2002NBA Draft Highlights
byBob Radl, Staff Writer
The draft is the lifeline for allpro-sports teams. This is especially true in the NBA where one or two playerscan help to turn a team around. A great draft with a sudden impact player canprovide a franchise with an immediate dividend. The "F" word was thebuzz this year as forwards and foreign players dominated the draft. Teams musthave soured on cage players as only one high school player was drafted thisyear. This years draft was considered to be fairly deep by NBA standards though.But time will tell if this draft was as rich as the 1984 draft that yieldedfour future Hall of Famers in the first round: Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan,John Stockton and Charles Barkley. Listed below are capsule profiles of some ofthe top picks from this year’s draft.
1. Yao Ming, 7' 5", C, (China), Houston. Ming has a nice touchout to 15 or 17 feet from the basket. He is very athletic and graceful for aman of his height. He will need to work on developing lower body strength inorder to compete with stronger low post NBA players. He should be a defensivepresence right from the word go with his ability to block shots. He will needto adapt to the speed of the NBA game to avoid constant foul trouble. When theU.S. played China in the 2000 Olympics, Kevin Garnett and Alonzo Mourning hadno problem getting Yao into foul problems. Yao had 5 points and three reboundsbefore fouling out in 16 minutes in that game.
2. Jay Williams, 6' 2", PG, Chicago. Williams was a consensusAll-American and the player of the year at Duke. Williams will be an immediatestarter for the Bulls. He is very quick and explosive with a great feel for thebasket. He already has NBA range on his shots, but needs to work on his freethrows and reducing his turnovers. He has the potential to be the total packageat PG.
3. Mike Dunleavy, 6' 9", SF, Memphis. Dunleavy was an early entryinto the draft this year. He has the ability to play both forward positions aswell as shooting guard. He has continued to grow and get stronger while atDuke. He has a big upside to his game and reads defenses well. He will need tocontinue to get stronger to defend the better small forwards in the league.
4. Drew Gooden, 6' 10", F, Golden State. Gooden was considered tobe one of the more complete players in this years draft. He is very quick forhis size and runs the floor well. He should be able to get minutes at bothforward slots with the Grizzlies. He will be competing with Shane Battier, PaulGasol and Stromile Swift in the mix at forward for Memphis.
5. Nikoloz Tskitishvili, 7' 0", (Italy), Denver. Tskitishvili isonly 19 years old and stands 7' 0" with a nice soft touch from theoutside. He can make the NBA three and has good ball handling skills for aplayer of his size. He has already been compared to Dirk Nowitzki and PaulGasol, but remember that Tskitishvili is inexperienced for his age, as he didnot see that much playing time in Europe. He will also need to get stronger tocompete in the NBA. Still, great long term potential here.
6. Dajuan Wagner, 6' 3", PG, Cleveland. Wagner, who played onlyone year of high school ball, is physically mature for his age. He has NBArange, but must improve his shot selection. He can create his own shot, butquestions remain about his ability to run the point or to play the off guardwith the Cavs. If he were to team with Andre Miller on the court, the Cavs wouldhave a small backcourt that is quite soft defensively. Some scouts see him moreas a scorer than as a true point guard. This was a major reach by the Cavs at#6.
7. Maybyner "Nene" Hilario, 6' 11", (Brazil), Denver. Hilariois considered to be a presence already at his young age. He is very athleticand can block shots. He should make an immediate contribution on defense withthe Nuggets. His offensive game is quite raw and needs to be developed. Niceupside choice for the Nuggets who acquired Hilario in a trade with the Knicks.
8. Chris Wilcox, 6' 10", PF, LA Clippers. Wilcox was anotherearly entry whose stock took off during NCAA post season. Wilcox was consideredone of the better athletes in this year’s draft. He improved a great dealduring the year. He has an NBA type body and nice upside to his game. He needsto develop his offensive game and his shooting range.
9. Amare Stoudemire, 6' 10", PF, Phoenix. Stoudemire was the onlyhigh school player to be drafted in the first round this year. Stoudemire isvery powerful and quick for his size, but needs to develop his range and gameaway from the basket. He has great potential and is said to be a hard worker.He will need a few years to develop. The Suns need help at PF, so Stoudemirecould be the long-term answer.
10. Caron Butler, 6' 7", SF, Miami. Many draft scribes consideredButler to be the steal of the draft at #10. Remember Paul Pierce falling to #10a few years ago? Butler should start from day one for the aging Miami Heat, ateam badly in need of an infusion of youth. Butler was considered to be one ofthe more complete players in the draft. He could have an immediate impact inMiami as he can score and rebound well for a player of his size.
11. Jared Jeffries, 6' 11", F, Washington. Jeffries has a verynice game for a man of his size as he can score, rebound, block shots and passwell for a forward. He will need to improve his range and get stronger as he isquite thin. He should see instant minutes for the Wizards this year. How muchhe plays will depend on whether Michael Jordan returns for another season.Still, a nice long term pick.
12. Melvin Ely, 6' 10", PF, LA Clippers. The Clippers reallyloaded up on frontcourt players with the addition of Ely. They will almost beforced to make a deal as they have a bottleneck at PF with Ely, Wilcox andElton Brand. He is considered to be a good rebounder and someone who can scorein the paint.
13. Marcus Haislip, 6' 10", F, Milwaukee. The Bucks potentiallyaddressed one of their weaker position with the addition of Haislip. He is avery active athletic player with a 40" vertical leap. The Bucks hope thathe can grow into the power forward that they need to move to the next level.
14. Fred Jones, 6' 4", G, Indiana. He is a very strong guard withthe build of a linebacker. Jones is also a great leaper, but needs to improvehis ballhandling and shooting. The Pacers can take their time with him.
15. Bostjan Nachbar, 6' 9", Houston. Nachbar is a scorer whocombines great athleticism with intelligence. He has a nice touch from theoutside and reminds scouts of Peja Stojakovic. The Rockets liked him from thebeginning. Must work on his defense to play consistent minutes. He should seesome minutes as a rookie.
OTHER NOTABLE DRAFT CHOICES:
17. Juan Dixon, 6' 3", G, Washington. Dixon was a nice choice atthe point in the draft. His ability to play defense combined with hiscompetitive nature will insure him some minutes as rookie with the Wizards.Scouts are still trying to decide whether he is a true point guard or a comboguard.
21. Qyntel Woods, 6' 9", F, Portland. Woods was considered to beone of the more athletic players in this year’s draft. Many NBA scribes feltthat he would go much earlier in the first round. Woods has already drawn comparisonsto Tracy McGrady. Let's hope that the Blazers take more time to develop thistalent than they did with Jermaine O'Neal.
28. Dan Dickau, 6'0", PG, Atlanta. Dickau is almost guaranteed tosee minutes this year for the Hawks. The Hawks may pair him with Jason Terry onthe court at the same time for more offense. Dickau is an outstanding shooterand a good playmaker, but needs to improve his defense.
30. Steve Logan, 5' 10" PG, Golden State. Logan received a longlist of awards after his senior year at Cincinnati. He averaged 22 points pergame as a senior and ranked second on the school's All-time scoring list behindHall of Famer Oscar Robertson.
35. Carlos Boozer, 6' 9" F, Cleveland. Boozer comes from a finecollege program and has a strong work ethic. Most NBA scribes felt that he hada good chance to be a late first round draft pick. He could see immediateplaying time for the Cavs, a team sorely in need of a frontcourt defensivepresence.