ByBob Radl, staff writer
The 2003 NBA draft has come and gone again. Some teams appearto be obvious winners while other team's futures do not glow quite so brightlyafter this years draft. The 2003 draft was considered by experts to be a fairlydeep one. Time will tell. Most selections cannot be fully judged for two orthree years as young talent take time to develop. Only a few players can beexpected to make an immediate impact in the NBA. 14 of the first 29 picks inRound One were either teenagers or foreigners. Overall, 21 foreign born playerswere selected in the draft, a NBA record. Listed below are capsule summaries ofthe top draft picks and other selected players.
1. LeBron James, G/F, Cleveland Cavaliers. James wasthe consensus #1 pick by most NBA draft experts. He is one of the most excitingyoung NBA prospects in decades and will see immediate action as a rookie withthe Cavaliers. He may open the year as the PG for the CAVS. He is smooth,athletic with excellent body control. His court vision and passing are alreadyat NBA standards. James has an NBA body at 6' 7" and 245 pounds. James isvery poised and mature for his age. He has the talent and potential to beanother Tracy McGrady or Kobe Bryant if he works hard at his game. James willhave immediate fantasy value for the Cavs. He is a great pick in dynasty or keeperleagues. James will need to improve his jump shot and his man-to-man defense.
2. Darko Milicic, PF, Detroit Pistons. Milicic canplay all three frontcourt positions and may be the front line offensive playerthat the Piston so desperately need. His game is compared to that of DirkNowitzki from Dallas. He is only 18 years old with a huge upside. Milicic needto improve his low block strength and add perhaps 15 to 20 pounds of muscle,but then watch out !! Another solid choice for keeper leagues.
3. Carmelo Anthony, SF, Denver Nuggets. Anthony cameout early after leading Syracuse to the national title as a freshman. Anthonyhas a real feel for the game. He can play both inside and outside. He is readyto contribute this year. He is a strong rebounder, fundamentally sound and anexcellent leaper. He has the height of a forward to go along with the quicknessand ball handling skills of a guard. He will have immediate fantasy value as arookie. He has great value also in keeper leagues. Anthony will need to improvehis first step blow by ability.
4. Chris Bosh, PF, Toronto Raptors. Bosh was an earlyentry candidate and the Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year. He hasthe ability to glide around the court and makes things look effortless. He hasa smooth shooting stroke and runs the floor well for a man of his size at 6'10" and 200 pounds. He is a quick jumper and excellent shot blocker, aweakness of raptor's last year. Bosh will need to add muscle to his thin frameto bang against the bigger and stronger PF in the NBA on a nightly basis. Boshwill also need to improve his back to the basket skills.
5. Dwayne Wade. G/F, Miami Heat. Wade really burst onthe scene in the NCAA tournament with a triple double (29 points, 11 reboundsand 11 assists to go along with 4 blocks) in the Round of 8 versus Kentucky.NBA scouts like his explosive first step as well as his leaping ability andquickness. He is projected to be a physical 2 guard in the NBA. The bigquestion is which position to play. He has the instincts to play the point andis natural scorer. That makes him a likely candidate for the off guard slot.Look for Coach Pat Riley to find ways to get Wade on the court with Eddie Jonesand Caron Butler as they form a very athletic trio for the Heat.
6. Chris Kaman, C, Los Angeles Clippers. Kaman wasone of the few players in the draft with the ability to play with his back tothe basket, a lost art in today's NBA game. He is skilled with both his righthand and his left hand when he shoots. He has solid footwork for a man of hissize. He is not considered to be a great athlete. He could see significantminutes for the Clippers if Michael Olowokandi departs during the off-season.Kaman will also need to improve his strength and his defense.
7. Kirk Hinrich, PG, Chicago Bulls. Hinrich is afundamentally sound player who will be able to contribute on both ends of thefloor for the Bulls this next year. He excels in an up-tempo game. Hinrich willmost likely back up both guard positions this year for the Bulls.
8. T. J. Ford, PG, Milwaukee Bucks. Ford was anotherearly entry candidate in this year's draft. He won the Nainsmith and Woodenawards as college player of the year. He has great court awareness that allows himto anticipate plays. Questions linger due to his size at 5' 10" and hisinability to stay healthy in college. Ford could see major minutes as a rookieif Gary Payton departs as anticipated via free agency.
9. Mike Sweetney, PF, New York Knicks. Sweetneyshould see immediate action a rookie as the Knicks were one of the worstrebounding and shot blocking teams in the NBA last year. He is a strongphysical player at 6' 8" and 260 pounds with a solid work ethic. He haslong arms for a man of his height and can get to the free throw line. He hassoft hands in the paint and can score from up to 15 feet. Sweetney will need toimprove on his explosiveness.
10. Jarvis Hayes, G/F, Washington Bullets. Hayes wasanother early entry candidate and a two-time consensus first team allSoutheastern Conference pick. He has a good shooting range and is considered tobe a catch-and-shoot shooter. Hayes will need to work on his ball handling andhis defensive intensity.
11. Mickael Pietrus, G/F, Golden State Warriors.Pietrus was another early entry who played in France the last three seasons. Heis considered to be a freak of an athlete and a great defensive stopper. He isvery explosive, but not a polished offensive player. His perimeter shootingneeds work, as does his ball handling. Pietrus' fantasy value will be limitedin the 2003-04 season.
12. Nick Collison, PF, Seattle SuperSonics. Collisonis a four-year player from Kansas who should see plenty of action as a rookiein Seattle. He is a nice interior scorer with good post-up moves. He reboundswell and is very fundamentally sound. He should have decent fantasy value thisseason. Collison may struggle at times against the bigger stronger PFs in theWestern Conference.
