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Hawks' Smith shows draft order isn't destiny

Josh Smith didn't lead his Atlanta Hawks to the playoffs. But maybe he did make you look like a genius.

Smith, a third-year forward who passed up the chance to play at Indiana University, and others this season proved that the real NBA draft order isn't necessarily the path fantasy owners should follow.

The No. 17 overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft, Smith broke out with 16.4 points per game, to go along with 621 rebounds, 236 assists, 207 blocked shots and 101 steals. He was one of just three to crack the century mark in the last four categories, joining Phoenix's Shawn Marion (785-134-122-156) and Chicago's Ben Wallace (821-186-156-111).

This was the fourth straight season Marion, who averaged 17.5 points per game, pulled off the "quadruple triple" and seventh consecutive year for Wallace, who averaged just 6.4 points.

Minnesota's Kevin Garnett, who had done it the last four years, six of the past seven, and eight of the previous 10, fell 11 steals short. He played in only 76 games because a right quadriceps injury hampered him late in the season.

For the past several seasons, NBA.com has compiled a "fantasy rating" statistic, which incorporates field goal and free throw percentages, points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and three-point goals.

The 21-year-old Smith, whose average draft position in leagues run by ESPN.com was 35.4, was 16th with a fantasy rating of 5.14.

That was tops among 2005 draftees, better than No. 1 pick Dwight Howard of Orlando (4.97), No. 2 pick Emeka Okafor of Charlotte (4.57) and No. 3 choice Ben Gordon of Chicago (4.72). The Hawks also took Josh Childress (3.73) with the sixth pick in the same draft.

New Orleans/Oklahoma City's Chris Paul, the No. 4 pick in the 2006 draft, had the top fantasy rating (4.67) among second-year pros, beating out No. 3 pick Deron Williams of Utah (4.58) and No. 5 pick Raymond Felton of Charlotte (4.33).

No. 1 choice Andrew Bogut of Milwaukee was ninth among sophomores at 3.72 and No. 2 pick Marvin Williams of Atlanta was 14th at 3.24.

The 2006-07 rookie class was topped by No. 6 pick Brandon Roy of Portland (3.91), who bested No. 8 choice Rudy Gay of Memphis (3.51) and top selection Andres Bargnani of Toronto (3.43).

No. 2 pick LaMarcus Aldridge of Portland (2.93) was eighth in his class, No. 3 choice Adam Morrison of Charlotte (2.75), who probably arrived with the highest fantasy expectation, was 13th, and No. 4 selection Tyrus Thomas of Chicago (2.71) was 14th.

Many veterans -- some expected, some not -- were huge X-factors. Garnett (66), Howard (60) and Utah's Carlos Boozer (53) led in double-double games, while New Jersey's Jason Kidd blew away the field with 12 triple-doubles, which was nine more than Garnett and Philadelphia's Andre Igoudala, the distant runners-up.

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Duno looks for better

Milka Duno will make her IndyCar series debut today in the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 (4:30 p.m., ESPN 2), marking the first time three women will compete in one race in a top-level circuit.

The 35-year-old Venezuelan, who will start from the rear of the 21-car field, will be hoping to better the debuts of Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick. Fisher started 17th and finished 25th after a timing chain malfunction in her first race, at Texas in 1999, when she was 19. Patrick was involved in an accident and placed 15th after starting ninth at Homestead in her 2005 debut as a 22-year-old. Today, Patrick and Fisher start 10th and 17th, respectively.

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Start your engines

Kurt Busch started fifth and finished seventh, leading nine laps last May at Talladega, then started 29th and placed third, leading three laps in the October race there.

Busch's average finish (10.8) in 12 races at Talladega is his best at any track and includes nine top-10s. He'll start his No. 2 car 26th in today's Aaron's 499 (1:30 p.m., Ch. 29).

e-mail: tborrelli@buffnews.com

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