Luke Ridnour, 6-2 point guard,
What the analysts are saying: A
majority of the recognized draft analysts predict Ridnour will be taken among
the first 15 players in the first round. Several
see the point guard from
going to the Warriors with the 11th pick.
Most agree that Luke will thrive as a distributor on offense,
particularly in an up-tempo system. However,
a couple of writers feel that Ridnour's stock has plummeted of late. One
of the analysts for CNNSI.com predicts Ridnour will fall to #23.
NBADraft.net has him dropping to #18, despite earlier projections that
had him among the top dozen picks. An
inability to defend and lack of physical strength are being cited as the main
factors hurting Ridnour's stock in some circles.
Rumors abound that
may select Ndudi Ebi at #11 if they do not trade the pick.
The incumbent at the point guard spot for the Warriors, Gilbert Arenas,
has the same agent as Ebi, so the thinking goes that the agent is trying to
front office that it will greatly improve its odds of retaining Arenas if it
drafts Ebi at number 11. Of course,
the problem with that scenario is that most analysts see Ebi as a late first
round pick who may not be worthy of such a high selection.
My take: This year's draft is remarkably
deep in point guards, with as many as five or six points or combo guards likely
to be taken among the first 20 or so picks.
Ridnour's draft position may well depend on the styles of play and the
particular needs of the teams drafting between the 10 and 20 spots in the first
round, and those teams are subject to change because of the probability of a
large number of trades. The plot
thickens when you consider that the experts see Ridnour ranking anywhere from
third among all eligible point guards (behind T.J. Ford and Kirk Hinrich) to
fifth (behind Reece Gaines and Marcus Banks as well).
I would look for
to take Rid at #11. If the
Warriors pass on him and take Ebi (which I would be tempted to do), Luke might
drop a few spots, but predictions of his falling into the twenties seem
Luke Walton, 6-8 forward,
What the analysts are saying:
Although I've seen only one draft projection (by Mike Kahn of CBSSportsline.com)
that has Walton being picked in the first round, the 6-8 combo forward is moving
up most of the pundits' lists. The
consensus now is that he's a mid-second round pick.
Scouts love his instincts, basketball IQ and passing ability, but his
lack of perimeter skills, quickness and athleticism are obvious liabilities.
My take: Somebody will select Walton
no later than the middle of the second round, but I think that team will wind up
being disappointed. Walton was able
to get the most out of his abilities at
, where Lute Olson frequently ran his offense through Walton, who was an
exceptional passer from the high post and had an uncanny knack for creating
mid-range shots with a variety of spin moves and step-back jumpers.
But at 6-8 and with below average quickness and athleticism, Walton will
have a very difficult time operating around the foul line in the NBA.
He will need to dramatically improve his outside shot to be a meaningful
contributor, because he will not be given the opportunity to have the offense
run through him as a second stringer.
Jason Kapono, 6-8 small forward, UCLA
What the analysts are saying:
Kapono's stock is rising with many scouts, to the point where he's a consensus
mid-second round pick. Analysts
love his outside shot and court sense. Some
see him being picked earlier than Walton. The
knock against Kapono is his defense and lack of athleticism.
My take: In a draft loaded with
European players, Kapono is an anomaly. He's
a four year college player from the
, but his game has a Euro feel to it. Responding
to a question about why he's not expected to be picked higher than the middle of
the second round, Kapono joked that he'd be drafted much higher if his name were
Kaponovich. I like Jason's chances
of contributing at the next level much better than I like Walton's chances, and
would not be surprised to see the former chosen ahead of the latter.
When looking at probable backups, NBA scouts love guys who can fill a
role and do something particularly well. Players
who are either great shooters or defenders are always in demand.
Kapono obviously fits the bill as a great shooter from deep, and he could
make it in the NBA on his shooting ability alone.
Nevertheless, I think his passing ability is underrated (UCLA teams under
Lavin could make any player's passing ability look worse than it really is), and
his court sense is excellent. Assuming
Kapono is taken in the middle of the second round, he should make the team that
drafts him happy next year.
Tommy Smith, 6-10 forward,
What the analysts are saying: Smith
has gotten very little publicity, but he's seen as a probable second round pick.
The scouts and analysts love his versatility, length and athleticism.
On the other hand, Smith is not seen as doing any one thing exceptionally
well, and his career at ASU wasn't necessarily all it could have been.
My take: Smith may be worthy of a
late second round selection. I
question whether he's worthy of being taken early in the second round, as NBADraft.net
(which is not among the most respected sources) predicts, but a team enamored of
his length and athleticism may jump on him.
Smith has a shot at making an NBA roster, but I would be surprised if he
sticks around for more than a few years. Guys
who have length and versatility -- but don't do any one thing particularly well
-- are a dime a dozen in the NBA.
Julius Barnes, 6-1 guard, Stanford
Read the April issue of The Bootleg Magazine
and recent stories on the website (click
here) for in-depth looks at Barnes' draft prospects.
In short, Barnes may sneak into the second round on the strength of
individual workouts with NBA teams. On
the other hand, teams that are legitimately interested in him may opt not to
draft him, thinking that he'll be available later as an undrafted free agent.
Players making late moves:
Up: Marcus Banks, point guard,
UNLV. Scouts love his size,
athleticism and defensive ability, and he may be chosen ahead of Ridnour, an
outcome that was unthinkable just a month or two ago.
Banks may be chosen as high as the 15th pick of the first
round, awfully early for a player whose true point guard skills are generally
Down: T.J. Ford, point guard,
. He'll still be taken among the
first 10 selections, but he's no longer considered a lock for top-5 status.
Quite a few analysts see
' Kirk Hinrich being taken ahead of Ford, as Hinrich is, in some respects,
considered a safer bet. Ford's lack
of size and outside shooting ability are apparently causing some clubs to think
he's not a sure thing, even though everyone loves his quickness, basketball IQ
and the way he handles and distributes the ball.
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