In many ways, the 2001 NBA draft was unlike any other before it or after it. A few years later the NBA would institute an age limit rule, requiring players to spend one year out of high school before becoming draft eligible. And prior to 2001, the recent run on high school players had yet to prove itself out. With more and more players making the leap, many teams in the lottery were trying to find the next Garnett.
At the top of the list were Kwame Brown out of Atlanta, Eddy Curry from Chicago, a Spanish national named Pau Gasol, DeSagana Diop from Virginia, and Compton’s Tyson Chandler. In one of the most chaotic draft lotteries ever, three teams moved up into the top positions. Michael Jordan’s Washington Wizards had won the lottery, followed by the Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta Hawks. Those jumps resigned the Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, and Vancouver Grizzlies to picks four, five, and six.
Brown went off the board first to the Wizards, marking the first time a high school player was taken first overall in the NBA draft. Chandler was taken next by the Clippers, who immediately flipped him to the Bulls for Elton Brand. Gasol went third to the Hawks, who then traded him to the Grizzlies. The Bulls then used the fourth selection on Eddy Curry, pairing him with Chandler as their new twin towers. Finally, with the fifth pick, the Warriors took the first college player off the board, Michigan State’s Jason Richardson. In the end, four centers, three of which were high schoolers, were taken with the top four picks.