Originally posted by Eddie FamousBTW Shawn Livingston is a fine player, a tall point guard with skills. Probably better than some of the crap at the end of benches like, maybe the Bulls. So maybe he SHOULD get a chance to play while some of the bench rot can settle down to "enjoy" what their college experience game them, ha ha.
Chad Ford has Livingston rated the #1 point guard prospect for the 2004 draft, including everyone he thinks will go. Here is his top 15.
1. Shaun Livingston, Peoria (Ill.) The line: 6-7, 185, HS Senior The skinny: The jury's is still out on whether Livingston will put his name in. But with several NBA scouts claiming he could be a top-eight pick in this year's draft, that's probably enough to get him out of Coach K's hands in Duke. The comparisons to Penny Hardaway are pretty close, but Livingston is much, much closer to the type of "pure" point guard NBA coaches love. There's no question he needs to get physically stronger, but right now that's the only real knock on his game. The fact he possesses an excellent shooting touch and can score off the dribble at will is really gravy. Add in the flair with which he plays the game, and many believe he'll be the first-ever high school point guard to make a successful jump to the pros.
2. Ben Gordon, Connecticut The line: 6-2, 185, Junior The skinny: Is he a point guard or isn't he? That's still the big question on everyone's mind. Gordon is a great scorer, a good passer and an excellent ball handler. The fact that he almost always plays under control also helps his cause. But he didn't improve this year the way some scouts expected him to and it's pretty clear that he's slipped just a bit this season in most scouts' minds. He's still a lottery pick, but he may be closer to the late lottery than mid lottery right now.
3. Devin Harris, Wisconsin The line: 6-3, 185, Junior The skinny: No one has gained more ground this year than Harris. He really wasn't on most scouts' radar screens at the start of the season, but now some of them believe he's the best point guard in college basketball. Harris appears to be the complete package. He has the size, speed, quickness, explosiveness and shooting stroke that scouts love. He's quickly catching up to Gordon in the minds of the scouts who Insider's talked to. He's a late-lottery to mid-first-round pick right now, but he's climbing.
4. Jameer Nelson, St. Josephs The line: 5-11, 190, Senior The skinny: All of the euphoria from an unbelievable season at St. Joseph's has really helped Nelson's stock. Last season he was a borderline first-rounder. Without changing his game at all, he's now planted himself firmly in the first round. How high? Several teams that had him in for individual workouts last spring claim they weren't overwhelmingly impressed and hadn't seen anything this year that's changed their opinion. There's no question that Nelson is a good scorer and can run a basketball team. He also has NBA strength, which is a plus. However, his small stature and a lack of lateral quickness probably have him slipping a bit once individual workouts begin. His range right now is anywhere from 12-24.
5. Raymond Felton, North Carolina The line: 6-0, 190, Sophomore The skinny: It's not clear whether Felton will be in the draft, but if he is he'll challenge Nelson for the fourth point guard taken in the draft. Felton's lack of size and his inconsistent shooting stroke hurt his cause, but his blazing speed and feel for running a team make up for it. Several scouts consider Felton the best "pure" point guard in the draft and claim that he's on par with T.J. Ford, a lottery pick last season. Right now Felton is considered a mid-first-round pick.
6. Sebastian Telfair, Brooklyn The line: 5-11, 180, HS Senior The skinny: He has the talent. I think there are no questions left about that. What scouts are fretting about are his size and his maturity. Those are the two big reasons why Livingston is on top of this list and Bassy is here. Telfair has a lot of influences around him right now pushing him to go pro. A cover story this week in Sports Illustrated won't help things. It's probably a mistake. Lottery picks are rarely used on players under 6-feet, even great players with tons of college experience. It would be unprecedented for an undersized high school point guard to get that type of commitment from a team in the lottery. If he doesn't get a lottery commitment, he'd be stupid to come out now. Two years from now he'll be at the top of this list. If a lottery team can wait that long, it might just make a deal. But if I were Telfair's adviser, I'd tell him to go to school. The Clippers (the one lottery team said to be enamored with him) aren't worth the trouble.
7. Sasha Vujacic, Udine (Italy) The line: 6-7, 205, 19 years old The skinny: Vujacic, a native of Slovenia, impressed scouts with a good performance at the Chicago pre-draft camp last season. He's a 6-foot-7 combo guard with some definite point guard skills. He's had a great season playing two guard for Udine, but scouts feel he can make the transition to the point in the pros. He'll need to get stronger and speed up his game to succeed in the NBA, but several scouts see a young Brent Barry when watching him. He's a great shooter and has special court vision. He's now a lock for the first round and could go as high as 15 depending on how he looks in workouts.
