Welcome to NBA.com's The Draft Blog, the first and last word on NBA Draft 2004. This is your space to see what we see at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. From Draft suits to Draft hats to Draft picks, we have it covered.
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Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 25 2004, 12:45 a.m. ET
Okafor, Howard and Livingston may be the only guys staying put.
(Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images)
Never has the action been so fast and furious at an NBA Draft. We had eight trades during the evening, some of which may lead to more trades in the near future. (Shaq and T-Mac on the move, anyone?)
Let's quickly look at the numbers from NBA Draft 2004.
-- Teams selected eight international players in the first round, one shy of the record set in 2003.
-- A total of 20 international players selected in the NBA Draft 2004, one shy of the record also set last year.
-- Eight high school players were selected in the first round, the most ever. Among some in the NBA, high school players are called "new coaches picks" because these guys will more than likely play for new coaches before they fully develop.
-- Only five college seniors were chosen in the first round. If there were records kept on fewest seniors in the first round, the record may have been set this year.
-- Three sets of teammates (Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon from UConn, Jameer Nelson and Delonte West of St. Joe's and Viktor Khryapa and Sergie Monia of CSKA Moscow) were selected in the first round.
-- Utah, Portland and Boston all picked up three first round picks tonight.
As for Dwight Howard being the third high school player to go No. 1 overall in the last four years, well, that wasn't much of a surprise. The Magic have started to rebuild and they hope Howard will be a cornerstone. The Magic did well in picking up Jameer Nelson in one of the night's eight trades.
As I mentioned earlier in the blog, Bernie Bickerstaff did a fine job of getting Okafor at No. 2. If you told Bickerstaff when he took the Bobcats jobs that he could land the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player in his first draft, he may have laughed at you. And he may be laughing now. Okafor's an excellent pick.
As for the rest of the first round, who can tell? I know some guys will give grades tomorrow, but it will be tough to accurately judge this draft immediately. Just a couple of quick thoughts, though. Dallas did well in picking up Devin Harris and Pavel Podkolzine. Are they setting up a trade for Shaq? Your guess is as good as everyone else's. Boston picked up a scrappy backcourt with Delonte West and Tony Allen. Chicago loves Duke players. They selected two more tonight: Luol Deng (obtained in a trade) and Chris Duhon in the second round.
That being said, let the games begin. Teams can begin to court free agents on July 1. It could be an offseason to remember.
The Last Man Standing
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 11:45 p.m. ET
With the 59th pick, the Indiana Pacers select ... a guy who probably won't play for them.
But seriously, folks, the Pacers selected Rashad Wright from the University of Georgia.
And with that, Wright joins Andreas Glyniadakis (2003), Corsley Edwards (2002) and Bryan Bracey (2001) as the last men selected in the last three drafts.
We'll be back in a little bit to do a quick analysis of the NBA Draft 2004.
Close to Over
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 11:30 p.m. ET
We've five picks left on the night and only the truly faithful (and contractually obligated) remain.
And I gotta hand it to the folks with ESPN.com. They have everyone in their draft database, even guys not in the official NBA Draft media guide.
I wouldn't be surprised if they had my profile in there. (OK, I would be surprised, but a 33-year-old 12 years out of college can dream, can't he?)
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 11:15 p.m. ET
The remaining fans at the Theater are clearly bored. They've been riding Tom Tolbert all night and finally started a chant "We want Barkley." I don't think they want former St. John's guard Erick Barkley.
The only saving grace about the whole sordid episode was that Earth, Wind and Fire's "September" blasted from the Theater's speakers at the time.
Knicks of Time
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 10:59 p.m. ET
The Knicks are on the board at No. 43 and the remaining yahoos in the crowd have rejuvenated a year-old chant just for kicks.
"Here's the one you've been waiting for here at the Garden," Deputy Commissioner Granik said at the podium. "With the 43rd pick in the NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select Trevor Ariza from UCLA."
OK everyone, you can go home now.
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 10:50 p.m. ET
They're already on the 41st overall pick? Going way too fast in the second round.
Hair-Do You Do
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 10:48 p.m. ET
Childress has the 'Fro, while Varejao has the "D'oh!"
With the first pick of the second round, the Magic selected Anderson Varejao. With his Sideshow Bob mop of hair, he will definitely make the All-Rookie Hair team next season along with Atlanta's Josh Childress.
