Marty Burns' first-round analysis
Posted: Thursday July 01, 1999 08:35 AM
Sports Illustrated's Marty Burns is covering the draft live from Washington D.C. and will analyze the first round pick by pick.
1. Chicago: Elton Brand. It's a safe pick for the Bulls because they need a power forward. But despite what Jerry Krause says, don't be surprised if Chicago makes a deal involving Brand.
2. Vancouver: Steve Francis. I think the Grizzlies were surprised by the Bulls' selection of Brand. They may have also picked Francis with a trade in mind. The other option is to play Francis at shooting guard alongside Mike Bibby in the backcourt, much like how the 76ers switched Allen Iverson to shooting guard this year.
3. Charlotte: Baron Davis. The Hornets wanted Francis, but had said they would take Davis if Francis wasn't there, even though Davis said he wouldn't play for Charlotte and skipped his workout there. It's a safe pick even if they can't ship Davis.
4. L.A. Clippers: Lamar Odom. Poor Clippers. Something happens to them every year. This time it was the player they truly wanted, Davis, not being there for them to take. That said, they took Odom, who is the best trade bait on the board and obviously can help the Clippers if they keep him.
5. Raptors: Jonathan Bender. This pick appears to be headed to Indiana, which would give the Pacers some much-needed athleticism. In return, the Raptors will get Antonio Davis, who is insurance in case Charles Oakley signs with the Lakers. I think it helps both teams. The Raptors get an established player and can still get a point guard at No. 12.
6. Timberwolves: Wally Szczerbiak. Great pick for the Timberwolves. They needed a shooter, and got probably the best shooter in college basketball. Kevin McHale loved him from the start. With Kevin Garnett and Szczerbiak up front, it should give them a lethal inside-outside combination.
7. Wizards: Richard Hamilton. Easy pick for the Wizards. Hamilton has good range and he can beat people off the dribble, which the Wizards sorely need. More importantly, at 6-foot-6, he's a swingman who can step into the starting lineup at small forward if the Wizards re-sign Mitch Richmond, or place at shooting guard if they lose Richmond to free agency.
8. Cavaliers: Andre Miller. This means the Cavs must be trying to move Brevin Knight, possibly for a veteran small forward who can provide some outside shooting, one of their biggest needs. Miller is a steady floor leader who can step in and play right away.
9. Suns: Shawn Marion. They really wanted Bender but settled for Marion as a second choice. Good choice for the Suns, though. He fills a need as a scoring small forward. It also could signal that the possible trade of Tom Gugliotta for Penny Hardaway might still go through. The Suns would have been tempted to take local product Jason Terry as a backup to Jason Kidd, but instead, they took Marion, who could replace Gugliotta.
10. Hawks: Jason Terry. Obviously they needed a point guard after the Mookie Blaylock trade. William Avery would have been the popular local product, but Terry was too high to pass up. It should give the Hawks more of an up-tempo, explosive style.
11. Cavaliers: Trajan Langdon. With Miller at the point and Knight on the way out, Langdon was probably a safe pick to help shore up their weakness at outside shooting. But he also could possibly figure into a trade. Cleveland is definitely thinking major move. Denver and Utah both wanted a shooting guard, and he's the best one on the board after Hamilton. Otherwise, he joins a crowded backcourt that includes Wesley Person and Derek Anderson.
12. Raptors: Aleksandar Radojevic. The Raptors seemed lukewarm about him early in the evaluation period but came around on him late. They needed a center, especially since the Hakeem Olajuwon deal fell through. With an expected front line of Vince Carter, Antonio Davis and Kevin Willis, he could have time to develop. Apparently Radojevic was too good to pass up even though they need a point guard, and I'm kind of lost on what they're going to do about point guard at this point.
13. Sonics: Corey Maggette. He's sort of a wild card but could develop into a dominant player. They liked Maggette from the start but didn't think he would still be around. The only drawback is it might take some time for him to develop, and the feeling is the Sonics need to win now to save coach Paul Westphal's and GM Wally Walker's jobs.
14. Timberwolves: William Avery. This pick is insurance in case the Timberwolves can't re-sign Terrell Brandon. Ideally, Minnesota would make a sign-and-trade for an established point guard such as Portland's Damon Stoudamire. Then they could bring Avery along slowly off the bench, or perhaps trade him to a team in need of a point guard such as the Raptors or Knicks.
15. Knicks: Frederic Weis. Cheer up, Knicks fans. The last time France sent you a gift, it was the Statue of Liberty. Of course, one can only hope Weis is more mobile. With Patrick Ewing in the twilight of his career, the Knicks had to go for the best center available. Weis is a bit of a project, but has a nice touch around the basket.
