Bullets hope stars emerge early

April 07, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

For the fourth time in the past five years, the Washington Bullets are headed for the NBA lottery, and hoping underclassmen such as Michigan's Chris Webber, Purdue's Glenn Robinson and North Carolina's Eric Montross will declare themselves eligible and make the 1993 draft almost as attractive as last year.

The official lottery drawing scheduled May 23 at the NBA's entertainment office in Secaucas, N.J., offers hope for upward mobility for the Bullets and the other 10 teams that fail to make the playoffs this season.

Washington currently has the third-worst record behind the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves in the reverse pecking order.

The Mavericks are guaranteed 11 balls in the lottery bin, the Wolves 10, the Bullets 9, etc. Orlando, which has the best record of the also-rans, would have only one ball.

Basically, the lottery is a crap shoot to determine who gets the first three picks in the June 30th draft. Dallas is assured of no worse than the fourth choice, and the Bullets presently would be guaranteed a sixth choice.

Getting the sixth selection will hardly encourage the Bullets to print playoff tickets in advance of next season. It usually takes a first or second selection to guarantee franchise-type players like Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Alonzo Mourning.

But the talent pool has been improved in recent weeks by the additions of underclassmen Jamal Mashburn of Kentucky, Anfernee Hardaway of Memphis State and Shawn Bradley of Brigham Young.

Add those names to such blue-chip seniors as Duke playmaker Bobby Hurley, Tennessee shooting guard Alan Houston, J.R. Rider of UNLV, Indiana forward Calvert Cheaney and 6-foot-11 Hartford center Vin Baker, and it suddenly becomes an attractive list.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense speculating until you find out how many of these guys are coming out," said Bullets GM John Nash.

The most intriguing might be Bradley, the 7-foot-6 center who played only one season at Brigham Young. He has spent the last two years on a voluntary mission in Sydney, Australia, but opted to turn pro rather than return to school.

Possessing shooting, passing, rebounding and blocking skills, Bradley is anything but a basketball freak, and his best years are ahead of him. Sacramento general manager Jerry Reynolds has already said the Kings will take Bradley if they get the first pick.

None of the top first-round candidates will be competing this week in the Portsmouth Invitational, a four-day showcase starting tonight. This tournament usually produces low first-round and second-round choices. Among the 64 players are Maryland seniors Evers Burns and Kevin McClinton, both considered long shots.

The Bullets will have three second-round picks as a result of trades with Detroit and Denver.

For the Bullets, the lottery has become almost a rite of spring, skipping over 1990 when they lacked a first-round selection.

Otherwise, since 1989, they've prayed to the basketball gods that Commissioner David Stern would pluck the winning pingpong ball bearing the Bullets' logo that would guarantee the first choice.

In 1989, Washington used the ninth pick to select Georgia Tech forward Tom Hammonds, who, three years later, was swapped to Charlotte for guard Rex Chapman.

Possessing the eighth choice in 1991, the Bullets traded it to Denver to acquire point guard Michael Adams. Last year, picking sixth, they drafted North Carolina State forward Tom Gugliotta.

Lottery riches

Here are the scouting reports on the lottery prospects, as assessed by Bullets GM Nash and assistant GM Chuck Douglas, who specializes in college scouting:

* Vin Baker, Hartford, 6-11, C, Sr.: Plays more like a small forward with excellent passing skills and a consistent outside shot. Lack of top-flight competition makes his numbers suspect.

* Shawn Bradley, Brigham Young, 7-6, C, Fr.: He has the height of a Manute Bol, but the potential overall skills of a Brad Daugherty, an All-Star performer for Cleveland.

* Calbert Cheaney, Indiana, 6-6, F, Sr.: Excellent shooter with one-on-one skills, intelligent player, never takes a bad shot. Was the "go-to" guy in Bobby Knight's structured offense.

* Anfernee Hardaway, Memphis State, 6-7, G, Jr.: Exceptional size for a point guard with ability to make everyone else on the court better.

* Allan Houston, Tennessee, 6-6, G, Sr.: A creative scorer with excellent range who can shoot and pass. Exceptionally fluid athlete.

* Bobby Hurley, Duke, 6-0, G, Sr.: Excellent passer and fierce competitor. Rated the best pure point guard in senior class.

* Jamal Mashburn, Kentucky, 6-8, F, Jr.: Has inside-outside ability. Will beat bigger forwards off the dribble or post up smaller defenders.

* Chris Mills, Arizona, 6-6, F, Sr.: Blessed with three-point shooting range and strong ball-handling and rebounding skills.

* J.R. Rider, UNLV, 6-8, G, Sr.: Explosive scorer, could play shooting guard or small forward in the pros. Some scouts express concern over his off-court behavior.

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