Monday, March 12th, 2012

Why the NBA’s first overall pick is a near can’t-miss

Published on March 11, 2012 by Anthony Carriuolo   ·   No Comments

Kenyon Martin, Kwame Brown, Yao Ming, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bogut, Andrea Bargnani, Greg Oden, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kyrie Irving.

Those are the number one picks dating back to Y2K. Save for one true bust of monumental proportions, and one guy whose knees make the AARP cringe, those prospects all turned out to have solid to outstanding careers. Going back into the 90s yields players like Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, and Elton Brand. All of these guys were great players as well.

The evidence is clear. Unless your name is Michael Jordan or you are an executive for the Portland Trailblazers, it is hard to strike out with the top pick in the draft. There are six players who could make a run for the Hall of Fame out of that top list, with Dwight Howard, LeBron James, and Derrick Rose already making a case for themselves.

With a game like baseball or football, there are so many different positions and different needs at each position that these variables make it challenging to draft accordingly. Can you score? Can you rebound? Can you defend? You’re drafted in the NBA. With so few niches to fill in the association, it no longer becomes a draft smart ideal, but a game of chance. The lottery and the sheer luck that comes with it is the reason why the Miami Heat do not have a back court of PG Derrick Rose and SG Dwyane Wade.

This year it appears that there are a number of candidates to reach the top pick, with the consensus coming somewhere out of the University of Kentucky. In a worldwide game with millions of players everywhere, finding one guy to lead a lineup of five should not be as hard as it seems. However, some player evaluations have since failed, even though it is not hard to spot a true great lining up for the lottery. Far too often it seems that players are drafted for their physical tools. For example, former UConn C Hasheem Thabeet was drafted second overall in 2009. Thabeet was massive, at 7’3, he was the tallest player in the history of his storied program. However, as is the case with so many African players, his defensive game was overrated and his size was taken far too much into account.

Finding a player with a smooth  jumper, handles, and an awareness in the game is what is first at hand. This is the difference between guys like Minnesota Timberwolves PG Ricky Rubio and Troy Bell. Having natural basketball skill with ball in hand and the intellect to read the floor is what should beat out raw physicality. The trainers and high end facilities and supplements that NBA franchises pay for should have no problem making a man out of a boy. A few bench presses, some squats, and a scoop of whey and wham, that point guard is a beast.

NBA franchises need to wise up and find their true stars with experience and talent. Just because a man can do a backflip or can blow out a cupcake while dunking does not mean he will bring a ring to their town.


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