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Gold Nugget? By taking Carmelo Anthony, Denver would get the scorer it badly needs

What more could be asked of Carmelo Anthony? As a freshman he led
Syracuse to its first national championship, averaging 20.2
points and 9.8 rebounds during the NCAA tournament to become the
dominant player in college basketball. But come the June 26 NBA
draft, he'll be taken behind a pair of 18-year-olds, high
school star LeBron James and 7'1", 250-pound Darko
Milicic of Serbia and Montenegro.

Anthony has known since the May 22 NBA lottery that Cleveland
would use the top pick on James but didn't know until last
week that Detroit had settled on Darko, who could fulfill the
Pistons' need for a scoring big man to complement
defensive-minded center Ben Wallace. Anthony responded to news of
Detroit's decision by canceling his workout with the
Pistons, and showing his maturity, he didn't whine about
being disrespected. "It's O.K. because I would've
been splitting time in Detroit with Tayshaun Prince," says
Anthony, who figures to be taken by the Denver Nuggets with the
No. 3 pick. "Denver has a big need for scoring, so I figure
I'll get to shoot 18 or 19 times a game--and I know I'm
going to score at least half of those times."

His predictions may sound cocky, but they are softened by a
beatific smile reminiscent of the young Magic Johnson's.
Anthony has been shooting 1,000 jumpers per day and working with
personal trainers on his footwork; the latter should help him
handle the rugged man-to-man defense demanded by Nuggets coach
Jeff Bzdelik. "A lot of people talk about my defense because
we played that 2-3 zone at Syracuse," Anthony says.
"But they don't realize that we played man-to-man at
practice every day, and I grew up playing man-to-man."

Anthony's projected selection by Denver was not 100%
guaranteed last week because of the sudden appearance of the
biggest question mark of the draft--18-year-old center Pavel
Podkolzine, a 7'5", 303-pound Russian from Siberia.
Podkolzine's June 6 individual workout created the loudest
buzz at the Chicago predraft camp, and the Nuggets were expected
to put him through a private workout this week. "He's
built better and moves more fluidly than Yao Ming," says an
executive whose team possesses a high lottery pick. "He has
enormous hands and a terrific shooting stroke. Every team in the
lottery, except for Cleveland, has to consider drafting this

Consider, but with great trepidation. Podkolzine played only 62
minutes in 10 games for Metis Varese in the Italian league last
season, which raises the question: He's built like a
dominant center, but can he play basketball? A top NBA
international scout who attended one of Podkolzine's rare
performances in Italy was unimpressed, saying, "He would run
the court a couple of times and look like he was
hyperventilating, like he was really nervous."

Whatever the case, it's of little concern to Anthony, who
last week prepared for a visit to the White House with his
Syracuse teammates, preceded by a light workout with the Nuggets,
during which he would feel little pressure to perform. "All
he has to do is show them his NCAA championship ring," says
Bill Duffy, who with fellow agent Calvin Andrews is representing
Anthony. "The ring says, 'This is how I play.'"

For the latest NBA news, plus analysis from Jack McCallum, go to

COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN (LEFT) Anthony lifted Syracuse to new heights but won't rise above No. 3 in the draft.



A look at the players expected to be lottery picks in the June 26


1. Cleveland LeBron James, 18, G-F 6'8", 245 St. Vincent-St.
Mary High (Akron)

If he can withstand the storm of hype, James could become a more athletic Magic Johnson

2. Detroit Darko Milicic, 18, F-C 7'1", 250 Hemofarm Vrsac
(Serbia and Montenegro)

Can he mature fast enough to help new coach Larry Brown next

3. Denver Carmelo Anthony, 19, F 6'7 1/2", 234 Syracuse

As a scorer joining a team desperate for points, he's an early
favorite for rookie of the year

4. Toronto Chris Bosh, 19, F 6'11 1/2", 225 Georgia Tech

Raptors covet his McGrady-like upside, but developing Bosh will
require years of patience

5. Miami Dwyane Wade, 23, G 6'5", 212 Marquette

Will provide much-needed scoring even as Pat Riley gradually
turns him into a point guard

6. L.A. Clippers Pavel Podkolzine, 18, C 7'5", 303 Varese

Raw center requires a lot of teaching--which he won't get from

7. Chicago Mickael Pietrus, 21, G-F 6'6", 200 Pau Orthez

Aggressive scorer who can defend; Bulls might package him for a
frontcourt veteran

8. Milwaukee Nick Collison, 22, F 6'10", 255 Kansas

Four-year collegian will provide Bucks with low-post offense for
the next decade

9. New York Chris Kaman, 21, C 7' 1/2", 252 Central

Hallelujah--a shot-blocking center! But Knicks must live with
his turnovers

10. Washington Kirk Hinrich, 22, G 6'4", 186 Kansas

Wizards pray that point guard fills leadership void left by
Michael Jordan's retirement

11. Golden State T.J. Ford, 20, G 6'0", 162 Texas

Warriors need point guard insurance in case Gilbert Arenas
leaves in the off-season

12. Seattle Luke Ridnour, 22, G 6'2", 167 Oregon

An up-tempo point guard to push Sonics into the post-Gary
Payton era

13. Memphis Jarvis Hayes , 21, G-F 6'7", 220 Georgia

Smart, athletic scorer whose defense and passing will improve
under Hubie Brown

*As of June 26 draft