Ed Note: This is the first part of a 2 part series coming over the next 2 days. Part 2 will be tomorrow.
With Kings fans all around the world weighing in (literally), there has been some consternation internally with Kings (all fanbases?) fans over where stars come from. So I thought would track every draft from 1994-2008 down, break it down internationally from 18-22, break down the college classes (freshman to senior), and track how many HS kids made it. Furthermore, I hope to break down the categories of players who are international, and international amateurs as I see there is plenty of confusion there as what is, and what isn’t, an “international” player.
First, let’s provide some definitions. An international players is someone who lived overseas at least 12-14 years of their childhood. Donte Greene and Ben Gordon, despite being being born in Germany and England respectively, are American players. Just so you know. And any player like that who grew up in the US, but happened to be born abroad, are considered American. Conversely, just because a player like Tim Duncan played at Wake Forest does not make him any less of an ‘international” player. He grew up in the US Virgin Islands.
Ground rules are everything. So you must understand why I classify certain players as international, and what not. I classify any player not born in the 50 states as international for a lot of reasons. I classify those who spent time in those said 50 states as American, because, that’s where they spent their childhood.
There are a few International HS players in the mix, and they will be identified as I-HS for that such. DeSagana Diop I think is the most important players in that mix, but if I find others, I will classify them as such. International players who grew outside the US like a Tim Duncan, Raja Bell or Luol Deng, but also played in college, will be classified as I-1 through I-4 denoting their international status, and how many years they played college ball.
I’m going to use 1994 to 2008 as the baseline because those are the drafts Geoff Petrie has participated in as the Kings GM/President of Basketball Operations. And I don’t want any other mis-understandings along the way.
Explanation of why
I’m doing this because I’m fascinated to see how many players came internationally but went to college, how many stayed international and jumped to the NBA, how many High School (HS) players jumped straight to the NBA who were successful, and how many weren’t, and how many kids who spent a bulk of their lives overseas came over to the US and went to HS or college as it may happen. I don’t think any real trend will emerge, but I’ve been surprised before.
This will be broken down by year. Rather than listing the order which I can find on Wikipedia, I’d rather break them down into categories such as the following: A-1, A-2, A-3, A-4, (American 1 thru 4 years in college) I-1, I-2,I-3,I-4 (International players 1 thru 4 years in college) and of course I-HS and Int’l. If I continue to do this every year, for instance, Brandon Jennings, because he’s American, would quality as an A, but also because he played internationally at Lottomatica Roma in the Italian League, he also qualifies as an Int’l player. Hence, he will be A-Int’l. Mike Taylor is another exception, and he will be A-NBDL even though he was kicked off the team at Iowa State, and could qualify as a player who played 3 years at the college level. The problem was, he jumped to the NBDL, and then was drafted out of the league after playing there a year.
I will also be denoting a player’s age when he comes over to the NBA from the International ranks, and how old he was drafted as well. There are plenty of players who will be in 2 different categories: Were drafted and came over later, and were drafted and came over immediately. So, Peja Stojakovic would be D-19, and P-21 for Drafted at 19, and Played at 21. Dirk Nowitzki is D/P-20 denoting he was drafted at 20, and played at the same age.
Also, I will include any notable undrafted players, international or American, who was on a team for at least a season.
So, let’s get to it.
In general, I’m going to be using Wikipedia’s draft list as they are user friendly and contain most of the information I seek.
1st round: No A-1’ers (which surprised me)
A-2: Jason Kidd (Yes, he’s the only American sophomore who left early in 1994)
I-2: Yinka Dare (Yes, he’s the only foreign born player who came out as a soph selected in the 1st round)
A-3: 7 of these players, including Glenn Robinson (the 1st overall pick), Juwan Howard (the 5th overall pick), and Jalen Rose (the 13th overall pick).
A-4: 18 of these players (which is the last senior heavy draft in the NBA 1st round), with 2 of the best know players of the draft being Grant Hill and Eddie Jones. Petrie Drafted Brian Grant with the 8th overall pick which turned out to be pretty good. He didn’t miss an impact player below his pick other than Eddie Jones, and considering the Kings had Mitch Richmond, I think Grant did better overall. For Petrie this was a good draft.
Some notables of the Seniors include: Wesley Person (23rd overall) and Aaron McKie (17th overall).
The 2nd round
With regards to 2nd round players, I’m not even going to denote them as what year they left college, but I will denote whether they are American/Int’l, or whatever.
In the 2nd round 5 players have made it in the NBA. Howard Eisley (30th overall–3rd pick of the 2nd round), Michael Smith (35th overall–8th pick of the 2nd round) who played for the Kings in the Brian Grant/Mitch Richmond years and made a minor impact off the bench, Anthony Miller who played 181 games from 1994 to 2000,and not over 50 in any of them, Voshon Lenard who had his best years in Miami, but also had substantial time in Denver later in his career, and of course Lawrence Funderburke who needs no introduction to Kings fans. Funderburke played in Europe from 1994-97, with the Kings from 97 to 2003, and then later had a cup of coffee in Chicago.
Bottom line, was that 1994 was a typical draft when you didn’t expand the pool. The college game was not enough to shift the balance of power in the NBA with the talent it provided. Robinson was a star, but not an impact player, Kidd is arguable at what level he was, Grant Hill was a player similar to Kidd in stratosphere and potential impact, Howard was a good player for a number of years as was Jalen Rose, and there were role players littered through the rest of the draft. This is why starting in 1995 you’ll notice an increase in foreign players drafted, and Kevin Garnett becomes the first player since Moses Malone to jump from High School. In 1994, only 1 “international player” was drafted in the 1st round, and that was Yinka Dare. He was a flop, and still, he attended 2 years at George Washington. The other international player of note was Zeljko Rebraca, who played for the Pistons, Hawks and Clippers before heart problems ended his career. Throughout the entire draft, there were 5 “international players” and 3 of them played college ball. 4 were drafted in the 2nd round, and as I said, only Rebraca even made anything of an impact at the NBA level. And he was a 4th player in the rotation type of big.
Again, no Freshman coming out of the draft in the 1st round. This became pretty typical from 1996 on though.