Stern to Granik
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 10:17 p.m. ET
With Indiana's selection at No. 29, Commissioner Stern exits and we enter the lightning round with the NBA's Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik, who received cheers second to only Jameer Nelson.
Wow, eight high school players were selected and only four college seniors. This ain't your father's NBA Draft.
Is the Price Right?
Posted by Eric Weinstein (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 10:15 p.m. ET
The Spurs just selected Beno Udrih at No. 28. He's the third player picked so far to come from out of the stands and shake Commissioner Stern's hand. It's like the Price is Right here. Come on down!
Kenny The Jet
Posted by Eric Weinstein (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 10:12 p.m. ET
Kenny Smith was in town, spending the night interviewing all the picks and getting a behind-the-scenes look at the draft for Nokia Sports. His interviews will be available on NBA.com and Nokia phones
Two More Picks
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 10:07 p.m. ET
We have only two more picks before we say goodnight to Commissioner Stern.
Two More Trades
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 10:00 p.m. ET
Looks like Pavel Podkolzine will be going to Dallas for a future No. 1 pick and the Blazers received Viktor Khryapa from the Nets, who selected him tonight at No. 22.
By the way, when the Blazers selected Sergei Monia at No. 23, the green room lost its last resident. We'll have no Maciej Lampe situation this year.
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 9:53 p.m. ET
At No. 25, the Celtics selected Oklahoma St. guard Tony Allen. Boston just got the second coming of Desmond Mason.
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 9:49 p.m. ET
When they're led to the TV interview areas, the draftees are taken through the crowd and get the first taste of NBA life. It seems that the fans can't keep their hands off of the draftees. Hand shakes and back slaps are the order of the day when the draftee makes his way through the crowd. On his way back, Emeka Okafor received more love from the fans.
Just after Commissioner Stern announced that the Orlando Magic sent a future No. 1 pick to Denver for the rights to Jameer Nelson, the Celtics selected Nelson's college teammate, Delonte West.
The Long and ...
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 9:33 p.m. ET
Commissioner Stern welcomes Pavel Podkolzine to the NBA.|
Jesse D. Garrabrant
I won't finish that title. The Utah Jazz just selected 7-5 Pavel Podkolzine. I can't wait for the picture of Podkolzine and the Commissioner crosses the wire. We'll get that picture for you. At least Podkolzine will have a teammate who can speak Russian with him in Andrei Kirilenko.
(Whoops, scratch the Russian teammates thing. Podkolzine was traded to the Mavs.)
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 9:30 p.m. ET
Jameer Nelson just received a standing ovation from the MSG Theater fans. Good for him. The St. Joe's fans in the crowd immediately started the "Ja-meer Nel-son!" chant.
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 9:23 p.m. ET
OK, so I was off about the Nelson to Miami at No. 19 prediction. The Heat selected Dorell Wright, another high school player. Vitale's gonna pop a major blood vessel.
Meanwhile, the lobbying for Nelson to be selected has reached a fever pitch. Now, Tom Tolbert has thrown his hat in the ring for Nelson, who is already NBA PR prepared. Like many NBA stars, Nelson has the art of holding his son, Jameer Jr. down pat.
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 9:08 p.m. ET
When ESPN is at commercial, every once in a while they'll run an NBA Brain Teaser: Word Scramble on the big screens at the Theater. The first one of the night was: Bernol Amsej.
I didn't see the answer. Can someone fill me in?
And in one of the coldest moments of the night, they flashed Jameer Nelson's face on the screen to Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me." That's too cold.
One publication said that the Heat would jump on Nelson at No. 19. New Orleans at No. 18, doesn't need a point guard. Let's see if that's right.
Vitale Goes Bonkers
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 9:04 p.m. ET
Well, more bonkers than usual. Dick Vitale has the Theater crowd on his side, too. With his "What the heck is going on with the selecting the high school players?" rant about half the crowd rose to its feet like it was a revival. I was just waiting for Stuart Scott to yell: "Can I get a witness?"
Telfair Goes to Portland
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 8:50 p.m. ET
Portland's selection of New York's hometown hero Sebastian Telfair at No. 13 had the Theater faithful on their feet.
Now with Telfair and Damon Stoudamire, the Trail Blazers have two small point guards.
Stephen A. Smith may now have the Theater crowd on his side. He loudly proclaimed that St. Joseph's point guard Jameer Nelson is a better player.
Cheers! Nelson's mug appeared on the big screen. More cheers. A big smile from Nelson. He'll be smiling more when he's selected.
