I thought it would be instructive to look back at Chad Ford's 2002 and 2003 NBA Draft report guards to see how his evaluations have panned out. Here are some of the highlights from his 2002 Draft Night Grades:
Round 1: No Pick
Round 2: Darius Songaila, 6-9, PF, Wake Forest (No. 50)
Songaila should be able to step right in and help the Celtics in the post. He isn't the fastest guy, but he's fundamentally sound, can play inside or outside and won't play like a rookie.
Clipper Blog Note: Songalia had a mini-breakout year with Chicago this season, but clearly needed some seasoning.
Round 1: No Pick
Round 2: Mladen Sekularac, 6-8, SG, Yugoslavia (No. 55)
The Mavs go international once again, and once again they get a steal. Sekularac was projected as a late first-rounder. He has fantastic range on his jumper, has an NBA body and has the experience to contribute right away. The Mavs will leave him in Yugoslavia for a year, but you'll hear his name again. You can't do any better than this at No. 55
Clipper Blog Note: Sekularac averaged 16.9 ppg with the Sanex Antwerp Giants last year.
Round 1: Tayshaun Prince, 6-9, PF, Kentucky (No. 23)
Round 2: No Pick
This is an interesting choice. The Pistons 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?
Clipper Blog Note: I think Tayshaun's track record speaks for itself. All that extra credit has raised the Pistons' grade from a B-, doncha think?
Round 1: Yao Ming, 7-5, C, China (No. 1)
Round 1: Bostjan Nachbar, 6-8, SF, Slovenia (No. 15)
Round 2: Tito Maddox, 6-4, PG, Fresno State
They went international and it will pay off huge. Yao is a great fit for Houston and Houston is a great fit for Yao. The Rockets will challenge for a playoff spot with Yao, a healthy Steve Francis, Glen Rice, Bostjan Nachbar and Mo Taylor. Nachbar, who is 22, will step in immediately and provide sharp shooting. Tito Maddox, at No. 39, was also a steal. He was the best pure point guard in Chicago.
Clipper Blog Note: Yao has panned out beautifully, but this comment underscores Ford's over-usage of the term "steal" throughout his evaluations. Remind me never to go to the Barney's sale with Ford.
Los Angeles Clippers
Round 1: Chris Wilcox, 6-10, PF, Maryland (No. 8)
Round 1: Melvin Ely, 6-10, PF, Fresno State (No. 12)
Round 2: Mario Kasun, 7-0, C, Croatia (No. 41) to Orlando
Who knows what the Clippers will actually do with their two first-round picks. Taking Wilcox was a no-brainer 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 Clips. Ely is a bit of a head-scratcher. Yes, he can play some center, but Borchardt would've been a better fit.
Clipper Blog Note: In Ford's defense, I don't think any of us anticipated the progress Chris would make in his first three years.
[ed: I was referring to Kaman, not Wilcox -- whom I think has been valuable, but is still, four seasons later, unpolished...06.29.06, 0900h]
Los Angeles Lakers
Round 1: Kareem Rush (No. 20, via trade with Toronto).
Deals: Traded Chris Jefferies (No. 27) and Lindsey Hunter to Toronto for Rush and Tracy Murray.
The Lakers scored big time by landing Rush for Hunter and Jefferies in a draft-night trade. Rush might be the steal of the draft at No. 20. He's one of the draft's best pure shooters, is fundamentally sound and very smooth. But how will he fare in the rather large shadow of one Kobe Bryant?
Round 1: Caron Butler, 6-7, SF, Connecticut (No. 10)
Round 2: Rasual Butler, 6-7, SF, La Salle (No. 53)
Jackpot! Butler has the leadership skills, work ethic and toughness to start for the Heat. If he stays in Miami, he'll be the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year. He might even be enough, along with a healthy Alonzo Mourning, to push the Heat back into the playoffs. It might be dumb luck that Butler fell this far, but Riles still gets top marks in his first lottery.
Clipper Blog Note: Granted, Butler hasn't emerged as a superstar, but he's putting together a nice career as a third option; R. Butler isn't chopped liver and, as a 53rd pick, looks like he'll have an NBA career.
New Jersey Nets
Round 1: Nenad Krstic, 7-1, C, Yugoslavia (No. 23)
Round 2: Tamar Slay, 6-9, SG, Marshall (No. 54)
Nenad Kristic was a great pick here. He won't be able to come over and play for another year, but when he does arrive 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? Tamar Slay is a long, athletic two-guard, but they really needed a shooter.
Clipper Blog Note: Nice call by Ford on Krstic.
New York Knicks
Round 1: Frank Williams, 6-3, PG, Illinois (No. 25, via trade with Denver)
Round 2: Milos Vujanic, 6-2, PG, Yugoslavia (No. 36)
Deals: Obtained Williams and Antonio McDyess for No. 7 pick (Nene Hilario), Mark Jackson and Marcus Camby.
Scott Layden's back was against the wall. He doesn't believe you can rebuild in New York and he's probably right. So instead of grabbing a young Antonio McDyess in Chris Wilcox, he went for the real thing. He immediately added the All-Star power forward the team has coveted for years. Frank Williams may very well be the point guard of the future. And the Knicks might not be done. If they figure out a way to move Charlie Ward and Kurt Thomas for Nick Van Exel, they'll be a free agent center away from competing for the Eastern Conference title again. Unbelievable.
Clipper Blog Note: It's hard to be the point guard of the future when your team has no future.
Round 1: Amare Stoudemire, 6-9, PF, Cypress Creek H.S., Fla. (No. 9)
Round 1: Casey Jacobsen, 6-6, SG, Stanford (No. 22)
It was a strange draft for the Suns. Stoudemire might be the Antonio McDyess replacement they've pined for the past few years, but he's a long way away. Jacobsen may be the next Thunder Dan, but the Suns backcourt will be awfully crowded with Joe Johnson and Penny Hardaway also back there.
Clipper Blog Note: I don't think anyone saw that coming.
Portland Trail Blazers
Round 1: Qyntel Woods, 6-9, PF, NE Miss. CC (No. 21)
Round 2: Jason Jennings, 7-0, C, Arkansas State (No. 43)
Round 2: Federico Kammerichs, 6-9, PF, Argentina (No. 51)
Did we expect any less from the Blazers? You have to have a rap sheet to get on this squad, and it was Woods' 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 a kid who could be a WalMart McGrady. Just keep him away from Damon Stoudamire. Jason Jennings will make this team and could contribute at center. Kammerichs probably stays in Argentina for a while.
Clipper Blog Note: I know it was only four years ago, but was the brain trust really that high on Woods? A "WalMart McGrady"? More like a Quick Mart Harvey Grant.
Round 1: No Pick
Round 2: Peter Fehse, 6-11, PF, Germany (No. 49)
Fehse, we've seen Dirk Nowitzki. We know Dirk Nowitzki. You're no Nowitzki.
Clipper Blog Note: Nice call by Ford. Seattle has been accumulating bad centers for years.
Round 1: Curtis Borchardt, 7-0, C, Stanford (No. 18, via trade with Orlando)
Round 2: No Pick
Deals: Traded rights to Ryan Humphrey (No. 19) and Jamal Sampson (No. 47) to Orlando for rights to Borchardt.
Curtis Borchardt is a steal this late. They 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.
Clipper Blog Note: Sometimes a "steal" is just a guy who's dropped for good reason.
We'll examine the 2003 Report Card later -- and break down the Clips' two picks.