guard Lucious Harris and center Michael Cage to New Jersey. In moving MacLean, Harris and Cage, the Sixers dump $4.5 million in salary. In return, the Sixers received #7 Tim Thomas and #21 Anthony Parker, with guard Jim Jackson and center Eric Montross. It would be expected that Montross would take over the starting center position from Scott Williams.]
è3. Chauncey Billups, Boston, point guard, 6-3, 207, Colorado. Scouts like his size for the point and as a shooting guard-- sort of like a young Joe Dumars. He can run, shoot and penetrate. He's expected to team with #6 Ron Mercer as the Celtics' backcourt of the future. "I feel the Celtics will have a dream backcourt," Rick Pitino said. Pitino also said he would not trade Billups and Mercer for Scottie Pippen and Luc Longley even if Chicago changed its mind and didn't want another player. "We are not going to trade Antoine Walker either."
Pitino described Billups as "one of the future dynamic point guards in basketball. He has all the instincts of a great point. When he gets the outlet, he immediately advances the ball. He's a big assist man. He's extremely intelligent, is a hard worker and he communicates. He fits this system to a T." He played only two seasons for Colorado and averaged 18.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 55 games while shooting 41%. He said he welcomes the chance to play Pitino's running, pressing, attacking style.
è4. Antonio Daniels, Vancouver, point guard, 6-2, 191, Bowling Green. Daniels has good shooting range and is a natural playmaker because he thinks pass first and is very adept at it. He can run the court with great court vision. He was the MAC player of the year and is a great clutch player. "He has all the attributes you look for in a point guard," said Marty Blake, director of NBA scouting. "Especially his size and passing ability." He averaged 24 points per game and 6.8 assists last year.
5. Tony Battie, Denver, center/forward, 6-11, 225, Texas Tech. Battie moved quickly up the board this year after he was judged a so-so prospect at the start of the season. Needs to bulk up to play center or power forward in the pros to make his presence felt inside but can run the floor and score as well as block shots. He is also a good leaper and an outstanding future prospect. "We're elated to get him," said new coach Bill Hanzlik. "He can run the court, block shots, rebound and score some inside. People will see a lot of blocked shots and dunks from Tony and McDyess." He ranked fourth nationally in rebounding (11.8) last season and scored 18.8 points a game. He makes for an excellent fantasy pick for the future.
è6. Ron Mercer, Boston, forward/guard, 6-7, 209, Kentucky. He runs and moves well and has great range. Has star potential if he improves his consistency and shot selection as well as his defensive play and is not afraid to take it to the hole. He can beat people and stop on a dime to create his own shot or shoot off the dribble. He will play the shooting guard position beside Billups and is thrilled to be with Pitino again. (He played for Pitino at Kentucky.) "He's a 6-6 two-guard," said Pitino. " He runs the floor well, reads screens great and can post up smaller two-guards. We have a 6-6 two-guard and a 6-3 one-guard and that's exciting." Mercer led the Wildcats in scoring last season with an 18.1 average. Pitino says the Celtics now have "four outstanding young players: Antoine Walker, Eric Williams, Billups and Mercer. He could have dealt Williams on draft day, "but we're not giving up on Eric Williams. We love him."
7. Tim Thomas, Philadelphia, small forward, 6-8, 220, Villanova. Very athletic with good outside shooting range, he is big and strong and could be a real steal at #7. He can score outside, rebound, run, shoot and handle the ball but plays a little soft right now and has a questionable work ethic. Also needs to improve his post game and defensive play since drafted directly out of high school.
For the first time in his career, he will have a coach who can and will teach him how to play basketball. Larry Brown has the luxury of bringing him along slowly but will not tolerate his standing around waiting for the ball to come to him. Jim Jackson will play shooting guard, Allen Iverson the point and Jerry Stackhouse will move to small forward. Thomas will backup Stackhouse. "We concluded Tim Duncan was the best player in the draft," Brown said. "We thought Van Horn was second and I rated Tim Thomas as the fourth best."
