2000 NBA Draft
This year, the 10th pick may be as good as the first
by Gerry Brown
The NBA draft is here again and, as always, speculation is swirling about whom will be the first player taken. This year the New Jersey Nets, despite having just a 4.4% chance, beat the odds and won the draft lottery for the No. 1 pick overall. So who will join the long list of NBA draft top picks?
The Nets, and their newly tabbed head coach Byron Scott, have a choice to keep the pick and take a player, likely Cincinnati forward and consensus national college player of the year Kenyon Martin, or trade the pick for an established player and another pick or for several lower picks. A trade may not be a bad idea. This year everyone seems to think that there is no conspicuous future NBA superstar in the group and that the 10th pick could end up being just as good as the first.
Here's a closer look at some of the names that should go early on:
Kenyon Martin, Cincinnati Center. Martin will play forward in the NBA. He is a tremendous defensive player and can block shots and rebound as well as anyone to come out of college in years. His scoring improved in his senior season at Cincy and the only real question mark is how will he come back after breaking his leg late last season. In pre-draft workouts it hasn't proved to be much of a hindrance.
Stromile Swift. LSU Forward. Swift, at 6-foot-9, is a fearsome shot-blocker and rebounder who probably will need to improve his offense, especially scoring while facing the basket, to succeed at the next level. He only played two seasons in college and may need a year or two to grow into a truly productive NBA player.
Marcus Fizer, Iowa State Forward. Fizer had a big NCAA tournament in 2000 and was a consensus first team All-American (A0856374) with the Cyclones. He often used his size and strength to overwhelm opponents in college but will not have that option in the NBA. His scoring touch and ability to hit shots when facing the basket will serve him well.
Darius Miles, E. St. Louis HS (Illinois) forward. Miles is trying to become the next Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant, a high school kid that comes into the league and makes an immediate impact. His combination of size and speed may allow him to accomplish just that. Miles is a good ball-handler and passer and is dangerous off the dribble. He is 6-9 and has freakishly long arms giving him a wingspan of over seven feet. His athleticism and relative polish may make him irresistible for some early teams to pass up.
Mike Miller, Florida forward. Miller is a versatile player and a proven scorer, something that the NBA always has room for. Miller could go to Orlando with the fifth pick but may drop a little further if Orlando works a trade with any of their three lottery picks.
Chris Mihm, Texas center. Mihm has been called a "true" center. Generally, that means a huge guy that can rebound and block shots and is most comfortable scoring with his back to the basket. Mihm fits the mold but this seven-footer can hit the long jumper too. Look for him to end up either in Orlando or Chicago.
DeMarr Johnson, Cincinnati guard. There's nothing like a big man (6-9) who can play guard. Because of that Johnson may go early in the draft despite concerns of his maturity (he left Cincy after his freshman year) and his defensive intensity. Playing outside, he can shoot over most any opposing guard and can drive past forwards that try to come out and guard him. He will need to add some bulk (he's only 200 lbs) in order to take the punishment of the NBA though.
Joel Pryzbilla, Minnesota center. Przybilla is a defensive presence. At 7-foot-1 he can block a lot of shots and alter a lot that he doesn't get a piece of. His offensive skills are lagging behind his defensive skills right now but he played less than two full seasons at Minnesota before getting suspended for academic reasons. With some work his offense could catch up and if that happens he could be a scary player. He has a tremendous "upside" and a lot of teams will be willing to take a chance on him.