A daft draft: The downside to the upsides

The most disturbing part of the NBA Draft isn’t the premature end of a hundred or so collegiate careers, the perennial plight of Clippers fans, or even the resulting nationwide shortage of fine fabrics and precious metals that are lost to the draft-day catwalk.

No, the worst part of it all is our desperate impatience and the vain attempts of our nation’s punditry to dispel the future’s mysteries.

Fans demand projections they can clearly visualize, so self-proclaimed experts make brash comparisons to current and former players that are further off base than Ricky Henderson.

There are no consequences to these failed forecasts-they are quickly forgotten and flipped into front-office criticisms when things don’t pan out. Nobody is ever held accountable when a Kwame Brown turns out to be Kwame Brown and not Kevin Garnett.

According to Chad Ford and his ESPN.com “Insider” crew, the 2005 Draft should yield yet another Garnett in Marvin Williams, plus an Isaiah Thomas (Chris Paul), Jason Kidd (Deron Williams), Scottie Pippen (Danny Granger), Tracy McGrady (Gerald Green), and somebody who “sure looks like another Shaq” (Andrew Bynum).


Why are NBA GMs bemoaning the lack of superior talent in this year’s crop if there are at least six players destined to retire among the top 50 in history?

ESPN does mention a few slightly less prolific “similarities,” including an uncanny three Joe Johnsons. Ford’s choice as the 30th overall pick, Andrew Blatche, is touted as “Rasheed Wallace minus the head issues.”

Let’s get this straight: 29 guys in this draft are better than a guy who is a more composed version of a guy who is currently one of the top 25 players in the world? Right. And Darko Milicic was Dirk Nowitzki with a harder edge.

Andrew Bogut is usually compared to whitey-tighties such as Miller, Vlade Divac and, in higher estimations, Bill Walton. Scouts and analysts have always struggled to look past physical similarities, and skin color is the biggest part of this illusion.

Bogut is clearly less of a stiff than Miller and Divac. His outstanding college numbers and well-rounded skill set should remind analysts more of Tim Duncan. Though that comparison may seem overzealous, I guarantee it’s one you’d hear more often if Bogut looked at all like Duncan.

People certainly wouldn’t be wondering whether a college reserve should be picked over a Wooden Award winner.

It’s not racism-it’s a lack of imagination. When a guy doesn’t closely resemble anybody in particular, scouts treat him like an insurance company treats a Kellen Winslow bike: They write him off completely.

Sean May might fall to the round two because scouts, sounding more like porn connoisseurs than basketball experts, don’t consider him a “legit 6 foot 9.”

There just aren’t many guys built like May, so they can’t picture him succeeding. But what about Charles Barkley? He was only 6 foor 4, for Chuck’s sake!

Why won’t May be able to use his thick, wide body like the Round Mound of Rebound to become an absolute beast in the paint? This is a guy who put up 26 and 10 in the NCAA title game.

Positioning and banging garner rebounds at every level-May should be as good as Danny Fortson on the boards right away, and Fortson is a serviceable NBA starter because of that talent alone.

Height might play a bigger role on offense, but why would a 6-foot-8 May struggle while a 6-foot-9 May did well?

What are scouts on, and can I legally acquire some online from Canada or what? That’s the “Insider” information I want to pay for.

Why do they measure each player’s height with and without shoes? They should worry more about a guy’s soul than his soles. If I were May, I’d show up at the combine wearing moon boots.

Of course, the numbers that should matter-actual playing statistics-never seem to merit much consideration.

It’s hard to believe Deron Williams is a likely top-5 pick after his mediocre percentages against college opponents. He shot .433 from the field, .677 from the line and .364 from the shortened three-point line.

Those numbers would be poor even if he were able to repeat them in the NBA. And he won’t, since he has the quickness of Stephen Hawking. His defense might be sound, but that’s not going to matter much when the only thing he’ll be defending is his seat on the bench, after timeouts.

Marvin Williams didn’t even start in his team’s biggest games, yet he’s the guy everybody thinks the Bucks should take No. 1. NCAA performances don’t seem to mean anything, but pedestrian performances in obscure European leagues make Chad Ford dream of sugar fairies and lollipops.

ESPN.com points to “an impressive 16-point game for Ulker” as a reason to be high on Ersan Ilyasova. Apparently watching a game in “Ulker” is a reason to be high on something else, as well.

A guy makes six lay-ups and four free throws in his penultimate performance against relative chumps and that makes him a first rounder in the NBA. Huh?

I guess that’s why I’m sitting at home while Ford is in Turkey watching some guy with 38 syllables in his name dunk over opponents that haven’t had a decent meal in four years.

Oh, well. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy some high heels-I might just have a shot next year if I can get up to 6 foot 6 or so. After all, I put up seven devastating points in a pickup game against some fat old English guys in Yorkshire the other day. Too bad Ford couldn’t make it.

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