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Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Updated: June 26, 11:55 AM ET Mock Draft

Speculation will continue until Thursday night, but it's time put its first round in pen. Welcome to our final Mock Draft where projected all 29 first-round picks today.

ESPN Insider Chad Ford is answered users questions along the way. And, while the Cavs, Pistons and Nuggets haven't done a very good job of keeping the first three picks a secret, the next 26 picks and the latest trade rumors provided plenty of intrigue.

With the first pick in the draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected ...

1. Cavaliers SELECTION
LeBron James | SF | 6-8, 240 | St. Mary/St. Vincent (Ohio) H.S.
Why? For all 12 of you left on the planet who don't already own a LeBron jersey, here it goes ... Put him anywhere on the floor, give him the ball and get out of the way. When you can say that about any prospect, let alone an 18-year-old fresh off his high school prom, he goes No. 1. End of story.

Moderator: So much for surprises. But before the Pistons make their pick at No. 2, Jon in Sarasota, Fla., has a question about "King James" ... "I don't know what the hype is with LeBron, maybe there is something that I haven't seen, but what I have he can't shoot for anything. Carmelo has a much better all-around game. If the Cavs are looking for someone to win the dunk contest ... they might of found they're guy, but to take them to the postseason, I think they would have to take Carmelo."

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: I can't agree with you Jon. LeBron is much more versatile than Carmelo. He's a better handler, passer, rebounder and athlete. Neither of them are great perimeter shooters, but they aren't bad either. LeBron's more athletic and should be able to play three to four positions in the pros. Carmelo will be a small forward and nothing else. While I agree that Carmelo's proven more on a bigger stage, all the evidence suggests that LeBron is the better player. I think Carmelo is a distant third to LeBron and Darko.

2. Pistons SELECTION
Darko Milicic | PF | 7-0 | Serbia
Why? The Pistons made this decision as soon as they got the No. 2 pick. Milicic can have an impact next season. The word out of Detroit is that Larry Brown will play him plenty to give him the necessary minutes to develop. Milicic is the best European player to come out since Dirk Nowitzki, at least that's according to the scouts.

Moderator: You were expecting somebody else? Well, Will in Grand Rapids, Mich. still has questions about the European teenager. "Chad, from what you have seen, does he look like the real deal? And still being so young, can he put on the muscle mass to bang with some of the stronger PFs and Cs in the league today?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: He's the real deal. He's really one of a kind. He runs the floor, handles the ball, shoots the NBA 3-pointer, plays with his back to the basket, so you can slot him in at the 3, 4 or 5. What sets Darko apart is his toughness in the post. You have to love a guy who has the footwork to spin by an opponent, but still prefers to lower a shoulder and bang. Fact is, Milicic plays in attack-mode at both ends of the floor. The more you push, the more he pushes back. He's got a great frame. He'll definitely get stronger. He'll have no problem holding his own in the post.

Moderator: Anyone want to make a guess at No. 3?

3. Nuggets SELECTION
Carmelo Anthony | SF | 6-8 | Syracuse
Why? Carmelo may already have a locker in Denver, but will the Nuggets send him packing on draft night? Right now, the answer appears to be no. The Bulls-Nuggets trade talk is dead. No one else really has the right combination of young talent and high draft picks to make it worth Denver's while.

Moderator: Still, Eric in Denver wants to know: "Some rumors are going around that the Nuggets are looking to deal Marcus Camby and Rodney White to a team with a mid-first round draft pick. What team in the mid-first round would consider taking Camby and White, and if the deal goes down, who would the Nuggets look to take? Possibly someone in the backcourt?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: Memphis is a good possibility. Jerry West wants to win now and if Mickael Pietrus is off the board, they may decide this is the way to go. They could get that deal done for Wesley Person and the No. 13. The Sonics and Celtics are also looking to move one of their picks and might be interested.

Moderator: OK, it's time for the draft to really start. Toronto is on the clock, but trade winds are blowing up north. What will the Raptors do leading up to draft night?

