Monday, May 24, 2010

Projections are key to drafting

The madness preceding the National Football League and National Basketball Association drafts is a unmitigated sickness with which we'll just likely will have to deal.

The conversations about the talents of potential draftees is cool. However, anyone who even hints of knowing, on May 24, which players will be selected when and by whom on June 24 is fooling themselves.

OK, I might bet a couple of pennies that Washington will use the draft's No. 1 choice overall on Kentucky's John Wall. After that, forget it. There are too many unknowns (i.e., trades, workout impressions, behavior, off-the-wall selections) the day before the draft, much less a month prior, to have a true clue.

Yet, here's what makes draft success such a difficult assignment. It's not what you are looking at now, but what you foresee in the future.
It's tricky enough to judge how good players are now, especially after seeing some of them for just one collegiate season, much less how good they'll be four years from now.

Talk about unknowns! If you have any kids, this needs no explanation. If you don't, look back at your life five years ago and remember what you projected for your life today.

If I ever were given the opportunity to make one of those draft calls, I'd be looking for an obvious advantage. Some players will be Paul Bunyan strong. Some will be Usain Bolt speedy. Some will be Tyreke Evans big and strong. Another will be Chris Paul-Rajon Rondo quick. There has to be some attribute that makes a player stand out. Some can have Stephen Curry-ridiculous, lights-out shooting ability. And Curry also has other crazy skills.

Speaking of unknowns, how many of us believed following Cleveland's blowout victory in Boston in Game Three of the Eastern Conference semifinal series, LeBron James would appear to have one foot out of Ohio? And Mike Brown would have both feet removed from the Cavaliers leadership by owner Dan Gilbert.

Brown won 127 games during the past two regular seasons and was fired Sunday night. Granted, the Cavs did not get to the NBA Finals, much less win the title.

Brown was a victim of expectations he helped create with the regular-season success. Couple that with James' impending free-agency and running into a Boston Celtics squad playing at an incredible and heretofore unforeseen level, Brown was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And remember, Brown was the 2008-09 NBA Coach of the Year.

Clearly, Brown's offensive approach left much to be desired and why he kicked J.J. Hickson's athletic butt to the curb, I do not know. But that seems like a lot of success only for a guy to get canned. That's the frigid way of the pro sports world.

Moreover, how does Cleveland land a coach - especially one with other options - without knowing if James will return. That might be an influential factor, most would say.

While on the coaching carousel, it was the 2006-2007 season in which the Boston Celtics and coach Doc Rivers fashioned a 24-58 record.
Way back then, there were many Boston fans and journalists who believed Rivers was incapable of leading the Celtics back to glory. They wanted Rivers fired and if General Manager Danny Ainge could get a ticket on the bus out of time, so be it.

The Celtics spent the 2007-08 season winning the NBA title and I wouldn't bet against them winning the 2009-2010 championship. Not after the defense they've played during these playoffs. They could be arrested for what they've done to Cleveland and now are doing to Orlando.

This squad, under the guidance of the coach many wanted fired, have been the epitome of the word, 'team.'

My pick of two conference final sweeps went down the drain Sunday night when Amare Stoudamire showed his wares and the Lakers suddenly couldn't handle Phoenix's zone in Game Three of the West finals. L.A leads, 2-1, going into Tuesday night's Game Four.

I still like the Lakers to win the series and advance to an NBA Finals collision with the Celtics.

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