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Chicago JK
06-26-2003, 03:56 PM
Some surprises came across the old phone lines late on the eve of the 2003 NBA draft, forcing your trusted writer to update his mock draft yet again. The Grizzlies are on the edges of their seats, hoping they can announce a deal by Thursday afternoon. Toronto is fielding a zillion calls for No. 4, which is impressive considering there are only 29 teams. The potential Knicks trade, up for T.J. Ford -- for real? Hmm. Not if the Raps get a better deal. Miami, the mill squeaks, wants to stay put at No. 5. The Bulls are a wild card now at No. 7, still looking for a trade despite public assurances that they are not.

It's going to be a long day. As one scout told me, "By the end of the day, teams will be making a mockery of our mock drafts."

Be that as it may, we still have a new, updated mock draft to report, with the latest info added. How about David West to the Hornets? Carlos Delfino to Utah? Dwyane Wade all the way down to the Grizz at 13? Luke Ridnour out of the Top 20? Jason Kapono, first-rounder? Who knows ... the following is based only on conversations and opinions taken from a variety of front-office personnel.

1. Cleveland: LeBron James, SG, 6-8, 245, St. Vincent-St. Mary H.S. (Akron, Ohio). Word is, the Wizards are hoping he slides to No. 10. Keep those fingers crossed!

2. Detroit: Darko Milicic, PF, 7-0, 250, Hemofarm Vrsac (Yugoslavia). If you believe some reports, Joe Dumars and Larry Brown are already going at it with baseball bats up in Auburn Hills. Don't believe it. Both want Milicic.

3. Denver: Carmelo Anthony, SF, 6-7, 233, Syracuse. He can run, he can jump, he can shoot from mid-range, he can post up, he can put the ball on the floor. The Nuggets are getting a No. 1 pick at No. 3.

4. Toronto: Chris Bosh, PF, 6-11, 225, Georgia Tech. Let the fun begin! If the Raptors don't deal, they'll take Bosh or PG T.J. Ford, in hopes of implementing an up-tempo attack. Not sure what in Kevin O'Neill's history makes anyone think he is dying for an up-tempo attack, though. A guy with Bosh's size makes a lot more sense, so we'll defer to common sense.

5. Miami: Maciej Lampe, PF, 7-0, 255, Universidad Complutense (Spain). It appears Pat Riley intends to hang on to this pick, and he is interested in Lampe. Guys of Lampe's size who also have good shooting touch are rare, and it's about time the Heat caught up to the rest of the league in terms of drafting international guys and having versatile players. One source swears, though, that the Heat will take C Chris Kaman. If Miami does that, I owe that source an apology.

6. Clippers: Mickael Pietrus, SG, 6-6, 200, Pau Orthez (France). The rumor mill on the Clips has four names involved -- Wade, Ford, French SG Mickael Pietrus and Kaman. What I am hearing is that V.P. Elgin Baylor wants Wade, and player personnel man Barry Hecker wants Pietrus. Hecker usually wins, but there is a strong chance Wade will wind up here. If they go with Pietrus, the Clips could unveil an athletic, big backcourt combo of Pietrus and 6-7 Marko Jaric in the near future. If it's Wade, then the same thing holds, only with Jaric and Wade in the backcourt.

7. Chicago: T.J. Ford, PG, 6-0, 162, Texas. This is a tough call, because the Bulls' outlook was clouded by the motorcycle accident of PG Jay Williams. They don't know what Williams' future will be, but if Ford is still around, he will be hard to pass up. Can Ford play in a triangle offense? Would the Bulls (finally) scrap the offense? Wouldn't PG Kirk Hinrich make much more sense here? Wouldn't Wade would be a safer pick here, especially if they think he can play point guard? That's a lot of questions, so I will close with a question disguised as a statement: Don't count out Lampe, if he is still around.

8. Milwaukee: Nick Collison, PF, 6-10, 255, Kansas. Collison is a wild card, but he could go as high as this spot to the size-starved Bucks. George Karl liked the kid when he coached him as part of last year's world championships team. He's a bit soft and must get stronger, but he can shoot and will be a good rebounder when focused. Again, Lampe is a candidate here.

9. New York: Chris Kaman, C, 7-0, 252, Central Michigan. One of the few true centers on the board, and the Knicks need size. Kaman has a short wingspan, but he is accomplished at using both hands and moving in the post. Of course, there are trade rumors around the Knicks, but then again, there are already Knicks trade rumors for the 2004 draft. The Knicks could pass on filling the center hole and go with Wade or Hinrich. I'm also hearing Mike Sweetney here, but I can't figure out why the Knicks would need another 6-8 power forward.

10. Washington: Jarvis Hayes, SF, 6-7, 220, Georgia. Late word on the eve of draft night was that Washington has a deal cut with Hayes, who is a great off-the-screen shooter. That means, of course, he would not fit at all with a team that has Jerry Stackhouse and no pass-first point guard. Got to love draft-time speculation, don't you? Would the Wizards stick with the deal if Wade is still on the board? Tough to say. Someone is going to be a slider, and it could well be Wade.