Mike in Avenel, N.J. asks: "Why is there so much speculation about Toronto wanting to trade their number 4 pick? I understand that everyone trading for that spot wants Chris Bosh, so why does Toronto not like him?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: They do. But there is serious pressure of GM Glen Grunwald to win right now. As good as Bosh is, he's a few years away. I think there's a better than 70-percent chance that the Raptors trade this pick. There's a lot of interest and I think a few of the proposals already made make a lot of sense.

Moderator: But for now, Toronto is still on the clock ...

4. Raptors SELECTION
Chris Bosh | PF | 6-11 | Georgia Tech
Why? Bosh makes the most sense because of his "upside" as a prospect. He can run the floor like a gazelle, block shots and become an offensive presence. But the chances are extremely high that this picked is shipped. Toronto needs to win next season and won't waste time worrying about developing a young talent.

Moderator: Can Miami find another steal like last year's No. 9 pick Caron Butler? The Heat are up next.

Brandon in North Caldwell, N.J. asks: "There's been some speculation that the Heat would take Chris Bosh if the Raptors (or whoever will have it tomorrow) takes T.J. Ford. Why would the Heat do that if they have Caron Butler. They are desperate for a center, wouldn't you think Pat Riley would forget about his hatred for foreign players and pick the polish center?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: Bosh is the best player on the board if the Heat are picking at five. He plays primarily power forward. Brian Grant can move to the five if they need, but the bottom line is that athletic, tall power forwards are hard to come by in the league. The Heat can't pass on a kid like that. However, I still believe at the end of the day that the Raptors take Bosh at No. 4.

Maciej Lampe | C | 7-0 | Poland
Why? The Heat are also looking to move their pick. Like Toronto, they aren't convinced there's anyone left on the board who gets them any closer to the playoffs this year. That's why they're flirting with Lampe at No. 5. He's probably the player with the most upside after the first four guys are off the board. If it isn't Lampe, KU's Kirk Hinrich or Marquette's Dwyane Wade may be the guy.

Moderator: Clippers on the clock ...

6. Clippers SELECTION
T.J. Ford | PG | 6-0 | Texas
Why? The Clippers could go with Dwyane Wade if they need a scorer. Don't be surprised to see them option for Kansas guard Kirk Hinrich or Central Michigan center Chris Kaman. But Ford is projected to be the 'next best player'. It doesn't matter that the Clippers already have three point guards on the roster in Andre Miller (who could likely be gone to free agency), Keyon Dooling and Marko Jaric.

Moderator: Plenty of news around the Bulls, who are on the clock.

Daniel in Granbury, Texas wants to know about the trade winds blowing in the Windy City: "If Dallas makes the trade with the Bulls, is Mickael Pietrus going to be better than Finley in the future? Also, will the Bulls throw in Jalen Rose in the deal?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: Pietrus has that potential, but if you're Dallas, and you're on the verge of a championship, are you really ready to wait? Donyell Marshall and Marcus Fizer would give them an inside presence, but I'm not sure whether either of those guys make that big of a difference in Chicago. I think it's a good move for the Bulls. The need to settle on a few young players (Chandler, Curry, Crawford) and surround them with solid veterans. Finley combined with someone like Juwan Howard (via free agency) would be a nice fit.

Dwyane Wade | SG | 6-4 | Marquette
Why? With Williams' career likely over, the Bulls need a guard who can also help out at the point. As much as they like Pietrus, Wade's versatility makes him the choice.

Moderator: Milwaukee's turn ...

First a question from Jason in Madison Wis.: "Should the Bucks choose T.J. Ford, a relatively untested point guard to replace the 'possibly' departing Gary Payton, or go for someone more polished and a hometown product in Reece Gaines?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: If the Bucks believe Payton will re-sign, they'll go big with someone like Maciej Lampe, Chris Kaman or Nick Collison. If Payton intends to leave it's between Kirk Hinrich and T.J. Ford. I don't think Gaines is in the picture. If I'm Milwaukee, I'd go with Lampe or Hinrich.

