With no obvious No. 1 pick emerging, says one Eastern Conference personnel director, "this is the most nondefinitive lottery in a decade." An informal survey of six NBA front office officials shows agreement on only two points: that 6'11" Andrea Bargnani from Benetton Treviso of Italy is the top international prospect (one scout predicts that he'll become the first European player who didn't attend college to be taken first), and that 6'8" Gonzaga junior Adam Morrison--the nation's leading scorer through Sunday, with 27.6 points per game--will be a top three choice. There is also growing sentiment that a leading preseason pick to go No. 1, 6'8" sophomore Rudy Gay of UConn, is slipping. "He hasn't taken his game to new heights," says a Western Conference G.M. "He isn't dominating, and there are questions about whether he really likes basketball. I don't want to slander the kid in any way, but the more we've gotten to know about him, the more confused we are."
The prospect who generates the most debate is 6'4" Duke senior guard J.J. Redick, whose 27.3 points per game through Sunday ranked third in the country. "He might be the national player of the year, but in the bigger picture I think he's Jon Barry," says a Western scout. "He's a deadly shooter with a real killer instinct, but--like Mike Dunleavy a few years ago--he's well-hidden in their defensive schemes. And unlike Barry he doesn't give you a secondary ball handler who can run the point, so he's pretty limited."
Yet others see Redick as lottery material. "I would encourage those who don't like J.J. Redick to watch the films of the last Olympics," says a Western G.M., referring to the U.S.'s abysmal shooting in Athens. "In terms of coming off the screen and catching and shooting, he reminds me of Jeff Hornacek. In a league crying for shooting, it's a no-brainer that he can help somebody. I love him."
SARA D. DAVIS/AP (REDICK)
REDICK RANGE One scout sees Duke's star as a role player, another scout as Jeff Hornacek.