Last night was the 2015 NBA Draft and 60 players were selected.
In my younger years I used to relish watching the draft. It was a big deal for me to see which college superstars were selected and which NBA team they would be playing for. These guys, for the most part were college graduates or, at the very least, played three years of college basketball. As a fan of the college game is was great to see these players blossom from skinny, baby faced freshman to grown upperclassmen. They were ready for the NBA.
That's the problem I had with the draft last night and the draft for the past 15 years. The picks, especially the first overall pick, have been freshman, sophomores or played zero college basketball. You get no time to know these players. They spend one or two years tops in college or overseas and some GM's risk the next four years of their franchise on teenagers or kids that just turned 20. I wouldn't hire a 20 year old to do my laundry, let alone lead an NBA franchise. Granted, most of these kids are extremely athletically gifted basketball players, but more times than not, a lot of them flame out quick or get injured because their bodies aren't physically ready for the rigors of the NBA. It's a full time job, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You have to be in shape constantly, there's no rest and no nights off. I imagine it's extremely tough.
Now, I'm not saying there's no underclassmen or players with no college experience that haven't thrived in the league. Lebron James is going to go down as one of the greatest players in NBA history. But, for every Lebron James there's a Kwame Brown. A kid straight out of high school, picked number one overall in the draft and now, he's out of the league. No All Star games, no championships. He's an afterthought. Imagine what, at least, three years of college would have done for him. Andrew Bogut was taken number one in 2005. He played three years of college ball at Utah. He's by no stretch of the imagination a star, but he's been an all NBA player, on the all NBA defensive team and just this past season won a championship. Wouldn't you rather have that than the 2006 and 2007 number one picks. The 2006 number one was Andrea Bargnani. He was a sure fire, can't miss foreign prospect. He played fine while with the Raptors, but the team never really took off like they hoped they would when they drafted Bargnani. He was eventually traded to the Knicks and has suffered a plethora of injuries. Then, in 2007 there's Greg Oden. He was supposed to be a non stop offensive superstar and one of the best defenders in the league coming out of Ohio State after his sophomore season. There was another underclassman in that same draft that every scout and GM said was too skinny and his game wouldn't translate to the pros. That guy was Kevin Durant out of Texas. Well, Oden kept injuring his feet and knees and legs over and over again. He never made any impact in the NBA and he is now considered one of the biggest "busts" of all time. I'd take Bogut's career over Oden's or Bargnani's in a heartbeat. Never an All Star, but a consistent starter and contributor in the NBA. Sounds good to me. Then there's the case for Derrick Rose. A slashing point guard that played with reckless abandon and would risk life and limb to get to the hoop. The point guard of the future they said after two seasons at the University of Memphis. In his first couple of seasons he was living up to hype, going as high as MVP of the league. Then, he tears one ACL, then the other and now, he's a shell of his former self, playing with fear of getting hurt again. Imagine what one or two more years of strength and conditioning training in college would have done for him. In comparison, Tim Duncan stayed at Wake Forest for four years and has won multiple MVP awards and five championships, Oh, and he'll be returning for his 19th season next year. Staying in college didn't hurt him at all.
Which brings me to last nights draft. Thirteen Freshman, four players from overseas(one being Emmanuel Mudiay who instead of playing one year at SMU, took a million dollar contract to play in China), five sophomores and the eight juniors or seniors rounded out the first round. That's appalling to me. Only one senior was taken in the lottery and that was the plodding big man that thinks he's a three point shooter and plays no defense, Frank Kaminsky. Four of the fourteen lottery players played for John Calipari at Kentucky. These four, with the exception being Devin Booker, are really going to have to figure it out when they get in the league. Devin Booker already is a pretty good lock down defender and a lethal three point shooter. That will work in today's NBA. But, Willey Cauley Stein is an aberration on the offensive side of the ball and can't rebound, but, he's an excellent shot blocker and that was good enough for the Sacramento Kings to take him sixth overall. Trey Lyles went twelfth overall to Utah, but he's the definition of a project. I didn't see him or even hear about him until the NCAA Tournament. Karl Anthiny Towns was the number one overall pick and he didn't really start to dominate until late in the season. When they first started playing he thought he was a perimeter player. He just learned how to play the low post and he's going to going against much stronger, older veterans. D'Angelo Russel played one year at Ohio State and while he's an excellent passer and scorer, he plays no defense and he has to play with the rotting corpse that is Kobe Bryant. The fourth pick Kristaps Porzingis and the fifth pick Mario Hezonja only had grainy video highlights that I saw for the first time during the draft last night. They are on the same level as Trey Lyles for me. I know nothing about them. Stanley Johnson from Arizona is a tank, but he also moped when he was put on the bench during his one college season. Myles Turner is a great shot blocker and could shoot the three for a big guy, but he has the most awkward running motion I've ever seen. It's jarring. The last two lottery pick, while being young, I do think will be good players because of where they were picked. Emmauel Mudiay was taken seventh overall by Denver. He plays the exact way that new head coach Mike Malone wants him to. He plays fast and he's a slasher. He also spent his one year away from the league playing in a pro league in China. He played with grown men, some that even played in the NBA, so he knows what he's getting into. He reminds me a lot of Brandon Jennings, who I love and think is very underrated. Then there's Justise Winslow from Duke. He's a great defender and rebounder and a lights out three point shooter. He was taken tenth overall by Miami. If they're able to keep their core together from last season, it's a perfect situation for him. He's the next Dwayne Wade, and hopefully for his sake, he will be mentored by Wade. Winslow is my pick for Rookie of the Year. But, I still yearn for the days of the draft consisting of mostly upperclassmen, because like I said before, they were ready for the league. They essentially played four years of semi pro ball and were able to easily transition into the NBA. Let's hope that's one thing that Adam Silver tries to bring back, because basketball is becoming popular again, but it won't be fun to watch a bunch of nineteen and twenty year old kids ruin this beautiful game because of their lack of preparation.
Fix this please.
(ed note: Ty left the 76'ers pick of Jahlil Okafor off of this commentary because he is preparing a column next week where the entire 76'ers franchise will be put under the microscope.)
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for Seed Sing. He does not want you to know that Kevin Garnett is one of his favorite players ever. Follow him on twitter @tykulik.