The last few picks of the first round are always tough to predict. The teams that are selecting now usually went deep into the playoffs and don’t need much. The picks are:
26. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets just traded Juwan Howard and could be looking to replace him through the draft. The best player to do that is Vanderbilt’s Derrick Byars. Byars is a 6’7″ small forward who will be an impact player next season. Byars is a very athletic player who did well in leading his team to a surprising sweet sixteen appearance. Byars should probably have been off the board sooner with his skills and the Rockets will be lucky to have had him fall to them at 26. Byars could be moved to play the shooting guard position with McGrady at the small forward.
27. Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons will probably be looking for another project with this pick. I see the Pistons going to Europe and selecting very big man Kyrylo Fesenko from the Ukraine. Fesenko is 7’1″ and he needs some polishing. The Pistons could leave him in Europe for next season and bring him over when he has some more experience. Fesenko has some great skills but may not be ready to join the NBA just yet.
28. San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs usually make their annual international pick at this point but I see them staying in the United States by selecting Rice shooting guard Morris Almond. If the Spurs do get Almond with this pick it would be a steal. Almond was thought to be an early first round pick, but he could be falling because of his recent workouts. The Spurs could use Almond next to Parker and they could ease him into the NBA behind Michael Finley and Bruce Bowen. The Spurs will need another shooting guard in the near future and this would be a way to break one in.
29. Phoenix Suns
While the Phoenix Suns have a great point guard in Steve Nash, I think they choose a point guard with the 29th pick. If Peterri Koponen from Finland is still on the board for the Suns it could be a great pick. He has size (6’4″) and many think he has the best ball-handling skills of anybody in the draft. The Suns could also afford to keep him in Europe and bring him over when they need him. The Suns don’t have many needs so this is purely picking a player with the best options for the Suns.
30. Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers have three picks in the first round of the draft. With the last pick in the first round I think the 76ers will draft another big man in Glen Davis fro Louisiana State University. Davis would have been a sure first rounder had he come out last year, but his terrible season this year has many wondering if he will be a second round player. I think he will just sneak in the first round as the 76ers could use his big frame in the middle. They need a defensive player down low and McRoberts and Davis would give them at least one players worth of that talent. Davis could be the pick here, but since it is the last pick of the first round who really knows.
Picks 26 through 30:
26. Houston Rockets – Derrick Byars, 6’7″ SF Vanderbilt
27. Detroit Pistons – Kyrylo Fesenko, 7’1″ C Ukraine
28. San Antonio Spurs – Morris Almond, 6’6″ SG Rice
29. Phoenix Suns – Peterri Koponen, 6’4″ PG Finland
30. Philadelphia 76ers – Glen Davis, 6’9″ PF LSU