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Monday, June 11

Draft's main man remains a mystery
By Andy Katz

Banking on an overall No. 1 pick this draft is virtually impossible, even after the Chicago pre-draft camp.

Usually, the top pick becomes clearer after the first two weeks of June, but private workouts with the Wizards and any trade talk could determine which players fit the criteria of this year's top pick.

Washington could go in a number of different directions, and most of them include Seton Hall freshman Eddie Griffin, high school seniors Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry, or even Duke senior Shane Battier. Regardless, these four players will probably be the first four players taken in the draft in some order.

Rodney White
Rodney White is climbing up the draft board in a hurry. Right now, he'd be a nice fit for New Jersey at No. 7.

Individual workouts with teams have never been more important for last impressions. How well a player does in the next two weeks will determine almost the entire first round.

The two players who could affect the middle of the first round more than any others are Notre Dame's Troy Murphy and Villanova's Michael Bradley. Where the two likely first-round point guards go -- Iowa State's Jamaal Tinsley and St. John's Omar Cook -- could have a domino effect, as well. High school senior DeSagana Diop and North Carolina sophomore Joseph Forte seem to be sliding a bit, as does Arizona senior center Loren Woods. DePaul sophomore center Steven Hunter, F.C. Barcelona's Pau Gasol and Yugoslavian Vladimir Radmanovic are climbing considerably.

And there will be plenty of jockeying with agents trying to squeeze their clients into the first round. The most intriguing case will likely be with Alabama freshman Gerald Wallace. There is a movement to ensure he's in the first round, especially from his SFX agency, but no one in Chicago seemed to give word that a guarantee was consummated. If there isn't one then Wallace might have to wait until the second round.

High school senior Ousmane Cisse could go to the 76ers late in the first or more likely will slip into the second round, bringing more scrutiny to his decision to skip college.

The only certainty about the 2001 NBA draft is a record number of four high school seniors will go in the first round. Other than that, the rest of the first round is still difficult to determine.

Through conversations and observations at the Chicago pre-draft camp, here's's second mock draft. The third and final mock draft will occur on June 26, a day before the draft.

1. Washington -- Eddie Griffin, Fr., Seton Hall
This is still a tossup and could become Curry, Brown or even Battier. This pick is probably trade bait, regardless of Michael Jordan's decision on whether or not to return. But the likely pick as of early June is still Griffin. He's more of a sure thing and can provide some help as opposed to a player who is still a few seasons away.

2. L.A. Clippers -- Kwame Brown, Glynn Academy HS (Ga.)
Brown said his ballhandling for a big man makes him the most attractive. It's becoming clear he is the most ready of the high school seniors to make this leap, and the Clippers could add to their arsenal of young ready-made talent with Brown. The Clippers have had no problems with the younger players and aren't afraid to take another one.

3. Atlanta -- Shane Battier, Sr., Duke
The Hawks have reiterated that they want a player who can contribute right away, instead of one who is still a few seasons from helping. Head coach Lon Kruger would rather have the college player of the year, and if he wins out, then Battier doesn't drop below the Hawks. He would likely thrive in Atlanta, a team that needs a publicity boost.

4. Chicago -- Eddy Curry, Thornwood HS (Ill.)
He's the widest body in the draft and could potentially be the best center. But he's still a few seasons away. The Bulls need a big man, but could easily package Curry in a trade to a team that has time to develop him. If they keep the pick, then it makes sense to take the hometown player who would have a built-in support system. He could even still live at home.

5. Golden State -- Tyson Chandler, Dominguez HS (Calif.)
The Warriors need a point guard, center and small forward -- all right away. But Chandler's potential might be too good to pass up. Also, it doesn't hurt these high school players to be taken by a team close to home, where they can continue to have the support system in a familiar surrounding.

6. Vancouver -- Pau Gasol, 7-0, F.C. Barcelona
If Gasol knows he's going in the top six then he will stay in the draft. He's a poor-man's Dirk Nowitzki with his ballhandling and small forward skills with center's height. Gasol could be a major coup not only for the Grizzlies or Express (or whatever) if they keep him, but also for a potential package deal. Boston and Houston would be very interested in putting together a package to get him and the Grizzlies could be taking him at six for someone else.

