Projected Draft Lottery Picks (#1–13)
1. Los Angeles Clippers
Mike Bibby, PG, 6'2 (Arizona)
The Clippers always find a way to mess things up. While Maurice Taylor ('97 pick) is the only remaining draftee on the roster, it is even more amazing to see who the Clippers have passed on in recent years. Names such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Bryant Reeves and Eddie Jones are all players who have slipped on by the Clips, but this year could be different. In a draft where very few things are definite, the talent and potential of Mike Bibby is one of those rare guarantees.
2. Vancouver Grizzlies
Michael Olowokandi, C, 7'0 (Pacific)
Most likely, Michael Olowokandi won't even have enough time to try on his new Grizzlies' baseball cap and shake hands with David Stern before he is shipped off to another team. Obviously with the recent contract extension of Bryant Reeves, Vancouver is solid at the center position, but they can use the Pacific center to get a lottery pick and a veteran player. Offers have come from just about everyone, but don't expect to see this match last very long.
3. Denver Nuggets
Paul Pierce, F, 6'7 (Kansas)
The Nuggets are one of the front runners for Olowokandi and they are willing to part with either Bobby Jackson or Tony Battie to get him. With Raef LaFrentz's strength, Antawn Jamison's size and Robert Traylor's mobility all in question, the versatile Paul Pierce will be chosen earlier than expected. However, look for him to end up in Vancouver.
4. Toronto Raptors
Antawn Jamison, F, 6'9 (North Carolina)
With the recent acquisition of Kevin Willis and the emergence of Marcus Camby, the Raptors have secured their two power positions for next season. This becomes a pivotal drafting position because they have to decide what needs have to be met next. It is conceivable that the Raptors could take Vince Carter to add athleticism to the backcourt or Traylor to add bulk, but Jamison will add the combined offense and rebounding toughness that the other two would bring.
5. Golden St. Warriors
Larry Hughes G, 6'5 (St. Louis)
Once again, Carter could sneak into the Top 5, but the Warriors realize that Hughes is a better ballhandler and can be used at the point. Muggsy Bogues is solid off the bench, but with the current trend of tall point guards in the NBA, it is important to have someone who can defend in the post. Latrell Sprewell is one name that has been floating around in trade talks and this pick might be packaged to get reliable veterans.
6. Dallas Mavericks
Raef LaFrentz, F, 6'11 (Kansas)
Dirk Nowitzki? The Mavs were one of the first NBA teams to show interest in the 6'11 German, but they have suspiciously become very quiet lately. What does Don Nelson have up his sleeve? Nowitzki is said to be a top prospect, but he has been called for a quick stint of military duty, leaving questions on whether he might stay in Europe for a few more years. If LaFrentz is still available, you get a solid forward with a guarantee that he will be in uniform next season. Keep in mind that you never know with Nelson in command.
7. Sacramento Kings
Vince Carter, G, 6'7 (North Carolina)
Carter is the steal of the draft. He is arguably the most athletic player to come out of North Carolina since Jordan, and he might have more potential. If Carter could add some range to his shooting, his game could resemble Scottie Pippen's and the Kings would like that very much. Chris Webber might not last long in Sacramento, but if he stays, he will form a nucleus along with Carter and Corliss Williamson that Kings fans haven't seen in during the team's existence.
8. Philadelphia 76ers
Robert Traylor, F, 6'8 (Michigan)
Traylor is Derrick Coleman with motivation. Slimming down in the off season improved his status in the draft and teams are drooling over his strength. He will provide an immediate impact in the rebounding department where the poor-shooting Sixers could use a boost.
9. Milwaukee Bucks
Michael Doleac, C, 6'11 (Utah)
This pick is as close to a lock as any other in the lottery. Doleac is the best player on the second tier of prospects and he fits Milwaukee's needs. Even Utah coach Rick Majerus, a native of the area, helped set up Doleac's visit. Ervin Johnson will likely remain as the starting center, but Doleac will provide the bulk and strength off the bench.
10. Boston Celtics
Nazr Mohammed, C, 6'10 (Kentucky)
Rick Pitino spent most of the month leading up to last year's draft telling everyone that Ron Mercer was not the pro that everyone thought he was going to be. Surprise: Pitino drafted him sixth leaving many GMs shocked. Could it happen again this year? While at Kentucky, Pitino recruited Mohammed and has a lot of faith in the big man. Mohammed has the potential to make an impact but if the Celtics are still looking to unload Antoine Walker, they might look at drafting a scoring forward instead.
11. Detroit Pistons
Keon Clark, C, 6'11 (UNLV)
Brian Williams has caused nothing but headaches in the Motor City – although Clark will also bring excess baggage to wherever he goes. The Pistons have missed the shot blocking of Theo Ratliff and the athletic Clark should be able to make penetraters think twice. The Pistons might also look for someone – maybe Bonzi Wells – to grow into Joe Dumars' position, but they need a presence in the paint.
12. Orlando Magic
Bonzi Wells, G, 6'5 (Ball State)
He can score, score, and score. Oh yeah, he also averaged seven boards a game. Who wouldn't like a player that is the Mid-American Conference's all-time leading scorer? Wells can get the basketball in the hoop and every team can use some instant offense. Many scouts question his transition to the NBA and also his lack of point guard skills, but at worst, the Magic get an undeveloped Ray Allen to back up Penny.
13. Orlando Magic
Dirk Nowitzki, C, 6'11 (Germany)
Nowitzki has to be taken somewhere and why not by a team with three first round picks. With the Rockets loitering about during the next few selections, the Magic must grab him now or maybe miss out on a chance for the sleeper of the draft.