American’s jumping out of HS (A-HS): Kevin Garnett (5th overall pick–needs no introduction I hope)
A-2: 4 sophomore’s jumped, and they were the 1st 4 picks: (Joe Smith, Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, and Rasheed Wallace)
A-3: 5 Junior’s taken, and the most notable of them is Corliss Williamson drafted by the Kings at 13th overall
A-4: 17 seniors taken in the 1st round draft, and there were some good one’s taken throughout: Damon Stoudamire (7th), Kurt Thomas (10th), Eric Williams (14th), Brent Barry (15th), Theo Ratliff (18th), Michael Finley (21st), Travis Best (24th), and Greg Ostertag (28th).
Of those guys, Stoudamire was the best player, and Ratliff made an All-Star team one year in Philly in 2001, and Finley made a couple All-Star teams for Dallas earlier this decade. Ostertag needs no introduction, and Best was a backup PG for a number of years in Indiana. Eric Williams is probably forgotten now, but he was the forerunner to Ryan Gomes both at Providence and Boston, and Kurt Thomas has played on a number of teams including Riley’s Heat in the mid 90’s, the Knicks later, the Suns, and of course the Spurs.
Of note, there was 1 international player in the 1st round, and that was the C for the 1995 National Champion Bruins, George Zidek. He’s classified as an I-4.
Only 2 players I care to talk about here: One is Eric Snow who played PG for the Sonics, Sixers and now the Cavs. The other is Tyus Edney who played for the Kings for a couple of seasons, and had nearly a 10 year international career playing over in Europe.
4 International players drafted in the 2nd round, 3 of whom played overseas, and the other played College ball at Miami.
Bottom line, is that the younger players that jump entice the NBA more than the 4 year guys do, unless those guys have undeniable talent. I think that trend will show out over the next 14 years I showcase. The best player from the whole draft was KG, and he was outta HS. The 2nd best player isn’t really debatable because it’s Rasheed Wallace. After that, it’s your choice of various guys. Onto 1996.
There is going to be a lot of these categories. For 1994 and 95, I didn’t bother breaking down the categories with the exception of showing how much influence the NCAA game had in the talent pool of the NBA. 1996 is when it really all changed. I won’t show what players left early for the 2nd round, unless I think it’s notable like a young player or an international player.
A-HS: Kobe Bryant (13th overall), Jermaine O’Neal (17th overall)–Neither player needs an introduction here
A-1: Shareef Abdur-Rahim (3rd overall), Stephon Marbury (4th overall)
A-2: Allen Iverson (1st overall), Antoine Walker: (6th overall), Lorenzen Wright (7th overall), and Samaki Walker (9th overall)
A-3: 6 of these players including: Marcus Camby (2nd overall pick), Ray Allen (5th overall pick), and Erick Dampier (10th overall pick)
A-4: 9 of these players picked in the 1st round, including: Kerry Kittles (8th overall taken), and Tony Delk (16th overall)
I-3: Vitaly Potapenko (12th overall)
I-4: Steve Nash (15th overall)
Intl: Peja Stojakovic D-19/P-21, Nash (Canada), Potapenko (12th overall I-3), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (20th Overall-Int’l), Efthimios Rentzias (Greek player–Int’l), Priest Lauderdale (A-Int’l–his situation is interesting, but not worth noting as he did nothing to speak of).
In the 2nd round, there isn’t much to speak of again.
1 Int’l player Doron Sheffer, and he never played in the NBA. The rest were all American players from US colleges.
The only player even mentioning is Othella Harrington, and he was the 1st pick of the 2nd round. The quality of the NBA draft in 1996 was in the top 25 picks. However, there were also notable undrafted players.
Ben Wallace is the best of the lot here, and by a large amount. He became a multi-time all-star (mostly due to having no real C’s in the East), and won 4 DPOY awards.
Chucky Atkins has had over 10 years in the NBA, and has been a decent player at times.
Overall, it was an interesting draft, as you had 10 All-Stars in the 1st 20 picks of the draft. Additionally, Ben Wallace also made All-Star teams as well. It’s hard to find that quality in any draft. The best 5 players from the draft are: Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, and after that it gets dicey but, Steve Nash, and Jermaine O’Neal. Not a bad 5 if you had to put them on the court, but who plays PF? Heh.
The notable point I would like to make about 1996 is that it touched 2 trends: International players from overseas being drafted high, and International players from College being thought of as a quality player (although that was nothing new–the same situation happened with Hakeem Olajuwon as Steve Nash where both spent their HS years in Nigeria/Canada respectively before playing College ball), and O’Neal and Bryant’s success helped touched off a HS to the NBA trend that didn’t stop until the NBA added a provision in the 2005 CBA that exists today.
Of the top 10 players in the draft, Bryant and O’Neal were 17, Iverson was 20, Allen was 21 and Nash was 22. That had never happened, but it’s becoming pretty common now that players are one & done at the NCAA level.
The year of 1997. Tim Duncan and everybody else. Right? Well, sort of. There is Tim Duncan. And there were other All-Stars. But usually players in Duncan’s caliber are once a decade if that.
A-HS: Tracy McGrady is the only guy who did this jump in 97
A-1: Only 1 Freshman jumped into the 1st round in 97, and that was Tim Thomas
A-2: 2 sophomores jumped into the 1st round: Chauncey Billups (3rd overall) and Ron Mercer (6th overall)
A-3: 5 Junior’s jumped, and only 3 of them, Tony Battie (5th overall), Danny Fortson (10th overall) and Maurice Taylor (14th overall) had any real kind of career
A-4: 16 senior’s taken including: Keith Van Horn (2nd overall), Derek Anderson (13th overall), Brevin Knight (16th overall), Scot Pollard (19th overall), and Bobby Jackson (24th overall)
I-3: Adonal Foyle (8th overall)
I-4: Tim Duncan (Duh, he was 1st!), Tariq Abdul Wahad (11th overall by the Kings)
Int’l: Chris Anstey was drafted 18th overall from Australia, and he never did much
2nd round: 4 players of note here: Marc Jackson (37th overall who had an off & on career throughout the earlier part of this decade), Anthony Johnson (40th overall–drafted by Petrie), Stephen Jackson of the Golden State Dubs (43rd overall by Phoenix) is by far the best player of the bunch, but then again talent was never his issue, and Alvin Williams played nearly 10 years, and most of them came with Toronto.