Kirk Hinrich | PG | 6-4 | Kansas
Why? The Bucks want Hinrich, Lampe or Ford. The odds are that they'll get one of the three. Hinrich has been high on their list for a month. They love his ability to get out in the open floor and create havoc on the break. They need a point for the pending departure of Gary Payton. And they would rather choose an experienced player.

Moderator: Get ready to boo NYC, the Knicks are on the clock ...

Chris Kaman | C | 7-0 | Central Michigan
Why? GM Scott Layden scores a huge break here if Kaman is still on the board. The Knicks need a center and there is exactly one legit center in this draft -- Kaman. Anyone else would be a disaster for the Knicks. Sure there's talk of their love for Ford and Lampe. But no one realistically believes they have the juice to move up. If Lampe or Ford slip however, that's a different story.

Moderator: This Knicks' pick should make at least Adam in Fairfax, Va., happy. He asks: "Please tell me that the Knicks will use the No. 9 pick on a big man. I don't like the idea of trading up for another point guard. The Knicks can get away with Ward/Eisley at the point. Their real need is down low."

With Scott Layden, no one knows. They just found out that their point guard of the future, Milos Vujanic, just signed a three-year deal to play in Bologna. That means that point guard is a need. If Hinrich or Ford fall, they have to take them because they're better than Chris Kaman. If Maciej Lampe fell, however, I believe he'd be the choice.

Moderator: Up next, the MJ-less Wizards ...

Aaron in McLean Va., wants to know: "Are the Wizards going to go after the best PG available Heinrich/Ridnour or take another scorer like Dwyane Wade?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: No one knows. That's the problem when you have a GM. I hear that the four people they really like are Hinrich, Jarvis Hayes, Nick Collison and Reece Gaines. If Hinrich's on the board, he's a lock. After that, all three guys are a little high for this spot.

10. Wizards SELECTION
Jarvis Hayes | SG | 6-7 | Georgia
Why? The Wizards need a host of players to fill their needs. The likely candidates here are Hayes and Reece Gaines. There doesn't seem to be a consensus coming out of Washington, but the buzz on Hayes is that he could be an option if Jerry Stackhouse were to leave. Hayes is working out well of late and making scouts believe he can be a scorer.

Moderator: With the 11th pick, Golden State is on the clock ...

But at this point in the draft, the same questions come up each year. This year, Adam in Rockford, Ill. does the honors: "Last year Fred Jones was the first 'What?' pick. Which player could we see going way too early this year? Also, last year Caron Butler slipped on draft night. Who will be sitting in the green room longer than expected Thursday?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: I think the two guys who seem too hot are Yugoslavia's Zarko Cabarkapa and UNLV's Marcus Banks. Both of them are higher on the board than their talent warrants at the moment. We could also see KU's Nick Collison go as high as No. 8. That's too high. As far as slipping, Illinois' Brian Cook's stock is all over the board. He could be in the lottery or he could slip to 19.

11. Warriors SELECTION
Reece Gaines | G | 6-6 | Louisville
Why? With Gilbert Arenas flirting with Denver, they need the next closest thing to step in and take over if he bolts. Enter Gaines. His ability to play the one and the two, his size and athleticism and that smooth outside jumper should earn him some minutes in Golden State during year one.

Moderator: Two more lottery picks remain. Seattle is up next ... but Tim in Seattle is wondering: "What are the chances the Sonics will package 12 and 14 and trade up? Or maybe trade them for a veteran? They definitely don't need two more projects, that's all they seem to have."

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: They've been talking to the Raps about a deal that would send Vladimir Radmanovic, Brent Barry and the No. 12 to Toronto for Jerome Williams, Michael Bradley and the No. 12. If that doesn't happen they'll draft either Nick Collison, Brian Cook or Michael Sweetney at No. 12 -- and either Luke Ridnour, Reece Gaines or Marcus Banks at the point.

