Doubting the draft: When a “slam dunk” falls flat

Everyone loves to play GM. Every fan thinks that they know what is best for their

team—that they know what every prospect has to offer nine months before the draft.

This way of thinking causes fans to poorly analyze the draft. Preconceived notions that a

number-one pick can be determined so quickly, and that less talented prospects should be

dismissed from any NBA relevancy are the two main factions of this flawed thinking. However,

there have been instances in which top picks who were labeled as “too big to fail” or “can’t

miss” have not met their absurdly high expectations, and others where lower ranked or “cast-

off” players have grown into essential pieces for a myriad of teams in the league.

For example, the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors’ best player–Stephen

Curry–overcame the odds to become one of the best players in the league. Labeled as

undersized and not strong enough, Curry got very few scholarship offers out of high school and

spent three years in college before getting selected seventh overall in the 2009 NBA draft.

Another star of their team, Draymond Green, was selected in the second round (35th overall) in

the 2012 draft.

While considered a “scrapper” by many NBA analysts, few believed he could be a true

difference maker on the court, as evidenced by his low draft selection. He’s proven the scouts

wrong this season by nearly averaging a triple-double, putting up 14 points, 10 rebounds and

seven assists per game.

When talking about this summer’s potential number one pick Ben Simmons, we should

keep in mind that there is a possibility of him not meeting these lofty expectations. Basketball

players are human and that fact can often slip through our minds due to their tremendous

talent. But this aspect of prospects is essential in determining their potential NBA fates. A

player’s work ethic and mental toughness often cannot be seen when observing their

highlights.

There must be more emphasis in looking at how a player performs, both mentally and

physically, on a play-by-play basis, as observing a prospect in various and extended stretches of

play give a significantly better feel for their potential as opposed to a highlight reel that was

composed over a season’s work.

We normally see what we want to believe, so even with Simmons’ shortcomings–lack of

aggressiveness, low motor and occasional disinterest–there is still a great chance that he is

picked number one overall come June.

There is also a great chance that he develops into a superstar and meets or exceeds the

high expectations that he has set for himself. What NBA general managers must realize,

however, is that a big name does not necessarily mean big production. There is risk to even the

“safest” of picks. So, when draft time rolls around this summer, make sure that every prospect

is given their due diligence, as none of us truly know what the future will be.

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