? Eddie Griffin
? Shane Battier
Question mark, question mark, question mark.
Forget the top 10 draft picks or even the top five selections. There are so many mysteries in NBA Draft 2001 that the experts can't even agree on who will go No. 1.
? Eddy Curry
? Rodney White
Question mark, question mark, question mark.
With everything up in the air this year, why would you seek the opinion of just a handful of NBA prognosticators when "The NBA Beat" has the entire country on the other end of its phone lines? After all, no one knows how to create a draft like a fan. Here's what the people have been talking about from coast to coast for the last few days.
Most of the NBA Beat's callers are really into Shane Battier. That might be a result of familiarity rather than talent. Hoop followers both casual and crazed have had the last four years to witness this forward's development, while only the hardwood junkies have had the time and the resources to focus their eyes on high schoolers like Brown, Curry and Chandler.
Nonetheless, a fan by the name of Ontario called from San Antonio to give Battier his support as the top overall selection. Billy from Albuquerque, N.M. adds that the Blue Devil would be a heavenly fit in a Wizard jersey, especially with Michael Jordan's imminent return. The only fans who thought Battier would fall out of the top five were wishful thinkers rooting for teams picking from Nos. 5 to 28. Bill from Louisville, Ken. is hoping that his beloved Houston Rockets could snag the 6-9 forward at No. 13. But just as the "n" in the word "thirteen" was leaving his lips, Bill was already realizing that the Rockets would have to trade all three of their first round picks to jump up to a higher slot to get the All-American.
Shane Battier is a fan favorite with "NBA Beat" listeners, but experts seem to be hesitant. AP Photo
As always, with admiration comes ridicule. Matt from Philadelphia was showing no brotherly love when he dialed in to slap Battier with the label of "one trick pony." You see, Matt is all about Seton Hall's 6-9 forward Eddie Griffin
. Tim from Memphis concurred, saying that Griffin's ball-handling ability outweighed Battier's experience.
With so many opinions swirling around the top pick, we gave the Wizards' front office a ring to try to get some inside info. Assistant General Manager Rod Higgins joined us on Thursday's NBA Beat fully prepared to reveal absolutely nothing. The truest words in the conversation came when I asked Higgins what his team's goals are for next year. Higgins' response: "I don't even think WE know what our expectations are for next season until we get all of the pieces in place." Translation: "Question marks, question marks, question marks."
NBA fans on the West Coast want to talk about just two things: How many titles the Lakers are going to win, and who the Clippers are going to welcome with the second overall pick. Since we've officially dissected every Laker from Shaq to Penberthy, let's focus on the Clippers' draft pick. Brian from Atascadero, Calif. waited on hold for one hour and seven minutes to show his love for "Baby Shaq," prep star Eddy Curry
. Although, Brian would gladly carpool to see Curry in a Clippers uniform, fans like Kevin in Chicago were speed-dialing in with their reminders that Curry is a Windy City product with a Bulls-eye practically tattooed on his 6-11 frame. Paulo phoned in from San Diego, Calif. to point out that the Clippers need the semi-local seven-footer Tyson Chandler and his shot blocking abilities.
Fans of teams picking in the lower half of the first round didn't even want to try to speculate as to which player would be available when their GM's are on the clock on Wednesday evening. Kevin from Charlotte, N.C. wants an agile big man with the Hornets' 16th pick. What about Elden Campbell
? "I said agile," replied Kevin. Scott came off the beach in Boca Raton, Fla. just long enough to give Sixers head coach Larry Brown this bit of advice concerning Philly's 26th overall selection. "Just pick the best player still available." Ahhhh, those people in Boca have a way of making everything sound so easy.
Of course, we never discriminate on the NBA Beat. That's why our phone lines are even open to those disagreeing experts.
Seton Hall's Eddie Griffin has the size and the skills, but does he have the love?. AP Photo
Chris Palmer from ESPN The Magazine
is digging Kwame Brown's size and speed. Palmer says that you'll have to wait three or four years to see Brown's full potential, but it would be well worth spending the No. 1 pick on the 6-11 center from Glynn Academy High School in Georgia.
NBA.com's Brad Greenberg went with the people's pick, backing Battier. Greenberg says he can't find a hazard light anywhere near the Naismith and Wooden award-winner, calling Battier the best leader to ever come out of college. Greenberg also tabs Kwame Brown at the most promising prep player turning pro this year.
Greg Doyel, a sportswriter from the Charlotte Observer
, predicts this top three:
1. Kwame Brown to the Wizards.
2. Tyson Chandler to the Clippers.
3. Shane Battier to the Hawks.
Before Doyel hung up, he gave a shout out to UNC-Charlotte 6-9 forward Rodney White
, who will officially be known as "the fastest climber in this year's draft" for the next several hours.
Senior editor of Sportsline.com, Dan Wetzel, predicts either Kwame Brown or Tyson Chandler will be the top pick. Wetzel described Chandler as the quickest seven-footer he has ever seen, yet he seemed to give the nod to Eddy Curry as the conversation drew to a close. "I would pick Curry over Chandler any day of the week," Wetzel finally concluded. He also warned that Eddie Griffin's lethargic attitude has dropped him down as far as fifth in the pecking order.
It's precisely THAT attitude that has Frank Isola of the New York Daily News
thinking that Griffin will land in D.C. with M.J. According to Isola, no one is questioning Griffin's athletic ability. So who better than Jordan to get the gifted Griffin to exalt, "I Love This Game!"?
The Washington Post
's Josh Barr chimed in on Monday with some trade rumblings. "The Wizards are going to wait until the last possible minute to see how much they can extract from somebody," revealed Barr.
Before we wrap this up, let's look back for a second. Two years ago, the Chicago Bulls kept the No. 1 pick in the 1999 NBA Draft a mystery until Commissioner David Stern strolled to the podium. The Bulls even gave Lamar Odom
an 11th hour workout before green-lighting Elton Brand
. Then, the Grizzlies used the second pick to select Steve Francis
, a guy who said he didn't want to play in Vancouver. The Grizzlies soon dealt "The Franchise" to the franchise in Houston. Charlotte gambled somewhat with its 3rd pick, rolling the dice that the ACL in Baron Davis
' left knee was back to 100 percent after he ripped it up a year earlier. Davis has some people sweating during his back-up role in his rookie year before he burst out this past season as one of the NBA's most explosive back-court players.
So as you can see, "Question Marks" are nothing new in the NBA draft. But after listening to the public and professional opinions on the NBA Beat for the last week, the 2001 version of the NBA draft could easily shatter the unpredictability meter. One thing is for certain, all of these "Question Marks" will have some fans throwing out words like *!#?$ and %$*?# come Wednesday night. No question about it.