7. New Jersey -- Rodney White, 6-9, Fr., Charlotte
He's the fastest climber in the draft and the Nets would be wise not to pass him up. White has power-forward height but has small-forward ball skills. The unknown status of Keith Van Horn makes White an intriguing pick. Once again, White is coveted and the Nets could package this deal if they're not satisfied with their present roster makeup

8. Cleveland -- Joe Johnson, So., Arkansas
The Cavs need a shooting guard and he's one of the top players on the list. Johnson has the ball skills to play on the wing and is a shooter and a slasher. His workouts will be critical to him continuing to climb, but the word on Johnson is he won't fall below No. 9 and is expected to shadow White in this draft, either going in front or right below him.

9. Detroit -- Jason Richardson, 6-6, So., Michigan State
This would be a minor surprise if Richardson slips below White and Johnson -- but it could happen. Richardson could go as high as six to the Grizzlies, but probably wouldn't slip below the Pistons. Grabbing another Spartan wouldn't be a problem for the Pistons and scoring/defensive guard Joe Dumars, now the kingpin with the Pistons, wouldn't mind picking up a backcourt talent like Richardson this late in the lottery.

10. Boston -- DeSagana Diop, 7-0, Oak Hill Academy
The Celtics need a center and Diop has the most potential of any who would likely be left at this stage. He's bigger than Loren Woods and Brendan Haywood but a lot more raw. Diop is a gamble but the Celtics might have to take one at this pick. They could package Diop in hope of landing Gasol or White in a trade that would move them up a few spots.

11. Boston (from Denver) -- Troy Murphy, 6-11, Jr., Notre Dame
Getting Murphy in this spot doesn't necessarily fill a need but it does give them a pick worthy of trading. The word on Murphy is his workouts have been making him too good to pass up at this position. Murphy probably wouldn't go higher, but it doesn't appear he's slipping out of the lottery.

12. Seattle -- Brendan Haywood, 7-0, Sr., North Carolina
The Sonics have to get a center in this draft. They won't pass up a big man at No. 12. Haywood's potential still intrigues the Sonics and plenty of teams later in the lottery. He's always shown flashes of being a dominant big man. The word is he has moved ahead of Loren Woods.

13. Houston -- Vladimir Radmanovic, 6-10, FMP Zeleznik (Yugoslavia)
Radmanovic was the hot name at the Chicago pre-draft camp even though he only participated in a private workout with Gerald Wallace and Jason Collins. The Rockets are intrigued with Radmanovic, although Houston is likely only going to keep one of its three first-round picks. Radmanovic is a versatile forward who has the moves to go one-on-one for a post-up jam, while also being able to shoot a 3-pointer.

14.Golden State (from Indiana) -- Jamaal Tinsley, 6-3, Sr., Iowa State
The Warriors need to get a point guard out of this draft and Tinsley is the best of the bunch. If he doesn't go to Boston at No. 11, then he should be available for the Warriors. Tinsley's leadership and ready-made talent makes him a safe pick for the Warriors, especially if they take Chandler with their first pick.

15. Orlando -- Loren Woods, 7-1, Sr., Arizona
The Magic first need is a center and Woods should be on the board when they pick at No. 15. If that's the case then he'll probably be the best big man available. Woods is a safe bet defensively and got better offensively throughout the Final Four. His back seems to be fine after playing a full season and leading the Wildcats to the Final Four.

16. Charlotte -- Richard Jefferson, 6-7, Jr., Arizona
The Wildcats could go back-to-back at this point in the draft. Jefferson gives the Hornets an athletic, defensive-oriented wing. He would fit in nicely alongside the high-flying Hornets, led by point Baron Davis. He's one of the best athletes in the draft, probably behind Richardson if not better than him.

17. Toronto -- Zach Randolph, 6-9, Fr., Michigan State
Randolph could go much higher in this draft if his workouts are sensational. But he's still a bit small for some of the teams that need a true center. He won't go ahead of the high school seniors. The Raptors would grab him in a second if he were available for them at 17.

