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10 Draft Questions: Jason Jackson
The 2000 NBA draft produced nearly as many questions as answers Wednesday night. Can Marcus Fizer really play alongside Elton Brand in Chicago? Are the Clippers trying to assemble the best under-24 team in the league? Why did Jerry Krause trade Chris Mihm? Are any of these teams done trading? With so many questions, ESPN.com requested some answers from NBA 2Night host Jason Jackson, who watched the draft in amazement. We'll call this 10 Questions, and it begins at the top of the draft: 1. What immediate impact will top pick Kenyon Martin have?
We should expect that Kenyon Martin might eventually play some center in the NBA. He had so much success blocking shots in college at Cincinnati. But is he healthy? Everyone says he is, but he probably needs to rest for a while before the season begins.
Stromile Swift is the guy. With him on the floor, Vancouver can let Shareef Abdur-Rahim roam at small forward. Swift is a smallish power forward with good shot-blocking skills. But he is creative enough to get his own shot, and the Grizzlies will be able to find mismatches for him. It's obvious that against some power forwards he will have issues. They do have the option of using him at the five as well. Swift can make an impact with points, rebounds and blocks. I also think Mihm will surprise immediately. But how will Cleveland use him? Will it be in 20 or 38 minutes a game? If it's 38, then he can average a double-double, which Brand did as a rookie last season. 3. Were you surprised the Bulls dealt Chris Mihm for Jamal Crawford?
I am surprised. Everything I had read and heard from sources was that Mihm was Chicago's guy at No. 7. The Bulls wanted Darius Miles at No. 4, but couldn't get him. However, they were also salivating for Mihm at No. 7. I think Cleveland drove the deal. I don't know what Chicago is going to do at center, but maybe they will deal with that in free agency. I've always been told that this is the last year of the triangle in Chicago. But with Jamal Crawford, the triangle is alive with a big guard as its focal point. Jamal is just that type of creative player. Mihm is a tremendous fit in Cleveland. This really helps the Cavs and especially Shawn Kemp. Mihm can provide scoring at center. The last two years that position has been questionable for them because Zydrunas Ilgauskas has had those foot problems. There was a lot of thought that Iakovos Tsakalidis was the guy the Cavs wanted at No. 8, but in this deal they get a guy with proven offensive skills, and you can always teach better defense. As for having Fizer and Brand co-exist in Chicago, you can teach guys to do that if you are winning. Marcus can play the three or four, really. On defense, a smaller guy can get by him at the three, but he has such an amazing NBA body with quickness and skill that he will be able to adapt his game. Maybe a season or two down the road, he'll get there. But he can also slide into the four spot when Brand is out of the game or when Brand is playing center. That is all part of the equation here. 4. Were you surprised by the order in which the point guards went?
What really surprised me is that Mateen Cleaves doesn't have to move. I expected Cleaves to go in the 20s (he went to Detroit at No. 14). He didn't have good pre-draft camps to change the scouts' opinions of him. He will always have that fancy assist-to-turnover ratio, but he is just not a shooter. If he's a backup to Lindsey Hunter, he will definitely be the favorite bench player of the fans in Detroit. If Hunter gets hurt, and we're certainly not wishing for that, then Cleaves can show us if that storied college career with a national championship is worthy of a successful NBA career. I'm not really surprised that Crawford went that high. He had a great camp and became the No. 1 point guard after Chicago. To be honest, Keyon Dooling was picked for a reason at No. 10. I don't think we can apply a lot into him going there. It was a directive for a deal with the Clips. I was a little suprised Crawford went as high as he did as well, but there were mitigating circumstances with Cleveland. After those two, it was Cleaves, Speedy Claxton and then Erick Barkley. That sounds about right. 5. The Clippers got a lot younger with the drafting of Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson and acquiring Keyon Dooling and Corey Maggette in trades. Will it matter?