There were 8 int’l players picked in the 2nd round. As far as I can tell, none of them made any real impact.
Bottom Line: 3 great talents with Duncan being the greatest, Billups having a greater overall effect than McGrady, and everyone else being role players or good players starting with Van Horn, Thomas, Pollard and Jackson. It was a pretty typical draft, but only Billups was the sleeper of the draft, and he bounced from 3 teams before finding a place in Minnesota. When he signed with Detroit in 2002, is when he made his big leap as a player. He essentially went from major bust to major stud pretty quickly. It’s pretty forgotten how difficult his early career was.
Overall, you see the International influence growing as you had 10 International players total being taken, with the best 3 of them going to US Colleges (Duncan, Foyle, Wahad). There were 3 guys from the 2nd round who were International guys but played College ball. There were also 3 straight international guys. None of them are worth remembering as NBA players.
1998 will be a fun year. There’s a lot to track. So paying attention to who went where and what not will be more important overall I suspect.
A-HS: Al Harrington (25th overall–1st round), Rashard Lewis (32nd overall–2nd round) who should need no introduction, but some may be surprised he slipped so far in the draft, and Korleone Young, who was drafted 40th overall by Detroit, but didn’t make much impact and has bounced around the minor leagues and Europe since. Young is a big reason why so many people started noticing the failure of HS players.
A-1: Larry Hughes (8th overall), Ricky Davis (21st overall by the Charlotte Hornets) were the 2 freshman selected in the 1st round. Hughes has bitched recently about shots, and Ricky Davis mgiht be best known for missing a dunk so he could grab the rebound and get a triple double when he was with the Cavs. My favorite fact about Davis may be that he’s from Des Moines, Iowa (yeah, seriously).
A-2: Mike Bibby (2nd overall), and Corey Benjamin (29th overall) were the only sophomores taken. Bibby needs no introduction to Kings fans, and Benjamin washed out as many rookies often do.
A-3: Antawn Jamison (4th overall), Vince Carter (5th overall), Jason Williams (7th overall by the Kings of course), Paul Pierce (10th overall), Tyronn Lue (23rd overall), and Nazr Mohammed (29th overall) were the 6 Junior’s taken
A-4: 10 of these players taken, and of them, Raef LaFrentz (or RLEC–3rd overall), Bonzi Wells (11th overall), Keon Clark (13th overall), Matt Harpring (15th overall), and Brian Skinner (22nd overall) are really worth mentioning
I-D/P at 20: Dirk Nowitzki (8th overall)
Int’l: Rasho Nesterovic (17th overall), Mirsad Turkcan (Turkey–22 years old when drafted),
I-3: Michael Olowokandi (1st overall)
I-4: Felipe Lopez (24th overall)
2nd round: There are alot of notables here that are worth mentioning.
Rashard Lewis is the biggest name (and best) of the 2nd round pool. He was a High School kid who just dropped out of the 1st round, and is remembered for being seen crying in the Green room. Other than Lewis, there was some quality talent here worth mentioning.
Ruben Patterson was picked 31st overall, Jelani McCoy (had nearly a 5 year career as a journeyman in the NBA) was picked 33rd overall, The infamous “Garbage Bag” Jerome James was picked 36th overall by the Kings, Rafer Alston was picked 39th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks and of course was involved in the biggest of the mid-season trades to a contender, by being sent from the Houston Rockets to the Orlando Magic, Cuttino Mobley was selected at 41st overall, and Greg Buckner (he’s had a 10 year career) was selected 53rd overall.
There were also some good undrafted players: Brad Miller (2 time All-Star with Indiana and Sacramento in 03/04), Earl Boykins (the super scoring sub), Mike James (of the Wizjockee’s–Washington Wizards in otherwords), and Anthony Carter have all had good to decent careers bouncing around the NBA.
Now, most of these guys don’t blow you away (other than Lewis really), but beyond that, Patterson would have had a better career if his attitude and legal trouble hadn’t bothered him, Mobley has had a successful career that recently ended due to heart problems, and Rafer Alston, who became well known as “Skip to my Lou” on the And1 Mix tape tour, eventually resurrected his career at Miami during Dwyane Wade’s rookie season. He has had a nice career and has gotten better as a player.
The point of all this? You can find players who fit your system and can help you. Other than Lewis who was a rare occurence of a 2nd round HS player dropping in the 90’s, really the best players were, again, at the top of the draft throughout the first 10 picks or so. 6 All-Stars in the draft (Jamison, Carter, Nowitzki, Pierce, Lewis and Miller), and some good role players up & down the draft board and undrafted. 1998 was a strong tipping point in helping the league bridge some of the talent gap that hurt the NBA overall when it expanded with 4 teams in 1988 and 1989 (Miami and Charlotte Hornets in 88-89, and then Orlando and Minnesota 89-90), and then adding the 2 Canadian teams in 1995, Vancouver and Toronto, drastically made the pool that much larger. Because the NCAA could only give up so much talent, the NBA wisely became interested in looking everywhere else for talent. When HS talent jumped up giving extra talent to select each year along with talented foreign players changing the game at the NBA level (Duncan, Nowitzki, Nash among others), you essentially had 2 pools of talent that weren’t available to the NBA before the NCAA got to them–even though Duncan and Nash played 4 years at the college level–they were atypical in that respect, and the other pool opened up because buyouts became easier for European’s to obtain. 1998 was yet another example of how many curveballs a draft can throw any team.
The 1999 NBA Draft generated a lot of buzz at the time with Steve Francis refusing to report to the Vancouver Grizzlies after he was selected by them. Fortunately, that’s not what the 1999 class will be remembered for.
The 1999 NBA draft was one of the deepest in NBA history producing 9 All-Stars, and a ton of quality player across the board well into the 2nd round. Unfortunately for the Kings they didn’t have this pick as they had to trade it to Detroit, as part of an earlier trade involving Olden Polynice in 1994, and that pick ended up in Atlanta’s hands after a 1998 trade. It was Cal Bowdler, and he’s no great loss. However, Andrei Kirilenko and Manu Ginobili was available (although, the Kings could have taken him with their 2nd round pick). Now, Off with the clothes!
A-HS: Jonathan Bender (5th overall), Leon Smith (29th overall pick) Bender was the better of the two players, but he never really got his career going after he had knee injuries. Bender had serious talent as he was essentially a 7 foot SG. Not many of those in the history of the NBA.
