Jarvis Hayes hasn't developed as well as the Wizards had hoped, and with Antawn Jamison a year away from becoming a free agent, Washington needs to think about adding another young forward to be developed along with Andray Blatche. Just about every team that has worked out Young believes in his potential to be an eventual starter.
The Nets know what they are doing when it comes to evaluating international talent and incorporating it into their team, having had success with Nenad Krstic and Bostjan Nachbar. The Nets won't mind if Splitter stays in Europe one more year before joining them for the 2008-09 season. The Brazilian big man is not flashy or explosive, but he is a fine athlete and dependable rebounder and defender who can score enough to keep defenses honest.
Although he is far from a finished product, Crittenton is one of the few bigger point-guard prospects available this year. He showed that he is a willing and able defender, a big plus in a player this young. His decision-making with the ball will have to improve.
The Lakers need more players who can make shots, and Smith fills that bill. He isn't the ferocious rebounder they really need, but he should develop into a threat to score on the baseline after you-know-who drives and dishes (provided you-know-who is still around, of course). Smith has excellent shooting mechanics and makes few mistakes, and his game is tailored to scoring while facing the basket.
Byars is one of the few players in this draft who appears to be ready to step in and compete right away, which Miami will need if it loses James Posey in free agency as expected. As a senior, Byars showed real leadership. He has the versatility to fit in with almost any team and could surprise some observers with his immediate production.
Fernandez is an aggressive slasher who has improved his perimeter shooting. He has also played in plenty of big games with Spain's world champion national team and as the leader of Joventut. The one concern has always been whether his slender body can take the pounding dished out to slashers like him in the NBA.
Almond was a great player on a team that had no national profile. He was third in the nation in scoring (26.4 ppg) and is a deadly three-point shooter (45.6 percent) who is also adept at getting to the line (8.9 attempts per game). Despite Almond's credentials, he has little name recognition among even ardent college basketball fans. Like Hersey Hawkins, people will know him soon.
Isiah Thomas has made comments about making a surprise pick again this year, just as he did in taking South Carolina's Renaldo Balkman at No. 20 last year (we had Balkman going 27th). That could mean Boston College's Sean Williams or DePaul's Wilson Chandler. But New York needs a zone-busting-type shooting guard, and Cook could be that in time, although he's not likely to break into the playing rotation right away. Whatever you do, don't shut off the TV on draft night before New York makes its pick.
Belinelli experienced a tough season. His jump shot was streaky and his team, usually among the strongest in Italy, failed to provide much support. Still, Belinelli has the size, physical ability and mental approach to eventually be a successful NBA shooting guard. Belinelli has indicated his willingness to join the NBA right away if drafted.
McRoberts wasn't versatile enough to be a savior at Duke as a sophomore, but he has the skill and size to come into the NBA and play a role, especially on a structured team such as the Jazz. McRoberts can handle the ball and pass it down low from the high post, something that should endear him to low-post beast Carlos Boozer.
The trade of Juwan Howard to Minnesota for point guard Mike James obviates the need for the Rockets to pick a point guard. With only restricted free agent Chuck Hayes in the picture at power forward, the Rockets may call on "Big Baby" to provide frontcourt depth. Davis is a highly skilled low-post player who would go higher if not for questions about his long-term conditioning.
Joe Dumars has made it clear that the Pistons intend to get more athletic next season, and an all-purpose forward like McGuire fits that description. He might not be a great shooter, but McGuire can rebound, pass, block shots, get garbage baskets inside and defend. With all the scorers on board in Motown, McGuire's skill package should be a good fit.
Free agent Jacque Vaughn may not return as Tony Parker's backup, and the Spurs aren't thrilled with Beno Udrih. Pruitt offers size as well as a good reputation for creating shots for teammates without accumulating many turnovers. His perimeter shooting dipped a bit as a junior, but he has a number of different ways to score when needed: pull-up jumpers, penetrations into the lane, shooting 80 percent from the foul line.
The Suns struck out by signing Marcus Banks to be Steve Nash's backup. Now they have a chance to develop this young understudy who impressed NBA observers at the Nike Hoop Summit and in subsequent team workouts by demonstrating poise under ball pressure and creating good shots for his teammates with a minimum of turnovers.
If the 76ers keep all three of their first-round picks, it's likely that at least one of them will be an international player who can remain in Europe and develop for another year or two before joining the team. Fesenko is an aggressive rebounder and a promising offensive center who can score facing the basket.
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