16. Bulls: Ron Artest. Obviously the Bulls need scoring help everywhere, and Artest is the kind of young, athletic forward who can give them offensive spark. Artest can play a little swingman, and he could also take over for Toni Kuckoc if the Bulls, as rumored, decide to trade Kukoc.
17. Hawks: Cal Bowdler. This is a strange pick. The Hawks really wanted Weis, but Bowdler was the next best available big man to back up Dikembe Mutombo. They may have been afraid Utah would grab him before their next pick at No. 20, but with Evan Eschemyer and Todd MacCulloch still on the board, you have to wonder what they were thinking.
18. Nuggets: James Posey. This is a case of best player available, by far. They really wanted a shooting guard, but Posey was too good to pass up, and they also could use help at small forward. Johnny Taylor did well there at the end of the year, but he's not the long-term answer. No one figured Posey would slip this far.
19. Jazz: Quincy Lewis. No surprise. The Jazz desperately needed an athletic scorer who could put the ball on the floor, and Lewis fits the bill. He's also insurance in case the Jazz can't re-sign free agents Shandon Anderson or Byron Russell. Keep in mind, Lewis' college coach, Clem Haskins, was a college teammate and close friend of Utah coach Jerry Sloan. The Jazz also need a center but apparently feel they can get that in one of their later first-round picks.
20. Hawks: Dion Glover. Not as much of a surprise as some might think. Although the Hawks appeared cool on him for much of the evaluation period, he's a better shooter than people think and simply the best shooting guard left on the board. If anybody needs some shooters, it's the Hawks. The downside: Glover is by no means a capable replacement for Steve Smith if the Hawks follow through on rumors to trade Smith.
21. Warriors: Jeff Foster. The Warriors obviously needed a big man. Erick Dampier is the only guy there for them. Foster is a hard-nosed, rebounding guy. What's really surprising, though, is that they would make this pick with higher-rated prospects like Eschemeyer and MacCulloch on the board. The Warriors gave no indications beforehand that they would take this guy.
22. Rockets: Kenny Thomas. Thomas was the best available player here. Charles Barkely most likely will be back, but Thomas gives them someone to fill in in the unlikely event Barkley leaves. The fact that they didn't go for a small forward may indicate that the rumored Scottie Pippen trade to the Lakers may not come to pass.
23. Lakers: Devean George. Again, this also would seem to indicate that Pippen might not be in the future, considering George is a Division III version of Pippen. He's a 6-foot-7, verstaile, athletic, long-armed player, a lot like Pippen. He's got an NBA body already, and he can shoot the three very well. Keep in mind Jerry West has a great history of finding players that came out of nowhere like George. He really emerged at the Portsmouth Camp.
24. Jazz: Andrei Kirilenko. He's only 18 years old, but he's played on Russia's top national team. The fact that he's played a lot at such a young team is an indicator that he's got a lot of talent. He's a prospect, and it will be tough to crack the Jazz frontcourt just yet. The question is how will he handle those practice elbows from Karl Malone?
25. Miami: Tim James. They needed a slasher and a scorer, and James is a safe, local pick. Good move, considering the Heat didn't sell out their playoff games! The Heat are interested in moving Jamal Mashburn, and this opens up that possibility. They may also be concerned about not being able to land Glen Rice from the Lakers.
26. Indiana: Vonteego Cummings. Could be headed to the Raptors as part of the Antonio Davis for Jonathan Bender trade. If not, he'll be a backup for Mark Jackson. Travis Best didn't play too well in the playoffs, perhaps he's the one headed for Toronto.
27. Atlanta: Jumaine Jones. Jones' stock slipped amidst concern that he can't put the ball on the floor and that his outside shooting is questionable. At the same time, the Hawks finally got what they need: an athletic, slashing player. Most importantly, the Hawks now have two local college products in Glover and Jones to help build on their measly fan base in time for the new Philips Arena.
28. Utah: Scott Padgett. Padgett is a pretty good shooter and good work ethic. He should fill in well in Jerry Sloan's system, and could be insurance if Byron Russell is traded or signs elsewhere. Otherwise, he'll have a tough time making the team. You've got to wonder, doesn't Adam Keefe play this same role?
29. San Antonio: Leon Smith.Since the champs don't have a need, it's worth taking a chance on someone who might not have an impact for three or four years. I think Marcus Camby maybe showed them in the Finals that maybe they could afford to be a little more athletic on the blocks. If Smith does develop quickly, just think, the Spurs could become the Triple Towers!