Elton branded No. 1
Bulls select Duke's 6-8 forward first in NBA Draft
Posted: Sunday July 04, 1999 07:41 PM
Elton Brand (right) became the first player from Duke ever selected first overall.
WASHINGTON (CNN/SI) -- As much of a cat and mouse exercise as the top draft pick turned out to be, it could have been as much an episode of Tom and Jerry as the NBA and Jerry.
Maintaining his close-to-the vest approach, Bulls general manager Jerry Krause said little about the top choice. When the time finally came, it
wasn't Lamar Odom or Steve Francis tabbed to lead the Bulls' rebound.
Instead, Krause had his own idea of what brand to put on the Bulls.
Duke University's 6-8 Elton Brand helps the Bulls fill a gaping hole at the four-spot and -- according to Krause -- gives the team a much-needed infusion of toughness.
"We considered trade offers in several directions," Krause said. "What we didn't want to do is get in a situation where we lost Elton. He's got the makeup and physical ability to be a building block for this team."
The 20-year old Brand averaged 16 points and nearly 10 rebounds as a sophomore for Duke. Now, he'll be expected to play the game facing the basket, while at the same time putting the face of respectability back on the Bulls.
"I didn't know where I was going to fit in this draft. I did want to be the No. 1 pick," Brand said. "I feel I am the best player and I can improve a lot. I think I can be the cornerstone in their rebuilding."
Asked if he knew he would be the No. 1 overall pick, Brand said: "Not at all. I didn't have the slightest idea. I feel blessed."
"He's just an outstanding person," Krause said. "It was a very tough decision. We just came to a decision that we think Elton Brand is an outstanding player."
Clearly disappointed to fall to second and head to Canada was Steve Francis, the Maryland point guard selected by Vancouver.
| CNN/SI On-Site |
| NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer examines the NBA Draft's winners|
Baron Davis was considered to be the purest point guard in this draft and Charlotte needed a point guard. David Wesley is not considered as a point guard by their standards so surely Charlotte is a winner.|
Vancouver definitely is a winner by drafting Steve Francis. He's a mercurial guard and is arguably considered the best talent in the Draft. A lot of people are going to be knocking down their door to get a hold of this guy. You either have quality people coming to Vancouver in return or you keep him and he excels in the backcourt with Mike Bibby for years to come.
Francis has indicated he's not eager to play in the land of the maple leaf.
"Hopefully, when I wake up tomorrow, I'll be happy," said Francis, who has never been to Canada. "I feel relieved now more than happy."
If he gets over the "north of the border" blues, Francis and Grizzlies
guard Mike Bibby should team up to give Vancouver one of the most exciting backcourts in the league.
Paul Silas wasn't disappointed. The Charlotte coach says UCLA point guard Baron Davis -- selected third by the Hornets -- was "the player we wanted all along."
Davis, 20, left the Bruins after a sophomore season in which he averaged 15.9 points and 5.1 assists while still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered during the 1998 NCAA tournament.
Lamar Odom changed his mind about the draft, and apparently so did some teams about him.
Odom's indecision -- and his penchant for skipping workouts and meetings -- may have dropped him to fourth and into the lap of the L.A. Clippers, where he joins last year's top pick Michael Olawakandi in the frontcourt.
"Some decisions I made may not have been the best at that time," Odom said. "I'm 19 years old. I'm thankful I didn't make those mistakes when I'm 29 and it's too late."
From those who left school early to Jonathan Bender, the fifth overall choice, right out of high school.
Toronto, selecting fifth, took the rail-thin, 205-pound Bender of Picayune, Miss., who scored 31 points in the McDonald's All-American game, breaking Jordan's record by one.
The Raptors have already worked out a trade with Indiana that will send Bender to the Pacers in exchange for Davis. The trade will be formally announced Aug. 1, Davis' agent said.
Bender, 6-foot-10, was chosen higher than any high school entrant since Kevin Garnett, who went fifth overall to Minnesota in 1995.
Wally Szczerbiak went sixth to the Minnesota Timberwolves, becoming the first senior selected in this draft. In 1997 and 1998, seniors were the top picks overall. The Wolves acquired the sixth pick from New Jersey in the Stephon Marbury trade.
Szczerbiak, 22, a 6-7 small forward with NBA 3-point range and a strong all-around game, is one of three collegians who have been added to the U.S. national team that will compete in July for a qualifying berth in the 2000 Olympics.
The others are Brand and Richard Hamilton, a shooting guard from Connecticut who was chosen seventh by the Washington Wizards -- much to the delight of the hometown crowd.
Hamilton, 21, left Connecticut after a junior season in which he averaged 21.5 points and led the Huskies to the national title. He could move right into the starting lineup if the Wizards lose Mitch Richmond to free agency. Richmond is said to be pondering a return to his original NBA team, the Golden State Warriors.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, who coveted Szczerbiak, had to settle for Utah point guard Andre Miller, a member of the first-team All-America team. The 23-year-old, who also completed four years of college, averaged 15.8 points and 5.6 assists for the Utes last season.
Shawn Marion, a 6-7 forward from UNLV, went ninth overall to the Phoenix Suns, who acquired the pick from Dallas a year ago in the Steve Nash trade.
The Atlanta Hawks selected Arizona point guard Jason Terry with the 10th pick, quickly filling the vacancy left by the trade of Mookie Blaylock to Golden State on Tuesday.
Cleveland used its second first-round pick, 11th overall, to take Duke senior Trajan Langdon, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard originally from Anchorage, Alaska.
Langdon was the second member of the Blue Devils to be picked the first round, and Duke, which also lost William Avery and Corey Maggette, became the first school to have four first-rounders selected in the NBA draft.
The Raptors selected center Aleksandar Radojevic 12th overall, taking a chance on a 7-foot-3 giant from Montenegro who has been playing basketball for only a few years.
Maggette went 13th to Seattle and Avery was picked 14th by Minnesota.
Maggette was later traded to Orlando along with Dale Ellis, Billy Owens and Don MacLean for Horace Grant and two future No. 2 picks.
The New York Knicks picked 7-foot-2 Frenchman Frederic Weis with the 15th pick, bypassing homegrown guard Ron Artest of St. John's, who went 16th to the Bulls.
Atlanta chose Cal Bowdler of Old Dominion 17th, Denver took James Posey of Xavier with the 18th pick, Quincy Lewis of Minnesota went 19th to Utah, Dion Glover of Georgia Tech went 20th to Atlanta and Jeff Foster of Southwest Texas State went 21st to Golden State and then was traded to Indiana for the 26th pick, Vonteego Cummings of Pittsburgh.
Kenny Thomas of New Mexico went 22nd to Houston, Devean George of Division III Augsburg (Minn.) went 23rd to the Los Angeles Lakers, Andrei Kirilenko of CSKA Russia was picked 24th by Utah, and the Miami Heat selected homegrown forward Tim James of Miami with pick No. 25.
Jumaine Jones of Georgia went 27th to Atlanta and then was traded to Philadelphia for a future No. 1 pick, Scott Padgett of Kentucky was picked 28th by Utah and Leon Smith of Martin Luther King HS in Chicago was the final pick of the first round by the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. He was later traded to Dallas.
Evan Eschmeyer, a 6-11 center from Northwestern who was expected to go in the first round, lasted until No. 34 when he was taken by New Jersey.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.