Thursday , Dec , 22 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Looking at the past

They say it takes about 3 years before you know if a draft pick is going to plan out or not. Well for the 2000-2002 class it’s pretty obvious who is going to be a player and who is not now. The top 3 picks are where you look to get a potential super star, a cornerstone for your franchise. However for a lot of the teams that picked in the top 3 during 00-02, they weren’t able to get that outcome.

2000

1. Kenyon Martin

In probably the only year that he could have been a number one overall pick, Kenyon Martin has not been too bad. He was a big part of why the Nets got to the finals two years in a row, but he did have Jason Kidd. In Denver he hasn’t been all star that he was in New Jersey, but he’s a good player still. New Jersey made the right choice, because this is one of the weaker draft classes in recent memory; Kenyon was the best choice out there.

2. Stromile Swift

For Memphis he was a highlight waiting to happen, but not much more. He’s never quite lived up to expectations that people have for a guy of his athletic ability. It’s hard to believe that a guy his size and with his leaping ability has a career average of 4.9 boards a game. The wrap on him coming out of LSU was that his basketball IQ isn’t the greatest and it continues to show in Houston, where he’s off to a terrible start.

3. Darius Miles

Tough to pass on an athlete like Darius, so you can’t blame him for going so high. He’s been a jumpshot away from elite status since out of high school, and here we are five years later, and he’s still a jump shot away. Though it has improved some, as well as his muscle, but not by much – he’s not where anyone expected him to be.

Overall this is probably one of the worst draft classes in awhile. Of the three only Martin has been an all star, and that was one time with Jason Kidd as his point guard. But if they were going to go back and redo this draft, it’d be hard to see it going much different aside from maybe bumping up Jamaal Magloire for Stromile. There just isn’t anyone much better than these three guys, and that’s saying something about the lack of depth.

2001

1. Kwame Brown

If it wasn’t for Darko Milicic this guy would be the poster boy for busts of the 2000s. He was the total package, a great NBA ready body, great athleticism, and could almost do it all. Michael Jordan fell in love with him from day one until he actually got to play with him. You can almost blame as Jordan as much as you can blame Kwame for his early struggles, but with a new chance and opportunity in LA, it’s looking more like his fault and not Jordan’s.

2. Pau Gasol

Pau has become one of the better power forwards in the league with the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s become the centerpiece for a team that Jerry West has turned around from a lottery contender every year, to a playoff team. He’s a 20 and 10 threat on every night, and has the ability to step out away from the block.

3. Tyson Chandler

It took awhile for Tyson, but he made it through the tough times and is a decent player now. It’s unfair that he and Eddy Curry had to play the tough part of their careers together and didn’t get to stay together when they became ready to play at this level. Tyson has to be the man down low in Chicago now, but would have been great alongside Eddy Curry. He’ll never be much of a scorer, but he’s a guy who can control a game without doing so. His shot blocking and rebounding skills are incredible, but he’ll never become the player he’s capable of becoming until he gets another good big man aside him.

Strong draft class, there was several players like Gilbert Arenas, Earl Watson, Mehment Okur, and Trenton Hassel who went in the second round that are solid NBA pros now. Kwame Brown would definitely not be in the top 3 if this draft was redone, unless Mitch Kupchak was picking. You can make cases that Joe Johnson, Eddy Curry, or Richard Jefferson would be taken in the top 3 in place of Kwame or Tyson. The first overall selection if this draft was redone would likely be Pau Gasol, as he’s been the solidest of the original top 3, and big men are at such a premium.

2002

1. Yao Ming

The big fella hasn’t turned into a complete bust, but not the star that the people of China were hoping for. He’s not very tough, isn’t very strong, and by no means can carry a team like most great big men can. Without Mcgrady out at the beginning of this year he had a chance to show what he’s capable of, and while his numbers were nice, the wins weren’t. He’s shown he is a good big man, but not that he’s a franchise player who can carry his team.

2. Jay Williams

He was stuck running the triangle offense in Chicago, an offense that really doesn’t fit his strengths as a true PG at all. His career will be plagued by his stupid motorcycle accident that nearly ended his playing days. He’ll never be the high profile guard he was at Duke but  he could become a solid point guard again some day. Top 3 material though, no way.

3. Mike Dunleavy

A definite stretch at 3 even the day he was drafted. His basketball IQ is great, but he’s not the solid all around player yet that Golden State expected him to be, and it’s 2005. If they could go back, he’d definitely be no where near the top of their draft board.

 Lot of underachievers so far in this draft, at least at this point 3 years later. Amare Stoudemire would definitely be the number one pick in this draft, by a mile. As for the other two picks, there is a case that Ming should be in it still, based on potential alone. However, Boozer (Before he decided to take a year off for a hamstring) and Butler probably make better cases.

Out of all 9 players, two of them are franchise players right now. One of them, Yao Ming is hardly living up to expectations and isn’t giving his team what they need from him in order to be a contender. With the age limit you won’t see any high school players coming in with the burden that comes with being a number one pick like Kwame Brown did. With teams getting a year or even two in some cases to look at the guy their going to pick in college, we will start seeing smarter selections being made, instead of gambles that don’t pay off.