Photo courtesy of grizzlygazettegfhs.com
By Richard Pryor III
Q: Richard, now that we’re mostly through the NFL season and partially through the NBA season, what do you think about how the respective drafts turned out?
- Thinking in Tuckaway
A: Ah, the draft. We obsess over a (sometimes) multi-night event that we hope will change the fortunes of our team for the better. Who can forget when the drafting of Akeem Olajuwon and the creation of the Twin Towers that brought the Houston Rockets from the bottom of the Western Conference in 1984 to third out of 12 teams in 1985? (Aside from those born after 1984, of course.) Especially in the NBA, a well-drafted rookie can make a big difference. So who should we be looking at for this season?
Current leaders in various statistical categories include Ben Simmons (#1, 2016), Donovan Mitchell (#13, 2017), Lauri Markkanen (#7, 2017), Jayson Tatum (#3, 2017), and the eminent Lonzo Ball (#2, 2017). However, we have seen a star born from the twenty-seventh pick, Kyle Kuzma, who is having a better season than the first pick, Markelle Fultz. I think this provides some important lessons for all of us as sports fans.
First: the draft isn’t super important. The draft is not the final arbiter of the upcoming season and it should not be treated as such. A good trade (I see you, Yankees), a quality free agent signing, or a new coach can be the catalyst for a great season. The second lesson is that not every good college player translates into being a good professional player. And if you disagree with me on that, I hope you like the fantasy universe with NFL MVPs Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel. And finally, the third lesson is almost the inverse of the second, which is that not every good NBA or NFL player comes from a good college. One of Tom Brady’s top wide receivers, Julian Edelman, is a proud alumnus of Kent State (Go Flashes!) Division II’s Bridgeport is the proud college of ageless wonder Manute Bol. The great coach and player Phil Jackson played for the University of North Dakota when they were still in D-II. Seven time All-Star Jack Sikma played for Division III’s Illinois Wesleyan. I look forward to seeing what draft questions come up in the spring as draft season approaches