The NBA Draft is a lot like a garage sale. Like garage sales, only a handful of items (if any) hold any value. If you’re lucky, you can end up with a sparsely used flat screen TV or some designer shirts that were too big for their owner. But those items move quickly. If you arrive too late, you’re left with few options. You might think, “Ahh what the hell, I guess I might use an automatic playing card shuffler one day. It’s only $0.75, screw it. Why not.” That’s the mindset of NBA teams picking in the late first through second round of the NBA draft. The only difference is that unlike a garage sale where you can walk away if you don’t find anything worth buying, NBA teams are forced to draft players. If given a choice, I’m sure some teams would rather forfeit their pick than have to go through the formality of drafting a guy who they know won’t play a minute for their team. In the NBA draft, once that one-of-a-kind antique bookshelf is gone in the early first round, teams have no choice but to drop $0.25 on that pair of Mickey Mouse oven-mitts.
This isn’t a product of a lack of young talent. It’s simply the nature of the sport. NBA teams are only allowed to have 15 players under contract, meaning there can only be 450 active NBA players total. Only 12 of those 15 players can suit up for a game. Even further, only seven or eight of those players will get any meaningful playing time. For those reasons, if you have two or three superstar players, you’re pretty much set. NBA teams don’t need a constant stream of young talent to be successful like NFL teams. If you’re able to get a few great players and lock them up for the future, the NBA draft doesn’t really matter to your team. This is the case with the Miami Heat. The Heat didn’t have any draft picks in last week’s draft and they’re still the best team in the NBA.
Most of the players drafted last week won’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. A third of them probably won’t play more than 50 games in the NBA. A few of them will toil away in the D-League or on some international team and won’t ever get a chance to don an NBA uniform. The majority will become just another replaceable role player. That’s really all the NBA draft does: it just adds a new crop of average players who will play minor roles on four or five different teams over their career, only to retire into anonymity. You may think your team drafted the next Tim Duncan or LeBron James but its more likely that they just drafted the next Nazr Mohammed or Mike Miller. It remains to be seen if this year’s NBA draft will produce any superstars. But if it doesn’t, then this draft didn’t really matter.
Below, I have included a list of this year’s lottery picks, along with their closest “average NBA player” comparison. These aren’t necessarily my predictions of how these picks will pan out. Rather, this is more of a “most average-case-scenario” for each player. I may overlook certain guys who will turn out to be superstars. But overall, I’ll be right more times than I’m wrong.
- Anthony Bennett, UNLV- Jason Maxiell
- Victor Oladipo, Indiana- Ronnie Brewer
- Otto Porter, Georgetown- Travis Outlaw
- Cody Zeller, Indiana- Joel Przybilla
- Alex Len, Maryland- Zydrunas Ilgauskas
- Nerlens Noel, Kentucky- Nazr Mohammed
- Ben McLemore, Kansas- Mario Chalmers
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia- Danny Green
- Trey Burke, Michigan- Ben Gordan
- C.J. McCollum, Lehigh- Delonte West
- Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse- Josh Childress
- Steven Adams, Pittsburg- Byron Mullens
- Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga- Anderson Varejao
- Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA- Rashard Lewis