12. Sonics SELECTION
Nick Collison | PF | 6-10 | Kansas
Why? The Sonics want to go big and also grab a point guard in this draft. They love Collison and if he's on the board the word is they would take him over Mike Sweetney. Collison provides a big body who can score inside and out, rebound and will understand the game better than anyone else in the draft. He loves to play and would likely be a leader in time in the Sonics locker room.

Moderator: Jerry West is on the clock. Will No. 13 be lucky for Memphis?

13. Grizzlies SELECTION
Mickael Pietrus | PF | 6-6 | France
Why? The Grizzlies have him rated No. 5 on their board and feel he could be a serious candidate for Rookie of the Year. They've been trying to move up to get him for weeks. Maybe the Grizz aren't so cursed after all.

Moderator: A late steal for the Grizzlies? Maybe. But Scott in White Lake, SD wants to know: "Will Memphis trade Stromile Swift to Miami for Eddie Jones? If so, with Mike Miller, Pau Gasol, and Eddie Jones what is Memphis accomplishing?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: That rumor has been flying around for over a year. I don't see it. It doesn't make any cap sense for the Grizzlies to do it. They're trying to get some cap room next year. Adding Jones would kill any possibility of getting it done. I think they're better off staying at No. 13 and praying Mickael Pietrus falls to them.

Moderator: OK, Seattle is back on the clock with its second first-round pick ...

14. Sonics SELECTION
Luke Ridnour | PG | 6-2 | Oregon
Why? If the Sonics don't go with a point guard at 12, they will definitely look to grab one at 14. Keep in mind they could ship one or both of these picks to get up higher in the draft. Ridnour won't fall too far if he's not taken by the Warriors. The other options here for the Sonics are Marcus Banks and Zoran Planinic. Ridnour would love to play in Seattle in his native Northwest.

Moderator: Halfway through the first round, time for the playoff squads to add some talent ... Orlando is on the clock.

Chris in Erie, Pa. has a good question: "Will the Orlando Magic look to fill Grant Hill's position, a scoring point guard, or a low post presence if available?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: They're looking a point guard first and foremost. With Darrell Armstrong and Jacque Vaughn both hitting free agency, they want to address that need. They'd love Reece Gaines or Dwyane Wade if they were available. Brazil's Leandrinho Barbosa is a sleeper here.

Mike Sweetney | PF | 6-8 | Georgetown
Why? Doc Rivers was after a point guard but with Gaines, Hinrich, Ford, Ridnour and Wade off the board they decide to add some muscle in the middle. Sweetney may be a little undersized to play the four, but he'll do the dirty work in Orlando.

Moderator: Seems as though Kelsey Rochester of New York has been waiting for Sweetney's name to finally pop up. He wants to know: "Why no love for Michael Sweetney from Georgetown? All he did was eat up all competition he faced his junior season. All we hear about is how undersized he is but what about what he's been able to do at Georgetown without any help at all. When you look at the big men that have came out of Georgetown name one that underachieved?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: Size matters and Sweetney's undersized to play the four in the NBA. His long arms help him some. But his lack of athleticism and strength (he could only bench press 185 pounds three times) have teams wondering what his problem is. As far as big men from Georgetown who've underachieved. What about Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje?

Moderator: Get ready Beantown, the C's are on the clock for one of two first-round picks ...

16. Celtics SELECTION
Marcus Banks | PG | 6-2 | UNLV
Why? The Celtics are playing it coy about Banks. They are saying that he's off their list, but the word around the league is that they have promised Banks he wouldn't slip past him at No. 16. Banks could still go higher in the draft. If the Celtics are telling the truth, don't be shocked if they go with Aleksandar Pavlovic with this selection. They'll likely go guard before they go big.

Moderator: Time for Phoenix to find another diamond in the rough like this year's rookie of the year Amare ... which brings up a question from Sean in Cleveland: " What player will be the Amare Stoudemire of this draft? The player everyone is afraid to pick, and will regret not picking at the end of next year?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: Dwyane Wade will be this year's Caron Butler. As for Stoudemire, that's tougher. Maybe Brian Cook of Illinois.