13. Marcus Banks, PG, Boston Celtics. Banks wasacquired by the Celtics on a draft day after he was traded by the MemphisGrizzlies. He has a NBA body and nice size for a PG. He is considered to beexplosive with good penetrating skills at the point. Banks will need to work onhis ball handling skills and his leadership skills for the Celtics.
14. Luke Ridnour, PG, Seattle SuperSonics. Ridnour isa creative playmaker who makes excellent decisions. He is not the most athleticPG and is best in an up-tempo style of game. He is a good passer and a greatshooter. He will provide instant offense off of the bench for the Sonics. Hewill need to improve his strength to match up against the bigger point guardsin the NBA.
15. Reece Gaines, SG, Orlando Magic. Gaines isprojected to be a combo guard for the Magic this year. He was a two-timeAll-Conference USA pick. He switched to the point guard this last year afterplaying the off guard for three years; he can shoot the trey well and is asolid defender. Gaines also has good change of direction and vision on thecourt. He will need to work on his ball handling skills at the next level.
16. Troy Bell, PG, Memphis Grizzlies. Bell wasacquired by the Grizzlies during a trade on draft day to be a backup to JasonWilliams. His speed and quickness will be a nice change of pace from JasonWilliams' long range trey bombs. Bell is quick off of the dribble with goodbalance and strength. He will need to improve his leadership capabilities.
17. Zarko Cabarkapa, PF, Phoenix Suns. Cabarkapa hasexcellent ball handling skills and quickness for a man of his size at 6'11" and 235 pounds. He is capable of playing all three front courtpositions and can create his own shot. He will need to improve his strength tobe able to bang with the strong power forwards in the Western Conference.
18. David West, PF, New Orleans Hornets. West was adominating post player in college. He is considered a tad undersized to play PFin the pros. He can score with his back to the basket or facing it. West hasstrong hands and a nice mid-range jump shot. West will need to work on hispassing skills.
19. Aleksandr Pavlovic, F, Utah Jazz. Pavlovic wasanother early entry candidate from Serbia. He had his most productive year inEurope where he averaged 10.1 points along with 60.4% from the field. He is astreak shooter who can score in bunches. Pavlovic will need to improve hisdefense and his strength.
20. Dahntay Jones, G/F, Memphis Grizzlies. Jones wasacquire don draft day by the Grizzlies. He is a great athlete and a lock downdefender. Jones has great leaping ability and is very explosive. He will needto work on his perimeter game at the next level.
21. Boris Diaw, SF, Atlanta Hawks. Diaw has excellentspeed and quickness. He has great leaping ability, a huge wingspan andexplosive quickness to make him a threat on both offense and defense.
22. Zoran Planinic, PG, New Jersey Nets. Planinic wasanother early entry candidate in the draft. He was named the 2001-02 Best YoungCroatian Player. He has played both guard and forward in the past.
23. Travis Outlaw, SF, Portland Trail Blazers. Outlawwas one of the high school players chosen in the first round. He has aforward's body to go with the speed of a guard. He is a great leaper and shotblocker. He hustles on both ends of the court. Outlaw will see some action fromthe bench this year.
24. Brian Cook, PF, Los Angeles Lakers. Cook was theBig ten player of the year as a senior. He can score from both the inside andthe outside and runs the court well for a big man. Cook has good footwork alongwith solid fundamentals. He will need to improve his defense.
25. Carlos Francisco Delfino. Delfino was most likelyreplace free agent Jon Barry off of the bench for the Pistons. He is a niceoutside shooter and can also drive well to the hoop. Limited fantasy value thisyear.
26. Ndudi Ebi, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves. Ebi wasanother high school player to go in the first round. He has a thin frame withlong arms and good post moves. Ebi has a nice outside shot and can penetrate tothe hoop. Limited value for some time, as he will be on the bench. Ebi needs towork on his strength.
27. Kendrick Perkins, C, Boston Celtics. Perkins wasa dominant high school post player and shot blocker. He may me too short toplay center at the pro-level. He will be a project for the Celtics and wouldhave benefited from a year or two of college ball.
28. Leandrinho Barbosa, SG, Phoenix Suns. Barbosa wasone of the dominant players in Brazil's top league. He is a good three-pointshooter. He speaks little English which could be a problem in terms ofcommunication on the floor.
29. Josh Howard, SF, Dallas Mavericks.
NOTABLE SECOND ROUND DRAFT CHOICES
30. Maciej Lampe, C/F, New York Knicks. Lampe was anearly entry candidate and one of Europe's most promising young players. He isan excellent athlete with a nice shooting touch. Many NBA scribes had Lampegoing in the top 15 in the draft. This kid has a nice upside down the road.
34. Sofoklis Schortsanitis, C/F, Los Angeles Clippers.Schortsanitis was called the Baby Shaq of the draft. His game is considered tobe raw and his post game needs work. He is a very strong offensive rebounder.Most scouts had him going in the first round.
36. Mario Austin, F, Chicago Bulls. Austin was anearly entry candidate who had one year of eligibility remaining. He is a high percentageshooter with a nice touch. He plays a power game, but is shorter thanadvertised. This could be a problem against larger power forwards in the NBA.
37. Travis Hansen, G/F, Atlanta Hawks. Hansen spentthree years on a missionary for the Mormon Church. This added maturity. He is ahigh-energy player who can drive to the basket or make the outside shot. Hewill need to improve his ball handling.
39. Slavko Vranes, C, New York Knicks. Vranes is only20 years old and another early entry into the draft this year. He has greatsize for the frontcourt at 7' 4" and 250 pounds. He runs the floor well,is a good rebounder and shot blocker. His offensive game is quite raw and needsa great deal of work. Most NBA scribes had him going late in the first round.He will need two or three years of development to contribute at a higher level.The Knicks may have landed some nice value at this point in the draft.