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BURLISON: Top small forwards in NBA Draft

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Frank Burlison

 
   
 
only played one season for Jim Boeheim. But, my oh my, what a season it was ... And Anthony's performance during 's six-game run to the national title was the greatest NCAA Tournament performance of any freshman ever. Boeheim will have to watch Anthony strictly as a fan now And that's fine by the Orangemen's coach. "Carmelo is really good," he said recently. "I'm not sure how many people really know how good he can be." Anthony, who didn't turn 19 until May 29, will ultimately show folks just how good he can be in the NBA. Of that, Boeheim has no doubt. Anthony, listed at 6-foot-8 at but measured (sans shoes) at 6-6½ in Chicago during the NBA's Pre-Draft Camp, was often compared to both NBA All-Star and , the former All-America who led all rookies in scoring for Miami this past season. Boeheim just smiles at the comparison. "He'll be better than both of those guys," he said. The Denver would like to believe Boeheim. They are expected to use the No. 3 pick in the June 26 draft on Anthony, who visited the city and club coaches and officials this week before heading to Washington, D.C., for a Tuesday White House greeting for the team and coaches from George W. Bush. Anthony is the clear-cut best of the small forward crop in this draft although, much in the same way as Pierce has evolved for the Boston , he'll eventually spend as much time as a shooting guard for the . After Anthony, as many as four non-U.S. players could be drafted at the position in the first round. The most notable of those is 6-8 Boris Diaw, whose teammate on the Pau Orthez team in France is another expected first-round choice, Mickael Pietrus, a 6-6 guard considered by many to be the best athlete in the draft. Here's a look at the best of the small forwards. Heights and weights, without shoes, were taken in Chicago during the Pre-Draft Camp. If a player's figures are marked with an asterisk, the height and weight are what were listed in the NBA's 2003 Draft Guide: 1. (Syracuse), 6-6¼, 233
Comment:
He'll lead all rookies in scoring and could hit the 20-plus-point mark. The only major question: How quickly can he adapt to playing man-to-man defense? By the way, do you think those Denver-Cleveland games will sell out? 2. Boris Diaw (Pau Orthez/France), *6-8, 203
Comment:
Everyone who has seen him in the flesh is solidly in his corner as a future NBA starter (if not star). They just can't seem to agree at what his ultimate primary position will be. Let's settle for the "point-forward" moniker that came into vogue, courtesy . People love his ball-handling ability but not his jump shot.
CAVEAT: FOXSports.com hasn't seen him play. 3. Viktor Khryapa (CSKA Moscow/Russia), *6-9, 210
Comment:
He is supposed to have a wide assortment of offensive skills, although some debate the range and accuracy of his jump shot. One team that has worked him out believes he's closer to 6-7 than 6-9. The team that drafts him might wait on him as he plays another season in Russia.
CAVEAT: We haven't seen him in action. 4. Zarko Cabarkapa (Buduconost/Serbia & Montenegro), *6-11, 235
Comment:
Reputedly "long and skilled" with a commendable jump shot. Some believe he's an early to late 20s pick. Others believe he's just as likely to go early in the second round. But, despite his length, all believe he is a small forward.
CAVEAT: We haven't seen him play. 5. Ndudi Ebi (Houston, Texas, Westbury Christian HS), *6-9, 195
Comment:
Easily the second-best of the high school prospects who dropped their names into the pool. Many scouts believe he's worthy of a first-round pick right now. But they also think he'll eventually be a lottery pick if he attends Arizona for a year or two. He reportedly will decide if he will opt out of the draft Thursday morning. The deadline to do so is 5 p.m., ET, Thursday. 6. Carlos Delfino (Bologna/Italy), *6-6, 230
Comment:
Some think he could pull his name out before the deadline, too, if he doesn't like his draft status. He reportedly has a $1 million contract buyout — which would mean he'd have to fork out $650K himself if he wanted to play in the NBA next season.
CAVEAT: We've never set eyes upon him. 7. (Arizona), 6-7¾ , 235
Comment:
He helped his draft status immeasurably with his performance in Chicago and is a bit of a long shot to go in the first round (to Dallas at No. 29?). Those who witnessed his pre-draft performance discovered what everyone with ties to the Pac-10 has known for a long time: The guy is a hellacious passer. Questions about his jump shot and ability to guard on the perimeter will be what might ultimately keep him out of the first round. 8. (Creighton), 6-6¼, 211
Comment:
Struggled at times in Chicago to get open for that jump shot that he flicks off oh-so-quickly and accurately. But he's been nails with the jumper during individual workouts and shouldn't last too deeply into the second round. His passing ability was second only to Walton's in Chicago. 9. (Utah) 6-10, 212
Comment:
If he had a dependable jump shot, he'd be a solid choice to go somewhere late in the first round. But he doesn't and so he won't. He stunned a lot of onlookers with his speed and quickness in Chicago, as well as his ability to handle the ball in full-court and half-court situations equally well. And he can players from the 6-5 to 6-10 range with equal aplomb. 10. (Ball State), 6-6½, 234
Comment:
Sidelined after the first three games of the season because of tendinitis in the right knee that underwent surgery a year ago. But out of sight didn't mean out of mind for Smith, and he was invited to Chicago and played well enough so that now he seems likely to be picked somewhere in the second round. His jump shot was better than most scouts anticipated. 11. (Miami-Fla.) 6-7¼, 218
Comment:
Shot more accurately and with much more range than anyone else in the Pre-Draft Camp. A scout for one NBA team he worked out for recently said he will be a steal in the second round. 12. (Arizona State) 6-9, 200
Comment:
NBA personnel evaluators aren't sure he'll ever rebound forcefully enough to be a power forward in the league. So, if he's to cut it, it's likely to be as a perimeter forward. His jump shot looks nice enough but didn't fall with great regularity at ASU or in Chicago. NEXT-BEST SHOTS AT BEING DRAFTED: (Arizona), 6-8¼, 216; (LSU) 6-6¾, 209; (Texas Tech) 6-3¾, 217; (Mississippi State) 6-9½, 232; (Tennessee) 6-6, 236. THE POSITION'S:
  • ONLY "LOCK" FIRST-ROUND CHOICES: Anthony and Diaw.
  • BEST PASSER/HANDLER: Walton (passer) and Diaw (handler).
  • BEST JUMP SHOOTER: Korver (followed closely by Jones).
  • BEST DEFENDER: Johnsen.
  • BEST ATHLETE: A toss-up from among Ebi, Johnsen and .
  • BIGGEST SLEEPER: Jones or Johnsen.
  • BEST BET TO START ALMOST IMMEDIATELY: Anthony. And we better make that "immediately", sans "almost."
  • can be reached at his e-mail address, fburlison@foxsports.com.
    Tagged: Celtics, Nuggets, Heat, Trail Blazers, Paul Pierce, Arizona, Arizona State, Denver, LSU, Mississippi State, Ball State, Creighton, Butler, Syracuse, Connecticut, Texas Tech, Utah, Caron Butler

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