Here at Crossover Chronicles, our team of writers is taking many different approaches toward the 2015 NBA Draft.
Tony Xypteras is working on mock drafts. New writer Jared Mintz is profiling specific teams and outlining their draft needs. Sean Woodley, one of our two podcast co-hosts, interviewed four writers and asked them about the offseason priorities for four different NBA organizations. You’re going to get more articles and podcasts like these in the coming days before “Draft Day” on Thursday.
Yet, perhaps the most expansive look at the draft has been provided by CC staff writer Joseph Nardone, who took great care to remind us that while every fan base hopes it will strike it rich on Draft Day, this process of drafting players is a study in uncertainty.
That’s the point we’re going to try to reiterate in the days before the draft. What might have seemed like a sure home run in the present tense (especially when agreed upon by a broad, vast majority of commentators) can turn out to be a bust in the long run. Other times, the home run turns out to be as good as promised. Still other times, a player doesn’t wow the masses right out of the gate, but steadily improves and ripens into a very valuable prospect.
It’s a little too soon to engage in a thought exercise with a very recent draft (2012, 2013, or 2014), because players need some time in which to develop, especially those who left college after only one or two seasons. However, it seems reasonable to study the dynamics of drafts through the 2010 edition. We’ve now had five years — and four full NBA seasons — in which to examine prospects-turned-pros.
You will find — especially in the first four picks of the 2010 draft — powerful validation of Joe Nardone’s central thesis, that what seems or feels right on draft night is hardly an indicator for the future.
David Stern is blessedly a thing of the past, but give the former commissioner this: His voice and podium presence on draft night are sorely missed. Let’s bring his cadence into the picture and take you through the 2010 draft.
1. “WITH THE FIRST PICK IN THE 2010 NBA DRAFT, THE WASHINGTON WIZARDS SELECT… JOHN WALL, FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY!”
2. Evan Turner, 76ers
3. Derrick Favors, Jazz
4. Wesley Johnson, Timberwolves
Let’s take a break right there. In Wall, Turner, Favors, and Johnson, you have four sharply different stories, four very distinct portraits of professional success or failure. Those four picks would be enough to underscore how uncertain each and every draft ultimately turns out to be, no matter what fan bases might think in the euphoria or depression of the present moment.
We continue with the 2010 draft:
5. DeMarcus Cousins, Kings
6. Ekpe Udoh, Warriors
7. Greg Monroe, Pistons
8. Al-Farouq Aminu, Clippers
9. Gordon Hayward, Jazz
10. Paul George, Pacers
Worth asking: With the benefit of hindsight, was an appreciably large group of pundits outraged that George — clearly one of the three best players in this draft class — was picked this late in the 2010 first round? Not even close. The Pacers were not given A-plus draft grades across the board. The point is not to say, “Oh, how stupid the media was,” but to underscore the unpredictability of this whole exercise. No, I didn’t see George being this good. I saw him play for Fresno State against Seattle University at Key Arena, and while I saw some ability, I never envisioned a top NBA player good enough to make the United States national team.
11. Cole Aldrich, Hornets (now Pelicans)
12. Xavier Henry, Grizzlies
13. Ed Davis, Raptors
14. Patrick Patterson, Rockets
15. Larry Sanders, Bucks
16. Luke Babbitt, Timberwolves (side note: poor Timberwolves, who also whiffed with Johnson at No. 4)
17. Kevin Seraphin, Bulls
18. Eric Bledsoe, Thunder
19. Avery Bradley, Celtics
20. James Anderson, Spurs
21. Craig Brackins, Thunder
22. Elliot Williams, Trail Blazers
23. Trevor Booker, Timberwolves
24. Damion James, Hawks
25. Dominique Jones, Grizzlies
Hmm… lots and lots of whiffs over the past several picks. Must not be anyone else who’s pretty good, right? Let’s move on…
26. Quincy Pondexter, Thunder
27. Jordan Crawford, Nets
28. Greiviz Vasquez, Grizzlies
Oh, so there are still good players available. Unpredictability, thy name is “draft night.”
29. Daniel Orton, Magic
30. Lazar Hayward, Wizards
In review of that first round, how many players would you say became (or are in the process of becoming) everything a best-case scenario suggested they could become? I count six: Wall, Favors, Boogie Cousins, Hayward, George, and Bledsoe. One could perhaps be generous and say that given their places in the draft, Bradley, Pondexter and Vasquez are in the process of carving out solid NBA careers. In that case, the number would be nine out of 30 total selections.
31. Tibor Pleiss, Nets
32. Dexter Pittman, Heat
33. Hassan Whiteside, Kings
A great what-if question: If Whiteside had been picked by the Heat at 32 and had developed into the player he’s currently become in Miami, does LeBron leave after the 2014 season?
34. Armon Johnson, Trail Blazers
35. Nemanja Bjelica, Wizards
36. Terrico White, Pistons
37. Darington Hobson, Bucks (Milwaukee lost this game of “Truth Or Darington”)
38. Andy Rautins, Knicks
39. Landry Fields, Knicks
40. Lance Stephenson, Pacers (The Pacers had the best draft in 2010, but hardly anyone thought so at the time. It should be said that if the Jazz make a deep playoff run with Hayward and Favors a few years from now, they could in time overtake Indiana. We’ll see.)
41. Jarvis Varnado, Heat
42. Da’Sean Butler, Heat
43. Devin Ebanks, Lakers
44. Jerome Jordan, Bucks
45. Paulao Prestes, Timberwolves
46. Gani Lawal, Suns
47. Tiny Gallon, Bucks
48. Latavious Williams, Heat
49. Ryan Richards, Spurs
50. Solomon Alabi, Mavericks
51. Magnum Rolle, Thunder
52. Luke Harangody, Celtics
53. Pape Sy, Hawks
54. Willie Warren, Clippers
55. Jeremy Evans, Jazz
56. Hamady N’Diaye, Timberwolves
57. Ryan Reid, Pacers
58. Derrick Caracter, Lakers
59. Stanley Robinson, Magic
60. Dwayne Collins, Suns
Number of second-round picks who could be considered anything resembling a productive NBA player: 3 — Whiteside, Stephenson, and (the generous/questionable inclusion) Fields. If you were to limit the list to just Whiteside and Lance, you would not get a particularly fierce argument in light of how Fields’s career has gone south since he went north to Toronto after two solid years with the Knicks.