A-1: Corey Maggette (13th overall) was the only Freshman taken in the 1st round.
A-2: Elton Brand (1st overall), Baron Davis (3rd overall), Lamar Odom (4th overall), and Ron Artest (16th overall) were the big names here. In total, there were 8 Sophomores selected in the 1st round.
A-3: 4 Juniors taken in the draft, and there all pretty well known: Steve Francis (2nd overall), Richard (Rip) Hamilton (7th overall), Shawn Marion (9th overall), and James Posey (18th overall)
A-4: 10 College Seniors taken in the 1st round, and the notables were: Wally Szczerbiak (one of the 9 All-Stars believe it or not, and 6th overall), Andre Miller (8th overall–and the best player of this bunch in my opinion), Jason Terry (10th overall), Jeff Foster (21st overall) has had a good career playing for the Indiana Pacers, Kenny Thomas (22nd overall–Kenny is reviled by Kings fans, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have talent), Devean George (a good role player for the Lakers in his heyday), and Scott Padgett who had some moments in the sun (Particularly in 1998 playing for UK) after he got to the NBA with the Jazz and Rockets.
Int’l: Andrei Kirilenko (24th overall) was drafted at 18 years old. Very talented player who can do a lot of things, even if his biggest problem now is his injuries. Frederic Weis (best known for being dunked on by Vince Carter in the 2000 Olympics) was drafted 15th overall by the Knicks.
I-2: Aleksander Rakjovic isn’t really worth noting, but he was unusual in that he went to a JC in Kansas for 2 years then entered the draft. He got picked by Toronto at 12th overall.
2nd round: Obviously Manu Ginobili was the King of these guys (and one of the best players in the draft if not the best overall player) at 57th overall.
Other notables include: Wang Zhizhi was drafted at 36th overall being the first chinese player drafted, and even played some games for Dallas later, Gordan Giricek, who played for the Jazz and Magic for some years as well as coming over to the Grizzlies in 2002-03 4 years after being drafted by Dallas, was drafted 40th overall, Francisco Elson was drafted 41st overall (as an International College player) and has had a 10 year career, Todd MacCullough stands out to me as a player who could have been better than he was, but heart problems derailed his career, and he was drafted at 47th overall by Philadelphia, and he is another International Collegiate (although he’s Canadian).
Undrafted Players include: Chris “Birdman” Andersen and Raja Bell (Another International Collegiate Player)
In total, there 2 HS players in the 1st round, 4 International Collegiate players (1 in the first round and 3 in the 2nd round), and 5 who jumped (2 in the 1st and 3 in the 2nd round) from Int’l ball to the NBA.
2000 is considered a weak draft, but in all probability, it just didn’t have a franchise player, just had 3 all-stars (2 of whom are no longer anywhere near that status), and the best player of the draft, Michael Redd, was drafted in the 2nd round (43rd overall).
It was an unusual draft in that it has so many role players throughout the course of the whole draft. There are only a few “star” players in the draft, but, that’s usually what happens. Another point that could be made that some of the players in this draft have jobs because of contracts they were lucky to receive.
A-HS: Darius Miles is one of two players taken out of HS. He definitely was lucky to get a big contract from Portland. Other than that, there isn’t much to say about him, other than he wasted a lot of talent being stupid. DeShawn Stevenson is the other, and he’s still probably a decent player at best. It could be argued they would have gotten better had they gone to college. What they are is the underlying truth about the NBA: You have to be good enough to get minutes from your coaches. If you’re not good enough immediately, you have to work harder to get there.
A-1: DerMarr Johnson (6th overall), Jamal Crawford (8th overall–definitely the best of this bunch), Donnell Harvey (22nd overall) were the only 3 that qualify for this. Only Crawford is really worth much, and one could argue he has inflated worth because of his contract.
A-2: 7 Sophomores drafted, and the notables are: Stromile Swift (2nd overall pick), Mike Miller (5th overall pick), Joel Pryzbilla (9th overall pick), Keyon Dooling (10th overall pick), and Quentin Richardson (18th overall pick).
A-3: There were only 2 Juniors taken in the 2000 draft and they were: Marcus Fizer (4th overall), and Chris Mihm (7th overall)
A-4: There were 8 Seniors taken and Kenyon Martin (1st overall pick–and 2nd best player in the draft) topped the list, but other notables include: Etan Thomas (11th overall pick), Mateen Cleaves (14th overall pick), Desmond Mason (17th overall), Speedy Claxton (20th overall pick), Morris Peterson (21st overall pick), and sadly, Mark Madsen (29th overall pick).
I-2: Jerome Moiso–he currently plays for JKV Joventut (Ricky Rubio’s team) and was taken 11th overall
I-4: Jamaal Magloire was taken 18th overall (he’s Canadian), and is the 3rd All-Star in the 2000 draft, and the other player in this group is Mamadou N’Diaye who was taken 26th overall.
Int’l: Hedo Turkoglu (16th overall, and the Kings 1st round pick in 2000), Dalibor Bagarić (24th overall) who never did much for the Bulls, Jake Tsakalidis (25th overall) played some for the Suns and Grizzlies over a few years, Primoz Brezec (27th overall) did the same thing for the Pacers (a little), and the Bobcats (a lot more).
2nd Round: I’ve already covered Michael Redd (43rd overall) in this already.
Notables: Marko Jaric (30th overall) didn’t come over until 2002, and is best remembered (in basketball matters) for being part of a lopsided deal between the Clippers and Timberwolves including a 1st round pick to the Clippers and Sam Cassell, Jake Voskuhl was drafted 33rd overall, and he’s stuck around the NBA in one way or the other playin for 4 teams, Eddie House (37th overall) has been on 5 different teams, but currently is best known for his time with the Suns and Celtics, Eddie Najera (38th overall) one of the few International Collegiate players who’ve been role players and stuck around the NBA, Brian Cardinal (44th overall) is an example of a guy who had a successful season, and parlayed it into an unmovable conract (he currently is glued to Minnesota’s bench), and Jason Hart has bounced around from several teams before he got to the Kings, and his time is best remembered in San Antonio and Charlotte.
