Scouting a world of talent

Call it the Year of the Yao.

With the Rockets grabbing the first pick in the 2002 NBA draft, there's a strong chance that China's Yao Ming may become the first international player never
to have played in America to go No. 1 overall. And, he won't be the last.

NBA teams are already saying that between six and 12 first-round picks could come from straight from overseas this year. ESPN.com's Chad Ford talked to some of the top minds in the NBA to get an insider's look at the top international prospects in the draft.

NBA Comparison: Rik Smits
Projected Pick: No. 1
Teams interested: Rockets, Bulls, Knicks
Scout's Take: "We've seen him a number of times. I've seen him in person. I've got two scouts that have seen him play in China. We've seen him twice in the United States and our head coach, Rudy Tomjanovich, coached against him in the 2000 Olympics so he is very familiar to us. We think he's got a tremendous upside and that as he matures he will get much, much better. We think that his skills right now for his size are just phenomenal. It was real impressive to see a man of his size do a lot of the things he did in Chicago when I was up there watching him. You never know how somebody's going to grow. In the case of Hakeem Olajuwon, he grew very year and got better every year and eventually led us to a couple of championships. You would hope that with whoever got Yao Ming that the same thing would happen."
-- Carroll Dawson, Houston Rockets GM

NBA Comparison: Kevin Garnett
Projected Pick: No. 4-10
Teams interested: Grizzlies, Nuggets, Cavs, Suns, Heat, Bucks
Scout's Take: "He's a great athlete. He runs the floor easily, has great fundamentals and an excellent jumper. He definitely has NBA 3-point range. He has a lot of natural ability for kid his size. Even though he hasn't had a lot of playing experience, he's much more skill than any high school players I've seen who've made the jump directly to the NBA as far as shooting and handling the ball. You may have to wait a year or two to get a big contribution from him, but it may be worth it."
-- Ernie Grunfeld, Milwaukee Bucks GM


NBA Comparison: Ben Wallace
Projected Pick: No. 6-15
Teams interested: Cavs, Knicks, Clippers, Suns, Bucks, Rockets
Scout's Take: "He's very athletic. An explosive leaper with above average shot-blocking skills. He's a high energy guy who runs the floor extremely
well for someone his size. He has a decent tough around the basket, and seems to have good hands in the post. He needs to work on his jump shot out
to 15 feet. I think there will be a lot of interest in him based on his athleticism and the pace which he plays the game."
-- Ernie Grunfeld, Milwaukee Bucks GM

NBA Comparison: Vladimir Radmanovic
Projected Pick: No. 13-22
Teams interested: Bucks, Rockets, Sixers, Raptors, Jazz, Suns
Scout's Take: "I think he's got a good chance to have nice pro career over here. He's perimeter orientated with his skills. He has nice handles and mid-range shooting ability right now, which will only get better. His mechanics are good and eventually he'll be able to move out. His size is an advantage in everything he does. He has a nice inside outside game. Playing at the top level of competition bodes well for him. We found that with Tony Parker. Playing with older guys really helps. He's very attractive from the
-- Sam Schuler,
San Antonio Spurs VP of Basketball Operations

NBA Comparison: Brent Barry
Projected Pick: No. 14-25
Teams interested: Pacers, Jazz, Magic, Raptors, Hornets, Blazers, Nets
Scout's Take: "He's got very good size for a combo guard. He's got a real nice shot and a good feel for the game. He has a nice build, good
athleticism and good quickness for a guy his size. He isn't the most athletic guy out there, but he has enough to make a difference in the NBA. He's a great ball handler but he's going to have to show that he can play point guard on a consistent basis."
-- Ernie Grunfeld, Milwaukee Bucks GM

NBA Comparison: Kerry Kittles
Projected Pick: No. 21-28
Teams interested: Blazers, Nuggets
Scout's Take: "He just turned 20 in April. He's raw but he's got talent. He measured at 6-foot-7½ without shoes. He's got natural strength and
good lift. He's very team oriented and likes to pass the ball. He could be more aggressive offensively. He's a better than average shooter. A bit
streaky. He can hit the NBA three but he's more comfortable from 18 to 20 feet. Has big hands with great vertical lift. Good defender because of his
athleticism. He's a good kid. The fact that he's a teammate of Parker will help him adjust."
-- Dave Fredman, Denver Nuggets Assistant GM

NBA Comparison: Vlade Divac
Projected Pick: No. 21-28
Teams interested: Blazers, Suns, Pistons, Spurs, Kings
Scout's Take: "He's 7-1 and very intelligent. He's very mobile for a big man. He can run the floor. A true center who can play with his back to the basket. Has good hands. He can step away from the basket and shoot the mid-range jumper. He's got to get stronger, but he's got
a big upside. A lot of talent for someone so young."
-- Larry Harris,
Milwaukee Bucks Director of Player Personnel

NBA Comparison: Scott Pollard
Projected Pick: No. 21-40
Teams interested: Blazers, Spurs, Lakers, Kings
Scout's Take: "Another guy who's much better today then when I saw him. He's filled out physically and has a toughness. He can play two positions on the
four and five. He had the opportunity to play center this year and that's helped him. Clever around the basket, has great hands, but limited range on his
shot to 10-13 feet. He probably has the strength to play four in the pros. Not great athleticism, but compensates by his knowledge of the
game. May go late in the first round."
-- Sam Schuler,
San Antonio Spurs VP of Basketball Operations

NBA Comparison: Radoslav Nesterovic
Projected Pick: No. 21-28
Teams interested: Blazers, Suns, Pistons, Spurs, Kings
Scout's Take: "He's a better player than he showed in Chicago last year. He wasn't ready to play. He showed in Bologna (during European Final Four) he can be very effective. He's not very athletic, but really knows how to play basketball. Good hands, ball fakes gets his offensive game going without using athleticism. Decent
shot blocker and good rebounder. Not sure he's ready to play in the NBA, but he's a better player than some people realize. He's better than he showed in Chicago. Plays close to the floor, but has long arms. He slimmed down and it took away from his game and lost his effectiveness. Lost weight, didn't get any more quickness or athleticism. Seems to be putting the weight back on."
-- Sam Schuler,
San Antonio Spurs VP of Basketball Operations