Years ago, the NBA Draft was filled with talented players who had starred for three or four years in college who were expected to come right in and help their NBA team get to the next level. Today, the draft is filled with talented but young players who everyone from general managers to fans have come to realize are going to take two to three years or more to become impact players in the NBA.
No. 1 pick Kwame Brown poses with his mother Joyce and his new Wizards jersey. Mitchell Layton/NBAE Photos
NBA Draft 2001 was an anomaly in that several talented big players were available that happened to be high school seniors. In the NBA, size has always been prized most highly, and that irrefutable fact led Kwame Brown
, Tyson Chandler
, Eddy Curry
and Sagana Diop
to enter the draft right out of high school.
Contrary to some beliefs, this development is unlikely to cause a mass exodus of high school players to the professional ranks. There have been very few years when any draft delivered such a bonanza of talented big players worthy of high draft picks, whether they were high school or college players.
The paradox of NBA Draft 2001 was that the struggling teams which most needed immediate impact help did not get it, instead opting to take the high school big men with enormous potential. The better teams, drafting in the middle or later part of the first round, actually were in better position to select players who might be expected to move into a team's eight or nine man rotation in the 2001-02 season. Thus, the strong get a bit stronger while the weak stay weak in the short run while hoping for big returns later on.
It's not hard to identify players picked in the latter part of the first round who should compete for significant playing time in their first season. Michael Bradley
, a four-year college player who transferred from Kentucky to Villanova and applied for early entry with a fifth year still at his disposal, is a fundamentally sound big man who could play a big role for Toronto if free agent Antonio Davis
Even in the second round, players like Terence Morris
(#34, Atlanta, traded to Houston), Brian Scalabrine
(#35, New Jersey), Jeff Trepagnier
(#36, Cleveland) and Sean Lampley
(#45, Chicago) will all have a chance to not only make their respective teams, but also play some legitimate minutes as NBA rookies.