In total, there 2 HS players in the 1st round, 5 International Collegiate players (3 in the first round and 3 in the 2nd round), and 7 who jumped (2 in the 1st and 3 in the 2nd round) who were drafted from Int’l ball to the NBA.
2001 is kind of a strange draft. It’s produced some very very good players (Pau Gasol, Gilbert Arenas, Joe Johnson), some quality players who’ve helped their team win (Shane Battier, Memhet Okur), some young talent that took a long time to develop (Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood, Gerald Wallace, Samuel Dalembert) and some nutcases (Eddy Curry, Zach Randolph, Jamaal Tinsley). And there is the matter of Kwame Brown.
A-HS: Kwame Brown (1st overall), Tyson Chandler (2nd overall), Eddy Curry (4th overall)
A-1: Eddie Griffin (7th overall), Rodney White (9th overall), Zach Randolph (21st overall), Brandon Armstrong (23rd overall), and Gerald Wallace (25th overall by the Kings) were the freshmen taken in the draft
A-2: Jason Richardson (5th overall), Joe Johnson (10th overall–and the definite cream of this crop), Kedrick Brown (11th overall–a wasted footnote in Celtics history), Steven Hunter (15th overall–has really bounced around the league), and Joseph Forte (21st overall–another wasted footnote in C’s history).
A-3: Richard Jefferson (13th overall), Troy Murphy (14th overall) were 2 of the 5 junior’s taken, and the other 3 aren’t really worth mentioning to be honest.
A-4: Shane Battier heads this list (6th overall) as the first Senior taken in the draft, but there are some other notables: Jason Collins (18th overall–still barely in the league), Brendan Haywood (20th overall, a decent career considering), Jeryl Sasser (24th overall–yeah I barely remember him either), and Jamaal Tinsley (27th overall).
I-HS: DeSagana Diop shows up on this list as he was a guy who lived oversea’s until HS, and then played basketball for the Oak Hill Academy. He was drafted 8th by Cleveland. What a stupid pick that was for them. Also, there was another player named Ousmane Cisse who was drafted in the 2nd round by the Nuggets. He was picked at 47th overall.
I-2: Sammy Dalembert (really Haitin, but his “nationality” is Canadian, and played 2 forgettable seasons at Seton Hall)
I:D/P-19: Tony Parker is one of the all time steals at 28th overall for the Spurs. No more required to say.
I:D/P-21: Pau Gasol was picked 3rd overall, and was one of the top picks to pan out nearly immediately.
Int’l: Raul Lopez was drafted 24th overall by the Jazz, but has never crossed the pond, and doesn’t look like today he will ever bother.
2nd round: It’s Gilbert Arenas, Memo Okur, and a few role players.
Gilbertology was drafted 31st overall (yeah not the 1st overall pick in the 2nd round but the 2nd pick of the 2nd round, go figure), Okur was drafted 38th overall by the Pistons.
Other notables include Trenton Hassell (30th overall–he was the 1st overall pick of the 2nd round), Brian Scalabrine (35th overall), Earl Watson (40th overall), Bobby Simmons (42nd overall), and Jarron Collins (Jason’s brother) at 53rd overall.
Undrafted notables: Charlie Bell (of the Flintstones who played @ Mich St–Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson were the other 2), Maurice Evans (currently playing for the Hawks and jumped his career in the NBA with the Kings in the 04-05 season), Carlos Arroyo (currently playing overseas but has played for the Magic, Pistons, Jazz, Nuggets and Raptors), and Jamario Moon (currently playing for Miami).
Bottom Line: 3 American HS players, and a 4th (along with another Int’l HS player who never made the League) in Diop who came over from Senegal to play at Oak Hill Academy, 10 other international players (3 of whom played in college–1 drafted in the 1st round), and the other 7 (4 drafted in the 1st round–3 in the 2nd round). 5 Seniors, 5 Juniors, 5 Sophomores, and 5 freshman taken in the draft. I bet that hasn’t happened before. (One of those unusual quirks you don’t expect to find.)
This draft can be categorized as Yao Ming and Amare Stoudemire, but I’m not going to do it that way. It’s a bit better than that.
The 2002 draft really is Yao Ming, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and Caron Butler. Off with the Clothes!
A-HS: Amare Stoudemire (9th overall), and we all know how good he is
A-1: 2 freshman taken in the whole draft and only one in the first round: DaJuan Wagner (the other frosh was Jamal Sampson who had less of a career than Wagner did) at 6th overall by Cleveland. (Yes, I know they were stupid. Get over it.)
A-2: Chris Wilcox (8th overall), Caron Butler (10th overall and the 4th best player of the draft), Jared Jeffries (11th overall), Qyntel Woods (21st overall) were the 4 sophomores taken. It’s very unusual that so many underclassmen didn’t declare, but as you might notice, people tend to make more of this than they should.
A-3: 9 Juniors taken in the 1st round, and the most notables are: Jay Williams (2nd overall and better known for killing his career in that motorcycle crash of his–and he had a lot of talent too), Mike Dunleavy Jr 3rd overall(often labeled a bust–but definitely taken too high), and Drew Gooden (Ditto Dunleavy) was taken 4th overall headline the Junior notable list.
A-4: For the Seniors: Melvin Ely (12th overall), Fred Jones (14th overall), Juan Dixon (17th overall–I’m amazed he’s still in the league), Ryan Humphrey (19th overall), Tayshaun Prince (23rd overall–and obviously the cream of this crop), John Salmons (26th overall), and Dan Dickau (28th overall) are the 1st round Seniors.
5 Int’l 1st rounders: Yao Ming (1st overall), Nikoloz Tsitkivilli (5th overall), Nene Hilario (7th overall), Jiri Welsch (16th overall), and Nenad Krstic (24th overall).
Boozer obviously tops the 2nd rounders as he’s a legitmate All-Star. He was selected 34th overall by Cleveland.
Other notables: Roger Mason (30th overall), Dan Gadzuric (33rd overall), David Andersen (36th overall–He was selected by the Hawks changed management when the opportunity presented itself in 2008, and since haven’t mentioned him at all), Darius Songalia (49th overall), and Luis Scola (55th overall).
Notable Undrafted Players: Udonis Haslem (definitely the best of this lot), Devin Brown (bounced around some but still has a place in the NBA), Reggie Evans and Jannero Pargo (ditto).
