The teams follow one of two selection theories when making their choices -- drafting according to need or drafting the best available player regardless of position. We're here to help with the first option through a weekly series of position comparisons, ranked and evaluated by NBA.com's Draft analyst, Brad Greenberg.
Greenberg brings 22 years of successful NBA and NCAA management and coaching experience to NBA.com as our player personnel expert. His roles included eight years in the personnel department of the Portland Trail Blazers and a stint as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. It was during Greenberg's tenure that the Sixers drafted league MVP Allen Iverson.
NBA Draft 2001 takes a departure from drafts of recent history, having an abundance of big men and fewer guards who are ready to make an immediate impact in the league. The youth of this Draft is also a factor and keep in mind that most of these players will need a couple years to mature before their potential contributions can start to be realized.
Following are the top 10 guards available in NBA Draft 2001:
College: Michigan State
Richardson is a world-class athlete who physically held his own in workouts against the Olympians last summer when they were preparing for the Sydney Games. He worked extremely hard over the summer on his jump shot and showed a lot of improvement this past season.
He is now a solid outside shooter with college three-point range. During the season he was a safe ball handler, but not very creative off the dribble. He will have to improve his floor game to develop into a legitimate NBA scorer.
He has the size to match up against big guards, is a disciplined defender and has a strong work ethic. He is a legitimate lottery prospect and currently the No. 1 big guard available in the draft.
College: North Carolina
Forte is a talented big guard who has shown a knack for creating his own shot and the ability to get the ball to the basket.
He was the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year two seasons ago, helping to lead North Carolina to the Final Four while averaging 16.7 points and over five rebounds a game. This past season, he scored 21.6 points, while pulling down six rebounds, dishing off close to four assists a game and collecting more than two steals a game.
He was as productive a college big guard as there was in the country and finished third in voting for the Wooden Award behind only Shane Battier and Jason Williams of Duke.
Jefferson is a great athlete with a pro body and big-time spring. He is a natural small forward who has the potential to convert to big guard because he has shown the necessary lateral quickness to match up with talented guards.
He is a decent outside shooter who will need to improve his range and consistency. Ball-handling is another area where he will have to make major improvements in. Last season Jefferson had a 94 / 104 assist-to-turnover ratio and that will have to improve as he evolves as a pro. He could also benefit from being a more active defender, having only 27 steals in 35 games last season.
Johnson is an impressive young talent with skills. He is smooth and capable of making plays with the ball off the dribble. He is also a solid shooter with decent range.
An All-Southeastern Conference performer, he is natural small forward with big guard skills and the potential to become a very good pro. He needs to become more competitive and assertive to take better advantage of his physical attributes and his skill with the ball.
Last year, Johnson averaged 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for Nolan Richardson's Arkansas Razorbacks.
College: Iowa State
Tinsley has a "city game" style honed on the urban playgrounds of New York City where "instinct and feel" separate players. He did not play high school ball and surfaced at Iowa State after a junior college stint at San Jacinto CC in California.
He has drive and dish ability, defensive instincts, quick hands and is deceptively strong. He is also a strong rebounding point guard. This past season he had a 187 / 117 assist-to-turnover ratio, while averaging six assists a game and 2.5 steals a contest.
Tinsley needs to become a more consistent shooter and develop NBA three-point range. He is a first round point guard prospect with good point guard size, a solid understanding of the game, is a proven distributor and a serious defender.
College: Austin Peay
Hassell is a big guard who can handle the ball, was a strong college scorer and has the potential to be a solid rebounder from the big guard position. He has good court vision and the ability to make plays not only for himself, but also for his teammates.
He averaged four assists a game this past season while shooting solid percentages from the field, the free throw line and from beyond the college three-point arc.
Hassell will need to learn how to be effective playing against NBA caliber athletes his size that possess major league quickness.
Sasser is a versatile guard with size, a strong work ethic and an advanced floor game. He has playmaking skills, a feel for the game and the ability to match up with tall guards. His mature floor game will enable him to pair with a small scorer ("The Iverson Effect").
He needs to become a more consistent outside shooter to become a significant pro and how teams view his shooting potential will determine his spot in the draft.
Individual workouts will be very important for Sasser. He is deceptively quick and was one of the few college players in the country capable of recording a triple double.
Bogans is well built and well schooled, having played for Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wooten at famed DeMatha HS and under Tubby Smith at Kentucky.
He is a mature player for someone so young and has enough speed, quickness and strength to match up with NBA big guards. He can make a spot up three and he can penetrate. He is a scorer who can get into the lane and he also has the ability to come to a stop in the paint, locate a shooter spotting up and kick it out. However, he still needs to work on his floor game to become a more polished playmaker.
Bogans has the body and lateral quickness to to defend big guards. He has the potential to develop into a solid pro.
College: St. John's
Cook finished second in the nation in assists last season, dishing out 8.7 per game. While he has a nice feel for the game and true penetrating ability, he must prove he can make perimeter shots to keep defenses honest. He shot only 36 percent from the field and just 31 percent from beyond the arc last season.
He appears to have range but is not a good enough shooter right now to play on a consistent basis for a winning team. He has a solid body and is deceptively strong. Cook has intriguing "upside" but needs to gain experience and he will be facing proven guards trying to learn a very difficult position at a very young age.
Teaming up with two probable first-round draft picks (Loren Woods and Richard Jefferson), Arenas scored over 16 points a game and led Arizona in steals and three-point field goal percentage.
The Midwest Regional MVP and one of only two players in the Pac-10 to win Player of the Week honors twice last season, Arenas is a well built big guard prospect with good speed, quickness and spring. He seems to play his best in big games and was Arizona's leading scorer during NCAA tournament competition last season, averaging 16 points a game as the Wildcats advanced all the way to the 2001 NCAA championship game.
He is an improving shooter with NBA three-point potential. Arenas is a versatile player who has the ability to contribute as a scorer, playmaker and defender.
(All photos courtesy of the Associated Press