I work at a sports facility in Twinsburg, and this week we've hosted a basketball camp. During a break today I heard some of the campers playing trivia, and one question was: "Who did the Cavs pick in the first round last night?"
While my first impulse was to shout out "Shannon Brown, guard, Michigan State!" (and my second to ask him "What the hell kind of trivia question is that?"), I kept my mouth shut. But soon I got to thinking. Five years from now, who will remember the 25th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft?
In the weeks and months leading up to a draft in any sport (well, except hockey, soccer and the WNBA, because no one really cares about those "sports"), all we hear about are rants and raves about so-and-so. He runs a 4.3 40. His fastball tops out at 96 mph. He's got a killer crossover dribble. The prognosticators fill out their "mock drafts" and the nation's top sports journalists debate on ESPN on what each team needs. But five years from now, who is the top player?
It would be great if there was a LeBron James in every draft. A player who you know is the real deal. But for every LeBron James, there's a Tim Couch. A Courtney Brown. Guys who you think, think, have all the "tools" to be a franchise player. But be it injuries, bad luck, or the fact that they just aren't that good, and BOOM! Tens of millions of dollars, wasted. Fans, still waiting for next year.
But there's a difference between James, Couch, Courtney Brown and now Shannon Brown. The first three were top overall picks. Picks you can't afford to waste on guys who can't or won't cut it, because you know what? Your team is already terrible, that's why you have the first pick. But what's the pressure on Shannon Brown? Twenty-plus teams passed on him or felt that better players were available. So what if he breaks his leg in the preseason? He wasn't the top pick.
All that being said, I liked what the Cavs did - almost. By drafting Brown and Daniel Gibson, they addressed the team's biggest deficiency: backcourt scoring. These guys put up good numbers in college (Brown = 17.2 ppg, Gibson = 13.4 ppg). They both played for good programs in tough conferences. I do have one problem with our draft, though, a problem that cost me almost a half hour of sleep last night.
With the 55th pick, which occurred at roughly 11:45 p.m., the Cavs selected Ejike Ugboaja, a 6'-9" forward from Nigeria. Huh? Who? According to his draft profile on NBA.com, Ugboaja is a "raw athlete who currently specializes in rebounding and defense, but is developing on the offensive end of the floor". Who, exactly, is he rebounding and defending against in Nigeria?
I know what you're saying. "Scott, who cares? It was the fifth last pick." Well, I do care. Every single pick counts, because you never know who you'll find later in a draft. For example, Jim Thome was picked in the 13th round. Remember Carlos Boozer, a second-rounder just a few years ago? Why not draft, say, Terence Dials, an Ohio native who played at OSU and won the Big Ten Player of the Year award. I'll go out on a limb and say Dials is more ready to help LeBron than Ejike Ugboaja, who averaged 5 ppg in the Nigeria Premier League last year.
Oh well. After all, these drafts are just big crapshoots. Maybe in five years, the trivia question that future basketball campers ask will be: "When did 2010 NBA MVP Ejike Ugboaja get drafted?"