16 international players taken, 6 in the 1st round alone. Of the 10 2nd round Int’l players, 3 went to college.
Obviously, the 2003 NBA draft class is pretty well known. So let’s get to it.
A-HS: LeBron James (1st overall–no introduction needed, right?), Travis Outlaw (23rd overall), Nbudi Ebi (26h overall) and, Kendrick Perkins (27th overall).
A-1: Carmelo Anthony (3rd overall), Chris Bosh (4th overall),
A-2: TJ Ford (8th overall),
A-3: Dwyane Wade (5th overall), Chris Kaman (6th overall), Michael Sweetney (9th overall), Jarvis Hayes (10th overall), Luke Ridnour (14th overall),
A-4: Kirk Hinrich (7th overall), Nick Collison (12th overall), Marcus Banks (13th overall), Reece Gaines (15th overall), Troy Bell (16th overall), David West (18th overall), Dahntay Jones (20th overall), Brian Cook (24th overall), and Josh Howard (28th overall)
Intl: Darko Milicic (2nd overall), Mickeal Pietrus, (11th overall), Zarko Cabarkapa (17th overall), Sasha Pavlovic (19th overall), Boris Diaw (21st overall), Zoran Planinic (22nd overall), Carlos Delfino (25th overall), Leandro Barbosa (28th overall)
2nd round: This round may remember being Mo Williams and everyone else, but that’s not really the case.
Notable names include: Jason Kapono (31st overall), Luke Walton (32nd overall), Steve Blake (38th overall), Willie Green (41st overall), James Jones (49th overall–he currently plays for Miami after bouncing from Indiana and Portland), and Kyle Korver (51st overall).
Undrafted Players: Marquis Daniels, Matt Carroll and Quinton Ross head this list.
I-HS: Ndubi Ebi (26th overall)
Lots of good players throughout the draft, and one difference between 2003 and 1996 is that while 1996 has had more All-Stars, 2003 had more overall talent throughout the draft. And by my count, you had 32-34 legitmate players play a significant role, or get significant minutes in the league at some point. That’s saying something.
2004 is one of, if not, the heaviest American HS draft ever. So is 2005. Which I don’t think was by accident. I think it didn’t hurt matters when that became a rather big issue when the 2005 CBA rolled around. But, we’ll see how trends change as we move forward in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 drafts
A-HS: Dwight Howard (1st overall–Superman needs no introduction, right?), Shaun Livingston (4th overall), Robert Swift (12th overall), Sebastian Telfair (13th overall), Al Jefferson (14th overall), Josh Smith (17th overall), J.R. Smith (18th overall–of 45 minutes dropping on the Kings last Monday night fame), and Dorell Wright (19th overall).
A-1: Kris Humphries (14th overall)
A-2: Andre Igoudala (9th overall),
A-3: Emeka Okafor (2nd overall–although he did graduate in 3 years so that’s something), Ben Gordon (3rd overall–Gordon is another interesting case of an American player I mentioned in Part 1, but as I said, he grew up in Mt. Vernon, New York, and is an American with immigrant parents), Josh Childress (6th overall), Kirk Snyder (16th overall), Delonte West (24th overall), Kevin Martin (26th overall–he’s pretty good right?), and David Harrison (29th overall).
A-4: Devin Harris (4th overall), Rafael Arauju (8th overall), Luke Jackson (10th overall), Jameer Nelson (20th overall), and Tony Allen (25th overall).
I-1: Luol Deng (7th overall)–Obviously some people will have a problem with this, but Deng spent his childhood in Sudan and England, and decided when he was 14 to move to the US to focus on basketball. He then went to Duke for a season as he was an amaeur. Still, he’s an international player who was just an amateur before the NBA. Wasn’t Detlef Schrempf in the same boat? And he didn’t play 4 years of HS ball in the US. He only played 1 year (at Centralia HS in Washington State), and then went on to the University of Washington, and then drafted by Dallas in the 1st round in 1985. I’ll make my point later on in the 2nd part of this monstrosity.
Int’l: Andris Biedrins (11th overall), Pavel Podkolzine (21st overall), Viktor Khryapa (22nd overall), Sergei Monia (23rd overall), Sasha Vujacic (27th overall), and Beno Udrih (28th overall)
Notables include: Anderson Varejao (30th overall), Royal Ivey (37th overall), and Trevor Ariza (43rd overall) are really the biggest names of this group. And Varejao and Ariza are quality players on quality teams, and Ivey is a backup for Philly at the moment.
Undrafted: Andres Nocioni is really the most notable of the undrafted players, but then again, he was 25 when he came over to the Bulls.
Bottom line, is that 8 HS players (which is a mixed bag; Howard, Jefferson and the 2 Smiths are the headliners, but Wright hasn’t done much, neither has Swift, Telfair is a matter of opinion, and Shaun Livingston had a devastating injury that badly limited his effectiveness.
Internationally speaking, you had 8 International players (not including Gordon), 6 of whom played European ball before coming over. The other 2 were Deng (already talked about him) and Rafael Arajauo who played at an Arizona JC and BYU before being picked too high by the Toronto Raptors. Of the 6 Int’l players who were picked, Andris Biedrins came over as a young 18 year old, and has gotten better every year, Beno Udrih and Sasha Vujacic are still in the league, and Podkolzine, Monia and Khryapa all have returned to Europe. Pretty typical overall I would say there.
In the 2nd round, you had TWELVE International players taken, the most notable is Varejao, 3 of whom attended US Colleges. (The most famous of those is Pape Sow.)
The last year HS players were directly able to jump to the NBA. All told, 7 of them did.
A-HS: Martell Webster (6th overall–Portland actually traded down to get him, could you imagine them with Chris Paul? No, I won’t go there today. But as is, I think they’re doing quite swell), Andrew Bynum (10th overall–I remember how much hand wringing this pick brought because all the talking heads didn’t think Phil Jackson would be patient with a young kid at such a high stakes game in the NBA–what are talking heads saying now?), Gerald Green (18th overall) were all the 1st rounder HS picks. I’ll document the 2nd rounders in that portion.
A-1: Marvin Williams (2nd overall) was the only freshman taken in the entire draft (clearly this wasn’t a big issue).
