(As I said last week, I don't believe in the concept of the jinx. Except in no-hitters. And when your boy is spitting game at a dame.)
Okay, so Ricky Rubio is in the draft. His agent Dan Fegan asserts that he'll stay in. Remember the motive: Fegan wants Rubio in, so of course he'll tell Chad Ford today that he'll be staying in. But all the other indicators -- the so-called weakness of the lottery, the dearth of international prospects, the momentum from Beijing, the looming collective bargaining agreement -- have pointed to this outcome for a long time, so it seems more valuable, more true.
There has been debate, and there will continue to be debate, on whether the Kings, if so lucky to acquire the No. 1 pick, should choose Blake Griffin or Rubio. These matters can continue to be debated -- I have no answer there. Griffin is an amazing athlete and rebounder; this team needs athletes and rebounding. Rubio is a point guard with star potential. This team needs a better point guard, and needs some stars. The arguments can, and in fact should, rage.
But in my mind, there's no question which direction Geoff Petrie goes if this situation arises: he's taking Rubio.
Let's start with a quote from Petrie's interview with Sam Amick, published today:
Sometimes the conventional wisdom is right, and sometimes it's not.
In judging the worth or value of Griffin, you're basically putting conventional wisdom on trial. The consensus is and has been that Griffin is the best pro prospect in amateur or international basketball. Frankly, it will continue that way until Treviso at least, and probably until next October. He will be the preseason Rookie of the Year, whether he's picked #1, #2 or #10. He is the consensus' #1 pick.
How often has Petrie matched consensus? Jason Williams at #7? No. Peja Stojakovic at #14? No. Hedo Turkoglu at #16? No. Kevin Martin at #26? No. Jason Thompson at #12? No. You could argue that Spencer Hawes was a "consensus pick" at #10, and that both Quincy Douby and Francisco Garcia fell in their expected ranges. Gerald Wallace and Tariq Abdul-Wahad ... somewhere in the middle. The point is that Petrie is not terribly fond of the consensus, at least not in the mid-lottery or mid to late first round. He makes decisions regardless of popular opinion.
Will that translate to the #1 pick, or #2, 3 or 4? Will it translate for a 17-win team that needs to get better tout de suite? Will it translate to a team hemorrhaging cash? We don't know. No one knows.
Looks at the major big men Petrie has sought out. Vlade Divac, a skilled passer. Chris Webber, a skilled passer and shooter. Brad Miller, a skilled passer and shooter. Spencer Hawes, a skilled shooter. Jason Thompson, a skilled passer and shooter. Griffin is many things ... but he has not shown himself to be a terribly skilled passer, and he's definitely not a shooter. He is not a Petrie big man. That doesn't immediately disqualify him, of course. You can't disqualify that kind of beast, nor would you want to. But he is not Petrie's Weird Science creation, that's for sure.
I keep looking back to 1998, the Williams draft. J-Wil wasn't a good shooter coming out of college. He wasn't necessarily a leader, or smart. He quite certainly was not a steady hand, or a great defender. Or a medicore defender. He had none of those classic point guard traits, none of that gravitas. He was a showman, that's it. A flashy, speedy, reckless, crazy as Natt showman.
The team was coming off its worst season in a decade. It needed help. Remember -- the draft came before Webber, before even Vlade. And Petrie took Jason Freaking Williams. You see where his priorities lay, yeah?
Rubio is the showman ... with gravitas. I don't see how Petrie walks away, even for a special talent like Griffin. I just can't imagine it.