By: Brian Gleason
With the 2003 NBA Draft in the books it's time to shift our focus to the 2003 Reebok Pro Summer League. But we don't want to completely leave the draft in our rear view mirror because some of the top picks could possibly be lacing them up at Umass Boston this summer. Five of the participating teams had lottery picks, while three others made first round picks as well.
We all know that Cleveland selected high school phenom LeBron James with the first overall selection but other lottery picks from Reebok Pro Summer League teams include T.J. Ford (Milwaukee), Mike Sweetney (New York), Jarvis Hayes (Washington) and Marcus Banks (Boston). Rounding out the first round are Boris Diaw-Riffiod (Atlanta), Zoran Planinic (New Jersey), Kendrick Perkins (Boston) and Josh Howard (Dallas).
If all of these players participate in the Reebok Pro Summer League, there should be some interesting matchups. LeBron alone would be a sight to see, but who wouldn't want to see Banks and Ford go head-to-head in the NBA for the first time? Can Mike Sweetney score on the inside with the young and much bigger Kendrick Perkins clogging the middle for the Celtics? And will Jarvis Hayes be able to get his deep jumper off with the athletic and long Josh Howard defending him.
While there is no guarantee that all of these prospects will be in Boston for the Reebok Pro Summer League, there is a good chance that you will be able to see most of them in their first NBA action. So take a minute to learn about the top young players in the league and how they fit in with their new teams.
LeBron James, St. Vincent-St. Mary HS
Tale of the Tape: G/F, 6-8, 240
Skinny: Some people are already reserving LeBron a spot at Springfield in the Hall of Fame. He should make an immediate impact for the Cavs and he might even play the point. He has the athletic ability and passion to be one of the greatest players of all-time and should fit in nicely with the Cavs group of young players. It has been said that LeBron has an amazing feel for the game and great court presence. If he is in Boston for the 2003 Reebok Pro Summer League you will not want to miss LeBron.
T.J. Ford, Texas
Tale of the Tape: PG, 5-10, 165
Skinny: T.J. was the 8th overall selection by the Milwaukee Bucks and with the trading of Sam Cassell, he figures to get plenty of playing time his rookie season. Ford is one of those players who can see things happening before other players see it. If he is in Boston in July look for some fancy crowd-pleasing passes going in every direction.
Mike Sweetney, Georgetown
Tale of the Tape: PF, 6-8, 260
Skinny: Sweetney was chosen 9th overall by the New York Knicks and is a bruising power forward with nice touch around the basket. With injuries plaguing Antonio McDyess, Sweetney should see plenty of action as a rookie and contribute right away. He uses his body very well in the post and gets to the foul line often. If he plays he should be one of the top inside players in the 2003 Reebok Pro Summer League.
Jarvis Hayes, Georgia
Tale of the Tape: G/F, 6-7, 220
Skinny: Hayes was selected 10th overall by the Washington Wizards and should give them some much needed perimeter shooting. The Wizards have plenty of players who can slash to the basket and create shots, but have been lacking a true long-range shooter. Hayes shot 42.5 percent from the three his senior season and should be able to contribute immediately.
Marcus Banks, UNLV
Tale of the Tape: PG, 6-2, 220
Skinny: Banks was selected 13th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies, then traded on draft night to the Boston Celtics. Banks was selected to run the show for the Celtics and should get plenty of opportunities to prove himself during summer league. Banks brings much needed speed and quickness to the Celtics backcourt and will be looking to push the tempo. He was Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain Wes Conference, while finishing 7th in the nation in steals.
Boris Diaw-Riffiod, France
Tale of the Tape: G/F, 6-8, 203
Skinny: Diaw Riffiod was selected 21st overall by the Atlanta Hawks. He has point guard skills in a 6-8 frame, which makes him a unique player. His size should allow the Hawks to retain shooting guard Jason Terry, who is undersized at the position. Diaw is a very athletic player and was touted as one of the best passers in the draft. He should get plenty of chances to contribute next season.
Zoran Planinic, Croatia
Tale of the Tape: PG, 6-7, 195
Skinny: Planinic was selected 22nd overall by the New Jersey Nets. His impact in his rookie season probably hinges on whether the Nets are able to sign Jason Kidd. Planinic is a high-energy player who makes few mistakes. If he plays in the summer league the Nets will most likely let him run the team and show what he has at the point guard position.
Kendrick Perkins, Clifton J. Ozen HS
Tale of the Tape: C, 6-10, 285
Skinny: Perkins was selected 27th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies and was traded on draft night to the Boston Celtics. Perkins is a huge inside presence that the Celtics will develop for their future. Perkins should get plenty of minutes in the summer league to work on his game. He was a dominating post player in high school, with great hands and a great touch around the basket. The Celtics will also look to Perkins to improve their rebounding.
Josh Howard, Wake Forest
Tale of the Tape: G/F, 6-6, 203
Skinny: Howard was selected 29th overall by the Dallas Mavericks. Howard is going to an experienced team to add depth at the guard position. He is a four-year college player, so he should be able to contribute as a rookie. Howard was the ACC Player of the Year and a First Team All-American by AP as a senior. He has long arms and is very athletic. He should help the Mavs as they continue to improve their defense.