Lack of dominant player leaves top draft pick toss-up

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

The way the NBA Draft is taking shape, there may be a half dozen No. 1 picks.

NBA handicapper Bart Burcham said picking the No. 1 player in today’s draft has no clear-cut favorite.

“There are a lot of pretty good players but there aren’t any dominant players. The first few picks will determine a lot,” Burcham said. “Just wait and see how many guards go in the first two rounds.”

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While Burcham doesn’t see a deep draft, he does think there is quality in the top half selections.

“I think the top 15 can start and help their teams,” Burcham said.

Actually, Burcham said Ohio State recruit Greg Oden, a 7-foot-1 center from Indiana, should be the top selection. Oden can’t be chosen this year due to the NBA’s new rule not to allow anyone under the age of 19 to be eligible for the draft.

Oden plans to play his freshman season and then enter the draft next year.

The annual draft gets underway at 7 p.m. today on ESPN. Here are Burcham’s predictions:


Toronto: It could be Rudy Gay, Adam Morrison or Marcus Aldridge, but I still think they’ll take Andrea Bargnani from Italy. He’s 7-foot and in the mold of Dirk Nowitzke.

2. Chicago: The Lakers are tying to trade up and get this pick. Houston, Orlando and even Boston and Phoenix are trying to go here. My pick is Tyrus Thomas, LSU, 6-8, F. They traded Eddie Curry. They have a good guard combo, they just need to get bigger.

3. Charlotte: Bernie Bickerstaff is building a pretty good team. If Michael Jordan would leave them alone, this could be Adam Morrison. Jordan did say they need a two-guard, big scorer. It could be Rudy Gay, but I have them taking Brandon Roy, 6-6, G, Washington. He may be the most ready player in the draft.

4. Portland: They were trying to trade up and get Morrison. If he falls to them, it would be the best thing for them. They need a character guy. The fans are having “Draft the ’Stache” parades because of his pencil mustache. Adam Morrison, F/G, 6-8, Gonzaga.

5. Atlanta: It would seem like they would take a point guard. They should have taken Chris Paul and he wound up the Rookie of the Year. Look for them to take Sheldon Williams, 6-9, Forward, Duke. They may take Roy if he’s there and trade him.

6. Minnesota: LaMarcus Aldridge, 6-11, F, Texas. If he doesn’t go one or two, he’ll slide here. If he puts on some muscle and bulk, he’ll be a pretty good pro.

7. Boston: The Celtics may trade this pick to Portland. If not, they take Randy Foye, 6-3, G, Villanova. He plays the same kind of game as Dwayne Wade. But don’t be surprised if it’s Marcus Williams, either.

8. Houston: This could be Marcus Williams, a point guard, or J.J. Redick, a shooting guard. They need a guy to go with Ming and McGrady. If he lasts this long, I have them taking Rudy Gay, 6-8, F, Connecticut. However, Gay could be the No. 1 pick but he lacks intensity. He could be the best guy in the draft.

9. Golden State: They would love to have Gay or Foye, but I think the pick here is Patrick O’Bryant, 7-0, C, Bradley. They got absolutely zero points from the paint and this guy can score there.

10. Seattle: This is one team who could trade all the way out of this for a pick next year. They have a couple of centers they drafted last year and they’re set on the outside. If they stay, it will be Cedric Simmons, 6-10, F, N.C. State.

11. Orlando: Ronnie Brewer, 6-7, G, Arkansas. They would love Roy or Williams. They have three solid starters and he would give them some insurance if Grant Hill can’t play. He’ll be a better pro than a college player.

12. New Orleans/Oklahoma: They need to get bigger. They’re hoping for O’Bryant or Simmons. If they’re gone, it will be Hilton Armstrong, 6-10, F/C, Connecticut. He’s a shot blocker but he’s raw. He could play the four or five.

13. Philadelphia: It will be Marcus Williams, 6-3, PG, Connecticut, if he falls this far. There is a chance the 76ers will

trade Allen Iverson to Boston. Williams is the best point guard in the draft.

14. Utah: The Jazz need a two-guard, so this is where J.J. Redick, 6-6, G, Duke, goes. He’s been guaranteed he’ll go in the top 14, or least that’s what his agent is putting out.

15. New Orleans/Oklahoma: Rodney Carney, 6-6, F, Memphis. They’d love to see Brewer or Gay, but they won’t fall this far.

16. Chicago: If they take a big guy first, they’ll take a swing guy. It should be Thabo Sefolosha, 6-6, F, Switzerland. He has experience and a good all-around game.

17. Indiana: They’d love to have Redick or Marcus Williams or Foye, but they’ll take Rajon Rondo, 6-2, G, Kentucky. He’s not a good shooter, but they love his defense, speed and long arms.

18. Washington: They want a bigger, more athletic guy. They take a chance on Muhamed Saer Sene, 6-11, C, Senegal. He’s huge, but he’s a project.

19. Sacramento: Alexander Johnson, 6-10, F, Florida State. They love his toughness, athleticism and game-readiness.

20. New York: Shawne Williams, 6-9, F, Memphis. He has some size but he can step out and shoot it. But don’t be surprised if they mess up this pick.

21. Phoenix (from LA Lakers). Sergio Rodriguez, 6-3, PG, Spain. When they worked him out, they loved how smart he was. They think he can give Steve Nash some time off during the regular season.

22. New Jersey (from LA Clippers): Any big guy is a project. B.J. Tucker, 6-6, F, Texas. Teams like him because he can guard two or three positions and he’s a good rebounder. But he could fall to the second round.

23. New Jersey: I think they’ll take Kyle Lowry, 6-0, PG, Villanova. He’s not the best shooter, but he does everything else well. He’s a smaller version of Jason Kidd.

24. Memphis: They’re looking for a center, but they’ll all be off the board. Look for Jordan Farmar, 6-2, PG, UCLA, to go here.

25. Cleveland: They need a point guard bad. Daniel Gibson, 6-3, PG, Texas.

26. LA Lakers (from Miami): They want to trade up for Brandon Roy. If they stay here, it’s Mardy Collins, 6-6, G,

Temple. He gives Kobe (Bryant) another option.

27. Phoenix: If Quincy Douby, 6-3, G, Rutgers, winds up here, he could be the best player in the draft.

28. Dallas: All of Dallas’ guys seem to be between 6-3 and 6-6, so I’ll go with Maurice Ager, 6-5, G, Michigan State. He’s a lot like Jerry Stackhouse. He fits in, he can shoot the 3s and he’s athletic.

29. New York (from San Antonio): It could be a foreign player, but I think it’ll be Josh Boone, 6-10, F, Connecticut. They don’t have much size, but you just don’t know who they’ll take.

30. Portland (from Detroit): They don’t need any more rookies. They have one of the younger teams in the league. They’ll take Joel Freeland, 6-10, C, England. He’s another Nowitzke-type.