11. Golden State: Kirk Hinrich, PG, 6-3, 186, Kansas. The Warriors like a few point guards at this spot -- Leandro Barbosa, Reece Gaines, Marcus Banks and Luke Ridnour among them. All make sense, but Hinrich is a better all-around player than anyone in that group. He has the speed and ballhandling to push the offense but plays well in the half-court, distributes efficiently and does something that is rare for a Warrior: He defends. There is a chance the Warriors will draft a big guy and leave the Gilbert Arenas situation for the summer. There's also the persistent rumor that coach Eric Musselman wants Ridnour. But we're guessing Hinrich.

12. Seattle: Mike Sweetney, PF, 6-8, 260, Georgetown. The Sonics got younger by trading for Ray Allen last season, and now they need to get bigger by adding post men. Sweetney is a fierce rebounder, who is short but projects as a thicker version of Elton Brand. He's not an offensive force now, but the Sonics don't need one.

13. Memphis: Dwyane Wade, SG, 6-4, 212, Marquette. Whoa, Wade at 13? I am writing it and I don't quite believe it. My gut (which is considerable in such matters) says Memphis will make a deal up, and this whole lottery will be shot to smithereens. But supposing the Grizz have to stay put, and supposing Wade still is on the board, they will get an athletic, uber-talented shooting guard who can play some point and who has proved he can be a winner on a big stage -- just look at tapes of this year's NCAA Tournament. GM Jerry West will be hailed as a genius again, and really, he won't even have to break a sweat.

14. Seattle: Marcus Banks, PG, 6-2, 220, UNLV. Banks is super-quick and pesky defensively, and if he still is around, he could wind up in Seattle, which is putting together an odd and interesting team. The Sonics won't necessarily look for a point guard, but they like Banks, Barbosa and Gaines. Coach Nate McMillan did supposedly tell Barbosa he wanted him to be their point guard of the future, but of course, draft-time whispers are never to be trusted. The Sonics are working on a deal, though, so they might not be the ones who do the picking at Nos. 12 and 14.

15. Orlando: Reece Gaines, PG, 6-6, 205, Louisville. He's a tough, big point guard whose best assets probably are not his point guard skills. He can score and defend, and he showed enough poise and control while playing the point for Rick Pitino this year that a team like the Magic would be happy to give him a shot. Of course, they gave Jeryl Sasser a shot, too, because he was a tall point guard. Let's hope they have better luck with Gaines.

16. Boston: Zarko Cabarkapa, SF, 6-11, 235, Buducnost (Yugoslavia). If Boston still has this pick (they could deal 16 and 20 to move up, or deal themselves out of the draft altogether), their candidates probably will be Cabarkapa, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Barbosa or Sofoklis Schortsanitis, all of whom have the Celts' P.A. announcer sweating. Collegian forwards like David West or Brian Cook are possible, not to mention much more pronounceable. The Celtics like Banks, which might be the worst-kept secret in the draft, but in this mock draft, he's already been chosen. Sorry, Mr. Ainge. Cabarkapa is a sweet-shooting big guy who would add some grace to the Celtics' fast-paced, rough-and-tumble offense.

17. Phoenix: Brian Cook, PF, 6-10, 240, Illinois. There are probably three players on the Suns' list after Cabarkapa: Ridnour, Cook and Schortsanitis. The Suns were a playoff team last year, and with Bo Outlaw and Scott Williams playing major minutes in the team's postseason run, the need for another young big man probably will win out. Ridnour would be a nice backup, but PG Stephon Marbury plays 40-45 minutes per game. Schortsanitis could be a star-in-waiting, but do the Suns want to wait three years? Cook is an experienced big guy who can shoot and rebound and has put his rocky first three years in college behind him.

18. New Orleans: David West, PF, 6-9, 240, Xavier. More late word (I should have shut my phone off) had the Hornets hot for West. That's right -- West. They've been rumored to be attached to a few European guys, including SG Aleksandar Pavlovic, and to some college big men, like Cook and West. If it turns out that West is indeed their man, then there does not seem to be much room for free-agent PF P.J. Brown, with PFs Robert Traylor, Jerome Moiso (free agent, too) and West on board. Interesting, eh?

19. Utah: Carlos Delfino, SG, 6-6, 230, Skipper Bologna (Italy). This one also surprised me, but it's another one gleaned from sources late on draft eve. Apparently, Utah has allowed most to think Cook or Pavlovic were the choices here, but they secretly have had their eye on Delfino for a while. He can defend, plays a good shooting guard and is pretty polished. He is an Argentine by birth, following the same path to the NBA as Manu Ginobili, but he is not -- I repeat, not -- a Ginobili clone.

20. Boston: Sofoklis Schortsanitis, PF, 6-9, 255, Iraklis (Greece). Enormous, strong 18-year-old big guy is raw, but his physical play has come through in his workouts, which have been good. He could go as high as 14 to Seattle, but if he gets this far, I am betting Boston will take him. The Celtics are lacking an in-the-paint banger who can throw some beef around (Tony Battie? Antoine Walker? Er, Vin Baker?), and Schortsanitis can develop into that kind of player. Are they really passing on Pac-10 P.O.Y. Luke Ridnour here?