Zarko Cabarkapa | SF | 7-0 | Yugoslavia
Why? The Suns have narrowed the field down to Brian Cook, Luke Ridnour and Cabarkapa. We think they'll stick with Zarko who, at 7-feet, has the unique ability to stretch the defense.

Moderator: What's the buzz in New Orleans?

18. Hornets SELECTION
Brian Cook | PF | 6-11 | Illinois
Why? The Hornets don't go foreign so expect a big man at this spot. Cook would be the best available player, even though he's not a traditional power forward. He is averse to playing inside so he would much rather face the basket than even think about banging underneath the boards. The Hornets could think about David West in this spot, too.

Moderator: Utah is on the clock ... and Pat in Evanston, Ill., needs to know: "You continue to mention the Jazz as one of the teams that is looking to move up in the draft, but there are never any concrete rumors associated with them. What would the Jazz most likely be dealing to move up and whom would?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: That's because it's tough to figure out how they'll do it. The Jazz want to move up, but what do they have to offer. Andrei Kirilenko and Matt Harpring are off limits. No one else on the roster has a lot of trade value at the moment. Unless they send a couple of future first-rounders someone's way, I think they're stuck at No. 19.

Aleksandar Pavlovic | SF | 6-6 | Serbia
Why? Jazz general manager Kevin O'Conner has to be pretty happy. The team is going to end up with a pretty good pick no matter what happens. If Pavlovic falls to them here, the Jazz are in good shape. He's arguably the best shooter in the draft and a top-notch athlete.

Moderator: Time for C's second pick in first round ... but first a question from Vaughan in Maine: "Ainge came out yesterday and said that no one on the Celtics' roster is untouchable. I feel like this is the year that Walker is ousted from Beantown. What deal would likely make Ainge willing to send Walker packing and are there any takers for Vin's contract?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: The Bulls were talking about a deal that would send them Jay Williams, Marcus Fizer and Eddie Robinson. They would've done that. They've tried to pry away Antonio Davis and the No. 4 pick from Toronto. I think they'd do that. Some sort of combination of Al Harrington, Jamaal Tinsley and Austin Croshere from Indiana also might do the trick.

20. Celtics SELECTION
Sofoklis Schortsanitis | C | 6-9 | Greece
Why? The Celtics have plenty of options to go big and would consider David West or Kendrick Perkins at this spot. But Schortsanitis had a decent workout in Boston and they're considering him strong at No. 20. He could provide the power game the Celtics covet inside. He doesn't have to contribute next season, but if he can, then that would be gravy for the Celtics.

Moderator: Atlanta on the clock ... and a question from Shaun in Boston about Troy Bell: "As a die hard Troy Bell fan, I hope he makes the first round. Wouldn't there be some chance that with Steve Nash possibly on his way out of Dallas, Bell might be a good fit in their gunslinging offense?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: I don't think Steve Nash is going anywhere. Yes, he would be a good fit, however. I think Bell's range is from 26 to Minnesota down to 33 to Miami. He's too good to slip past that.

Boris Diaw | PG | 6-9 | France
Why? Diaw makes the most sense for the Hawks. If the team plans on keeping Jason Terry, he's a good fit in the backcourt because of his ball-handling ability. If it isn't Diaw, it's probably Ndudi Ebi who impressed the Hawks with his work ethic and shot blocking ability.

Moderator: Can the Nets find somebody to get them over the NBA Finals hump?

Zoran Planinic | PG | 6-6 | Croatia
Why? Picking Planinic seems to be everyone's lock in the NBA. But there is still a chance the Nets don't get a chance to make this pick. Planinic has the goods to go much higher in this draft. He might be the third best point guard in the field so another team might want to gamble on a foreign player who has been slowed by injuries. If the Nets have to look elsewhere they could go overseas again. They don't necessarily need a player on their roster for next season.

