The talk surrounding the upcoming NBA draft is the influx of international talent. I loved the recent comment from UCLA's Jason Kapono, who said if he had to do it all over again, to be a first-rounder he would play one collegiate season, go overseas and change his name to Vladimir Kaponovich!
Kapono could be a late first-rounder or early second-round choice. His stock went up a bit in Chicago, but the competition wasn't that keen.
College teammates selected in the same lottery since 1991.
Duke: Jay Williams (No. 2), Mike Dunleavy (3)
Cincinnati: Kenyon Martin (1), DerMarr Johnson (6)
Duke: Elton Brand (1), Trajan Langdon (10), Corey Maggette (13)
UNC: Antawn Jamison (4) , Vince Carter (5)
Kansas: Raef LaFrentz (3), Paul Pierce (10)
Kentucky: Ron Mercer (6), Derek Anderson (13)
UNC: Jerry Stackhouse (3), Rasheed Wallace (4)
Cal: Jason Kidd (2), Lamond Murray (7)
UNLV: Larry Johnson (1), Stacey Augmon (9)(9
The draft is deep with international players and underclassmen, but there are a number of seniors who will be picked in the first round. I want to concentrate on a couple of them right now.
The dynamic duo from Kansas, big man Nick Collison and guard Kirk Hinrich, should both go in the lottery. Now, that might not happen, as some have projected Collison a little lower. To me, that would be a big mistake.
If teams let Collison slip below No. 13, a number of clubs that passed on him would pay in the long run. This kid has mental toughness, and he has been well-schooled by coach Roy Williams. Collison gained experience playing with NBA stars as part of the World Championship team.
Yes, Collison has to work on the free-throw line -- just like Tim Duncan, who happens to be the best player in the NBA right now.
Collison has good touch from 15 feet, and he has extended his range. He can post up effectively on the inside and can score and rebound from the power-forward slot. He gives it his all on the court.
Hinrich can make big shots and defend, and he has a winner's mentality.
When you look at the guards in the draft, he has to rank up there with T.J. Ford, Dwyane Wade, Luke Ridnour and Jarvis Hayes (though Hayes has small-forward tendencies). Throw in Marcus Banks and maybe Troy Bell, and that's the basic list of first-round guard prospects.
If I were making a choice, I would want guys like Collison and Hinrich on my team, baby! I expect both to be in the lottery. Will they be superstars? Most likely, the answer is no, but they will be solid 10-year professionals.
An organization won't have to worry about their work ethic or wonder whether they'll come to play, and their off-court decorum won't be an issue. They will act like gentlemen on the court and off it, and they will perform within the team's confines.
There's no question in my mind that Collison and Hinrich will be successful at the next level. Teams bypassing them should think twice and remember back to 1998 when another Jayhawk slipped down to No. 10 -- and has haunted several clubs since.
Celtics All-Star guard Paul Pierce has turned out pretty well, baby!