8. Roko Leni Ukic, Split (Croatia) The line: 6-5, 180, 20 years old The skinny: One of the real sleepers in the draft. He just signed with SFX agent David Bauman (who represents Peja Stojakovic among others) and Bauman is claiming that Ukic is definitely in the 2004 draft. Bauman is also claiming that Ukic has no substantial buyout issues to deter teams from taking him. He's a big kid, but he's all point guard, according to several scouts who have seen him. Several scouts claim he's the best young point guard in Europe right now, averaging 15.2 ppg for KK Split. There are issues about his body (he's rail thin) and his long-range shooting touch (Will he be able to sink an NBA 3?) but teams love his energy, ball handling, quickness, work ethic and athleticism for a point guard that size.
9. Jarrett Jack, Georgia Tech The line: 6-3, 200, Sophomore The skinny: Here's your American sleeper. He's got good size and nice court vision for a point. He's got the NBA body and athleticism. He's had a pretty solid season for Georgia Tech and is said to be leaning toward testing the waters. Scouts worry that the plays a little out of control at times, but they feel the talent is there. The biggest question for Jack is really whether now is the right time to declare. Given the depth at the position, it seems like he'd be better off staying one more year at Tech.
10. Chris Thomas, Notre Dame The line: 6-1, 182, Junior The skinny: He's a true point guard, but his size and lack of strength are scaring teams away. He doesn't have the speed or the floor vision you'd like to have in a point his size. He's a good shooter, but scouts consider him just an average athlete. Some have compared him to a poor man's Mike Bibby. But given Bibby's up-and-down NBA career, that doesn't make him a lock for the first round. He flirted with the draft last year, but couldn't get a first-round commitment. Has anything changed this year? There won't be 10 point guards selected in the first round, that's for sure.
11. Ivan Koljevic, Buducnost (Serbia) The line: 6-2, 175, 19 years old The skinny: Koljevic got off to a hot start for Buducnost this season, but lost his starting job when the team changed coaches. Since then his numbers have really started to suffer. To make matters worse, scouts are still pretty split on his ability to make the transition to the point in the pros. No one questions his ability to score at will, but most haven't seen the playmaking skills to confidently declare that he's a first-rounder at the end of the day. He'll need great workouts for that.
12. Chris Duhon, Duke The line: 6-1, 190, Senior The skinny: We've been hearing some nice things about Duhon lately that suggest that he'll be drafted and have a chance to stick in the league. Scouts still contend that he has the athleticism, intelligence and court vision to be a good pro, but he's just not the type of player who you ask to run your team 30 minutes a game. Expect him to go somewhere in the second and then expect him to make a roster.
13. Marcelo Huertas, Paulistanto (Brazil) The line: 6-3, 200, 20 years old The skinny: Another international sleeper who has been personally endorsed by Leandrinho Barbosa. Huertas has been described as a poor man's Steve Nash. He's another athletic, sharp-shooting point guard who's received little to no exposure in Brazil. The good news is that he doesn't have a buyout, speaks fluent English and is ambidextrous. The few scouts who have seen him play like him. We'll wait until he gets over here and begins workouts before assigning a draft stock to him. For now let's just say that he's emerging on everyone's radar screen.
14. Blake Stepp, Gonzaga The line: 6-4, 200, Senior The skinny: He's slow, doesn't have a great handle, rarely gets to the hole and is known as just a so-so defender. So how does Stepp get on this list? With zone defenses gumming up the lane, shooting now comes at a premium and Stepp is an unbelievable shooter with real point guard skills. He's not going to out run anyone, but teams make take a look in the second round and consider Stepp. They underestimated Kyle Korver last year because of very similar issues and Korver has been a contributor in the league. Stepp's cut out of the same mold.
15. Marcus Moore, Washington State The line: 6-6, 208, Senior The skinny: He was ranked much higher last year based on his size, scoring ability and floor vision. But he tanked at the Chicago pre-draft camp and then has suffered through a so-so season at Washington State this year. He's had his moments (like a 29-point outburst against Arizona earlier in the season) but for the most part he's fallen off the board. He'll get a second look at draft camps and I think people understand that the potential is there. But will it actually translate into draft buzz? Moore may have missed his opportunity.
Best of the Rest: Luis Flores, Manhattan; Timmy Bowers, Mississippi State; Antonio Burks, Memphis; Jason Parker, Tulsa; Alexsandar Capin, Germany
Wait until next year: Chris Paul, Wake Forest; Dee Brown, Illinois; Shannon Brown, Michigan State; Cedric Bozeman, UCLA
(edited by JayJayDean on 5.3.04 1439) “To get ass, you’ve got to bring ass." -- Roy Jones Jr.
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