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NBA draft: Carmelo could make Pistons pay


It was so beautiful to see the tears of joy from Carmelo Anthony's mom after he was selected by the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night as the No. 3 pick in the 2003 NBA draft.

Besides his talent and high basketball IQ, Carmelo has such special charisma and such a great smile. He really loves playing the game.

Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony will bring his charisma and love for the game to Denver.
Carmelo can beat you in so many ways with his inside-outside game. Denver finished last in the league in scoring this past season (84.2 ppg), and Carmelo will bring the Nuggets some serious offensive firepower.

So many people in this draft have talked about upside. For instance, Serbian teenager Darko Milicic (drafted No. 2 by the Detroit Pistons) is said to have tremendous potential and upside.

But let me tell you something -- Carmelo is ready to contribute, baby! He averaged 36 minutes a game as a freshman at Syracuse. He played in pressure situations and consistently performed at the highest level, leading the Orangemen to the school's first national championship.

Many NBA rookies need on-the-job training to get ready to play at the pro level. Carmelo, though, had his on-the-job training in college -- and he was sensational.

I have a feeling that Detroit might regret not picking Carmelo Anthony at No. 2.

But I don't believe the Cleveland Cavaliers will regret picking high-school phenom LeBron James -- not at all, baby! LeBron already has an NBA physique (6-8, 240) as well as charisma and great court vision. He's an unbelievable passer -- he not only scores but also creates opportunities for his teammates.

LeBron is the best passer for a player of his size that I've seen since Earvin "Magic" Johnson. And, without a doubt, he's the most talented high school player I've ever seen. While Carmelo is a great passer, LeBron's exceptional court vision is what separates him from Carmelo.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: People have asked me, how long will it take for LeBron to make an impact in the NBA? I have a simple answer: By the end of the first quarter of his first NBA game, fans will realize that he's the real deal.

Each of the 2003 Final Four teams saw their star players go in the lottery -- led by Carmelo Anthony, who carried Syracuse to the national title. Five lottery picks were from Final Four squads (and four of the draft's first eight picks):

Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse -- Denver Nuggets (No. 3)
Dwyane Wade, Marquette -- Miami Heat (No. 5)
Kirk Hinrich, Kansas -- Chicago Bulls (No. 7)
T.J. Ford, Texas -- Milwaukee Bucks (No. 8)
Nick Collison, Kansas -- Seattle SuperSonics (No. 12)

Some team's draft picks made perfect sense, but others made me wonder. Following are some in both categories...

Aside from the obvious good choices in the NBA draft (LeBron, Carmelo), here are some others:

T.J. Ford, Texas -- Milwaukee Bucks (No. 8)
He led Texas in points, assists, steals and free-throw percentage in 2002-03. He's a brilliant penetrator and passer.

Jarvis Hayes, Georgia -- Washington Wizards (No. 10)
Hayes wants the ball at the end of the game. I broadcasted a Georgia-Florida game this past season that Hayes won with a big shot at the end to upset the Gators. He uses screens well and has good size (6-7). He's a mature kid who is ready to work hard.

Nick Collison, Kansas -- Seattle SuperSonics (No. 12)
He's an absolute gamer and winner. He can score and he's a strong defender as well as a sensational rebounder. He was Mr. Double-Double at Kansas. Tim Duncan and David Robinson both spent four years in college, and they've helped the Spurs win two NBA championships. Collison and his teammate, Kirk Hinrich, are also winners. They're fundamentally sound -- and they never will give you a problem off the court.

Reece Gaines, Louisville -- Orlando Magic (No. 15)
He played both point guard and scoring guard in college. He has great vision, and he can shoot the 3-pointer. Gaines has good size (6-6) and you know he can defend, coming from coach Rick Pitino's full-court pressure system. Pitino is one of the great teachers of the game, and Gaines has learned well. He should provide solid support for Tracy McGrady.

Troy Bell, Boston College -- Memphis Grizzlies (No. 16, from Boston)
He's one of my sleepers in this draft, and he's a great choice for the Grizzlies. GM Jerry West knows what he's doing.

Dahntay Jones, Duke -- Memphis Grizzlies (No. 20, from Boston)
He needs to improve his shooting range, but he's athletic with excellent quickness. And he's a great defender. After being coached by Mike Krzyzewski, now Jones will have Hubie Brown in Memphis. He's getting the best coaching in the the world, baby!

Brian Cook, Illinois -- Los Angeles Lakers (No. 24) | Luke Walton, Lakers (No. 32)
This is a nice tandem for the Lakers, especially considering how late L.A. drafted.

Chris Bosh, Georgia Tech -- Toronto Raptors (No. 4)
The Raptors selected Bosh on potential. I think Toronto could have used T.J. Ford. Like Mike Dunleavy, Bosh will need time to develop, and both should be good NBA players. But the Raptors need immediate help -- and new head coach Kevin O'Neill only has a two-year contract, baby!

Michael Sweetney, Georgetown -- New York Knicks (No. 9)
Sweetney is a solid low-post player, but I believe the Knicks will regret not taking Nick Collison over Sweetney.

Luke Ridnour, Oregon -- Seattle SuperSonics (No. 14)
Ridnour can score and run the fast break, but I feel Reece Gaines would have been a much better fit here for the Sonics. Gaines and Collison would have been a great combination.

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