2002 NBA Preview

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Rashard Lewis
Seattle SuperSonics
Entering his fourth year in the league, Lewis is coming into his own. Allsport
Position: Small Forward
Height: 6'10"
Weight: 215 lbs.
College: None -- Alief Elsik H.S. (Texas)
NBA Exp.: 3
Stat to note
Lewis finished ninth in the NBA in 3-point field-goal percentage (.432).

Scouting report

Depending on whom you ask -- like NBA fans in Houston -- in a perfect world, Rashard Lewis would be starring with the Rockets. But fans in Seattle would probably say things are perfect right now with Lewis playing with the Sonics.

Following a stellar career at Alief Elsik High School in Texas, Lewis was passed over in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft, despite a promise by the Rockets to select him with one of their three first-round picks.

Instead, Lewis fell into the second round, where Seattle gobbled him up with the 32nd overall pick.

After suffering through an injury-riddled rookie season, and a dues-paying second season, Lewis had his breakthrough last year.

Given the chance to start by Paul Westphal, the 22-year-old showed tremendous athleticism and a superb outside shot that kept him in the starting five.

Lewis was second on the team in scoring (14.8 ppg), minutes (34.9), rebounding (6.9 rpg) and 3-point shooting percentage (43.2) and was among the team leaders in field-goal percentage (48.0).

His all-around play inspired comparisons to Orlandošs Tracy McGrady and impressed current Sonics head coach Nate McMillan so much that he named Lewis co-captain with Gary Payton heading into this season, replacing Vin Baker.

As Lewis grows into his 6-foot-10 frame, his upside is directly linked to the future of the up-and-coming Sonics, who currently have 10 players on their roster with three years of NBA experience or less.

In Houston, meanwhile, Rockets brass has to believe that Hakeem Olajuwon Isn't the only big one that got away.

-- Jon Cooper, Special to CNNSI.com


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