8. Adonal Foyle, Golden State, power forward, 6-9, 263, Colgate. Outstanding shot blocker (NCAA all-time shot blocker) and rebounder but needs work on his shooting and inside game. Has a nice little outside jumper but his touch around the basket has been questioned. An interesting prospect who was a center in college but is too raw to get excited about right away. "You are tempted to pick a lot of players," said new coach P.J. Carlesimo. "There is a great up-side to McGrady (who was still available). But I think the biggest problem for us, putting aside the factor of age, is what we have available now. McGrady's got a chance to be a great player, but I think Foyle is going to be an excellent player and will help us sooner." Foyle averaged 20 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks per game during his three years at Colgate. Golden State now can trade unhappy forward Joe Smith.
9. Tracy McGrady, Toronto, small forward, 6-7, 205, Mount Zion High School. An athletic sleeper who really came on this year with a slashing inside game. He's a good ball handler and projects as a possible point forward but needs some bulk and lots of work on fundamentals since he was drafted directly out of high school. He's an explosive player and has tremendous future potential. Despite being just 18, he was one of the most coveted prospects in the draft. Isaiah Thomas even thinks McGrady is a better player at this stage in his development than the likes of himself and Magic Johnson. He can play three positions-- small forward, shooting guard, point guard - but many scouts project him at the point.
10. Danny Fortson, Denver, power forward, 6-7, 257, Cincinnati. Decent all-around talent who plays with the intensity of a bigger power forward. He is very strong but does not project as a starter or big scorer around the basket and was traded to Denver after the Bucks originally picked him. Scouts say he's too short to defend power forwards and not quick enough to defend small forwards. Also, his perimeter skills seem to be lacking. "Danny is a Mack Truck," VP Allan Bristow said. "You don't want to play against him. Having a guy like him on your team can make all the difference in the world in possessing that kind of toughness you need in this league. He is not the kind of guy you want to push around." In three years with the Bearcats, he averaged 18.8 points and 8.7 rebounds although he does not score consistently. But Bristow said he had the best outside shot of any big man the Nuggets brought in, other than Van Horn.
"He's going to be a heck of a pro," Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins said. "He has a big heart and works hard." He finished second behind Oscar Robertson on Cincinnati's all-time scoring list. "He works hard and he'll keep working hard. He's a great kid," Huggins continued. "What he could be is a Charles Oakley or a lesser version of Karl Malone but I don't think he's as athletic as Malone."
11. Olivier Saint-Jean, Sacramento, small forward, 6-5, 216, San Jose State. Saint-Jean (pronounced Seh-zchaw) is an excellent athlete with a nice smooth shot who can also run the floor and find the seam. He will be tough to defend if he can further develop his post game. A sleeper, he grew up and attended high school in France. VP Geoff Petrie said he impressed scouts with his pre-draft workouts and performances in post-season camps. "His athleticism and work ethic were keys in the out decision," said Petrie. "He has a post game and defensively, he can guard the bigger guards. You're not going to find a more explosive athlete in this draft. He runs the floor, plays above the rim, and he's a decent perimeter shooter at this point, with the potential to improve. We feel there is a lot of upside there, but he is going to have to learn to get comfortable in the backcourt. We were really impressed with his intelligence and his motivation."
12. Austin Crosher, Indiana, small forward, 6-9, 229, Providence. One of the best if not the best shooter chosen. He can fire long and also put the ball on the floor but needs a lot of work defensively. He's a hard worker who hopes to overcome his lack of speed with effort and savvy. "I saw a lot of things in his workout," said new coach Larry Bird. "He's not afraid to get underneath and bang with the guys. He can get rebounds and he's a great leaper. Now he has to do a lot of work and learn how to defend the wing. If he can do that, he'll be a big plus for our organization."
13. Derek Anderson, Cleveland, shooting guard, 6-3, 188, Kentucky. An exciting player who can shoot, is lightning quick and can really play the transition game. The only question is his recovery from ACL surgery but, if healthy, is a real sleeper for the future and could be the steal of the draft. "There have been some questions about his knees, but we were satisfied with our doctors' reports on him and we feel that you have to be willing to take some risks when taking a talent like Derek Anderson," GM Wayne Embry said.
