I intensely dislike the NBA Draft. Seriously, but hey - it could be worse, there could be a lockout-
Imagine, if you will, a conversation between - let's say Steve and Rick - a couple members of an NBA front office on draft night.
Steve, "So, we have the number three pick ..."
Rick, "Yep, should get a good player ... I think. We have our eye on this young cat. Power forward."
Steve, "Oh yeah! How did he look at our pre-draft workout?"
Rick, "Great, except he has no idea how to use his feet."
Steve, "It's ok, give him some time in the league and he will improve..."
Rick, "Sure thing. Oh ... wait. I have a couple notes from our development team. Looks like our player also has no basket awareness, commits tons of fouls, is slow, jumps at every pump fake - and here's a note from his college coach saying that he thinks our player needs to work ... on his short game...what?"
Steve, "Must be a typo."
Steve, "Look, we all know it's foolish to expect that every player can come in an make a difference right from the start. It takes time. Look ... our player is what? 19 years old? From what our scouts are saying it will take a good five seasons to see his full potential."
Rick, "Holy sh*t! Why are we selecting him third then?"
Rick, "Right ... upside"
Steve, "Remember, he dominated at the high school level ..."
Being a Nuggets fan since the age of 7, I have learned a couple of concrete facts. First, unless Denver has a certified superstar, the national media will dismiss them (even in the days of Alex English that was the pattern). Second, the NBA draft is excruciating for Nuggets fans and will most likely be a fruitless endeavor.
Since I've been watching the Nuggets I've seen botched drafts: blown picks like Tony "El Busto" Battie and the infamous Tskita (whom we all can remember from his shortened name). I've seen the Nuggets fail to to enter the draft with a trade when they were clearly a desperate team (2010) and I've seen the Nuggets trade picks like they were used laundry. I've seen role players drafted too high and star players passed on in favor of duds. I've also seen some luck (Dikembe Mutumbo in 1991 and Carmelo Anthony in 2003) and some nice coups (Nene Hilario in 2002 and Ty Lawson in 2009), but overall the Nuggets draft history leaves something to be desired.
I'm sorry, but the draft makes me cynical. I (kinda) hate it to be honest. Aside from being a Nuggets fan, my disappointment with the NBA draft stems from the league's very poor track record of actual player development. You see, there's part of me that believes that if the NBA spent nearly as much time investing money in a true developmental league (the current set up - the D-League - is a joke) as they do complaining about busts and player salaries we would have greatly reduced instances of teams dramatically flaming out with high draft picks with "potential" and "high ceilings". If there was a true minor league in the NBA - then players could be sent to it to, you know, actually develop.
That, my friends, is the crux of my issue with the draft. It is set up to be "boom or bust" in the extreme, meanwhile in weak drafts, such as this year, there is not the guaranteed franchise changing player that teams need to turn their team around (meanwhile, next year's draft is already being regarded as stacked). So, if you have the misfortune of being a rebuilding team right now (hello Cleveland, Minnesota, Utah, Toronto, Washington, etc.) ... there's always next year. There again, you are left to the whim of the draft lottery - so there's no guarantee you will get such a dynamic player the following season either (ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Nuggets of the 1990's).
In a sense, I suppose, the Nuggets could, ironically, be saved by the very thing that cursed them earlier in the decade and the last part of the 90's. European/South American players could potentially be diamonds in the rough. Yet, there are no guarantees. So called "Euros" get more substantive development in their various round robin leagues and in their professional circuit, but there's nothing concrete to point to grab the sure things ... unless of course you have the advanced scouting of the Spurs.
I am fully aware that there are members of this blog who love the draft (Nate and Andy to name a few). Those who follow it intensely, and know quite a bit more than I do about the inner-workings of the process. Please don't take this as a slam to you, just understand that as a long time Nuggets fan it's excruciatingly hard to get excited for the Jerome Lanes of the world.
So, my fellow Stiffs - should I be excited about the draft next week? Sway me with your comments and I will listen, because I'd rather be eager for the draft instead of wanting to poke my eyes out with a red-hot fireplace poker at the mention of it.
Give me hope Nuggets fans!
The Black Crowes - Could I've Been So Blind (via ssllaasshh)