The Night Got Very Chilly For Some Draft Hopefuls
Deron Williams
Deron Williams
National Basketball Columnist
Posted Jun 29, 2005


Andrew Bogut and Marvin Williams were the first players chosen in the 2005 NBA Draft in New York City Tuesday. And the three best point guards went off the board with selections 3-5. But once Martell Webster was tabbed by Portland, trying to figure out what was happening next became a very dicey proposition.

The 2005 NBA Draft should be remembered as much for the players who weren’t selected as much as for those who filled the 14 spots in the lottery and the remaining 16 selections in the first round Tuesday night.

 

As expected, Andrew Bogut and Marvin Williams went 1-2 to Milwaukee and Atlanta to start things off.

 

And, as forecast in our final mock first round Monday, point guards Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Raymond Felton went 3-4-5, to Utah, New Orleans and Charlotte, respectively, while Martell Webster – easily the best high school prospect in this draft, despite the Gerald Green hyperbole on other Internet sites – went No. 6 to Portland.

 

Then, as you know if you were transfixed by the ESPN broadcast, things began unraveling for all of those who crafted mock first rounds with such diligence.

 

Toronto knocked everyone for a loop – in the broadcast crew and watching in the audience or in TV Land – by tabbing Charlie Villanueva at No. 7.

 

I’m sure the Raptors’ decision makers thought long and hard about that one. But count me among the legions of the baffled over that decision.

 

Kudos to their choices at No. 16 (Joey Graham) in the first round and point guard Roko Ukic (via Croatia) at No. 41 in Round 2. The latter was a fellow they had contemplated taking in the 16 spot.

 

But, especially if you’re a fan/observer of the Southeastern Conference, one of the major stories of Tuesday night’s events concerned some of the players who didn’t hear their names called by either Commissioner David Stern (in the first round) or his deputy, Russ Granik (during the 30 second-round selections).

 

Kennedy Winston (Alabama) and Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh (both of Florida), three of the SEC’s 10 best players last season, and Randolph Morris (Kentucky), one of the conference’s most promising post players, were all blanked Tuesday night.

 

And each left NCAA eligibility on the table, the first three a year apiece and Morris three seasons’ worth.

 

They learned a very painful lesson and one that, unfortunately, too few players – and whoever happens to be advising them – are going to heed in the future:

 

If you’re not going to exhaust your college eligibility – and the free education and room and board that come along with it – you’d better have as much of a guarantee that someone is going to pick you as is possible in a business in which promises can sometimes be taken with a whole box of salt.

 

Do you think each of those four would like to be back on campus in the fall, helping their teams compete for an SEC title and deep runs into the NCAA tournament and the opportunity to enhance their stock for what should be a very thin – thanks to the ban on high school players – 2006 draft, talent wise?

 

That’s not a difficult question.

 

C.J. Miles, Monta Ellis, Louis Williams and Amir Johnson, who signed with Texas, Mississippi State, Georgia and Louisville, respectively – didn’t enter the draft pool thinking “we may be second-round picks, but we’re cool with it”, you can rest assured.

 

Each of the four were 2005 McDonald’s All-Americas but will be fortunate to be playing in National Basketball Development League games next fall. Sorry, guys . . . your career paths have definitely hit some speed bumps.

 

Some other draft-night observations:

 

·         Utah (trading up to get the best point guard in the draft in Deron Williams), Charlotte (bagging national championship ring-holders in Tar Heels Raymond Felton and Sean May at No.’s 5 and 13) and Portland (parlaying a No. 3 selection that it would have used for Martell Webster anyway into Webster and Georgia Tech guard Jarrett Jack) were among the big “team” winners. So was New York, which (thanks to the Kurt Thomas/Quentin Richardson trade with Phoenix) was able to secure three first-round selections in Channing Frye, Nate Robinson and David Lee who should have immediate and forceful impact on the Knicks’ rotation next season – no matter who is coaching them.

 

·         Add Chris Taft to the list – very near the top of the list – of college guys’ who made decisions to depart school that were proven to be ill-advised. Many Internet sites hyped the Pittsburgh sophomore as a sure-fire lottery selection – and possible No. 1 overall selection – for much of the season, even when it became apparent that he was a long way, effort- and skill-wise, from being the kind of prospect anyone was going to invest a early- or mid-first round selection on. Tuesday night, he lasted until 12 picks deep into the second round before Golden State stopped his freefall.

 

·         Was it me or did Hakim Warrick seem awfully morose after going No. 19 (to Memphis) in the first round, as the last prospect still sitting in the “Green Room” after being projected to go as early as No. 9 to Golden State? Dude, look at this way: there are a bunch of guys who would have gladly traded places with you. And you’re now rich!

 

An April inductee into the USBWA Hall of Fame, Frank Burlison is Scout.com’s National Basketball Expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at www.FrankHoops.com

 



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