Well, at least the Clips don't have to pay a lot of money right now. They also have a lot of guys on the roster. I'd like to wait to see who is without a job when everyone gets to camp. I am a little amazed, though. There is a lot of young talent now, which kind of stays with the Clipper theme. I wont berate them endlessly, it's clear what they are doing. They want to make money, not wins. That's the plan. It's a directive from the top. But they do have an interesting bevy of young talent. This gives Lamar Odom hope while he is in L.A. Can all these kids adapt their game together? They will do some things and could even get to 35 wins. But is it too much young talent to make a run in 2000-2001? With people learning a new offense? And who directs them? There are a lot of questions. I still think there are too many young players to be successful right now. Where are the veterans? At least they are all skilled players. I am a big fan of Miles. I really didn't think the Clippers wanted him. He fit well with Chicago or Orlando, but he was the best player at the time they drafted him. Miles has done a great job for himself in getting taken that high. If he is the second coming of Kevin Garnett, that's great for them. I'm happy with that pick at No. 3. 6. Miles was one guy who really was helped by the pre-draft workouts and camps. So were Dooling and Crawford. Some guys with nice college credentials like Chris Carrawell, A.J. Guyton and Chris Porter fell. Is there too much emphasis on pre-draft camps?
I don't think so. This is what the scouts have to go on in many cases. If you go to camp and play well, it makes a big difference. It's probably not fair. There should be more weight on college careers, but for many guys college careers are woefully short. Personnel directors have so little tape to look at they, have to see the guys in person. You really can't fault them for that. These kids finally play against their peers and you apply more credence to doing it against a similar player. Sometimes with these college stars, it's boys vs. men. Also, there are a lot of Europeans that you can't trust the tape on. Camps are very important, but it's the reality of the situation. 7. Dallas got Etan Thomas at No. 12 and traded for Courtney Alexander one pick later. How do you rate the Mavs' moves?
First of all, since they are clearly not short on coaching -- as they have enough coaches to outduel the players -- you have to think they scouted enough. Also now, owner Mark Cuban is really running the show. The Mavs did a nice job in this draft. If they can capitalize on the success they had late in the season and move forward with it, these young guys can fit right in. If they are starting over, it's different. It's tough for guys like these who had success in college to come right in and perform for a team that loses 55 games. If you get off to a positive start it helps. The Mavs got a lot younger with these guys, both of whom can really play. These weren't strange picks, which is strange for Don Nelson. While I assume that Nellie had a say, Cuban is calling the shots, and he went with safe picks. They are safe, but good picks. It's very different than in the past. They did not take risks this time. 8. Who are the second-round steals?
For the Bulls to get A.J. Guyton in the second round, with what we thought of his college game, that is a very decent pick. The Bulls were working their trifecta in the second round with three consecutive picks and Guyton was a nice selection. After that, they went East coast with the two UConn guys in Jake Voskuhl and Khalid El-Amin. But with Guyton, he can even play the two-guard spot, especially with the triangle. Also, I think having Eduardo Najera going so far into the second round surprised me. He's not really a true center, as he is more of a four, but I am surprised he went that late. It's a good move for Dallas to keep him in Texas. From a community relations standpoint to get him in Texas near Mexico where he is a gate attraction, that's good. Houston would have worked better, and the Rockets need someone with Hakeem Olajuwon's career winding down. However, Dallas can use him up front also. 9. Who were the big winners in the draft?
It's definitely Cleveland. I am so surprised this deal with Chris Mihm went through. The Cavs have to make decisions about the three spot, as I assume Wes Person will be given a chance to start, but this takes the scoring pressure off Kemp as well. They never thought they could get Mihm at that spot. I am very surprised. People can see my bio and see that I lived in Cleveland, but I really believe this. The Cavs figured they would have to take Tsakalidis, who eventually went at No. 25. But the Cavs did much better than that. As I gander down the first round, that's the one that jumps out at me. As far as the Magic, I guess they are a winner, but I am not excited about the deal with Dallas from their standpoint. Courtney Alexander is a pure scorer, Corey Maggette is not tapped on potential, I'm just not a fan of doing that, but they were cleaning out space. If it's not Tim Duncan and Grant Hill that they get, then it's Tracy McGrady and Duncan. I don't know if you mortgage the future on possibilities, though. We'll see. 10. And who were the big losers?
The Miami Heat have done nothing for themselves. It's obviously difficult for them since they do so well in the regular season and then can't get anywhere in the playoffs, but they needed help. I know they didn't have a first-round pick, but still they didn't do much. The Heat did get Chris Gatling the other day, moving the veteran to his eighth team in five years. Are Heat fans supposed to get excited about the possibilities of Eddie House and Ernest Brown? I assume Pat Riley will do some things via free agency, because this draft was embarrassing. For a team trying to get better and get to the next step, they are the big losers.