All too often I believe the sports world (myself included) gets way too caught up in thinking the analysis we hear leading up to every big draft is fact rather then just entertainment. I’ll admit when I’m being truthfully honest with myself, I review every mock draft as if the guys at ESPN or whatever sports blog I’m reading really have any idea what’s going on.
Yes, they are well versed in the game. Yes, they have all of the inside scoops, and yes, they know more about the game than the average fan, but no one on the planet can really object to this statement: No one, and I mean no one, can consistently predict the future. You can have your advanced metrics, you can have your eyeball tests, you can even bring a crystal ball to the affair; the fact remains, nobody can perfectly map out what’s going to happen 5 minutes from now, let alone predict the ceiling or floor of a player’s ability.
The below chart contains a list of every 1st round draft pick since the year 2000:
|Year||Team||No. 1 overall pick||School/Country|
|2013||Cleveland Cavaliers||Anthony Bennett*||UNLV|
|2012||New Orleans Hornets||Anthony Davis||Kentucky|
|2011||Cleveland Cavaliers||Kyrie Irving||Duke|
|2010||Washington Wizards||John Wall||Kentucky|
|2009||Los Angeles Clippers||Blake Griffin||Oklahoma|
|2008||Chicago Bulls||Derrick Rose*||Memphis|
|2007||Portland Trail Blazers||Greg Oden*||Ohio State|
|2006||Toronto Raptors||Andrea Bargnani*||Italy|
|2005||Milwaukee Bucks||Andrew Bogut*||Utah|
|2004||Orlando Magic||Dwight Howard||SW Atlanta Christian Academy|
|2003||Cleveland Cavaliers||LeBron James||St. Vincent-St. Mary HS (OH)|
|2002||Houston Rockets||Yao Ming*||China|
|2001||Washington Wizards||Kwame Brown*||Glynn Academy (GA)|
|2000||New Jersey Nets||Kenyon Martin||Cincinnati|
Chart obtained via nba.com
* The guys that have the evil asterisks next to their names fall into one of two categories: busts or injury ridden. Out of the 14 picks made since the year 2000, 50% have not had careers that one would consider “first pick of the draft worthy”.
- For you Bulls fans it pains me to include Rose into this list as he did steal MVP from Bron back in 2011, albeit a sketchy pick he still took home the honor. His back-to-back knee injuries have sidelined him for 2 seasons and while it’s not fair, it does qualify him to be in the asterisk category.
Think about that, 50 percent, that’s a coin flip, a shot in the dark, it’s a better percentage then Russian roulette, but it sure as hell isn’t a sure thing. GMs, TV analysts, and everyone with an opinion fail to realize that there are so many factors that determine a player’s success beyond what we can see. I like to refer to them as unknown unknowns. They exist all throughout life, but we do not know about them until they rear their sometimes-ugly head. You can’t perfectly predict Greg Oden’s patella exploding, or Yao Ming’s deteriorating foot issues, they are risks that no man has the foresight to predict, because if man did have that power, the Durantula would be spending his winters in Oregon instead of Oklahoma.
Out of the number one picks since 2000:
- Only one has a championship (Lebron James.)
- Four have been to the finals (that’s counting Greg Oden cheerleading on the Heat’s bench.)
- Three have never been to the playoffs.
What’s interesting to me is how high we artificially inflate the value of every first pick. Only one has won the whole thing? Outrageous! Moving along, the analysis becomes even more cloudy when we move away from the perceived “sure thing” in number 1 overall pick unto players selected later in the draft.
Mystery player A (draft profile obtained form draftexpress.com):
STRENGTHS:- Executes offensively– Transition play– Excellent hands– Outstanding defender– Versatility to defend multiple positions– Energy/Intensity– Late bloomer- Role-player potential– Strong Intangibles- Work ethic- Athleticism- Excellent first step- Freakish athleticism- Wingspan
WEAKNESSES:- All-around offensive polish– Mid-range game– Not a true point guard– Ability to create own shot– Average ball-handler– Not ready to contribute immediately– Tweener?- Size for position– Undersized– Average shooter
By just looking at the profile do you have any idea who this player is? Maybe you’re thinking “well of course this is Tony Allen, Jimmy Butler, or some other stout defensive player” well you would be wrong, very wrong. For both strengths and weaknesses I bolded the traits I agree with and italicized the ones that I disagree with in regards to them being strengths or weaknesses.
Player A is not Tony Allen he happens to be none other than the starting point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook. Yes, I’m talking number 0, probably the second most athletic person on earth – let alone the NBA next to LeBron James Russell Westbrook. “Role player potential??? Really? that’s like saying Aqua man could maybe swim a few laps in a Kmart inflatable pool one day if he hashes out! That alone shows our complete and utter disconnection with really knowing what will become of these players that we overanalyze.
This by no means is a knock to DraftExpress.com they are good people who do good work, but it is a knock on anyone who calls themselves an expert for thinking they can predict the future. We can speculate, analyze, and debate until the end of time, but at the end of the day:
- We live in a world where the Timberwolves had three first round picks, selected three point’s guards with those picks with none of their last names being Curry.
- We live in a world where Derrick Williams, both Morris twins, and Jimmer Fredette were selected before Kawhi Leonard.
- We live in a world where Tony Parker was a second round pick.
- We live in a world Haseem Thabett was selected as the second overall pick.
- We live in a world where, nope there’s no real point in continuing on, I think you get the picture…
So this draft season and every draft season going forward, enjoy your speculation, analysis, and guesstimates because at the end of the day if NBA executes can’t get it right then who in the hell really knows what’s going on?