As we approach tonight’s NBA draft, many teams will be faced with the big question: Should we draft the best player available or the player that would fit best in our current plans. In too many NBA and NFL drafts, we see teams succumb to media pressure and take the fancy pick, though the team would probably be better served off with a different player. In this year’s relative weak NBA draft pool, many teams will have to decide whether to pick the best player available or the player that has the best chance to succeed in the team’s current situation, and it starts with the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 1.
The cant-miss prospect is a mainstream media creation and it has become a bigger factor in recent years. When you’re in place to draft a cant-miss player, you cannot pass up on him regardless of the team’s current roster. In the 1985 NBA Draft, Patrick Ewing was the cant-miss guy and went on to have a stellar career. Likewise in 2003, LeBron James was the cant-miss game changing player and did go on to be a force in the league. However, there is no “sure thing” in a draft, and many teams have learned that in a painful way.
In the 2007 NBA Draft, Portland owned the number one pick and the right to draft Center Greg Oden from Ohio State. As a 7-footer that played a big part on an Ohio State team that made a deep NCAA tourney run, Oden was coveted by all teams. In the NBA, there a grave misconception that game-changing 7 footers should not be passed on regardless. Oden would be drafted with the first pick and the Oklahoma City Thunder (then Seattle Supersonics) were left with a “pretty good consolation prize” in Kevin Durant. Greg Oden missed his whole initial rookie season and has been oft-injured in his NBA career. On the other hand, Durant has become a perennial All-Star, the youngest player to ever win a scoring title, and recently just took his team to the Western Conference Finals.
In the 2003 Draft, the foreign 7-foot Center/Power Forward Darko Milicic was selected by the Pistons with the number 2 pick, before All-Star standouts such as Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. Milicic is currently on his fifth NBA team (Timberwolves) and has yet to validate his No. 2 selection. I’m sure the Pistons wouldn’t mind on of the aforementioned All-Stars currently.
This dilemma also happens in the NFL too. This year the Carolina Panthers took Cam Newton with the first pick in the draft. The more Newton made headlines, the more they felt the need to draft him as the media pressure intensified. The Panthers are a team of many needs and they drafted a franchise quarterback a year after they drafted Jimmy Clausen, who was supposed to be the next leader of the franchise. Peyton Manning had a horrible rookie year, so why give up on Clausen after one go-around. Theoretically speaking, if the Panthers go 2-14 this year under rookie Cam Newton, who do they take with the number one pick in the 2012 NFL Draft .. Andrew Luck?
The Houston Texans came under fire for drafting Mario Williams with the first pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. It was common knowledge that the flashy collegiate athlete Reggie Bush would be the first pick. Vince Young was from Houston and just turned in a spectacular Rose Bowl performance to lead his team to the National Championship. The Texans went against the grain and five years later it is apparent that their questionable pick of Mario Williams was the correct pick.
Tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers will likely take Duke point guard Kyrie Irving with the first pick. He is an ultra-talented player and if chosen, will definetely make an impact for Cleveland early on. However, as Kai Lewis pointed out (Should Derrick Williams Be Drafted #1), it would be prudent to at least explore other options. There is only one immediate impact forward in the draft and that is Derrick Williams. But if a point guard is what you’re looking for and you can’t get Irving, you always have a Kemba Walker and a Brandon Knight to choose from.
Mr. Dan Gilbert, with two of the first four picks in this year’s NBA Draft, you finally have a prime opportunity to rebuild your team after “The Decision”.
Do what’s best for your team.