This year's NBA draft features plenty of uncertainty. I see only three prospects becoming instant-impact players: Duke guard Jay Williams (likely headed to Chicago); Kansas forward Drew Gooden; and Connecticut forward Caron Butler. I believe all three will be major contributors right away in the NBA.
With Wednesday night's draft almost upon us, I'm taking a shot at predicting how it will play out. In the wake of the New Orleans Hornets-Washington Wizards trade, I've made one change to my mock draft. The Wizards dealt Courtney Alexander to the Hornets for the 17th pick in the first round. Since the NBA has invited Stanford guard Casey Jacobsen to the draft event, we can figure that he'll go in the first round -- and now I'm predicting the Wizards will take him at No. 17. Previously, I had the Hornets taking Fresno State forward Chris Jefferies at that spot.
|Kansas forward Drew Gooden should make an instant impact in the NBA.|
In many ways, mock drafts are a guessing game, but I've based my projection on discussions with various experts and my own gut feeling. Every year, it gets wackier and wackier trying to project which players will be picked. A number of outstanding collegians who enjoyed tremendous success won't go in round one. Guys like Sam Clancy, Luke Recker and Reggie Evans probably won't get those guaranteed first-round dollars despite illustrious college resumés.
I feel that at least five international players will go in round one. Look at what's happened in the NBA in recent years -- you hear names like Dirk Nowitzki, Predrag Stojakovic and Pau Gasol. NBA teams realize that international competition is tougher now and see the success other international stars have had in the league. But when they come from overseas, these players have to adjust to living in a different culture.
This year's draft is different than last year's, because there won't be three high school players in the top five (Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler). I see one high school player going in round one: Amare Stoudemire. I also have one juco player, Qyntel Woods, projected in round one. He has lots of talent but he must learn how to play.
Of course, there might be more trades influencing the first round. Will the Clippers keep both of their first-round picks? Might Memphis consider dealing up to get Mike Dunleavy Jr.? And one last word to the people in Houston: Shock 'em, pick Jay Williams instead of Yao Ming! But that's just not going to happen...
DICKIE V's MOCK DRAFT
1. Houston Rockets -- Yao Ming
2. Chicago Bulls -- Jay Williams
3. Golden State Warriors -- Mike Dunleavy Jr.
4. Memphis Grizzlies -- Drew Gooden
5. Denver Nuggets -- Nikoloz Tskitishvili
6. Cleveland Cavaliers -- Caron Butler
7. New York Knicks -- Chris Wilcox
8. Los Angeles Clippers -- Curtis Borchardt
9. Phoenix Suns -- Jared Jeffries
10. Miami Heat -- Dajuan Wagner
11. Washington Wizards -- Melvin Ely
12. Los Angeles Clippers -- Maybyner "Nene" Hilario
13. Milwaukee Bucks -- Amare Stoudemire
14. Indiana Pacers -- Kareem Rush
15. Houston Rockets -- Bostjan Nachbar
16. Philadelphia 76ers -- Qyntel Woods
17. Washington Wizards -- Casey Jacobsen
18. Orlando Magic -- Marcus Haislip
19. Utah Jazz -- Jiri Welsch
20. Toronto Raptors -- Dan Dickau
21. Portland Trail Blazers-- Frederick Jones
22. Phoenix Suns -- John Salmons
23. Detroit Pistons -- Frank Williams
24. New Jersey Nets -- Juan Dixon
25. Denver Nuggets -- Tayshaun Prince
26. San Antonio Spurs -- Jason Jennings
27. Los Angeles Lakers -- Carlos Boozer
28. Sacramento Kings -- Dan Gadzuric