The NBA 2000 draft: A closer look a few years later

The draft is the foundation to success, just ask Jerry West who swung the deal for Kobe Bryant 8 years ago with Charlotte, for Vlade Divac. After 3 or 4 years, you can take a look at what picks didn't work out, and what picks later in the draft, made their team much more competitive. Back in the 2000 draft, after standout Kenyon Martin was selected 1st, despite breaking his leg his last year in college, Vancouver selected Stromile Swift, the Clippers selected high schooler Darius Miles and Chicago took Marcus Fizer, a standout inside force during the 2000 NCAA tourneyment for Iowa State. I don't know about you, but in my mind a top 5 pick has to produce, within 2 years. My thinking is that you could have traded down and got another player later in the draft, or traded out of the draft for a veteran you know will contribute immediately. While the 2-4 picks are looking questionable now, we know that steal of the draft was Michael Redd, who was taken in the second round at pick 43.  Another Eastern All-Star, taken 19th, was Kentucky's Magloire.  In fact, picks 16-19 look to be solid selections so far, with Terkoglu producing in Sacramento and San Antonio, Slam Dunk champ Desmond Mason improving in Milwaukee, and Quintin Richardson looking at a $50 million dollar payday in his free agent period right now.  Poor Atlanta, they drafted 6th and selected Damar Johnson from Cincinati, who had troubles adjusting to the NBA and then got in a car accident.  Looking at franchises who sink, you don't have to look any further than the lottery picks who don't pan out, usually those franchises stay in the cellar for years. Will Jameer Nelson, the NCAA player of the year, who was taken 20th by Denver and shipped off to the rebuilding Orlando franchise, be the non-lottery draft choice who comes back to bite the various GM's who passed on the jitterbug point guard?  Let's check back in a few years....


The "kids are alright"

The NBA's summer league is in full swing in Las Vegas, Long Beach Orlando, Florida and elsewhere .  Most of the young players are either fighting for a roster spot, or getting much needed minutes, under the watchful eyes of coaches and veterans. 
So far, I've seen a few of the high school draftees and other 1st round draftees in action at the summer venues.  Here are my early observations: 

Stud of the summer league 

Al Jefferson PF Boston - A very polished looking 279 pound force on the block.  He seems poised and doesn't hurry his moves, unlike most young players going against the pros for the first time.  He may produce in his first year, and be the steal, since he went 15th, of the non-lottery picks.  He has put up over 25 points and hauled in 15 plus boards in early action.  He also can stroke it from the foul line.  Note: Al averaged over 42 points in Senior year in High School.
Looking good
Dwight Howard PF/SF Orlando - A very long and thin 6'11", with good instincts on the defensive end.  A natural shot blocker, he may be over matched down low in the NBA, but he will get plenty of playing time in Orlando to blossom.  I'm not sure if he is a #1 pick though?  He doesn't seem to have the offensive game, or the physical stature to play on the block.  He may be a Tyson Chandler type, and with that, would you take him #1 now?  #1's are Duncan, Shaq, Lebron, etc.. dominant players out of the block, and Dwight may be in for a shock when his team struggles and the fans start asking questions.  He may not average more than 10 points a game.
Jameer Nelson PG Orlando - He is small... He looks even smaller out on the court, and we know how tiny point guards can get lost in the paint in the NBA.  He is a natural point guard, and can hit shots.  It will be interesting to see if he can hit 3 pointers and guard bigger guards.  He may develop and allow Stevie Francis to move over to a more natural 2 guard position, with Cuttino Mobley coming off the bench.  A sleeper by any standard, since it cost them a future pick.  I think that Denver may regret the trade to Orlando, but they seem to like their two point guards, Miller and uber quick, and the smallest player in the league, Earl Boykins.
Devin Harris PG Dallas - This guy will get the chance to run the show in Dallas, with Steve Nash heading to Phoenix.  The Big Ten player of the year from Wisconsin, can score and dish with the best.  He put up a 29 point and 12 assist game already, but has struggled from 3 point land, going 4 for 19 in a two game period.  He will have a chance at rookie of the year, since he will play and Dallas can score some points.  It looks like a Harris and last years stellar Josh Howard, will be the backcourt for years to come.  Note: my early selection rookie of the year pick, until I see Okafor play in the Olympics this summer....
Late round notes
Tony Allen and Delonte West SG Boston - Picked 24th and 25th, and play the same position? I don't get it!  Well, Oklahoma State's Tony Allen can play, and is very athletic. He will get some time down the road for Boston.  I think that West will have troubles. He looks too small and slow to play Shooting Guard, and Marcus Banks is the PG of the future for Boston, if Danny Ainge doesn't screw it up.  Banks is blowing by all guards in this summer and would be a welcome player for many championship caliber teams in the West-  Say Houston or the Lakers.