Late in his sophomore year, he tore the ACL in his left knee and underwent reconstructive surgery. In his senior year, he injured the ACL in his right knee in game 18. He was averaging 18.6 points and two steals a game prior to that. If not for the injuries, he would have gone much earlier in the draft. "He very easily would have gone in the top five picks," Embry said. Anderson, who had gone full speed in individual workouts with various teams, said he's still as quick as ever and has gained strength in the legs because of rehab.
[Let's quickly review ACL surgery. Danny Manning is playing after ACL operations in both knees. Those who've had at least one ACL operation include Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, Tim Hardaway and Mark Price. If a player makes it through a couple of years after ACL surgery, it should hold up for the rest of his career.]
14. Maurice Taylor, L.A. Clippers, power forward, 6-9, 235, Michigan. An athletic player who runs the floor, passes and plays more like a small forward. He has good range but needs to play more physical down low and has to improve his attitude. "He's the most impressive player of any guy we've had in," GM Elgin Baylor said. "He has a tremendous body. He's a solid 260 with very little body fat. He gives us size up front and he's only 20." He has a reputation of a lousy work ethic but his workouts were impressive. His muscular body and low post moves upped his stock tremendously. To draft Taylor, the Clippers passed on point guards Brevin Knight and Jacque Vaughn since they're content with Brent Barry and Darrick Martin.
15. Kelvin Cato, Portland, center, 6-10, 240, Iowa State. A big shot blocker and overall defensive player who runs well but needs to improve his rebounding skills. He is not a scorer.
16. Brevin Knight, Cleveland, point guard, 5-9, 172, Stanford. He's small but extremely quick and scouts think he can make it as a starter if he proves tough enough on defense. He led the PAC-10 in assists and steals and excels in the transition game in which he is very tough to defend. He knows how to run a team from the point, has been well-coached at Stanford and is mature. He provides the Cavs with insurance if they have to trade Terrell Brandon.
17. Johnny Taylor, Orlando, small forward, 6-7, 220, Chattanooga. A real athlete who can shoot from long range, he really moved up the charts the last few weeks. He can also take it to the hoop but plays out of control at times.
18. Chris Antsey, Dallas, center, 6-11, 258, Australia. A big man who is very athletic for his size, he can also run the floor and is a hard worker. He lacks experience and is very raw but has vast potential. He's from Melbourne and has only played organized basketball for five years but was named Most Improved Player of 1996 in Australia's National Basketball League. "He'll probably be the best-running big man in the NBA," Don Nelson said. "I haven't seen a 7-footer run the floor like he does. He's not a project. He's ready to roll as far as I'm concerned. As he gets stronger, he can play some backup center, some power forward and some small forward."
19. Scott Pollard, Detroit, center, 6-10, 259, Kansas. Pollard won't score, but he'll rebound and block shots as a reserve center and is an outstanding defensive player with a tremendous work effort. "He probably won't be a starter," said Doug Collins, "but he helps us get bigger and fills a need."
20. Paul Grant, Minnesota, center, 6-11, 241, Wisconsin. A very aggressive and hard working player who can run the floor but sometimes plays out of control. He's probably nothing more than a backup though. He averaged 12.5 points, 5.1 rebounds for Wisconsin last season. "John was a guy we were looking at," said Kevin McHale. "If you're going to overload your roster, you overload it with big guys. Paul is a tremendous guy. He's going to work very, very hard. From where he was a year ago to where he is now, and to where we project him to be, he has a great upside."
21. Anthony Parker, Philadelphia, shooting guard, 6-5, 202, Bradley. Parker is a perimeter shooter who could play the point if necessary. He lacks aggressiveness and speed and doesn't really have a true position.
22. Ed Gray, Atlanta, shooting guard, 6-2, 215, California. A pure scorer, he has good range and can also create one-on-one with nifty spin moves. He is strong for his size and has a nose for the basket. "We've got good team chemistry and guys working for one another," said GM Pete Babcock. "Now we've got somebody who can actually take a stand one-on-one to create something himself. It's an element we've been looking for. He's a big time scorer, which is something we want to add to our team and add to the depth of our backboard. Three years from now, we'll find out if he was a good pick or not."
