Players Come to Times Square and Share Draft Experiences
Nine years ago, the 2003 NBA draft was the most hyped and talented since the infamous 1984 draft, which produced Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest player to ever lace up. Not to mention future Hall Of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon, John Stockton, Charles Barkley and others that went on to have productive careers.
This year, 14 young men were invited to the ‘Green Room’, with each having quite successful collegiate careers. But the plethora of talent in this year’s draft extends beyond the few joining the festivities in Newark, as other big names will be first round picks, producing one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.
In what becomes a memorable 48 hours for these young kids, the nation’s top players first had to meet with media in a fancy Manhattan hotel on Wednesday. This year’s golden jewel isn't supposed to be the next Michael Jordan, but Kentucky’s big man Anthony Davis possesses all the tools to be one day be a phenomenal basketball player.
The 6’10 19-year-old was a dominant force on both ends of the floor for the Wildcats, in leading them to the school's eighth National Championship. He won National Player of the Year and defensive Player of the Year honors, while becoming a clear cut favorite to be the top selection in Thursday’s draft.
While most think he has the potential to be the next Dwight Howard, some critics think his game is more similar to that of Marcus Camby. But with his size and still raw talent, he will most likely end up in New Orleans.
Although that seems certain, the rest of the draft remains a mystery, as the week has been highlighted by trade chatter. What is certain though is that Davis’s Kentucky teammate and fellow freshman Michael-Kidd-Gilchrist will be among the top few picks.
The three teams following the Hornets have all been connected to him, as the Bobcats currently hold the 2nd pick, with the Wizards and Cavaliers following. But anything can happen in the next few hours and his destination remains up in the air.
The 6’7 forward who attended St. Patrick’s high school, in Elizabeth, New Jersey was another one-and-done player for John Calipari, after proving he has the skillset to be successful in the league almost immediately.
Following them in the projected top 5 is Kansas big man Thomas Robinson, Gators shooting guard Bradley Beal and Andre Drummond from UConn. The junior Robinson has been linked to the Sacramento Kings who hold the 5th pick, where he would play up-front with fellow youngster Demarcus Cousins.
Beal can go anywhere among the first few picks and may even land as high as 2nd, the sharpshooting freshman has been compared to future Hall of Famer Ray Allen. He picked up his play in the SEC tournament, and seems to be a perfect fit to play in the backcourt alongside John Wall in the Nation’s Capital.
Meanwhile, the 6’11 Drummond from Mount Vernon, NY, is a raw talent, with size and length all teams covet. His offensive game is developing but he’s a solid defender, who can block shots and rebound as good as anyone in the draft. Out of the 14 players considered the nation’s top talent, 3 of them hail from North Carolina. Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, and John Henson all depart Roy Williams' program in hopes of following the footsteps of past notable alums to have successful careers. Zeller and Henson are two of the top big-men and can end up anywhere in the top 15.
The final member of the trio, Barnes, is projected to go higher than his former teammates and has been linked to the Cavaliers. He is a great athlete at 6’7, who can shoot well and he has excellent basketball IQ.
Another top freshman is 19 year old Austin Rivers, the son of Boston Celtic head coach Doc Rivers. Austin who played for legendary Duke Head coach Mike Krzyzewski, figures to land somewhere in the top 10, with strong ties to the Raptors in the 8th spot.
The shooting guard is said to be too cocky, but is seems more like that cockiness is just a kid full of confidence. He is another very smart player for his age and if he’s taken anything out of his talks with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen he will one day be an All-Star.
The ‘Green Room’ is rounded out by guards Damian Lillard, Dion Waiters, Terrence Ross, Jeremy Lamb and big-man Myers Leonard. The 6’3, Lillard attended Weber State University, not a school known for producing top NBA talent.
He led Weber State to the 2010 and 2012 Big Sky regular season Championship and has shot over 40 percent from downtown. He has all the intangibles to be a good leader and a solid NBA point guard.
Waiters is a strong 6’4 guard from Syracuse, who is known for his fierce attack of the basket and strong defense. Ross a 6’6 guard from Washington can play multiple positions, drain the 3 and is one of the best swingmen available in the draft.
Lamb who as a freshman shared the backcourt in Connecticut with Kemba Walker, is long and can also dial it up from long range. He will probably be drafted between the 10th and 15th picks tonight. Lastly 7’1 center Leonard, will be selected in a similar range and he is a developing talent that will need some time. The Dallas Mavericks at 17th have been linked to him and he will probably round out the players in the ‘Green Room’ later this evening.
While nobody expects these young kids to one day form a big 3 of their own, the talent from this class will one day be among of the top names in the league. While LeBron and Durant try to collect Championship and icons like Kobe, Duncan, Dirk, Pierce are in their final lap, these kids will have to wait their turn.
Some may come in and have an immediate impact, while others need time to develop and adjust to playing with the best in the world. But these kids know it will take some time for them to make their impact on the game, as it took even LeBron 9 years to reach the promise land.
This draft may not produce another Jordan or King, but it sure will produce a couple of one day All-Stars. Like always, not everyone will live up to the hype and when it’s all said and done these players will all be remembered in their own unique way.
As Jordan and LeBron will be remembered from their class for their greatness, fellow lottery picks like Sam Bowie and Milicic will be forever remembered for failure. So, even if this draft isn’t as memorable as 84’ or 03’, it will be fun to watch this surplus of talent enter the NBA.
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