The NBA draft is tonite. It’s like rolling the dice…roll sevens, roll craps. Take a player-take your chances.
The NBA game is so athletic these days. Fast, furious, no longer an era of set plays, aircraft carriers in the middle and the like. It’s a game of speed, skill, wing shooters, and bombers.
Tonite, the NBA draft board looks like as a night for big men, a bunch of them in the top ten picks, coupled with a a few can’t miss guards.
But you have to be careful, with all these underclassmen on the draft docket. They are so young. What came easy for them in the ACC or the Big 10, might be much tougher night after night in the NBA.
You fall in love with Karl Towns, the 7-foot Kentucky center. You’ve seen much of the 6-9 powerful Jahlil Okafor of Duke. You wonder about 7’1 Latvian Kristaps Porzingas. And of course there is the high school kid, who played in China, Emmanuel Mudiay, and the Ohio State phenom guard De Angelo Russell.
But the history has shown the NBA top picks have been more about failure than about stardom.
In modern day basketball, 2003-brought us LeBron James right out of high school in Akron, Ohio. He is carrying the sport these days. But how many other difference makers have their been over the last decades or so?
In 1969, Lew Alcindor of UCLA was a man before his time, and went to Milwaukee, onto the Lakers, and the Hall of Fame. 1979 brought us Magic Johnson, who changed the game as the top pick.
In the era of the bigs, we had the great successes of Patrick Ewing in 1985, David Robinson of Navy in 1987, Shaquille O’Neal in the LSU-Class of ’92, and the illustrious Tim Duncan from Wake Forest in 1997, still starring in it.
That’s it. Those are the franchise turning players, atop the board, in the last 40-years, since Alcindor-Jabbar came into the Association.
The modern day failure rate is unbelievable, considering the money spent on the first picks.
Cleveland wasted the top pick in 2013 on Anthony Bennett of UNLV, who is headed to his third team in 4-years. There was so much promise, so many injuries with Ohio State’s Greg Oden, beset by 5-knee surgeries.
Toronto got taken by Italian star Andreas Bargnani. Pervous Ellison came ouf of Louisville and did very little in Sacramento. Michael Olowaokandi bombed with the Clippers out of Pacific.
History writes the worst top pick of all was the high school talent that was supposed to be a star, Kwame Brown, who sank the Washington Wizards. Kent Benson was big-tough-slow and not very dominant for Detroit via Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers.
Of course, second guessing is always a fun part of all this, so go figure how the Trailblazers would take LaRue Martin, and not take Michael Jordan?
The side of the road is littered with other first round bombs, from Gonzaaga’s Adam Morrison to Charlotte, NC State’s Chris Washburn to Golden State, oft-injured Sam Bowie to Portland, slothful Eddie Curry to the Bulls, underachieving Hasheem Thabeet to Memphis and ‘Big Country’ Bryant Reeves, who went to the other country to play in Vancouver.
You better be right about whom you pick at the top of the board tonite. It’s obvious, teams drafting early need all the help they can get, and maybe some Holy Water from Lourdes too.
The NBA draft started back in 1947, when the Association was a Mom-and-Pop bus league. The very first pick was Clifton McNeely, a World War II-vet, who played at Texas Wesleyan. He never signed, took a high school coaching job, and the Ironmen, as a franchise, went away.
The first great names to come into the NBA as first picks in the 1950s were Seattle Chieftains great Elgin Baylor to the then Minneapolis Lakers, and the Big O-Oscar Robertson to the Cincinnati Royals.
Times have changed. The game is so great now. The money is even greater. And the risks are thru the roof.
The lowly Minnesota Timberwolves and the once proud Lakers will throw the dice first. The tanking 76ers, and the faltering Knicks choose right after them.
Shall be fun to see who rolls snake-eyes, who rolls craps. C’mon 7’s-no-11’s, baby needs a new pair of shoes, and my NBA team needs a player. Enjoy the night. Some team will get in right. But lots of teams have gotten it wrong.