è23. Bobby Jackson, Denver, point guard, 5-11, 184, Minnesota. A tremendous competitor he can score from long range and can also penetrate but has to work on his shot selection. He is a good defender though.
24. Rodrick Rhodes, Houston, small forward, 6-7, 214, USC. The Rockets need a long-range bomber but they took Rhodes who can penetrate but is an inconsistent shooter. "Rodrick plays a penetrating game where he can drive and pass off," Rudy Tomjanovich said. "He's a guy who people might say doesn't fit our system, but that's what we were looking for-- a more athletic type of player. He's got a knack for getting into the paint and making some beautiful passes. I've got a good feeling about this guy."
Rhodes went to Kentucky where he played for three seasons under Rick Pitino before transferring to USC for his senior season. He averaged 14 points, 4 assists and 5 rebounds a game while playing point guard most of the time. "I'm a good one-on-one player," Rhodes said. "I feel like I can get around people, and I'm a good passer and can defend point guards, shooting guards and small forwards. I'm willing to put in the work to improve my shooting."
25. John Thomas, New York, power forward, 6-8, 260, Minnesota. Plays solid defense and should develop into a good rebounder and shot blocker. He's a physical player and hard worker. "I played center in college but the NBA is a whole different level," said Thomas. "I need to get strong and go through seasoning in the NBA." He averaged 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in his collegiate career. His numbers were down, he says, because he was a role player for Minnesota. "My role was to rebound, bang the boards, and to set screens."
"He was by far the highest player left," GM Ernie Grunfeld said. "He's got good hands and makes soft shots. We're not looking for him to give us substantial offense. We're looking for him to set picks, get rebounds. He's going to learn from two excellent veterans, Charles Oakley and Buck Williams."
26. Charles Smith, Miami, shooting guard, 6-4, 183, New Mexico. Very athletic and quick, Smith has good shooting range but is erratic and cannot create. His long arms allow him to be excellent defensively which is what Miami likes. He has a 39-inch vertical leap and has a very good work ethic. "They are similar players (Smith and Sanford, The Heat's second round pick)," Pat Riley said. "They're athletic, they can run, jump, shoot the basketball from the outside, take the ball to the basket. We needed more scoring at our off-guard spot which is where Smith fits in."
27. Jacque Vaughn, Utah, point guard, 5-11, 193, Kansas. Tremendous college player but size and inconsistent shot selection make him a question mark. He can really run the floor though and is an excellent leader and transition player. "It went down to the wire," said a Jazz spokesman. "It was a little nerve-wracking there. We were surprised he was there. He could be a steal with the 27th pick."
28. Keith Booth, Chicago Bulls, small forward/shooting guard, 6-5, 223. Booth is a good defender who can drive to the basket but lacks outside shooting range and has questionable ball-handling skills. A first-team ACC selection as a senior, he averaged 19.5 points and 7.9 rebounds a game. "He's a hard-working, tough youngster," GM Jerry Krause said. "He's a guy who got better every year in the ACC. He sacrificed for his team the first three years at Maryland and in his senior year stepped forward and did a lot of scoring."
30. Serge Zwikker, Houston, center, 7-2, 275, North Carolina. Zwikker specializes in jump shooting more than inside power but is a project who may need a year or two of seasoning before he contributes. "We saw him hit eight baseline jumpers in a row (in the Chicago pre-draft camp) and it was like a lay-up for him," Rudy Tomjanovich said. "And he's really big." And slow.
31. Mark Sanford, Miami, small forward, 6-8, 201, Washington. An outstanding athlete who fell to the second round after injuring his wrist in the Chicago pre-draft camp. He is a good defensive player with a pair of quick hands but his outside shooting has been questioned and he plays out of control at times. He has a 40-inch vertical leap and is a physical defender with long arms and quick feet. "We don't have a runner at the three who can finish like Sanford," said Pat Riley.
32. Charles O'Bannon, Detroit, small forward, 6-5, 211, UCLA. A fierce competitor with a great attitude, he can score down low but has good but inconsistent perimeter range. He's an open-floor player who's excellent in transition. "Frankly we were surprised he was there at 31," said VP Rick Sund. "We thought he would go late in the first round." He averaged 17.7 points and shot 55.1 percent as a senior. "Our West Coast scout raved about him from the second half of the season on," Sund said. "He had a great camp at the Desert Classic and then surprised some people by showing up at Chicago and playing well. He's hungry. He has some things to prove."
33. James Cotton, Seattle, guard, 6-4, 215, Long Beach State. Scouts like his size at the two-guard position and shooting range but ball-handling and defensive skills are a question mark. He averaged 23.5 points per game last season. "Our shooting has improved," said VP Billy McKinney. "He's strong, much like Marciulionis, but a much better shooter. He had an exceptional workout for us."
34. Marko Milic, Philadelphia, small forward, 6-6, 225, Slovenia. The native of Slovenia who played in Greece last year was considered the best European player available. He is very athletic and can score but needs a lot of polish. "He's so young, it wouldn't hurt us if he stays over there for a while," Brown said. "The amazing thing about him is, a lot of teams were trying to get him. These kids, especially the Yugoslavians, play an unbelievable schedule. It's tremendous competition, and they're all well coached. He's like a young kid in our country who might come out of college early. He probably doesn't even know who the Sixers are. We were very surprised he was still available."
35. Charles "Bubba" Wells, Dallas, forward/guard, 6-4, 223, Austin Peay. He's a tough player with a big strong body and can score and play defense but has a pair of injured legs. The first time GM Don Nelson saw Wells he loved him but a steel rod in each leg and a shooting slump dropped him to the second round. "The doctors are very happy with his progress," Nelson said. "I think he's a real good pick in the second round. I think he can make our ballclub and help us." He averaged 31.7 points as a senior but didn't play enough games to qualify for the scoring championship. As a junior, he was third in the country at 26.3 points per game.
36. Kebu Stewart, Philadelphia, power forward, 6-7, 244, Cal-St. Bakersfield. An aggressive rebounder and very mobile for his size, but has no offensive skills to speak of and a questionable work ethic. He might too short for the NBA as well. "He's really athletic, and he can rebound," Brown said. "But he's actually closer to 6-7. So he's a little undersized." Last season, he averaged 21 points and 13 rebounds while shooting 57%. In the pre-draft camps, he was MVP at the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament, and made the all-tournament team at the Nike Desert Classic in Phoenix.
37. James Collins, L.A. Clippers, shooting guard/point guard, 6-3, 194, Florida State. An aggressive player who runs the floor well and can create his own shot. He needs some work at the defensive end though.
38. Marc Jackson, Golden State, power forward, 6-10, 270, Temple. Although Jackson is exceptionally strong, his quickness, ability to score and conditioning have been questioned. He was the Atlantic-10 player of the year and the Warriors hope he develops into a Charles Oakley type. Last year, the Warriors passed up Kobe Bryant and took center Todd Fuller who was a disappointment in his rookie season, which is why they felt they needed Jackson.
39. Jerald Honeycutt, Milwaukee, small forward, 6-7, 248, Tulane. Loaded with talent, he can shoot from long range, pass off and score down low but dropped because of inconsistency. He also is a below average defender and has had weight problems in the past.
40. Anthony Johnson, Sacramento, point guard, 6-3. Good defensive player who hustles and can score but lacks a consistent perimeter shot.
41. Eddie Elisma, Seattle, power forward, 6-9, 215, Georgia Tech. He is quick and strong around the basket but his perimeter game and ball-handling skills needs work. He is compared to former Sonic Derrick McKey. The Sonics like his quickness and rebounding abilities but he could use some bulk.
42. Jason Lawson, Orlando, center, 6-10, 240, Villanova. Has long arms to block shots and get rebounds but needs more strength and better moves around the basket. He was the Big East defensive player of the year and is a very hard worker but is not a scorer.