Moderator: Portland's on the clock ... But first a question from Raphael in Winston-Salem, N.C.: "I wanna know why no one is really talking about Josh Howard the senior out of Wake Forest. What's the skinny on him? I would think he would go in the first round because he is a solid all-around player. Come on, he was first team All-America and the ACC player of the year. Could you please let me know what the deal is with him."

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: Howard's a guy that does a lot of things good, but nothing very good. I think he'll be a good role player in the league, but not much more. He could go as high as No. 18 to the Hornets, but I think he'll probably slip into Round 2.

23. Trail Blazers SELECTION
Travis Outlaw | PF | 6-9 | Starkville H.S. (Miss.)
Why? Upon learning that Bob Whitsitt would make this pick, we feel compelled to pick Outlaw. The Blazers haven't changed their stripes at all and Outlaw, even without the name, is a typical Blazers pick. He's young, has tons of upside, plays the same position as someone else who's young and has tons of upside and can develop at a leisurely pace.

Moderator: Moving along, it's the defending champion ... uh, we mean, Lakers turn to make a pick.

24. Lakers SELECTION
David West | PF | 6-9 | Xavier
Why? The Lakers could consider Schortsanitis if he slips down to them. Josh Howard is a possibility. But the more likely scenario is to grab West. NBA teams love to say he's an undersized four man. But he finds ways to score inside and out. He'll have time to develop in Los Angeles and would be another high-character selection for the franchise.

Moderator: Detroit's turn to add a rookie teammate for Darko.

25. Pistons SELECTION
Carlos Delfino | SG | 6-7 | Argentina
Why? He's tough, shoots the ball well, is a tenacious defender and has played a major role on one of the top teams in Europe this year. Delfino would be a great replacement for Jon Barry. BYU's Travis Hansen is also in the mix here.

Moderator: Hey, look who's back in the first round ... The T-Wolves!

26. Timberwolves SELECTION
Troy Bell | PG | 6-1 | Boston College
Why? The late word out of Minnesota is that Bell's candidacy is gaining ground. His agent, Bill Duffy, is pushing hard to get Bell with the Wolves and it makes sense. They need another point guard, he's local and he's very, very good. He could be the only player out of the Chicago pre-draft camp that gets into the first round. If the Wolves opt for Bell, then the odd man out of the first round could be Howard. High school senior Ndudi Ebi is also a possibility.

Moderator: Down to the last three picks of the first round. The Grizzlies take their second of two first-rounders here.

27. Grizzlies SELECTION
Leandrinho Barbosa | SG | 6-4 | Brazil
Why? Barbosa had a big-time workout in Memphis a few weeks back against Dwyane Wade. He's long, tough, aggressive and he's an excellent shooter, albeit an unorthodox one. All of the English language issues seem to be overblown.

Moderator: San Antonio, fresh off its championship, is up next. ...

Zaur Pachulia | PF | 6-11 | Republic of Georgia
Why? The Spurs could go in a number of directions here. Ebi is on the board, so too, is Howard. They have worked out Perkins twice, making him a possibility. But the Spurs would probably take Pachulia in this instance. He didn't stay in the draft to go in the second round. Some team let it out that they wouldn't let him slip past them and it could be the Spurs, who could use another big body.

Moderator: Before we get to the final pick of the first round by the Mavericks, a question from Rick in West Palm Beach, Fla.: "Which (if any) of the frequently mentioned trades involving the Mavs moving up in the draft makes the most sense?"

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider: I think moving a more expendable player like Raef LaFrentz for someone like Antonio Davis would be a good trade. I think you take a huge risk by moving Michael Finley or Steve Nash -- though that Bulls offer of Donyell Marshall, Marcus Fizer, the No. 7 and Eddie Robinson is tempting.

29. Mavericks SELECTION
Malick Badiane | PF | 6-11 | Senegal
Why? All signs point to Badiane being the guy at No. 29. Dallas' top scout is from Senegal. They've followed him for years and unlike Oyedeji, the kid just might be a steal at No. 29. It just all makes a little too much sense. They do need inside toughness.