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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 06:33 GMT
Five young guns to follow

After weeks of build-up, the NBA season is in full swing in America.

As the usual suspects - Iverson, Duncan, Kobe, and McGrady - begin to show their class, we feature five players who could have an unexpected impact on the NBA in the 2002-2003 season.


Washington Wizards star Kwame Brown
Brown is blessed with remarkable athleticism
Kwame Brown
Washington Wizards

This may be the year Brown turns into the player the Wizards expected to get when they selected him with the first pick in last year's draft.

Brown was a disappointment in his first year in the league - understandable given he was a 19-year-old coming straight from high school.

But he is showing early signs that he has the skills to be a monster in the low post.

With his tremendous size and athleticism, Brown gives the Wizards the player they need under the boards to complement their bevy of backcourt players, including Jerry Stackhouse and some fellow named Jordan.


Atlanta Hawks forward Glenn Robinson
The Big Dog should be at home in Atlanta
Glenn Robinson
Atlanta Hawks

The 'Big Dog' is in a new town for the first time in his NBA career, leaving behind the Milwaukee Bucks and his well-publicized feud with teammate Ray Allen.

Robinson has always been one of the league's best scorers, averaging at least 20 points in all but one of his eight seasons in Milwaukee, and should post even better numbers in Atlanta.

Hawks' centre Theo Ratliff is a stalwart defender, which should free up small forward Robinson to do what he does best, shoot the ball. And he won't have Allen scowling at him every day.


New Jersey guard Richard Jefferson
Jefferson is set to make a real impact this season
Richard Jefferson
New Jersey Nets

Jefferson, a back-up last year to Keith Van Horn, moved into a starting role this year when the Nets traded Van Horn to Philadelphia in the off-season.

It is a safe bet Jefferson, entering his second NBA season, will quickly make New Jersey supporters forget about Van Horn.

Jefferson can play at both ends of the court. His offence, already adequate, will improve with increased playing time and his defensive skills are superb, a far cry from Van Horn.


Drew Gooden in action for Kansas University
Gooden was awesome at college level
Drew Gooden
Memphis Grizzlies

The players chosen above Gooden in the 2002 Draft - Yao Ming, Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy - may have received more attention in the pre-season but none are more prepared than Gooden to immediately help their team.

Even while playing college ball at Kansas, Gooden looked like an NBA player - he can score with his jump shot or burn defences with quick moves to the hoop, and he can rebound as well.

The bad news is he plays in Memphis, which again looks like it is in for a long season.


Miami star Caron Butler
Butler will prosper under Riley's guidance
Caron Butler
Miami Heat

Butler has already turned heads with his spectacular highlight-reel dunks in Miami.

The rookie from the University of Connecticut is in the right place at the right time, as he is already a starter for the injury-laden Heat.

More than just an inside player, Butler can light it up from the perimeter too. Under coach Pat Riley this first-year player will develop into an NBA star quickly.

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