After dropping back in the lottery (again.) to the 7th pick in the draft, there has been much debate on what to look for with this pick. The two leading thoughts are:
- A surefire role-player who will almost certainly start for the team, or become a valuable role player off the bench. Steady improvement to our team's depth is the way to build a contender. Player who best fits this profile (and will likely be available when we pick) is: Kemba Walker. While few herald him as a potential star, he would be a good scoring punch off the bench to allow Thornton and Tyreke to rest on the bench. This would be the safe option, but the counter-argument is that the 7th pick isn't where you're looking for bench depth, but a starter/star for the team going forward. Other options that would be listed here are Jimmer Fredette (BYU) and Kawhi Leonard. (SDSU)
- A boom or bust pick, because after all, in a draft as poor as this, the fear of a player not panning out isn't nearly as high as in the previous few years where the safer options had much higher ceilings than this year's prospects. If you fail with this pick, and it is likely that many other GMs will, the consequences would not look nearly as bad as the Oden/Durant, Bowie/Jordan gaffes. Player who best fits this profile (and will likely be available when we pick) is: Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo is an enigmatic prospect, his age was a mystery until quite recently, but his ability to defend at an NBA level quite well at his age is intriguing enough to make a case for him at the 7th pick. However, he is extremely raw on the offensive side of the ball, and his inability to develop on offense makes it a risk to take him this early in the draft. The other players who would be considered in this category are basically all the foreign players in this draft.
Both schools of thought have merit, but in order to find what to expect with this pick, we should look at what other teams have shot for, and gotten with the 7th pick of the NBA draft in years past. Here are the past 7th selections from each draft from 2000-present.
2000: Chris Mihm (Chicago)
2001: Eddie Griffin (New Jersey)
2002: Nene Hilario (New York)
2003: Kirk Hinrich (Chicago)
2004: Luol Deng (Phoenix: Traded to Chicago)
2005: Charlie Villanueva (Toronto)
2006: Randy Foye (Boston)
2007: Corey Brewer (Minnesota)
2008: Eric Gordon (Los Angeles- Clippers)
2009: Stephen Curry (Golden State)
2010: Greg Monroe (Detroit)
After looking at these picks, it is evident we are not the first team to go through this conundrum at pick #7 (or for that matter anywhere else in the draft.). These players were perceived by the NBA front offices at the time as talented enough to warrant a lottery selection. Quite a few of these players panned out to be solid starters/role-players. However, Stephen Curry is the only player who seems to have star potential. These results are up for debate, but this is how I view the type of players each of them have become.
Starters/Role-players: (8/11) - Nene Hilario, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Charlie Villenueva, Corey Brewer, Stephen Curry, Greg Monroe, and Eric Gordon.
Examining this group, the majority of them came from big college programs, and were not one-and done prospects. Luol Deng and Eric Gordon were the only players to be one-and-dones in college. Nene was the lone foreign prospect of the group, who played for the Brazil national team, garnering good experience before coming to the NBA. The experienced college players that were picked at number 7 were often the most successful in the NBA (although some of the more recent ones are still to be determined).
Busts: (3/11) - Chris Mihm, Eddie Griffin, Randy Foye.
This is a much more erratic group of players, one playing long-term with his college program, one coming straight out of high school, and unfortunately Eddie Griffin is no longer with us.
It is difficult to isolate the variable that makes a player a bust in the NBA, but to coincide with the debate, I decided to look at the college experience (which is usually brought into play when debating the safety of a pick) of each of these players and sort them that way.
Experienced College/foreign players: (7/11)
One-and Done/High School Entries: (4/11)
Although these results have little bearing on the strength/weaknesses of this draft and the many factors that are still not revealed to the general public, there definitely is a trend to be seen. The more experienced college players were taken at the 7th pick than the ones who were raw and unproven in better competition. Teams seem to gravitate to the safer picks when the draft whittles away the top talent, and this method has been pretty successful (only 2 of the experienced players became busts/no longer play in the NBA). Only two of these players drafted at that pick have found success, despite being relatively "green". Following these basic figures, it would be more logical from a statistical standpoint to go with the safe pick that will contribute to the team's depth. But, I'm not the expert (God is the only expert, right Chuck?) on this business. I'll let you guys put in your two cents on what direction the team should go come draft night. It all comes down to, is the risk worth the reward this year?