Paul, Taft are scouts' early favorites for No. 1

Updated: December 7, 2004, 11:09 AM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
With the NBA season in full swing, NBA scouts and personnel directors already are shifting their focus to the 2005 draft.

Their challenge is finding the next LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Andrei Kirilenko.

This year, scouts believe the college class is one of the strongest ever. The international class doesn't have a clear No. 1, but there's a lot of depth. And the high school class? You might want to wait until next year, when Indiana big man Greg Oden is eligible for the draft.

While injuries, a strong season or the late discovery of an international sleeper can certainly change this group, the dozen or so NBA scouts and GMs Insider talked to all were in agreement on which prospects had a shot at the No. 1 pick.

There isn't a clear-cut No. 1 this year. But each of them, with patience and a few breaks down the road, has the potential to be an NBA superstar.

Here are the contenders:

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer