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Yao over Jay? Rockets will regret it

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

June 21
It looks like 7-foot-5 Chinese center Yao Ming will be the top choice of the Houston Rockets in the upcoming NBA draft. Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich and the Houston entourage visited China, and they were impressed enough to want to make Ming their center in a lineup that includes Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley in the backcourt.

Dickie V sees Duke's Jason Williams (right) as a slam-dunk star in the NBA.
But I have a gut feeling the Rockets are making a mistake. I think they'll be sorry they passed on Duke's Jay Williams. There's no doubt in my mind that he will be a superstar and that people in Chicago will be ecstatic about getting him at No. 2.

Think about this Chicago Bulls lineup: Williams at point guard, Jalen Rose at shooting guard, and Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry and Marcus Fizer up front. Bulls coach Bill Cartwright will love having Rose's experience and knowledge together with Williams, the young phenom.

Williams is a lock for stardom. If I were the Rockets, I would pick him No. 1 and package Francis in a deal for experienced help inside. That says something about how I view Williams' potential. As for Mr. Ming, he has loads of potential, skills and finesse at 7-foot-5. He has great touch, but it's a different world in the NBA compared to starring for the Shanghai Sharks. It's more physical in the NBA, with the banging inside from bigger, more athletic guys.

There are lots of "ifs" with Mr. Ming, but none with Mr. Williams. It's the big guy vs. little guy debate, but point guards are so vital in the NBA today. Just look at Jason Kidd and Michael Bibby and their playoff performances! The point-guard position is so important on all levels, be it high school, college or the pros. Point guards are the quarterbacks on the court.

To me, Williams is another Isiah Thomas. A player like him is a rarity. Look at the championship banners flying in Detroit, thanks largely to Isiah. That's the kind of success I see ahead for Jay Williams.

I know Rudy T has made his mind up, and I love his competitiveness. But if he doesn't want to trade Stevie Franchise, he could package Williams in a deal. I still feel that Yao Ming could be the second coming of LaRue Martin, the big man who was a first-round bust of the Portland Trail Blazers in 1972.

My gut feeling tells me the Rockets are making a mistake, baby, in evaluating their overall No. 1 pick. Still, Rudy T could shock America by having NBA commissioner David Stern announce Williams' name as the top pick. Then Houston would be moving toward the winner's circle.

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