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Tuesday, June 25
Updated: Thursday, June 27, 10:13 AM ET
 
First-round analysis
By Chad Ford
ESPN.com

ESPN Insider Chad Ford provides analysis of each team's draft selections. Ford analyzed each selection as it was made. Upcoming are his overall grades for each team's draft.

1. Houston: Yao Ming, 7-5, C, Shanghai Sharks (China)
This is a great fit for Houston and a great fit for Yao. The Rockets will challenge for a playoff spot with Yao, a healthy Steve Francis, Glen Rice and Maurice Taylor. Rudy T runs a great offense for Yao. He likes his big men to step out away from the basket. They have the patience to bring him along slowly and I think the city of Houston will embrace him.

2. Chicago: Jay Williams, 6-2, Jr., PG, Duke
Jay Williams will quickly become the leader of this young Bulls team. The younger players like Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry will benefit from his ability to run the break and penetrate and dish. With his poise and court savvy, I'd expect him to to add 10 wins to the Bulls next season.

3. Golden State: Mike Dunleavy, 6-9, Jr., SF, Duke
The Warriors take the safe pick. Some GMs feel Dunleavy may be the best player in this draft. He has the pedigree. He has the jumper. He has his dad's smile. But is he tough enough to play in the NBA? You look at his frame and his quiet demeanor and you wonder. In the end his versatility and his soundness fundamentally will be the keys to his success.

4. Memphis: Drew Gooden, 6-10, Jr., PF, Kansas
Is Drew Gooden staying with the Grizzlies? Jerry West kept telling people he'd be the fourth pick in the draft and he was. Will he stay with the pick? They have a bunch of holes to fill and may be dealing before the night is over. Gooden's ability to play inside and outside combined with his maturity and polish will allow him to contribute immediately.

5. Denver: Nikoloz Tskitishvili, 6-11, SF, Republic of Georgia
In the end, Denver just couldn't pass on Tskitishvili upside. Some have predicted that he's three years away. I don't think so. We said the same thing about Pau Gasol last year. He's so sound fundamentally, I think he'll be just fine at small forward. Eventually he'll put on weight and muscle and turn into a devestating four. In five years, he may be the Kevin Garnett of this draft.

6. Cleveland: Dajuan Wagner, 6-2, Fr., PG, Memphis
This is the clearest sign yet that Andre Miller better pack his bags. The Cavs were talking to the Knicks and Clippers seriously before the draft. The great thing about Wagner is that he can give the Cavs some point play and he'll be a top scoring option. The Cavs will miss Miller's floor general skills, but they should have an extra spring in their step next season.

7. New York: Maybyner "Nene" Hilario, 6-9, 19, PF, Brazil
No, the Knicks weren't bluffing when they fawned over Chris Wilcox. It's just they got an All-Star via a draft-night deal with Denver that saw them send Nene, Marcus Camby and Mark Jackson to the Nuggets for Antonio McDyess and the No. 25 pick. Nevertheless, Hilario is one of the rawest talents in the draft. His agressiveness on the offensive boards combined with shot blocking skills will allow him to play right away while he learns some offensive moves.

8. L.A. Clippers (from Atlanta): Chris Wilcox, 6-10, So., PF, Maryland
The Clippers get a steal with Wilcox at No. 8. If they want to trade this pick, Wilcox is one of the most coveted talents in the draft. If they don't he'll be the perfect backup for Elton Brand and the run-and-gun Clipps.

9. Phoenix: Amare Stoudemire, 6-10, PF, Cypress Creek (Fla.) H.S.
Stoudemire is raw, but one GM said he has the potential to redefine the power forward position. He already has an NBA body, is a strong rebounder and will deliver highlight dunks. The Suns will have to be patient with him, but he should have a quicker learning curve than most high school kids.

10. Miami: Caron Butler, 6-7, So., SF, Connecticut
This is Pat Riley's dream pick. Butler has the leadership skills, work ethic and toughness to start for the Heat. If he stays in Miami, he has to be the odds on favorite for Rookie of the Year and he might be enough, along with a healthy Alonzo Mourning, to push the Heat back into the playoffs.

11. Washington: Jared Jeffries, 6-10, So., SF, Indiana
Washington gets the "big" small forward they coveted here. Jeffries is smart, fundamentally sound and can play both the three and the four spots on the floor. The Wizards won't have the growing pains they experienced with Kwame Brown, but they won't have the upside either.

12. L.A. Clippers: Melvin Ely, PF, 6-10, Sr., Fresno State
It's a bit of a surprise that Ely went this high. With the Clippers overstocked with power forwards and still enmeshed in trade talks, you never know where he'll end up. The Bucks really coveted him at No. 13. Ely has more experience than most players in the draft. His ability to play both the four and the five bumped his stock up a notch.

13. Milwaukee: Marcus Haislip, 6-10, PF, Jr., Tennessee
The Bucks wanted Ely, but with him off the board a pick earlier, they go with the next power forward with the most upside. Haislip may be the best athlete in the draft. He can jump out of the gym, is incredibly strong and loves to run the floor. Some question whether he's really more of a small forward at the next level, but the Bucks will have the patience to find out.

14. Indiana: Fred Jones, 6-4, SG, Sr, Oregon
This is just too high for Freddie Jones. He's an undersized shooting guard who only really had one good year in college. It's hard to believe that he's better than Qyntel Woods, Kareem Rush, or Jiri Welsch. He is explosive and runs the floor well and is a great athlete. But he's a late first round pick at best. Boooo!