A-2: Chris Paul (4th overall) and Charlie Villaneuva (7th overall) were the 2 American Sophomores taken.
A-3: Deron Williams (3rd overall), Raymond Felton (5th overall), Ike Diogu (9th overall), Sean May (13th overall), Rashad McCants (14th overall), Antoine Wright (15th overall), Nate Robinson (21st overall), Jarrett Jack (22nd overall). (Pretty substantial list for a “young” draft)
A-4: Channing Frye (8th overall), Joey Graham (16th overall), Danny Granger (17th overall), Hakim Warrick (19th overall), Julius Hodge (20th overall), Luther Head (24th overall), Jason Maxiell (26th overall), Wayne Simien (29th overall), and David Lee (30th overall).
I-2: Andrew Bogut (1st overall–more on him in the final analysis), and Linas Kleiza (ditto as Bogut–27th overall)
I-3: Francisco Garcia (23rd overall) is being put here for the same reason Deng was put in the same category in 2004. He grew up in the DR, and moved to the Bronx when he was 16.
Int’l: Fran Vasquez (11th overall), Yaroslav Korolev (12th overall), Johan Petro (25th overall), and Ian Mahinmini (28th overall).
This should be fun as there are a ton of players who deserve a lot of mention.
First the A-HS: CJ Miles (34th overall), Monta Ellis (40th overall), Louis Williams (45th overall), Andray Blatche (49th overall), and Amir Johnson (56th overall). If you recognize any or all of these names, pat yourself on the back. This is another lengthy mention I’m going to do in my synopsis/analysis.
For the rest of the 2nd round notables: Brandon Bass (33rd overall), Ronny Turiaf (37th overall), Travis Diener (38th overall), Von Wafer (39th overall), Roko Ukic (41st overall), Marcin Gortat (57th overall), and Alex Acker (60th overall). I would point out that not everyone of these guys has excelled at the next level, but many are still on NBA rosters, or were at the beginning of the 2008/09 season. In Ukic’s case, he finally came over this past season, but I suspect that was more about money than anything else.
Undrafted notables: Kelenna Azubuike (Warriors), Jose Calderon (obviously the best player of the group), Chuck Hayes (worth mentioning he did play 4 years of college), and Fabricio Oberto (probably the 2nd best player of this group).
Overall, 2005 was a supremely great draft and talent base for the NBA. This is one reason despite the fact there is 30 teams, the greater overall pool has allowed the NBA to get players who fit their systems, and develop them, that has allowed them to grow as a league. Every team has it’s belief in how to develop young players, but if you look across the list (I didn’t index this by age–I could have, but how long did you expect me to take writing this?) there’s a wide variety of players strewn across the board at a number of positions who’ve made a significant impact at some point. Some are role players, but that’s true in any draft. I don’t think it’s insignificant that most of the top NBA teams today have players from the 2003, 2004 or 2005 drafts. (Boston does have Rondo who was drafted in 2006. More on him later.) And in the case of Boston and LA, have players from the landmark HS jumps in Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett (in 1995/96) respectively.
2006 was the first year without allowing HS players to jump into the pro ranks directly. So, the talent here is probably not as high as it would have been most years. That being said, there are still quality players in this draft. In my final analysis, though, I’m not going to grade this draft completely yet. So, you’re going to get the 1994-2005 analysis (and to be honest 2005 is too early to grade as well–but I’m doing it anyway).
A-1: Tyrus Thomas (4th overall), Shawne Williams (17th overall) were the only 2 freshman who jumped into the 2006 draft.
A-2: LaMarcus Aldridge (2nd overall), Rudy Gay (8th overall), Patrick O’Bryant (9th overall), Rajon Rondo (21st overall), Kyle Lowry (24th overall), and Jordan Farmar (26th overall) were all the sophomores taken int he draft.
A-3: Adam Morrison (3rd overall), Ronnie Brewer (14th overall), Quincy Douby (19th overall–Geoff Petrie’s major burned draft pick ever? Yeah, it has to be. Even Tariq Abdul-Wahad provided positive abilities), Renaldo Balkman (20th overall), Marcus Williams (22nd overall), Josh Boone (23rd overall), and Shannon Brown (26th overall). Not a single star here, and Brewer is the best of the 3 role players who get rotation time (Balkman and Brown being the other 2).
A-4: Shelden Williams (5th overall), Brandon Roy (6th overall), Randy Foye (7th overall), JJ Redick (11th overall), Hilton Armstrong (12th overall), Rodney Carney (16th overall), Maurice Ager (28th overall), and Mardy Collins (29th overall). Obviously, this list is Roy and everybody else. Williams, and Redick still have a chance to find a spot in this league, and Foye may still make it as a rotation player. Carney is the only other player I even like here, and he’s a bit rotation player. (But you still need those in the NBA.)
Int’l Players: 6 of em in the 1st round most notably: Andrea Bargnani (the 1st overall pick and the best player of the group by far), Mouhamad Sene (10th overall), Thabo Sefalosha (13th overall), Oleksiy Pecherov (18th overall), Sergio Rodriguez (27th overall), and Joel Freeland (30th overall–he might be the 2nd best player of this group when it’s all said & done).
I’m not really sure who else to mention as a real significant player OTHER than Paul Millsap (47th overall).
The rest of the notables: James “Flight” White (30th overall), Steve Novak (31st overall), Paul Davis (33rd overall), Craig Smith (36th overall), Kosta Perovic (38th overall), Daniel “Boobie” Gibson (41st overall), and Leon Powe (49th overall).
Internationally speaking, there were 6 players taken in the 1st round, and 12 players taken in the 2nd round ( 2 of whom went to US Colleges). Of them only Perovic is worth mentioning since he made the jump to the NBA.
Bottom line is that 2006 was not the overall quality of draft, but like many drafts, it had plenty of players in it if you knew what you were looking for and what not. It comes down to savvy, and a bit of luck (like most things). When it’s all said & done, the best 4 players (by far) will be Brandon Roy, Andrea Bargnani, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rajon Rondo. Maybe Tyrus Thomas makes this group 5. Ditto with Rudy Gay and 6. Pretty typical draft in that respect.
Again, no HS players, but a lot more Freshman to track this time around.
