Bartram grades NBA draft low

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 25, 2004

The picks have been made. Now comes the grading period.

The NBA draft was filled with high school stars and foreign players. Bart Burcham, assistant basketball coach at Ironton and draft handicapper, passed out grades for all the NBA teams regarding Thursday's selections.

Eight high school players, six foreign players and 11 underclassmen were selected in the first round. Only four seniors were chosen.

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There were also five trades announced although the Chicago-Phoenix deal has to be approved.

Overall, Burcham said it was not an outstanding draft. He only rated a few teams with a solid choice of talent.

"This draft has one or two guys who can help their teams next year. This is mostly a draft of bench players. Most everyone is being drafted based on potential. It's like a developmental draft," Burcham said.

One trade that met with Burcham's approval was Orlando sending a future No. 1 pick for Denver's pick of Jameer Nelson.

"I think Orlando made a pretty good deal," Burcham said. "They need a point guard. Nelson is small, but he's won on every level. He just has that knack. If they get a good player for (Tracy) McGrady, they'll be pretty good in a couple of years."

Charlotte had the second pick in the draft and went right after Connecticut center Emeka Okafor which proved to be a smart choice.

"Getting Okafor gives them a rock-solid cornerstone. He'll be a good player for years if he doesn't get hurt," Burcham said. "They want to build with defense and he's the best guy in the draft for that."

The Cleveland Cavaliers had the blockbuster pick last year with LeBron James. Although there wasn't the same fanfare, Burcham liked the Cavs pick of Luke Jackson.

"I like Cleveland getting that Luke Jackson. That's the one thing they're missing. He shot 43 percent from the 3-point line. With their inside guys and LeBron James, he'll get some looks," Burcham said.

Utah's picks of Pavel Podkolzine, a 7-5 center from Russia, and 6-9 Kris Humphries of Minnesota were good decisions according to Burcham.

Also doing well was Boston which had three picks in the first round: center Al Jefferson of Prentiss High School in Mississippi, physical guard Tony Allen of Oklahoma State, and shooting guard Delonte West of St. Joseph's.

"Utah got two good picks. They can score, they have NBA bodies, and they'll be pretty good in a couple of years," Burcham said.

"Boston had three good picks, but you really don't know. The last time they had three picks in the first round those guys aren't around. They need an inside guy and Jefferson could be it in a couple of years."

On the flip side, Burcham said Portland "had the most questionable draft. Why would you take a guy who can't shoot? The only thing I can think of is (Sergei) Monia has a shoe deal with Adidas and they just happen to be based in Portland. It makes you wonder if a (financial) deal was made between Adidas and Seattle."