Mountains of potential

In time, NBA experts not named Stephen A. Smith may look back at the 2007 NBA Draft and realize it produced the greatest crop of NBA players in league history. False preachers such as Smith will claim they knew the truth all along.

For now, people will have to debate the drafts of 1984, which produced household names such as Olajuwon, Barkley, Stockton and Jordan, and 2003, which brought names such as King James, Melo, D-Wade and Chris Bosh into the NBA. But NBA fans in the Salt Lake area will have a chance to get a head start on the opinion-forming process of the 2007 draft class.

Names such as Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Joakim Noah, Acie Law, Al Horford and Thaddeus Young will be headlining the 2007 Rocky Mountain Revue, which runs from July 13 through July 20 at Salt Lake Community College.

The Revue has been operating in a format similar to the current one since 1989, and has developed into one of the most respected NBA summer leagues in the country. The current system pits seven teams in a weeklong league, with the rosters made up of mostly rookies, one-year pros, younger free agents and a few guys just trying to make it to the NBA.

This year, all the Rocky Mountain Revue teams from last season will be present, and the addition of the Chicago Bulls will be the only change in scenery. The Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks join Chicago as Eastern Conference teams shipping players out west to mix it up with the young talent from the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks and the recently overhauled Seattle Supersonics.

Each team, with the exception of the Dallas Mavericks, features at least one lottery selection from the past two years.

Local fans will be eager to see the Jazz’s newest draft pick in Morris Almond, but when Seattle joins the league on Tuesday, July 17, all eyes will be on Durant.

The NCAA Player of the Year recipient has been billed as the next big thing to enter the NBA. He’s joined by Green, who was acquired from Boston, and suddenly, on paper, the Supersonics look like one of the most interesting teams in the league.

Another fun team that got exponentially better through the draft was the Hawks, and the two reasons why will be showcased in the Rocky Mountain Revue, as well.

Law has the potential to be a Chris Paul-type point guard in the NBA, and running mate Al Horford — who has two national championships to his credit with the Florida Gators — has the potential to be one of the most exciting young big men in the game next year.

But for all the flash that is sure to make its way to Utah this Friday, plenty of second-year brawn will be present as well. Atlanta’s Sheldon Williams, Chicago’s Tyrus Thomas and Utah’s Paul Millsap will all be looking to make impacts as the NBA’s biggest “vets” in the Rocky Mountain Revue in 2007.

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