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Saturday, June 19, 2004

A Little More on Delonte West (and Other Bubble Players)

Look for a helter-skelter NBA draft next Thursday night. What once was thought to be a deep draft may no longer be. Why? All but 6 of the "serious" international prospects opted out of the draft because they couldn't get guarantees that they would be first-round picks. Even the best name in the draft, Tiago Splitter of Brazil, pulled out, and for that reason.

Sometimes kids are enticed to stay in the draft because a team with a late first-round pick tells him that they'll take him if he's around when they pick. But this year teams were reluctant to do so because many of them would like to trade up. Which means in the crazy world of professional sports drafts, where teams don't like to tip their hands, they at least were honest enough in the NBA to tell kids from the U.S., Eastern Europe and South America that they might not get chose in the first round.

What does all of this mean? It means that kids like Delonte West now actually have a chance to go late in the first round, because the depth just isn't there. Perhaps West had all of this intelligence when he opted to stay in the draft, and perhaps it will turn out that he is wiser than the pundits who questioned his decision.

The projections for his teammate Jameer Nelson are that Nelson will go somewhere around twenty-third in the first round. It would be quite fitting if his running mate would be there too, albeit a few slots behind.


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