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 8:43 p.m. ET
"I have a trade to announce..."
The Theatre at MSG erupted. Then hushed.
Commissioner Stern announced the Wizards-Mavs trade where Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and the rights to Devin Harris go to Dallas for Antawn Jamison.
Then Commissioner Stern announced the Sonics had selected Robert Swift. One of the Sonics fans in the group of NBA.commers shrugged his shoulders and said, "Who?"
Backstage at the NBA Draft
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 8:34 p.m. ET
I snuck backstage at the NBA Draft just after the Clippers selected Shaun Livingston at No. 4. (OK, I didn't sneak, I have a credential.)
Anyway, NBA Photos has a small area where the draftees stop to have their portraits taken. If you see Commissioner Stern at the podium, the photo area is over his right shoulder at about 10 o'clock. It was empty when I sauntered back there. It was also very chilly. All the air conditioning backstage seems to collect in that area.
Just in front of the photo area is a scaffolding where two guys scurried around when a pick was called. They manually change the NBA Draft board that's above the stage. The big screen right behind Commissioner Stern's podium is transparent. The team name you see scrolling across the front is in reverse on the back. That may only fascinate me, but I've never seen a screen like that before.
Also, the Commissioner's green room is backstage. I did not dare approach. I like my job.
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 8:25 p.m. ET
Stuart Scott has had some more anecdotal beauties. He's a walking Did You Know (DYK)?
DYK it takes Josh Childress 10 minutes to work up the 'fro before a game. DYK Rafael Araujo had $20 in his pocket when he arrived in America. DYK It takes me 10 minutes to walk to the bus I take to work with $20 in my pocket.
Bet you didn't.
Cheering the Wife
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 8:24 p.m. ET
Rafael Araujo's wife, Cheyenne, received more cheers than Dwight Howard when ESPN's Mark Jones interviewed her. Reminds me of two years ago when Casey Jacobsen's girlfriend got big screen time and some Knicks fans started the chant: "Trade for her! Trade for her!" Ah, good times. Good times.
UConn Do It
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 7:56 p.m. ET
Gordon and Okafor are now in the NBA.
The Bulls just selected UConn's Ben Gordon at No. 3, making it back-to-back UConn selections. Along with Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy who went two-three in 2002, the UConn duo is the second-highest duo ever drafted.
Chicago now has a lot of guards on its roster.
Gonna head backstage to see what's going on. Back bloggin' in a bit.
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 7:53 p.m. ET
Where does Stuart Scott get some of his anecdotes? His esoteric story about Okafor taking an exam in a class in which he was not enrolled was truly ... um ... interesting.
Howard's the One
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 7:41 p.m. ET
And the Orlando Magic select ... Dwight Howard
. Hug the family. Climb the stairs. Shake the Commish's hand. Grip. Grin. Welcome to the NBA, Mr. Howard.
He's the second consecutive high school player taken No. 1 overall and third in the last four NBA Drafts.
The reaction was decidedly mixed in the MSG Theater, but the boos were pretty throaty.
Howard's selection means two things (at least to me). One, the Magic now, more than likely have a deal done to ship McGrady out of Orlando. Two, Charlotte GM Bernie Bickerstaff has used his time wisely. He gets Emeka Okafor.
Touché, Mr. Bickerstaff. Touché.
The crowd went crazy when Okafor's name was announced.
Magic on the Clock
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 7:35 p.m. ET
The Commish has stepped to the podium and welcomed everyone. The Magic are on the clock.
OK, I know this isn't supposed to be a newsy blog, but the No. 1 pick is always an event, especially this year with the T-Mac "situation" hanging over the franchise.
Stephen A. Smith also has received the Layden treatment. It's a rowdy group tonight.
Bradley Rocks the House
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 7:30 p.m. ET
Shawn Bradley's here at the NBA Draft. The fans went nuts, showering him with love!
And Tom Tolbert has replaced former Knicks GM Scott Layden as the subject of the annual MSG Theater chant.
Say Big Cheese
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 7:15 p.m. ET
Around 6:30 p.m. ET, the soon-to-be NBA players
made their first collective public appearance of the night. They gathered to smile pretty for NBA Entertainment photographer Nathaniel S. Butler's camera. As Butler clicked away, the future millionaires posed with some of the NBA sponsors in attendance.
Finally, Commissioner David Stern appeared and Butler snapped the annual group picture that will soon appear on this site and in the back room where the big wigs hang out waiting for teams to call in their picks.