21. Atlanta: Leandro Barbosa, PG, 6-3, 176, Bauru (Brazil). Hip trouble has cost Barbosa on the workout scene, but teams who saw him earlier -- such as the Sonics and Warriors -- might take a chance on him in the lottery, with visions of Tony Parker dancing in their heads. If he does drop, he could be one of the players Toronto or Miami targets if they trade down. Either way, 21 might be too low for Barbosa, but if he is on the board, the Hawks are badly in need of a point man. Apologies to, ahem, Dan Dickau. As an addendum, there was this strange note, left by a source: Beware Josh Howard at No. 21.

22. New Jersey: Aleksandar Pavlovic, SG, 6-7, 210, Buducnost (Yugoslavia). Pavlovic is not looking for a return to Europe, but the Nets might request he do just that. Even if he sticks around, New Jersey needs more quality perimeter shooters, and that is Pavlovic's strength. If he is not gone to Boston, Phoenix, New Orleans or Utah, Pavlovic will land nicely here. The Nets are also interested in PG Zoran Planinic, and might have a spot already lined up for him.

23. Portland: Luke Ridnour, PG, 6-1, 167, Oregon. Teams are wondering about Ridnour's defense, weight and footwork, which was a problem against quicker guards during the college season. Those concerns have dropped him. This would be a godsend for the Blazers, who are starved for good P.R. -- local star goes to the local team. There are rumors that the Blazers are talking with the Raptors to move up to No. 4, perhaps for a deal that includes Zach Randolph. PG Troy Bell might go here if Ridnour is gone. Portland also may take a chance on a high-school project, like Ndudi Ebi, Kendrick Perkins or Travis Outlaw. Or, this possibility: Draft SF Luke Walton, evoke his father's memory and happier times, and start mending this whole Jailblazers thing in the process. Six possibilities, think that covers my bases?

24. L.A. Lakers: Zoran Planinic, PG/SG, 6-7, 195, Cibona Zagreb. He's big, he's a combo guard, he's skinny, he has long arms. Perfect guy for Phil Jackson's Lakers. Of course, Jackson probably won't play him, but Planinic is a tough, no-nonsense guard who has many advantages over current reserve PG Jannero Pargo. The team could address power forward, with Mario Austin. It could take a shooter like Travis Hansen or take Howard as a utility player. Hold your breath for this name: Jason Kapono. Don't be completely shocked to see him stay local, and in the first round.

25. Detroit: Travis Hansen, SG, 6-6, 210, BYU. Hansen has been rumored to be the Pistons' pick at No. 25, and we'll stick with that in this mock draft. He is 25 years old, which is a number that keeps him from going higher -- think about it, he is seven years older than the No. 1 pick in this draft -- but he can shoot and has better quickness and agility than he gets credit for. His maturity is not a negative for Detroit, a team that is looking to win now. Boris Diaw will get a sniff if he's still around.

26. Minnesota: Mario Austin, PF, 6-8, 270, Mississippi State. I was expecting Austin to be a second-rounder, but apparently, the Timberwolves like him. He is everything Joe Smith is not -- tough, thick and determined. Minnesota needs a dirty-work guy (who is better than Gary Trent, at least) to put with Kevin Garnett, and it appears Austin is their man. Stay tuned.

27. Memphis: Boris Diaw, SG, 6-8, 203, Pau Orthez (France). Very tough to get a read on Diaw, and I have had conversations with his agent, Doug Neustadt. He could go as high as Memphis at No. 13, or as low as Memphis at 27 -- that is quite a range of picks. He's a terrific athlete and a solid defender, but his shot needs work and his basketball instincts still are coming along. Memphis could pick up a high school project with this pick, much like Portland: Ebi, Perkins or Outlaw.

28. San Antonio: Kendrick Perkins, C, 6-10, 285, Ozen (Texas) HS. I thought it was the Mavs who were whispering sweet nothings into Texas-native Perkins' ear, telling him to stick around and forgo a college career with John Calipari at Memphis. No, no, say the late-night draft sources. It's the Spurs who want the local big man, to develop as a future Admiral. He's a big dude who will have some of the best coaches, teammates and former Spurs (that means David Robinson, of course) to learn from.

29. Dallas: Malick Badiane, C, 6-10, 235, Langen (Germany). Very good athlete from Senegal, playing in Germany. The Mavs are willing to take a flier on a big-man project, and Badiane is just that. He is 19 and has a long way to go in terms of mental and physical toughness, but the Mavs are big on the international scene, and Africa could be the next ball of wax to break open. He is worth a chance at this pick. Ebi is a player they'll consider, too.

signoftimes
06-26-2003, 04:05 PM
Ridnour dropping to 23 surprises me. I don't think he'll be aroujnd that deep in the draft. If nothing else Boston would take him with their 20(maybe their 16).

Mandyahl
06-26-2003, 04:20 PM
rhylanski...haha, you almost had me fooled.