18. Houston (from Orlando, Pho. and N.Y.) -- Michael Bradley, 6-10, Jr., Villanova
Bradley is a hard one to figure in this draft. He's got the scoring skills for a big man that teams covet, especially with the new zone rules. If he slips to No. 18, then the Rockets might have to keep him rather than package him in a trade. Houston is going to move one to two of these first-round picks, but Bradley could be too good to pass up for a team on the edge of the playoffs.

19. Portland -- Kedrick Brown, 6-7, Okaloosa-Walton CC (Fla.)
The word on Brown is that a promise was made to get him into the top 20. The consensus was with the Blazers. It makes sense because Portland needs athletic forwards and the LSU signee fits the criteria. Brown blew off Chicago because he didn't need to attend. He was assured he would be taken care of in the draft.

20. Cleveland (from Miami) -- Jason Collins, 7-0, So., Stanford
Collins was impressive in a private workout in Chicago. Enough with the knee, it's fine. He's a versatile center who has 3-point range and could be a major steal this deep in the draft. But the problem is the depth of big men in this year's draft. He'll probably be the seventh center drafted -- behind the four high school seniors, Haywood and Woods. The Cavs have had problems with centers, but Collins could play next to Chris Mihm (remember, he played next to his 7-foot twin brother Jarron at Stanford).

21. Boston (from Phoenix) -- Omar Cook, 6-1, Fr., St. John's
The Celtics will try and get a point guard out of this draft. If they don't take Tinsley at either No. 10 or 11, then they would likely try and get Cook at this point in the draft. Cook played well enough in Chicago to stay in the first round. He still doesn't shoot well, but he's strong enough and savvy enough to step in and contribute.

22. Orlando (from Dallas) -- Steven Hunter, 7-0, So., DePaul
Hunter climbed during the Chicago pre-draft camp and is a shot-blocker who could come in as a defensive specialist. Reading Hunter over the next two weeks will be tough, because he could go higher or slip to the top of the second round. He's also a potential trade pick depending on what the Magic do earlier in the draft.

23. Houston (from Milwaukee) -- Joseph Forte, 6-4, So., North Carolina
Forte could go higher, but in reality this might be the best spot for him. He's an undersized shooting guard for the NBA. But he finds a way to get into the lane and finish. If Houston is going to keep only one of the three picks then he could end up being trade bait.

24. Utah -- Jeff Trepagnier, 6-4, Sr., USC
The Jazz need athletes and getting Trepagnier would make perfect sense. If the Blazers don't pick him, then he probably won't slip past Utah. He was the MVP of the Desert Classic in Tempe, Ariz., showing that he's not just a runner and jumper. He can make shots and would help ease the transition for the Jazz as they try to get younger and quicker.

25. Sacramento -- Gilbert Arenas, 6-3, So., Arizona
He's too talented to fall much deeper in the draft. Arenas didn't wow anyone at the Chicago pre-draft camp and he's still an undersized shooting guard. But he can score and the Kings might need scorers depending on what happens with free agency. The main need is a power forward but they probably can't pass up Arenas if he's still on the board.

26. Philadelphia -- Brian Scalabrine, 6-9, Sr., USC
Scalabrine continued to impress at the Chicago pre-draft camp, playing with an aggression seen throughout the season for the Trojans. He's an inside-out scorer and doesn't appear to be a defensive liability. He plays hard and that's something that the Larry Brown camp covets.

27. Vancouver -- Kirk Haston, 6-10, Jr., Indiana
His inside-out shooting display in Chicago has put Haston in the late first round and if he's assured of at least this spot he'll stay in the draft. Haston would be a good get for the Grizzlies if they keep the pick. He's a scorer and a hard worker who is continuing to grow and mature as a basketball player.

28. San Antonio -- Trenton Hassell, 6-5, Sr., Austin Peay
Hassell wants to be assured that he's in the first round to stay in the draft. He said in Chicago that he's 50-50 about whether or not he should remain in the draft. The Spurs need athletic, scoring wings and would likely take him if he were still on the board.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at

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