It was a long day of waiting, but UCLA’s Dijon Thompson and Alex Acker of Pepperdine learned they will each have an opportunity to play in the NBA.
Both players were chosen late in the second round of the draft on June 28, not as high as they wanted but better off than hundreds of hopefuls who weren’t selected at all.
With 30 teams and two rounds, the NBA drafts 60 players. Thompson was picked 54th by New York and traded to Phoenix. Acker was taken No. 60 by Detroit– the final player to hear his name called.
Although second round draftees don’t get guaranteed contracts both players go to their new teams with a special chance to succeed.
Phoenix wanted a power forward and traded for Kurt Thomas of New York but had to part with Quentin Richardson. Thompson will have an opportunity to replace Richardson as a shooter in the Suns’ fast-paced offense.
“It was tough waiting so long to be chosen but it worked out well,’’ said Thompson, a senior who investigated his draft possibiities a year ago but decided to remain in Westwood.
Acker took a chance by signing with an agent and sacrificing his senior year at Pepperdine. Some scouts feel he would have been wise to experience one more year of collegiate competition.
However, he was chosen by one of the premier teams in the NBA. The Pistons were champions two seasons ago and lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the seventh game of the Finals this season. If the Pistons are impressed with Acker’s talent he may be able to work into a reserve role with a contending team.
The 6-foot-5 Acker had some high-scoring games at Pepperdine and is considered versatile enough to play either guard position or small forward.
It will be important for both players to show progress in summer play before going to training camp at the start of October.
Pepperdine senior forward Glen McGowan, a former Venice High star, had some impressive college games but wasn’t drafted. His options would appear to be signing with a team for summer leagues or seeking a professional basketball opportunity in Europe.
In the first round of the draft the Lakers used the No. 10 pick on 7-foot Andrew Bynum, a high school center from New Jersey and made him the youngest player ever drafted by an NBA team.
Bynum, who is 17 years, eight months old, isn’t likely to be a significant contributor next season but has vast potential.
“We feel we couldn’t pass up this opportunity,’’ said Laker general manager Mitch Kupchak.
There seems to be no middle ground with this pick. It will eventually be judged as either a brilliant move or a gamble that failed.
Bynum’s mother and 25-year-old brother will move here from New Jersey and his brother will go on Laker trips to ease the youngster’s transition.
Although the Lakers and Clippers didn’t make the playoffs and were in need of immediate help they both chose players with the future in mind.The Clippers’ pick at No. 12 was Yaroslav Korolev, an 18-year-old 6-foot-9 forward from Russia. Coach Mike Dunleavy flew to Moscow twice to see Korolev play. Although the Clippers like Korolev’s potential they’re considering leaving him in Russia another season.