The NBA Draft has come and gone with one of the most boring evenings in its televised history. Maybe it was the arena setting, maybe it was the lack of marquee names, maybe it was the fact that none of the draftees wore anything particularly ridiculous, but the league’s capstone summer event was so uninspiring that even Bill Simmons’ usually-hilarious draft diary felt trite and mailed in. Still, the draft represents to every major college basketball player the culmination of a lifelong dream to hear one’s name called by David Stern, and it’s worth a quick reflection on how things went last Thursday for many of the players we’ve been watching and tracking for years.
The 1-and-Dones. Generally speaking, the NBA Draft went well for the seven 1-and-done players who declared after their freshman season. Excluding Enes Kanter, who never played a minute at Kentucky, from the discussion, six of the seven players who left school after one season were drafted, and five of those went in the first round. Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Texas’ Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, and Tennessee’s Tobias Harris were chosen in the first thirty selections, while Kansas’ Josh Selby was taken in the next thirty picks. The lone holdout was Illinois’ Jereme Richmond, a player who clearly had a much higher opinion of himself than did NBA general managers (although if you listen to his uncle, delusions of grandeur may extend beyond Richmond to his extended family). Whether any of the others are “ready” for the NBA is an irrelevant notion in this day and age, but seeing Thompson jumping up to the #4 selection despite not being able to shoot the ball, and Joseph going at #29 despite averaging only 10.4 PPG as a “scorer” has us raising our eyebrows.
Sneaking Into the First Round... Not Exactly. We heard time and time again in April that the impetus behind numerous marginal players deciding to enter the NBA Draft this year was because players like Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones and Terrence Jones were not coming out. The logic was that their staying in school opened up more first round spots for lesser talents, a statement certainly true in theory but in no way a sane justification for a dozen additional players to declare for the draft. Four doesn’t equal twelve the last time we checked. Interestingly, three of the four beneficiaries to earn guaranteed first round money were college seniors: Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson, Cleveland State’s Norris Cole, and Marquette’s Jimmy Butler (Texas freshman Cory Joseph was the fourth player to benefit). As for the players who came out early in an attempt to sneak into the first round of this year’s weaker draft, it didn’t really work out for them. We’re looking at second rounders like Shelvin Mack (Butler), Jordan Williams (Maryland), Trey Thompkins (Georgia), Darius Morris (Michigan), Malcolm Lee (UCLA), Travis Leslie (Georgia), DeAndre Liggins (Kentucky), and Isaiah Thomas (Washington), as well as undrafted guys like Scotty Hopson (Tennessee), Jeremy Green (Stanford), Terrence Jennings (Louisville), Greg Smith (Fresno State) and Carleton Scott (Notre Dame). What’s going to be awesome is in future years when underclassmen have roughly two weeks to gauge their draft prospects before having to commit to the draft or heading back to school — we’re sure this will result in nothing but great decisions.