June is probably my least favorite sports month. Because baseball is boring and baseball in June is watching AI: Artificial Intelligence boring. However June also has my single favorite sporting event of the year, the NBA draft. Now my brother, who is a dick, reminded me that it doesn’t bode well for your (our, he’s also a fan) basketball team when the draft is your favorite sports event of the year. But even when the Kings were relevant I loved the draft. Christ, I was enthusiastic when Dan Dickau was on the Kings’ roster for 5 minutes. However I also consider myself a pretty educated college basketball fan and usually being an educated college basketball fan and evaluating a draft are antithetical, as inevitably almost anyone you liked or thought highly of in college turns out to be a terrible pro (Dan Dickau!) So usually my pro potential predictions suck. Thankfully, though, there’s this year. The worst, most confusing, most subjective draft in recent memory. So everyone’s predictions suck and since misery loves company here are mine.
Now the argument, of course, about the NBA draft , really all drafts, is that any draft is subjective. Sure things are in short supply and you’re far more likely to end up with a Tyrus Thomas, a serviceable player you overreached for because he looked good against a Duke front-court of Shelden Williams and some other white guy, or an Emeka Okafor, a superlative talent in almost every regard in college whose Rookie of the Year season dissipated into a journeyman career and snarky STR commentary. Moreover the NBA learning curve can be so steep, because the career paths of so many draftees is so divergent (college, Europe, the D League, wherever the hell Jeremy Tyler played), and basketball, for all its simplicity has such subtle variations from college to Europe to the D League to wherever the hell Jeremy Tyler played, that it can take years to transition. So you may think Josh Selby is the best player in this draft, and not the second coming of Dajuan Wagner, and you may be right, but it may take years for that reality to manifest. Just ask nbrans, who was vindicated about his Jeff Teague infatuation in just enough time for most people on this blog to ask, “who the hell is nbrans?”
However I don’t entirely agree with that logic. Look at last year. Last year the collective seemed to acknowledge that John Wall, Evan Turner, Demarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe, hell even Paul George, would be good pros. Yes the draft had its Ekpe Udohs’ and Landry Fields’, but there really weren’t a ton of gambles. Sure Cousins was a gamble, but there’s a big difference between gambling on a guy who could be the second coming of Zach Randolph and gambling on a guy who could be the second coming of Nikoloz Tskitishvili. This draft is made up of gambles like the later. What really makes this draft unique, in my mind, is that for the first time in a long time it’s a draft populated by the two hardest to project, most divergent talents in the league, really good college players, who we like because we know way too much about them, and European mystery men, who we like because we know almost nothing about them. It’s the sort of draft that makes player rankings futile. Since after the top 2, there are no guarantees.
Look at this murderer’s row of potential options for Sacramento:
Kyrie Irving – An injury prone one and done who played 8 college games before submarining his team in the Tournament, and this is the draft’s sure thing. Hey, he did have 9 assists in November against Colgate. The argument with Irving seems to be that drafting him doesn’t get you fired. Ask Kevin Pritchard if drafting an injury prone one and done with the first pick of the draft gets you fired.
Derrick Williams – Being this draft’s Emeka Okafor is still an improvement over being this draft’s Stromile Swift.
Enes Kanter – Full disclosure, John Calipari is one of my favorite coaches in college basketball. I know he’s awful for the game and Bobby Knight wants to suffocate him under the soft serve machine at the Golden Corral, but the truth is I think Calipari is a bright guy who knows basketball and does inventive things with the game. And for all those reasons, and because Kanter actually wanted to play collegiately, even if it was only for a season, I kind of buy Kanter as a pro.
Brandon Knight – I’ve heard pundits, in reference to this draft, observe that it’s one of those years where you’re probably going to get a better player drafting at 8 than at 3. Knight to me personifies that. Let’s say Utah takes Knight. Devin Harris becomes expendable. Knight is now expected to not just facilitate the team offensively but also, given the dearth of scorers on the roster, carry it offensively at times. Knight, as Ziller has pointed out previously, wasn’t even considered a lottery pick until April. Alternatively let’s say the Kings draft Knight. Evans can still facilitate an offense, the expectations for a 7th pick are comparatively lower than for those of the third, and no one expects Knight to be anything more than the 4th or 5th best scorer on the team. That’s not to say Sacramento is in significantly better shape than Utah, it isn’t. It’s just to say, owed to the better part of a decade’s worth of rebuilding, Sacramento’s infrastructure is currently just a bit stronger. So Knight, in my estimation, despite being the exact same player in either situation, will be a better pro if he’s taken 7th than if he’s taken 3rd.
Jan Vesely – As opposed to liking a Euro because of You Tube videos depicting him passing we like a Euro because of You Tube videos depicting him dunking. Progress people!
Kemba Walker – I want the Kings to draft Walker. Not because I have an answer to how you solve a starting backcourt of two ball dominant playground players who can’t hit jump shots and prefer not to pass, but because I already have his nickname, “the Bronx Bomber.” I dated a girl from the Bronx. Actually she’s from New Jersey, her parents were from the Bronx. It was like making out with a Soprano’s episode.
Kawhi Leonard – Andre Igoudala fans, why do you want a guy with something like 3 years and $80 million dollars left on his contract, a contract that expires when he’s 30, who can be a black hole offensively, when you can draft a less athletic, but younger and more team oriented version of the same player for free?
Jimmer Fredette – I’d actually like to defend Jimmer. But I’m wary of doing so before nbrans fingers him as the “guy who just plays hard.” Incidentally by writing “before nbrans fingers” have we violated BYU’s Code of Conduct?
Jonas Valaciunas – NBADraft.net compares him to Nenad Kristic and Primoz Brezec. NBADraft.net has him being selected eighth.
Marcus Morris – The Kings won’t draft him, but Philadelphia has heretofore been pretty good to Sacramento so I wouldn’t be despondent if they did.