43. Stephen Jackson, Phoenix, shooting guard, 6-7, 204, Butler County Community College. The 19-year-old freshman at Butler CCC last season was academically ineligible at Arizona before going to junior college. He made a good impression at the Chicago pre-draft camp though. Has good size and athletic ability and is a very good passer.
44. Gordon Malone, Minnesota, forward, 6-11, 215, West Virginia. Excellent athlete and rebounder who isn't afraid to shoot.
45. Cedric Henderson, Cleveland, small forward, 6-7, 216, Memphis. Tremendous athlete who can rebound, finish and score but is inconsistent from the outside. He also need to improve his ballhandling abilities but is a decent defensive player.
46. God Shammgod, Washington, point guard, 6-0, 178, Providence. The 21-year-old Shammgod will compete against Chris Whitney for the backup job behind Rod Strickland. He can penetrate and is an outstanding passer but is questionable from the outside. He played in 65 games the last two seasons, averaging 10.3 points, 6.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game. His birth name was Shammgod Wells, but he changed it to God Shammgod while at Providence.
47. Eric Washington, Denver, shooting guard, 6-4, 193, Alabama. Good, quick shooter with excellent range but needs to work on his shot selection and turnover ratio.
48. Alvin Williams, Portland, point guard, 6-4, 185, Villanova. Scouts love his size, athleticism and intensity but his play has been inconsistent in a career resulting in too many turnovers. He is tough in the clutch though and is a good floor leader.
49. Predrag Drobnjak, Washington, center/forward, 6-11, 270. A native of Yugoslavia, Drobnjak, like Gheorghe Muresan, made a name for himself as an aggressive, athletic big man playing with a foreign team (Partizan Belgrade in Serbia).
50. Alain Digbeau, Atlanta, shooting guard, 6-5, 183, Villerbaunne (France). Flashy, athletic two-guard who loves to dunk.
51. Chris Crawford, Atlanta, forward, 6-9, 213, Marquette. Runs and rebounds well and also has accurate three-point range. He has trouble creating his own shot due to a lack of mobility but is strong inside.
52. DeJuan Wheat, L.A. Lakers, point guard, 5-11, 166, Louisville. Intelligent point guard who can create, pass, run the floor and shoot the three-pointer. He has good speed but is on the small side NBA-wise. A four-year starter who averaged 16.1 points in his career, he is known as a clutch performer. "You don't take those shots unless you have confidence," Jerry West said. "He's a terrific shooter. He plays with a lot of poise and he's played for some very good teams for a lot of years.''
53. C.J. Bruton, Vancouver, point guard, 6-2, Indian Hills Junior College. Very athletic floor leader who knows how to run an offense.
54. Paul Rogers, L.A. Lakers, center/forward, 7-0, 246, Gonzaga. Could return to Austrailia for another year to further refine his skills. "He was terrific in Chicago," Jerry West said. "He played great against people who were drafted ahead of him." If Travis Knight doesn't re-sign, Rogers could make the roster. "People are probably shaking their heads down there, but they won't be when they see him play," said Dan Fitzgerald, Rogers' coach. "I think he's a hell of a pick. I've always felt he can play in the league. The question is when." He played only four games last season because of a stress fracture in his right foot.
55. Mark Blount, Seattle, center, 6-11, 230, Pittsburgh. Blount left college after his sophomore season and scouts said he could have been a lottery pick if he stayed for four seasons. He is quick, he can rebound and block shots and he can score but his others skills (shooting mainly) need work. He also could use some bulk. He is a likely candidate to play in Europe next season.
56. Ben Pepper, Boston, center, 7-0, Australia. Very raw big man.
57. Nate Erdmann, Utah, shooting guard, 6-5, 186, Oklahoma. Decent size and defensive skills but was drafted for his scoring ability and his three-point range. He has trouble creating his own shot and could also use some bulk.
58. Roberto Duenas, Chicago, center, 7-2, 270, Barcelona Spain. Described as a big-time project by most scouts, he probably will be asked to stay in Barcelona for one more season.