Looking Back On The Delightfully Zany 1997 NBA Draft

12.22.17 1 year ago

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In December 1997, at age 17, I wrote an early-season review of the 1997 NBA rookie class for OnHoops.com, my second appearance on the site. I was a senior in high school, and I named the column “Dig the New Breed,” after a Jam album.

In December 2017, I finally decided to read what I wrote, as published on the site.

What follows are the thoughts of two dopes, two decades apart:

1. Tim Duncan: The San Antonio power forward is enjoying a workmanlike, if unspectacular, rookie year. His shooting percentage is a robust .560, but his free throw shooting, around the 65 percent clip in college, is floating around the McIlvaine/Montross domain of .488. Plus, Duncan is only going to the line four times a game, with Nick Anderson-like confidence.

He has adapted well to being the 2nd option, concentrating on offensive rebounding and screen setting. One frustrating quality about his game is his resemblance to David Robinson’s mental style. Duncan, and The Admiral for that matter, need to understand the difference between intensity, and heart. You can foster intensity, heart is something that might not be there for either of these two fine talents. This will be a problem come May.

Yeah, this kid is a prick.

Image and injury woes and a Sports Illustrated feature left me a little annoyed with the Admiral, apparently so much so that I fretted over his influence on Duncan.

My fears were well-founded, it turns out. Tim monitored Mr. Robinson’s diligence and adaptability on either end for an entire understudy season in 1997-98 prior to dominating the NBA for two decades.

Robinson, in a make-good campaign after cycling through five full-time head coaches in eight seasons with the Spurs, also set a rather important example in the way he silently tuned into second-year San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.
Luckily I wasn’t allowed to vote at the time. Like I would have, anyway.

2. Keith Van Horn: The Joisey forward hybrid, of the bad haircut and the even worse defense, has played one complete game since his return from an ankle injury. 11pts, 2rbs, 2ast (right where his assist average should be for the year), and 7 turns. Ouch.

Like a young Glenn Robinson. If he is as good as Kerry Kittles was for the Nets last year, something I’m not sure he will be (remember, Kerry can D-up), the Nets could find themselves in the playoffs.

The Nets did indeed find themselves in the playoffs, but Keith’s haircut would go on to last the rest of the century. An ankle injury and bout of food poisoning bookended a rush of a rookie year, though I did nail the assists part — 1.7 on the season!

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