Top 10 Reasons Fans Love the Draft and GMs Hate it
Every few months we run an essay contest to allow the fans a chance to contribute to the site. This month we had a number of solid entries with Eric Yearian submitting the winning entry:
Essay Contest Winner: Top 10 Reasons Fans Love the Draft and GMs Hate it
There’s plenty to like about the NBA draft, especially for the fans. However, sometimes the guys making the picks don’t like the event nearly as much as their fans because of…
10.) Positive Expectations
There’s no doubt that the NBA draft gives fan bases new hope for the upcoming season. So, why would a GM not want his fans to get excited about the team he is putting together, especially when teams rely on that excitement to put butts in the seats each game? Because it can get them fired, that’s why. Let’s face it, not many rookies make their team significantly better, yet they often produce an uprising of hope for the fans of that team. If those expectations surpass what the team can realistically achieve, then the GM may have to ax his coach and even worse, could end up eventually losing his job.
9.) The “P” word—Potential
Speaking of expectations, some players come into draft night unready for the NBA but have the potential to become a stud. Some GMs are more open to drafting guys based on potential than others and if the player doesn’t pan out but had seemingly limitless potential then a draft selection has essentially been wasted. How influential is potential? In 2005 Atlanta selected Marvin Williams 2nd overall based on potential, passing up Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the process. Williams has become a quality player however. To see the full extent of how potential can wreck a draft look no further than the 2004 draft. In 2004, red-headed bust Robert Swift and high school phenom Sebastian Telfair were selected before scoring machines Kevin Martin and J.R. Smith (another high schooler), all-star Jameer Nelson, and even Anderson Varejao.
8.) Kevin Pritchard
One doesn’t have to be a Portland Trailblazers fan to appreciate what Pritchard can accomplish via draft day trades. As assistant GM Pritchard was able to provide Portland with the services of ROY Brandon Roy and #2 overall pick LaMarcus Aldridge. In 2007, Pritchard was able to purchase the rights to Rudy Fernandez from the Phoenix Suns. A year later, Pritchard was able to “Pritch-slap” Indiana by talking Larry Bird into relinquishing Jerryd Bayless who is in position to be the Blazers PG of the future. It’s pretty clear to see that if the GM of your team gets a draft night call from K.P., you’d better hope that call gets ignored. There is only one obvious error on Pritchard’s record: Greg Oden, speaking of whom…
7.) The Sam Bowie/Greg Oden Effect
Kevin Pritchard wasn’t the only person that thought Greg Oden deserved to be the #1 overall pick in 2007. However, Portland held the first pick and ended up on the wrong side of the Greg Oden/Kevin Durant debate. Sound familiar? Portland also passed on an exceptional wing player in favor of Sam Bowie, the stellar center of the Kentucky Wildcats. That wing player would be Michael Jordan. Sure, the Rockets also passed on MJ for Hakeem Olajuwon, but seeing as how The Dream was a stellar NBA player that won Houston two championships it’s difficult to truly argue the pick. Something else that’s difficult to argue—NBA GMs and scouts love size (see: Bowie over Jordan, Oden over Durant, Kwame Brown & DeSagana Diop over Joe Johnson, etc.). So while GMs hate the risk involved, they continue to select players based on size and fan love nothing more that the debate over “who’s the next Bowie?” whenever a big man gets picked early.
6.) The San Antonio Spurs
It’s not so much that GMs around the league hate the Spurs on draft day as much as they envy the Spurs approach. Because of the Spurs relative greatness in the Tim Duncan era, they haven’t had many chances to grab a sure-fire star through the draft. However, that hasn’t stopped them from finding some very good players. Sure, getting Duncan was a no brainer but the same can’t be said for Tony Parker, a young French guard selected 28th in the 2001 draft. In 2002 they were able to draft John Salmons and Luis Scola and in 2008 Leandro Barbosa even though neither played a game in a Spurs uniform it goes to show the value they get from their picks. Other notable picks by the Spurs: Manu Ginobili with the second-to-last pick in 1999, and more recently DeJuan Blair 37th overall.