A-1: Greg Oden (1st overall), Kevin Durant (2nd overall), Mike Conley, Jr. (4th overall), Brandan Wright (8th overall), Spencer Hawes (10th overall–can’t be too mad at him can I?), Thaddeus Young (12th overall), Javaris Crittenton (19th overall), and Daequan Cook (21st overall). More on this trend later. But, for the record, this is a record 8 freshman in the 1st round taken.
A-2: Julian Wright (13th overall), Rodney Stuckey (15th overall), Wilson Chandler (23rd overall) were the 3 sophomores taken (this doesn’t really surprise me).
A-3: Jeff Green (5th overall), Corey Brewer (7th overall), Joakim Noah (9th overall), Nick Young (16th overall), Sean Williams (17th overall), Jason Smith (20th overall), and Arron Affalo (27th overall). Green is the only major breakout player, but Brewer and Smith could be quality role players in the future.
A-4: Acie Law IV (11th overall), Al Thornton (14th overall), Jared Dudley (22nd overall), Aaron Brooks (26th overall), and Alando Tucker (28th overall). Brooks is the guy I’d want out of that group, but Tucker, Thornton and Dudley could intrigue at some point in their careers. Who knows? Still too young, despite the fact that many of these guys are 24, 25 (and in Thornton’s case 26).
I-3: Al Horford (3rd overall) is a great example of an international player who went to the US to get better. There are a few of them, but Horford is the greatest recent example.
Int’l: Yi Jianlian (5th overall), Marco Belinelli (18th overall), Rudy Fernandez (24th overall), Tiago Splitter (28th overall), and Petteri Koponen (30th overall). Some of these guys were stash picks (Koponen and Splitter and Fernandez–although he did come over to play this past season), while Jianlian and Belinelli came over immediately.
Carl Landry is probably considered the heads and tails best player of this group (or he should be), but he was also picked 31st overall (the 1st pick of the 2nd round). Or Ramon Sessions at 56th overall. Or Marc Gasol at 48th overall. (Sessions will get a lot of consideration, and Gasol may get there too. We shall see.)
Other notables: Gabe Pruitt (32nd overall), Nick Fazekas (33rd overall), Glen Davis (34th overall), Jermareo Davidson (35th overall), Kyrylo Fasenko (36th overall), Jared Jordan (45th overall), Dominic McGuire (47th overall), and Aaron Gray (49th overall).
Someone like Brad Newley may jump into this group.
Overall, there was 6 international players go in the first round, and the best of them (Horford) going to college before jumping to the NBA.
There 9 international players taken in the 2nd round, and only 1 of them attended an US College (Stephen Lasme at UMass).
Overall, this is obviously a talented draft, but 3 or 4 or more years down the road this draft will be better evaluated. I find it much easier to evaluate the 1997 draft, but since there have been so many drafts since, it’s going be that much more difficult to know exactly what sleepers rise to the cream of the crop. We usually know though, by the 5th season of the whole draft class who may rise out of the sleeper pool. Onto 2008.
Obviously, I don’t know whose going to be the best player from this class, although Derrick Rose is a sound bet, and that’s who I bet on before the draft to be that very player. What has surprised so many is how good overall the 2008 class has been.
A-1: Derrick Rose (1st overall), Michael Beasley (2nd overall), O.J. Mayo (3rd overall), Kevin Love (5th overall), Eric Gordon (7th overall), Jerryd Bayless (11th overall), Anthony Randolph (14th overall), JJ Hickson (19th overall), and Doratio Kane, I mean Donte Greene (28th overall). 2008 sets a new record for Freshman taken in the 1st round, and it’s at 9 now. Can 2009 beat this? As of today, Draft Express has only 5 freshman in it’s 1st round mock. And, the international class does not appear deep, but I imagine a sleeper may emerge from the Nike Hoop Summit as well.
A-2: Russell Westbrook (4th overall), DJ Augustin (9th overall), Brook Lopez (10th overall), Robin Lopez (15th overall), Marreese Speights (16th overall), JaVale McGree (18th overall), Ryan Anderson (21st overall), and Darrell Arthur (27th overall). Of this list, Brook Lopez and Russell Westbrook top it. But Augustin and Speights are another tier, and everyone else has a chance to be a rotation player in this league.
A-3: Joe Alexander (8th overall), Brandon Rush (13th overall), and George Hill (26th overall).
A-4: Jason Thompson (12th overall–I love this kid!!!!), Roy Hibbert (17th overall), Courtney Lee (22nd overall), DJ White (29th overall), and JR Giddens (30th overall). I got JT. Who yall want? (I’d take Lee 2nd no question.)
I-1: Kostas Koufos (23rd overall) and whether he becomes a rotation player on the Jazz or somewhere else is the question. But, that takes time usually.
Int’l: Danilo Galinari (6th overall) did not have a good rookie year. It was marred with injuries. Alexis Ajinca (20th overall) hasn’t even seen time on the Bobcats roster yet. Serge Ibaka (24th overall) is also overseas still. Nicholas Batum (25th overall) has already made an impact as a defensive role player on the Blazers.
Obviously, it’s a bit hard to determine whose going to be good from the 2nd round, but I’ll try to name guys whom I think qualify.
Notables: Mario Chalmers (34th overall), DeAndre Jordan (35th overall), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (36th overall), Kyle Weaver (37th overall), Sonny Weems (38th overall), Chris Douglas-Roberts (39th overall), Nathan Jawai (40th overall), Sean Singletary (41st overall), Goran Dragic (44th overall), Malik Hairston (48th overall), and Mike Taylor (55th overall–what makes him different is that he was drafted from the NBDL to the Clippers).
The Bottom line is that when you look at where players are drafted, and how well they perform early on (first 2 seasons usually) that will end up defininges their value later on within the overall market place. When that happens, and a player is picked up off the scrap heap, plenty of people seem to wonder why. Well, I don’t. Mistakes are made in every business, and the NBA has no problem making a player whose undrafted a featured player in the rotation, while cutting a top 10 pick after 2 seasons if he’s a total bust. These things CAN even themselves out after time. It’s not a perfect science, and there’s no way one real perfect way to go about it.
Doing this I noticed some interesting trends of American players, International players in college, and International players overall. Hopefully you pop your head back in to read that. (And, I do apologize for the lengthy pre-cursor. I just felt it was necessary to explain how I saw trends for the drafting in recent times.)