On the short end
Lack of size may cause point guard Tinsley to slide in draft
Updated: Monday June 25, 2001 9:23 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Jamaal Tinsley was sitting in a diner in Los Angeles earlier this month when he was told that one of the NBA's own draft experts projected him to fall to the No. 20 pick overall.
Unhappy to hear that he could land a half-dozen picks below the lottery, Tinsley frowned and admitted it is not the best year to be one of the best players if your position isn't somewhere along the front line.
"I look at it like this: There are a lot of 7-footers and 6-11 guys, and big guys are always going to be picked first," Tinsley said. "Teams are going to take a chance."
That statement couldn't be any more true than it is this year, with 75 underclassmen -- including six high school seniors -- making themselves eligible for Wednesday night's NBA Draft.
The Washington Wizards hold the first pick and could become the first team to select a high-schooler as the overall No. 1.
Washington also could end up trading the pick to a team more eager to take a chance on a teenager such as Eddy Curry (18), Kwame Brown (19), Tyson Chandler (18) or Seton Hall freshman forward Eddie Griffin (19).
"The one thing you can never get enough of in this league is talent," incoming Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "Getting quality big men is critical if you're going to have success. When you've won 19 games, you've got a lot of holes. We've got to try to fill those, and we're going to do that by maximizing the No. 1 pick."
Tinsley, for one, wouldn't mind seeing the Wizards trade down.
After being involved in a small private workout with a few other prospects in front of Wizards president Michael Jordan, the Iowa State star walked away with the feeling that Jordan was somewhat enamored with him.
Tinsley's agent, Ray Brothers, had watched the workout and overheard Jordan's stunned response when Tinsley tried to block a shot by power forward Rodney White, who left Charlotte after his freshman season and is expected to be a top-10 pick.
"I like tough guards," Brothers quoted Jordan as saying.
Not too long ago, a tough player considered the best point guard in the draft wouldn't drop below the eighth or ninth pick.
Five years ago, guards Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen and Kerry Kittles all went in the top 10. A year later, point guards Chauncey Billups and Antonio Daniels went third and fourth, respectively. In 1999, Steve Francis and Baron Davis went second and third, respectively.
This year, only Jason Richardson of Michigan State, Tinsley, Joe Johnson of Arkansas and Joseph Forte of North Carolina are considered sure things to be chosen somewhere in the first round. Only Richardson is certain to be among the top 10.
Among small forwards, Duke's Shane Battier will undoubtedly be the first four-year college senior selected, but Seton Hall's Griffin could leapfrog him in the order of selection.
The top-rated centers include high schoolers Brown of Glynn Academy (Ga.) and DeSagana Diop of Oak Hill (Va.) Academy. The top power forward prospects include Chandler of Dominquez (Calif.) H.S. and Curry of Thornwood (Ill.) H.S.
"The depth in this year's draft will be at the power positions, center and power forward," said Marty Blake, NBA director of scouting. "The power forward position in particular is unusually strong, with the depth of good players at that position extending into the second round."
Following Washington in the draft order are the Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Vancouver Grizzlies, New Jersey Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons.
The Boston Celtics hold the 10th, 11th and 21st picks, while Houston also has three picks in the first round: Nos. 13, 18 and 23. Golden State has the fifth and 14th picks; Orlando holds the 15th and 22nd selections.
New York, Indiana, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Denver and Dallas do not have first-round picks, and the NBA-champion Los Angeles Lakers do not have any picks in the first or second rounds.
Among international players, 7-foot small forward Pau Gasol of F.C. Barcelona is a lock to be chosen in the first round.
Eventually, a team looking for a point guard will select Tinsley. But for the next day or two, he can only wonder if he'll drop as far as 20th -- and whether the person selecting him will be Jordan.
"Just seeing him looking at me, it made me go even harder," Tinsley said. "Him teaching me things like squaring up and how to come off screens, some day I'll tell my kids about it."