The draft is over, and while Jason Williams and Mike Dunleavy were taken
second and third by Chicago and Golden State, as predicted by pretty much
everyone, the rest of the draft had some interesting spots.
The most depressing part for Duke fans was that Carlos Boozer slipped to 35th
and was taken by Cleveland. Boozer's athleticism and abilty to play away
from the basket was questioned, which is funny, since in high school he was
criticized for playing away from the basket too much. Carlos has 3 point range,
but never had to show that at Duke. He also is the most fundamentally
skilled big man in the draft, bar none. He can use either hand and has a superb
outlet pass. A lot of teams may feel foolish later.
The Bulls made it an ACC night, taking Roger Mason and Lonnie Baxter after
taking Williams. Baxter will be great for the Bulls in that he'll make
Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry know what hard work is about. He'll
also fit into Jerry Krause's world view, which puts a premium on players with no
necks. He loved Brand for the same reason.
Who knows how the kids will pan out ultimately, but with Williams, Jamal
Crawford, and Jalen Rose, not to mention Travis Best, the Bulls at least have
some players to build on. They could shop Marcus Fizer now if they wanted.
The Bulls are now a very young team as well. Throw out Charles Oakley (16
years) and the oldest players are Jalen Rose and Travis Best. Krause
has now completely overhauled this team, and if the twin tower gamble pays off,
they could be solid for a decade or more.
The Warriors are more problematic. Dunleavy joins a team rife with
imperfections. Star player Antawn Jamison has worked hard to become a small
forward, but it's been hard. Mookie Blaylock is ancient. Jason
Richardson has enormous talent but will take a while to develop, having come out
too soon. Arenas, Fortson, Foyle, Garret, Hughes, Mills, Oliver, Murphy,
and Sura are all players who either have significant holes in their game or a
lot to prove. Add Steve Logan to the list. He's a smallish guy by
NBA standards, and will be overmatched quite often.
For Carlos Boozer, Cleveland could be a good fit. With DeSagana Diop,
Michael Doleac, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Bryan Skinner, it's not exactly a
murderer's row up front. Carlos could start for this team and do well.
Anyone with a heart has to be happy for Juan Dixon, who snuck in at #17 when
he was widely thought likely to drop out of the first round, and was taken by
the Wizards, meaning he'll be home pretty much.
When the Knicks drafted Brazilian Maybyner "Nene" Hilario, the
Garden crowd started chanting "fire Layden," meaning the teams general
manager. But he turned around and shipped the kid to Denver for Antonio
McDyess, and also got rid of Marcus Camby and Mark Jackson, which gives the
Knicks some muscle and also some breathing room. They also get Denver's
pick (25) and pick up Frank Williams. So now they can plug in McDyess and
Williams for Camby and Jackson? The crowd should be genuflecting.
For Chris Wilcox, luck was his, as the Knicks took a pass and he was not
forced to be a savior, a role he was clearly not prepared for, much less in New
York. Good news/bad news, though, as he went to the Clippers. The Clippers
are bad news in general, but lately they have gathered a lot of talent.
Bad news, though: he'll be chained to the bench, assuming a trade is not in the
works, because Elton Brand works 3-4 times as hard as Wilcox does. Elton
works harder than 98% of his colleagues, so that's not a knock on Wilcox.
It's just hard to take anything away from Brand.
Chances are excellent he'll be traded though. And if he's not, Melvin
Ely likely will be. The Clippers have Brand, Wilcox, and Ely at the same
position. That's too much potential trade bait. By our count, the Clippers
will have eight lottery picks on the roster next season, with two coming by
trade. How does Elgin Baylor keep his job? It's amazing, really, because
the Clippers keep on failing, but Baylor just keeps on going.
Darius Songaila went to the Celtics, lucky dog, but he may have missed his
era. He'd have fit right in with the slow teams of the '80s, but the Celts now
are swift. On the other hand, they're also not real nasty, in the ways
that Songaila is, so maybe he'll have a natural role there.
Luckiest pick of the draft: Pat Riley getting Caron Butler. Those two could
mesh in a big way.