by user Wt02005

I have to admit it. The off-season can be a little dry. I can read about unbelievable trades and summer camp results, but the excitement and enjoyment are very much short-lived. However, what has truly become a hot source of information has been the recent NBA drafts. The reason this has occurred is that the word rookie no longer implies incompetence or inexperience. The latest rookies have quickly become All-Stars and are now more than ready to garner a championship in their first few years. This was made evident during the 2003 NBA draft, a draft that saw Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony become household names overnight. However, despite their initial successes, who among them has the best chance of truly becoming a NBA great?

LeBron James: The rookie that started the entire buzz. Lebron was drafted right out of high school and started his career with a thirty-point effort against the Sacramento Kings. His production has skyrocketed since then, but his team has yet to catch up. By that season’s end, the Cavaliers barely missed the playoffs by two games or so. One should probably give Lebron a pat on the back for helping the Cavaliers become part of the playoff picture, but the margin of error was so huge that the season felt like a disappointment. In that year, the fourth through eighth seeds all had losing records. I would argue for that collection of Eastern teams being the worst in all of NBA history. The following year, the Pacers-Pistons brawl catapulted the Cavaliers to first seed in their division. Nothing appeared to stop them; however, something did as the Cavaliers posted a horrible second half of the season and once again, missed the playoffs by just a few games. Now in his third year and officially a pro, Lebron and his newly constructed team centered around him, Larry Hughes, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are staying afloat with a 32-25 record. Should fate rear its ugly head, Lebron could once again miss the playoffs. I expect a different scenario, but with his current team, he is not going to advance far in this Pistons-Heat-Spurs-Mavericks era. Lebron has a lot of potential left in him, but I do not expect a championship anytime soon when your team is composed of inconsistent shooters like Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall and relies heavily on air ball prone Eric Snow.

Dwyane Wade: The eighth overall draft pick from Marquette, Wade is clearly one of the most refined basketball players to be drafted. His ball-handling skills are so polished that he is able to weave through traffic like no other. This recent All-Star Game proved that when he went completely perfect in the final round for a 28 second record in the Skills Challenge. However, it was the first round that was probably much more insightful. Wade missed four consecutive three-point attempts before nailing the final one to move on. Three-point shooting is Wade’s Achilles’ heel. He makes it his personal style to not attempt them as he believes that the extra point is not worth the loss in accuracy, but I really think he should keep the option open, especially at the end of games. Wade will become more of a threat if he can improve his range. Otherwise, he has reached his apex and does not have any more room to grow. Though many will disagree, I am still very skeptical as he has played two of his three years with Shaq. Many still claim that Wade is carrying the team even with the Diesel; however, I have yet to see any convincing evidence. In addition, his personal lackluster performance in the Olympics proved to me that he still has lots to grow. For the rest of the NBA, that is scary.

Chris Bosh: Somewhat of a late bloomer compared to the other two, Bosh was the fourth overall pick. He was drafted to the Toronto Raptors that still had Vince Carter as their main star. As a result, Bosh played second fiddle to him. Eventually, Chris Bosh fans united when Carter was traded to the Nets, resulting in Bosh becoming the focus. All of a sudden, Bosh doubles his statistical averages and quickly becomes a 20 points, 10 rebounds power forward and center. I would know; I added him to my fantasy team. I really like Bosh; in my mind, he is our generation Kevin Garnett. Clearly, his first few years are similar because he is the only competent one on his squad and will shoulder any blame for the team’s failures. In addition, should the Raptors ever reach the playoffs (currently that is not going to happen), they are definitely not going to make any noise. It is unfortunate for Bosh as he clearly is going to be a mainstay for the team; it is up to management to help him out.

Carmelo Anthony: The third overall draft pick, Carmelo looked to be the most promising of all the prospects. Having played a year at college at Syracuse and tasted victory, Carmelo was the most mature and most ready player to ascend to the pros. However, in his three years, he has shown to be the least athletic of all the candidates that have achieved All-Star status. Carmelo is predominantly a shooter and apparently, that is all he is. Though he provides leadership to a Denver Nuggets team, any compliments suggesting that he is a fantastic player are clearly bias and inaccurate. He is a great scorer but not a great rebounder or playmaker. In a sense, he is just a younger Richard Hamilton, and surprisingly, has a similar hairstyle. I personally do not think Carmelo has anything more to offer the NBA and that is not good news for a franchise that is supposed to have a very promising future. Currently, the Nuggets are just barely staying on top of their division. Expect yet again, another early first round exit in the playoffs…if they get that far.


Tue 03/14/06, 6:26 pm EST


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