15. Houston: Bostjan Nachbar, SF, 6-8, Slovenia
Another great pick for the Rockets. He's 22 years old and will be able to come in immediately and contribute to this team. He's got a sweet mid-range jumper and likes to put the ball on the floor. Think Mike Miller with an accent. A few years from now, this will look like a steal. If Yao actually gets here, the Rockets will be a force to be reckoned with in the West.

16. Philadelphia: Jiri Welsch, 6-6, SG, Czech Republic
The Sixers had been talking to the Warriors for a month about moving this pick. And sure enough, about 30 minutes after making the pick, Philadelphia traded Welsch to Golden State, which was looking for a point guard. Welsch has the ability to play not only the point, but the two and the three as well. He has the potential to be very special. The Sixers may want to re-think trading him away. This is the player the Wizards coveted at No. 17.

17. Washington: Juan Dixon, 6-3, G, Sr., Maryland
Burn the mock drafts. There were questions about his size, his ball-handling skills and his ability to create his own shot. Obviously, the Wizards think his tremendous heart, leadership ability and clutch shooting outweighed those concerns.

18. Orlando: Curtis Borchardt, 7-0, Jr., C, Stanford
What a steal for the Magic! The were looking for a big man to play center and Borchardt falls into their lap. Teams were concerned about his foot injuries and his toughness, but his shot-blocking ability and his outside shooting will be a big plus for Orlando.

19. Utah: Ryan Humphrey, 6-8, PF, Sr., Notre Dame
This isn't as big a surprise as you would think. Humphrey dominated Carlos Boozer in a workout late last week and Jerry Sloan was impressed with his toughness and athleticism. He's a bit of a tweener, but he has the athleticism and energy to make up for his lack of height. If he can start nailing jumpers consistently, he has the potential to be a star.

20. Toronto: Kareem Rush, 6-6, SG, Jr., Missouri
It's interesting that the Raptors passed on Dan Dickau here. Kareem Rush does give them the shooting touch and polish in the backcourt to replace Dell Curry. I think Rush is a bit of steal here. He can really score and will be a nice compliment to Vince Carter.

21. Portland: Qyntel Woods, 6-8, PF, Northeast Mississippi CC
Did we expect any less from the Blazers? You have to have a rap sheet to get on this squad, and it was Wood's past indiscretions that caused him to slip. On talent alone, he's a top 10 pick in the draft. The Blazers are obviously stacked at small forward, but you just can't pass on his talent. Just keep him away from Damon Stoudemire.

22. Phoenix: Casey Jacobsen, 6-6, G, Jr., Stanford
Is he the next Thunder Dan? Jacobsen may be the best shooter in the draft. Some teams wonder about his athleticism, but no one doubts his competitive nature. The Suns backcourt will be awfully crowded with Joe Johnson and Penny Hardaway also back there.

23. Detroit: Tayshaun Prince, 6-9, SF, Sr., Kentucky
This is an interesting choice for the Pistons. They need a point guard and Dan Dickau and Frank Williams were both on the board. Still, Prince is underrated. He has that coveted inside-outside game and he's very smooth. Does this mean the Pistons are souring on Rodney White?

24. New Jersey: Nenad Krstic, 7-0, C, Yugoslavia
He won't be able to come over and play for another year, but when he does get over here, he'll be considered a steal at No. 23. Teams already compare him to a young Vlade Divac. At 7-foot-1 he can rebound, block shots and shoot from the perimeter. The biggest question left? Does he know how to flop?

25. Denver: Frank Williams, 6-3, PG, Jr., Illinois
For those of you who are wondering who the Knicks point guard of the future is ... meet Frank Williams. The Nuggets were picking for New York here, sending the 25th pick and McDyess to the Knicks for the No. 7 (Maybyner "Nene" Hilario), Marcus Camby and Mark Jackson. Williams is a tough defender and has great strength for a point. Still, offensively he struggles with his shot and his effort was inconsistent at best at times last season.

26. San Antonio: John Salmons, 6-7, PG, Sr., Miami
A late riser, the Spurs are obviously enamoured by his ability to play the point guard at his size. Still with Tony Parker, and another over-sized point guard on the board, you wonder exactly where he'll fit.

27. L.A. Lakers: Chris Jefferies, 6-8, SF, Jr., Fresno State
One GM compared Jefferiesto a young Scottie Pippen because of his ball-handling skills for a small forward. Perhaps Phil Jackson saw the same thing in Jefferies. A late season injury combined with poor workouts caused his stock to slip.

28. Sacramento: Dan Dickau, 6-0, PG, Sr., Gonzaga
What had to be a disappointing start to Dickau's NBA career turned golden when he was traded to Atlanta. Yes, he slipped to the end of the first round, but instead of languishing behind Mike Bibby and Bobby Jackson, he now has a chance to start for the Hawks.

Chad Ford writes the daily NBA Insider column for ESPN Insider.



Round:
1 | 2

Prospects by:
Players | Teams
Positions | Schools
Draft History

Team Pages:



Time is Yao: Rockets make Chinese big man No. 1
  Yao set to conquer NBA

Bucher: Kiki's team

Lago: Foreign invasion into NBA continues

List of trades on draft night

Rovell: Lottery picks money chart

Williams-to-Bulls a win-win pick for both sides

Nuggets trade McDyess, get draft-day makeover
  Ford: Dealing not over







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