Why The NBA Draft Doesn’t Always Work
As someone who enjoys watching college basketball just as much as pro ball, the NBA Draft is something I look forward to every year. Outside of being one of the more exciting NBA events, the draft offers fans the rare opportunity to see someone’s dreams literally come true right in front of you. So you already know I was planted in front of the TV last night watching it.
That being said, it’s sort of funny to me that, for all the hype surrounding the draft, it usually only ends up helping four or five teams every year. The rest end up drafting role players, guys that never quite live up to their potential or players that end up playing for other teams after their rookie contracts are up. Don’t just take my word for it, though.
With the verdict still out on the newly-inducted 2010 NBA Draft class, let’s take a look at some of the more notable players from the 2009 draft to see how ineffective some of them ended up being during their rookie years. It only proves my theory that while the draft is fun to watch, it doesn’t always work nearly as well as you might think…
With the first pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Clippers selected…the first draftee to get put on the disabled list for the entire season. Griffin hurt his knee shortly after signing with the team and didn’t play a single game for them last year. As a result, they finished right back near the bottom of the NBA’s Western Conference. Not exactly a game-changing situation for the team.
The Memphis Grizzles actually put together a pretty nice little season last year. Unfortunately, they did it without the No. 2 pick in the draft last year, who was actually sent to the D-League for a portion of last season after performing poorly for the team. Imagine if they would have taken eventual Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans or Stephen Curry at No. 2 instead.
Certain players, especially international players, don’t want to play in a small market. For U.S.-born players, they have to suck it up and do it anyway. In Ricky Rubio’s case, he simply refused to come over to the States and play for the Minnesota Timberwolves after the team drafted him with the No. 5 pick. Fortunately, the T’Wolves had the No. 6 pick, too, and selected the formidable Jonny Flynn. But, still, is it really a fair draft when guys only agree to play for the teams in large markets?
Oh, the joys of being a New York Knicks fan. The team picked Hill over point guard Brandon Jennings, who would have fit right into their system and made them better better almost instantly. He was later traded to the Houston Rockets right before the trade deadline in February in an effort to clear cap space for this summer’s free agent market. But now that the Knicks look like a long-shot to get LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or any of the other big names out there, this just looks like a dumb move all around.
As much as it pains me to say it (I’m a lifelong Duke fan), the Charlotte Bobcats selecting Henderson at No. 12 last year was a stretch. He plays like a handful of other guys on that team and Duke players notoriously struggle to succeed in the NBA.
After a stellar junior season at the University of Louisville, Clarke entered his name into the NBA Draft and was selected with the 14th pick by the Phoenix Suns. But he averaged a meager 2.7 points and 1.1 rebounds per game and was shipped off to the Iowa Energy of the D-League in March. Bet they wish they’d taken someone else for that playoff run they made towards the end of the year.
Another guy who simply left college a year too early. Teague was a standout point guard for Wake Forest before leaving school with two years of eligibility left to enter the ’09 NBA Draft. He was chosen with the No. 19 pick by the Atlanta Hawks, but only managed to average 3 points per game during the regular season. He might have been a lottery pick last night if he’d stayed in school one more year.
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These are just some of the guys that underperformed in their roles as rookies last year. Some could rebound and play better in the future. Others might be out of the NBA shortly. But one thing remains true: None of them were all that beneficial to their new NBA teams last year. So what exactly is the point of the NBA Draft if most of the guys that get picked don’t end up helping the teams that drafted them in the first place?