Local News

Bulls Select Duke's Elton Brand First in NBA Draft

Posted June 29, 1999

— All those trade scenarios, all those intricate plans that consumed Jerry Krause's life since he won the lottery a month ago turned out to be a bunch of Bull-oney.

In the end, the Chicago Bulls decided to keep their No. 1 pick and select Elton Brand, the college player of the year who left Duke after his sophomore season.

Brand, a 6-foot-8 forward, was chosen after the Bulls took a serious last look at Rhode Island's Lamar Odom, bringing him into Chicago for a workout on the eve of the draft.

Krause went with the safer of the two picks, choosing to try to rebuild his dynasty with a solid frontcourt player.

Steve Francis was chosen second by Vancouver, Baron Davis went third to Charlotte, Odom went fourth to the Los Angeles Clippers and high schooler Jonathan Bender went fifth to Toronto but will be traded to Indiana for Antonio Davis.

``I didn't know where I was going to fit in this draft. I did want to be the No. 1 pick,'' Brand said. ``I feel I am the best player and I can improve a lot. I think I can be the cornerstone in their rebuilding.''

Asked if he knew he would be the No. 1 overall pick, Brand said: ``Not at all. I didn't have the slightest idea. I feel blessed.''

Brand, 20, was the first player ever to leave Duke as an underclassman. He averaged 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds in his final season there, leading the Blue Devils into the NCAA championship game.

Brand became the first player from Duke ever selected first overall.

``He's just an outstanding person,'' Krause said. ``It was a very tough decision. We just came to a decision that we think Elton Brand is an outstanding player.''

The Grizzlies selected second and chose guard Francis, who had indicated he would be less than enthralled to play in Canada. Francis kept his head buried in his hands as his name was announced, then raised his arms in the air to a loud ovation as he walked onstage to meet commissioner David Stern.

Francis played in college at nearby Maryland, averaging 17.0 points in his only season for the Terrapins. Francis, 22, was a first-team All-ACC selection last season and was widely considered one of the most exciting college players to watch.

A shooting guard in college who was expected to be a point guard in the pros, Francis might play alongside point guard Mike Bibby with the Grizzlies.

``Hopefully, when I wake up tomorrow, I'll be happy,'' said Francis, who has never been to Canada. ``I feel relieved now more than happy.''

Davis was taken third by the Charlotte Hornets, who had said they would grab the UCLA guard if he was still available.

Davis, 20, left the Bruins after a sophomore season in which he averaged 15.9 points and 5.1 assists while still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered during the 1998 NCAA tournament.

Davis had said prior to the draft that he would prefer to play for the Los Angeles Clippers, who selected fourth.

The drafting of Davis is expected to speed up the Hornets' efforts to trade veteran point guard David Wesley. Charlotte also has been trying to deal one of its power forwards, Derrick Coleman or Anthony Mason.

Instead of getting Davis, the Clippers landed Odom, the 6-foot-10 phenom who so intrigued Krause.

The 19-year-old Odom had one of the most bizarre pre-draft existences of anyone, making himself eligible, hiring and then firing an agent, trying to get reinstated at Rhode Island and then missing a pre-draft physical before NBA scouts in Chicago.

Those were only the latest travails involving Odom, who attended three high schools during his senior season and planned to enroll at UNLV before the validity of his entrance exam scores were brought into question.

``Some decisions I made may not have been the best at that time,'' Odom said. ``I'm 19 years old. I'm thankful I didn't make those mistakes when I'm 29 and it's too late.''

At Rhode Island, he averaged 17.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists - numbers that had many player personnel directors calling him the most talented all-around player available.

Odom's thoughts on joining the Clippers, the league's perennial doormat: ``When the Bulls got Michael Jordan, they weren't the best team in the NBA.''

Toronto, selecting fifth, took the rail-thin, 205-pound Bender of Picayune, Miss., who scored 31 points in the McDonald's All-American game, breaking Jordan's record by one.

The Raptors have already worked out a trade with Indiana that will send Bender to the Pacers in exchange for Davis. The trade will be formally announced Aug. 1, Davis' agent said.

Bender, 6-foot-10, was chosen higher than any high school entrant since Kevin Garnett, who went fifth overall to Minnesota in 1995.

Wally Szczerbiak went sixth to the Minnesota Timberwolves, becoming the first senior selected in this draft. In 1997 and 1998, seniors were the top picks overall. The Wolves acquired the sixth pick from New Jersey in the Stephon Marbury trade.

Szczerbiak, 22, a 6-7 small forward with NBA 3-point range and a strong all-around game, is one of three collegians who have been added to the U.S. national team that will compete in July for a qualifying berth in the 2000 Olympics.

The others are Brand and Richard Hamilton, a shooting guard from Connecticut who was chosen seventh by the Washington Wizards - much to the delight of the hometown crowd.

Hamilton, 21, left Connecticut after a junior season in which he averaged 21.5 points and led the Huskies to the national title. He could move right into the starting lineup if the Wizards lose Mitch Richmond to free agency. Richmond is said to be pondering a return to his original NBA team, the Golden State Warriors.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, who coveted Szczerbiak, had to settle for Utah point guard Andre Miller, a member of the first-team All-America team. The 23-year-old, who also completed four years of college, averaged 15.8 points and 5.6 assists for the Utes last season.

He is Utah's career leader in steals and led the Utes to the NCAA championship game in a junior season in which he shot 55 percent from the field - a very high percentage for a point guard.

Shawn Marion, a 6-7 forward from UNLV, went ninth overall to the Phoenix Suns, who acquired the pick from Dallas a year ago in the Steve Nash trade. Marion, who averaged 23.5 points for the Runnin' Rebels, left college after his junior year.

The Atlanta Hawks selected Arizona point guard Jason Terry with the 10th pick, quickly filling the vacancy left by the trade of Mookie Blaylock to Golden State on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-2 Terry averaged 21.9 points and 5.5 assists for the Wildcats, earning a first-team All-America selection.

Cleveland used its second first-round pick, 11th overall, to take Duke senior Trajan Langdon, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard originally from Anchorage, Alaska.

Langdon was the second member of the Blue Devils to be picked the first round, and Duke, which also lost William Avery and Corey Maggette, became the first school to have four first-rounders selected in the NBA draft.

The Raptors selected center Aleksandar Radojevic 12th overall, taking a chance on a 7-foot-3 giant from Montenegro who has been playing basketball for only a few years.

Maggette went 13th to Seattle and Avery was picked 14th by Minnesota.

The New York Knicks picked 7-foot-2 Frenchman Frederic Weis with the 15th pick, bypassing homegrown guard Ron Artest of St. John's, who went 16th to the Bulls.

Atlanta chose Cal Bowdler of Old Dominion 17th, Denver took James Posey of Xavier with the 18th pick, Quincy Lewis of Minnesota went 19th to Utah, Dion Glover of Georgia Tech went 20th to Atlanta and Jeff Foster of Southwest Texas State went 21st to Golden State.

Kenny Thomas of New Mexico went 22nd to Houston, Devean George of Division III Augsburg (Minn.) went 23rd to the Los Angeles Lakers, Andrei Kirilenko of CSKA Russia was picked 24th by Utah, and the Miami Heat selected homegrown forward Tim James of Miami with pick No. 25.

Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all