Young, unproven talent clutters NBA draft lottery

by Janos Marton | 5/22/01 5:00am

This Sunday the NBA draft lottery determined the order in which team wills be drafting their young prospects approximately one month from today, but for the first time, it seems that the order does not really matter. The results of the lottery grant the Washington Wizards the number one pick, followed by the L.A. Clippers, the Atlanta Hawks, and the Chicago Bulls.

When in most years teams with such preferences would begin settling on their talented college superstar of choice, the mass exodus of young, talented, unproven players has thrown the entire draft into disarray.

For the first time, there are four legitimate high school prospects who hope to follow in the footsteps of Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant, hoping that their immense talent can overcome their lack of college experience.

In addition, a record 34 college players have declared early for the draft.

The Washington Wizards, who have performed terribly under the Michael Jordan administration, would act in their best interests to acquire a proven college player such Shane Battier or Troy Murphy who would be able to develop his skills under the tutelage of new coach Doug Collins. A younger player like Eddie Griffin would become frustrated with the situation in Washington quicker than he did at Seton Hall, and would cause friction on a developing team.

The hapless L.A. Clippers drafted high schooler Darius Miles last season, and would do themselves a disservice by drafting another one; Miles and 3rd year player Lamar Odom need someone to play on their level immediately or they will likely leave Los Angeles. While a decent point guard would be ideal, there are hardly any in the entire draft, which would point to their selection of shooting guard Joseph Forte, who significantly improve their offense.

Fortunately Atlanta already has an excellent point guard in Jason Terry, and have the opportunity to choose perhaps the most talented player in this years draft, Seton Hall's Eddie Griffin.

The woeful Chicago Bulls may be the first team to cross their fingers and select a high schooler. Eddie Curry is generally regarded as the most prepared, and his 6'11" presence would complement developing team leader Elton Brand.

Golden State may have the prime position in the entire draft. The Warriors already have a decent collection of players, with Antawn Jamison and Larry Hughes leading a crop of young stars.

Should they pick seven foot high schooler Sagana Diop, they will be able to let his skills develop without burdening him with the pressure of leading a team, something that Washington cannot claim. Vancouver is a mess of a team, but if Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Mike Bibby stay with the Grizzlies, an addition of a good post player such as Jason Collins could improve the team. The New Jersey Nets always seem one player short of a contending team, but they won't find the answer in this draft.

What they really need is a center, but not an unproven 18 year old center like Tyson Chandler, who they will probably pick anyway. If Shane Battier or Troy Murphy are still available New Jersey could benefit from having these skilled players serving as important role players next season as they hunt for a playoff spot.

Because of the presence of high schoolers and the mass defections from college, some of the aforementioned players will still be available near the end of the first round for any team to draft them. The dearth of point guards will be a big issue, expect Jamal Tinsley to be drafted relatively early.

Expect teams like Detroit and Cleveland to be rebuilding with young players, while Houston, Seattle and Boston will use their lottery positions to shore up teams that are already playoff contenders.

About the only thing that we can be assured of is that many young players will go home on draft night disappointed that they did not get drafted higher, and wish that they had stayed in school for at least another year.

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