5.) The Foreign factor
The NCAA’s are full of great players, everyone knows that. However, GMs have traveled overseas to look for the next Drazen Petrovic or Dirk Nowitzki. Sure, if you can land a player from Europe, Asia, or South America that can play as well as Yao Ming, Nene, or Manu Ginobili that’s great. However, it seems that for every Tony Parker and Pau Gasol there are two Nikoloz Tskitishvili’s or Darko Milicic’s. In addition to that, there is one other major risk involved with international players: they might just want to stay at home. When’s the last time a player shunned the NBA to stay in college? (No, Danny Ferry didn’t forsake the Clippers because he liked the scenery in Durham). Orlando will, in all likelihood, never see Fran Vasquez, their 11th overall draft selection from Spain, suit up for them. The Spurs also must fear the same fate with Tiago Splitter of Brazil. Most recently, Ricky Rubio held off coming to the states because he didn’t want to play for the Timberwolves (it should be noted the Timberwolves evidently saw this coming as they appeared ready to draft every PG in that draft).
4.) Risk of the unknown players
Okay, raise your hand if, before the 2008 draft, you knew who George Hill was. Congratulations, you obviously attended a Summit League school. Now, raise your hand if you knew Christian Eyenga prior to the past NBA draft. Now, put it down, because unless you’re Danny Ferry you’re lying (and I have a sneaking suspicion Eyenga’s name was simply drawn out of a hat by the Cavs). The fact is, every year there seems to be a semi-anonymous player taken and if it turns out to be a good pick the GM is a draft guru, if not fans will call for his head. That’s a pretty thin line to straddle, especially when your reputation rides on the shoulders of Robert Swift.
3.) Draftees’ suits
Fans love talking about how ugly player A’s suit was at the draft or how great pin stripes look on player B. The draftees always love the attention that comes along with the draft and they especially enjoy standing out by sporting some exotic wardrobe choices. However, we’ve established that the team that selects the player is going to begin marketing him as the player that will turn the franchise around. That can’t be easy when it looks like the team’s shiny new toy got dressed in a suit shop during a blackout. Not all the suits are bad; in fact some look incredibly stylish. Still, that doesn’t make up for the Joakim Noah’s and Jalen Rose’s of the draft world.
2.) The dreaded B- word
Bust. That is the last word any GM wants to have attached to his draft resume. A draft mistake like Kwame Brown—seriously, did you think a top ten draft list could go 10 bullet points without mentioning his name?—can set a team back several years and cost a GM his job. Nobody would blame Joe Dumars if he still cried every night about selecting Darko Milicic over Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony. It didn’t cost him his job but how good would the Pistons have been with Wade, Anthony, or Bosh in Detroit? Once the bust label has been applied it rarely gets shed. In the case of Kwame Brown, he has been a decent player who any GM would love to get in the 2nd round. However, because he was the first overall pick he is considered one of the biggest busts in recent memory.
1.) Screw up this year, be right back next year
The draft is one of those things in life that you simply can’t run from; it comes back every year at about the same time. For GMs of teams that are successful year after year it’s not a big deal because they can get by with a less than stellar draft. However, if you’re the GM of a team that struggles year after year then you better hope you hit it big, because if you don't, chances are you’ll be right back in the lottery again the next off-season. For those teams that can’t seem to crawl their way out of the bottom of the standings, one good draft pick might be enough to save them from the lottery next season. A bad pick, however, and they might be in position to waste another lottery pick next year.
it will be interesting to see how things will work for Pritchard and how will ppl remember him,if his team one a ring he will be one of the greats GM may be ever,If Durant lead OKC to Dynasty while Portland failed to win a ring he will always be remembered for the Oden pick
in addition to #4, g. hill shoulda been mentioned in #6. they drafted him outta NOWHERE when everyone expected them to try and get a decent young big to ease regular season minutes for an aging T.D.
being a moron in the draft can lose a GM his job, but being at least SOMEWHAT competent in the mid and late 1st rnd can help u develop a nice core of role players to surround whoever ur star ends up being. you could point out that while SA has stayed competitive with "gems" in the draft, danny ainge left BOS wide open to the steep falloff that we are seeing now by lester hudson, bill walker, and j.r giddens over the last 2 years. the only help they've given BOS is being flipped to NY for krypto-nate...who is NOT the difference between them and a title.
and yes, k. pritchard is the thief of each draft. all he needs is a mask and a kewl super-villain name! and between trading away blake and outlaw, and the question marks around oden and pryzbilla, he will def be stealing late first rnd pic(s) this year as well
Awesome piece. I agree with DFish, the Top 10 theme didn't really fit in, but a great read nonetheless.
Pritch-slapped. That was funny.
Thanks for the kind words and feedback! I'm glad you found it an entertaining read. As for the top 10 thing, it was part of the requirement for the essay contest but I appreciate your criticism every bit as much as the compliments!