Olympic team outlook in Athens

A look at the upcoming Olympic basketball competition in Athens... Will the Americans win its 4th gold in a row? Hopefully, they come to play, or they may take a loss in the event. I'm glad they have Duncan, since they do not really have many post players, other than rookie Emeka Okafor and PF Amare Stoudemire.


Kobe Bryant is a Laker for life..... Well, as long as his court case goes as planned. The second coming of MJ signed for 7 years and over $135 million! So, him and Dr. Buss get what they want, and the Laker fans still have hope. Let's see how GM Mitch Kupcheck fills out the roster, now that he has lost his Center, PG (D Fisher signed with Golden State today for 6 Years at $36 Million? Yes, 6 years for a backup PG who can't create his own shot, or shots for others... Anyway, it looks like Gary Payton at the Point, with the draft pick Sasha as his backup, kobe at the SG, and any of several players at SF- Walton, Deavon George, C Butler or even Lamar Odom, with Bryan Grant at PF/C. My guess is that the Lakers make a serious push for Free Agent Lampier of Golden State, who is the lone big body out in the market. They could also trade one of their SF for a bigger body. They don't have ANY shot blockers now, and with their defense issues last year, they will be even worse without Shaq in the paint, and D Fish playing his pressure defense. Odom will have to bring his "A" game to the west coast, and co-exist with the king of LA, Sir Kobe Bryant.
Shawn's Canon S45

Kenyon Martin heading to Denver?

Nice deal for Denver, to acquire an athletic force at the critical power forward position. I know they have Camby in the post, but with his history of getting dinged up, this may be a blessing. Now if Camby gets hurt, they can use Nene in the post, as needed. Kenyon Martin and Carmelo, a young force at the forward spots for years to come.

The deal is reported to be for $90 Million, and will be a sign and trade deal with New Jersey.


Shaq is gone... Posted by Hello

Shaq to Heat!! Look out East

"You don't get many chances to acquire the best player in the league and this was a trade I felt we had to make," said Heat president Pat Riley.

I'm not sure if the Lakers can come back from this trade, with the Heat. Lamar Odom, Bryan Grant, Caron Butler and a future 1st round pick are nice, but with the $60 to $80 million owed to both Grant and Odom, until 2009, the Lakers will be capped out. Also, Odom brings a log jam at the SF spot for the Lakers, unless Odom can adjust to the PF spot position. This is not the East, and he will find it difficult down low against Webber, Duncan, Garnett, and Dirk, in the West. If Kobe bolts to the Clippers, or is convicted of Rape, all bets are off, and this team is heading out of the playoffs.

Fact: the Lakers had a record of 38-13 without Kobe, and barely made it over .500 without Shaq.... Did you notice in the playoffs against Detroit that Tayshaun Prince and company made Kobe work to barely shoot over 30%? And, without the Diesel in the paint, it will be tougher for everyone to get good looks. Oh yeah, who is the shot blocker in the middle now, let alone rebounder for the new uptempo Lakers?

O'Neal, 32, spent eight seasons with the Lakers and helped the team win three consecutive NBA championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. O'Neal was voted Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals in each of those years.