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NBA draft bargains

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

The NBA draft is around the corner in June. We recently had the NFL draft and there were a few surprises, including Brady Quinn slipping down to No. 22 to the Cleveland Browns.

It is so difficult to measure the heart of an athlete. You can all you want to evaluate 40-yard dash times, checking strength and power. You can screen and analyze all you want in basketball too. Check out guys in one-on-one maneuvers, evaluate, watch videotape. The goal is to make that major draft decision based on as many facts as possible.

You can't get into the mind and heart of the athlete to find out what makes them tick. It is difficult to factor in what happens after the player gets the mega-dollars, what will be his hunger and desire.

Then you also learn if they are focused on chasing the dream of the world championship. Is he searching for the right thing, being the best he can be? Is he team-oriented, wanting to help the team win?

Let's look at some players doing it big-time at the NBA level even though the so-called experts didn't have them evaluated right.

Go look at Steve Nash at Phoenix. How many believed he would be an NBA MVP and the best point guard in the game. In 1996, 14 players were picked before Nash was. OK, Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant were two of them, but several teams would love to have Nash now, my friends!

There are so many cases of guys picked later that made it. You never know how players are going to react to certain situations, being in the right place at

the right time.

Stephen Jackson was picked 43rd overall in 1997 and now he is a factor in the playoffs. Rashard Lewis was a second-round choice in 1998. Michael Redd was a steal as the 43rd overall selection in 2000. In 2001, Gilbert Arenas didn't hear his name called in the first round; he was one of the top scorers this season.

We will see what happens this time around. With so many quality underclassmen entering this draft, there should be some bargains in the later part of round one and early in round two.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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