Jay Williams was everybody’s All American, virtually labeled by all as the undisputable number one pick and a lock as the NBA’S Rookie of the Year. ESPN commentator Dick Vitale called him the second best point guard in the NBA behind Jason Kidd. The hype approaching the draft was incredible and unheard of for a point guard. Then everything changed on May 2nd when the 7-6 heralded big man Yao Ming went to a Chicago gym to workout for NBA execs. Although Ming had been known a few years for his play in some of the American prep events, no one had really been able to get a full glimpse. To make matters difficult for NBA teams wanting the big man, China’s Basketball Association had to agree with the selection. If they didn’t feel the team selecting Yao was a good fit, China wouldn’t allow him to play for that team, similar to the situation with Yi Jianlian in the 2007 NBA Draft . But in the midst of this distraction, the Houston Rockets successfully selected Ming. It’s not every day a mobile, gifted shooter of this size is available. Jay Williams was selected next by Chicago and practically penciled in as a rookie all-star. But few, if any, failed to see that Williams wasn’t a point guard, a gifted passer, or the kind of player who makes those around him better. He wasn’t very prepared for the NBA, resulting in a poor rookie season in the eyes of many league observers. Then tragically, on June 19, 2003, Williams was involved in a very damaging accident while riding his motorcycle (a violation of his contract). He attempted to make a comeback after his rehabilitation, but thus far has only resulted in color commentary stints with ESPN. Williams was waived by the D League's Austin Toros in December 2006.
Amare Stoudemire went into the NBA out of high school. He was selected 9th pick overall by the Phoenix Suns amid questions regarding his rough upbringing and rocky family life. By the end of the season all those questions were put to rest. Upon winning the Rookie of the Year award, many were left with visions of Moses Malone. Stoudemire’s dominance was unprecedented for someone coming out of high school. Caron Butler’s stock took a hit despite being projected as a top five pick. Butler found himself in the same position as 1998 draftee Paul Pierce. Many labeled Butler as one of the draft’s biggest talents, but his play in the NBA has thus far has been only steady, not spectacular.
Kareem Rush, who hailed a year before as the top player at his position, quickly saw how fast things could change. The same goes for Qyntel Woods, who was pegged as the next Tracy McGrady and a top 5 pick. He didn’t see his name on the board until the Portland Trailblazers drafted him with the 21st pick overall. Woods' off court behavior and admitted guilt of marijuana smoking probably hampered his draft status. Another underclassman also learned the important lesson that past acclaim sometimes means little to NBA execs. Despite being a former Mr. Everything during his prep high school days, Marcus Taylor came out against better judgment, disregarding good advice to stay in school. He later went 52nd in the draft.
A couple of great steals in the draft were Carlos Boozer and Ronald Murray. Boozer was a dominant player at Duke, but many believed his ability and growth as a pro would be limited. He's since solidified himself as a high level role player. Murray went to the pre-draft camps with one thing on his mind - to show people the he can play with the big guys. Coming out of Shaw University, many questioned his level of competition, but after leaving the pre-draft camps, few still had that question on their minds. The drafts biggest "deer in headlights" award goes to the Seattle Supersonics, as no one knew anything about Peter Fehse. He was drafted after playing on a second division team Germany. Seattle later confessed that most of their personnel never even saw him play in person.
There were a number of records that went down on draft day. Yao Ming became the first and highest international player drafted in NBA history, surpassing Spain’s Paul Gasol's record mark (3rd pick overall in the 2000 NBA Draft). Duke’s Mike Dunleavy and Jay Williams became the highest set of teammates to go back to back in the draft. The record previously belonged to North Carolina’s Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins who went 3rd and 4th in the 1984 NBA Draft. Gonzaga returned to the NBA draft after Dan Dickau went 29th to the Sacramento Kings. Future hall of famer and Gonzaga alumni John Stockton was the last Zag to get drafted after he was selected by Utah Jazz, 16th in the 1984 NBA Draft.
Automatically Eligible for Draft: All NCAA seniors, International players born in the year 1980 or players that transferred from a college team to a professional team in the same calendar year are automatically entered.
Draft Order: 14-29 Order is determined by season records and tiebreakers per team.
Early Entry: High school seniors and International draftees are eligible for the draft if they are in the same year in which they turn 18. All other candidates 18 and over such as H.S. Seniors, Freshmen, Sophomore, Juniors, Seniors and Internationals prospects born 1981-1984 can apply.
Irregularities: The Minnesota Timberwolves have forfeited there first round draft pick. Would have been the 24th overall selection.
Lottery Picks: 1-13 Order is detremined by ping pong balls with the team with the worst record getting the most chances. Each team in the lottery is assigned a certain number of combinations, such that teams with worse records are assigned more combinations increasing their odds of landing a top-3 pick. There are a total of 1,000 combinations that are assigned, one of the combinations does not belong to any team and the 4 balls are redrawn if it is encountered. Having 1,000 combinations makes it easier to calculate the probability of receiving the first pick in the draft.
Total Rounds: Two