Moments after Butler finished, Commissioner Stern, who is the official basketball holder in those group photos, snapped a chest pass at Butler, who shocked by the pass' accuracy and speed, had the ball bounce off his chest.
Heh! Nice dish, Commish.
As far as the NBA Draft suits: Classic, subtle, stylish. Everyone of these players has seen the "clothes" Charles Barkley and Karl Malone wore on draft day. Their retinas still haven't recovered from Jalen Rose's bright red suit. Heck, even Tom Tolbert is in a subdued cream number.
So, when you see the suits, you'll see good ones. Or, here's a brief conversation the NBA.commers had next to the green room just after the photo session.
NBA.commer No. 1: "The suits are nice this year."
NBA.commer No. 2: "I like Ben Gordon's pink tie."
Me: "Emeka's tie is nice too. So's the suit."
NBA.commer No. 2: "Yeah, but I'm not much for the hanky thingy."
I for one, don't mind the pocket square.
Oh, back to the cryptic "I'll find out how teams make their pick" sentence in the last entry. If you've been watching NBA TV this week (and we know you have), you've seen the old drafts where the teams had representatives at tables. The team would call the representative, then the representative would hand over the name on a piece of paper and then Commissioner Stern would announce the name.
Some wondered, "Where did those team representatives go?"
They now stay home. The way they do it now is that all the teams are on a conference call and the pick is called in. Not too exciting, but it provides for a public green room (which is neither green nor is it a room) and the media.
The people are filing in. I'm going to make one last run to the floor. Blog in a bit.
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 5:15 p.m. ET
The quiet before the storm.
People have begun to arrive for the NBA Draft 2004 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). Media, mainly. The fans get to make their rush for seats at 6:30 p.m. It's always fun to see the fans run up the escalators and see the MSG ushers act like lifeguards, urging the fans not to run as if the escalators were a wet deck.
Anyway, they've been testing out the music for the draft. When a player approaches the podium, expect to hear OutKast's "The Way You Move." Other tunes we heard were Peter Gabriel's "Big Time" and inexplicably "Let's Get it On" by Marvin Gaye. All right.
Also, ESPN.com's Darren Rovell stopped by our spot on the balcony. He was a walking Foot Locker. He brandished Sebastian Telfair's new shoe which debuts in December. (It's pretty slick). He also had the new Jazz jersey. (It looks good.) I was sort of hoping he'd pull out a pair of running shoes. I need a new pair.
We're off for now. I'm going to try to find out how teams actually make their picks. Hopefully I can report back in a bit.
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 24 2004, 4:15 p.m. ET
Thanks to some pre-Draft craziness, Okafor and Howard still don't know where they'll go in the Draft.
Good afternoon! We're here at The Theater at Madison Square Garden and it's mostly empty. Just us drones getting ready for tonight's NBA Draft.
And with the NBA Draft 2004, you can only imagine. You can only imagine what's going through a potential draft pick's mind as he dresses in a sharp new suit. You can only imagine the conversations burning up phone lines between team offices today. You can only imagine how difficult it will be to say Viktor Khryapa's name.
(For the record, it's Veek-tor Ha-RAP-pa).
But these guys have it easy. They're not nearly as stressed as the next bunch. No, today, these guys have it the toughest road: Internet columnists.
(No, not me. I'm fine, thank you.)
I'm speaking of the mock drafters. The Fords. The Monters. The firm of Kahn, Mejia, Doyel. The websites that cherry pick my company's name.
Thanks to some significant pre-draft day deals (and one significant non-deal), a year's worth of work and the tens of thousands of miles traveled to see prospects have been thrown to the winds.
With the Mavs reportedly acquiring the No. 5 overall pick from Washington by sending Antwan Jamison to reunite with Gilbert Arenas (Golden State East?) and picking up Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner, who is now with his 70th NBA team, speculation has the Mavs making the biggest, boldest move to pick up Shaquille O'Neal.
-- Washington Post, Dallas Morning News (Registration required for both)
The constantly rebuilding Bulls reportedly picked up the No. 7 overall pick from the Suns, giving Chicago the Nos. 3 and 7 selections.
Of course, quite possibly the whole draft hinges on the now-stalled T-Mac trade. Sigh!
-- Florida Today
Then again, the mystery of NBA Draft day mirrors the NBA as whole. With the Lakers' demise, the NBA has no dominant team. Everyone feels they have shot. Some are willing to roll the dice. It should make for a fun night.