Tuesday , Jun , 05 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

The NBA Draft – The Great Debate

The NBA Draft is an important day for all 30 NBA teams. It’s a time when teams can build upon their current rosters, while also building for the future.

The NBA Draft - The Great Debate

All teams must do it, but it is most critical for those organizations that are drafting within picks 1-14. The future of their team relies primarily on picking the right player.

In 2004, the Orlando Magic were forced to make the decision to draft either high school standout Dwight Howard, or national champion Emeka Okafor. The Magic selected Howard and their team’s future looks very bright, while Okafor is battling to stay healthy for the perennial lottery bound Charlotte Bobcats. Picking the wrong guy can set a franchise back a couple of years.

In 2005, the Atlanta Hawks selected freshman phenomenon Marvin Williams over the likes of Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Marvin Williams has gone on to average 10.6 PPG and 5.0 RPG for a team that hasn’t even come close to sniffing at a playoff berth. Meanwhile, Paul has averaged 16.6 PPG, 8.3 APG, and 4.8 RPG for a team that was right on the cusp of a playoff spot this season. Paul also won the league’s Rookie of the Year award. Deron Williams just recently helped carry his team to the Western Conference Finals while showing that he’s going to be an elite player in this league for many years to come.

Picking the right guy is essential. How should this year’s lottery teams go about picking the right guy? Should they select the best player available (BPA)? Should they draft upon a specific need? Or should they draft a younger player for his upside? Let’s evaluate some of the more recent drafts to come to some form of a conclusion on this.

2005: The Atlanta Hawks select the BPA in Marvin Williams, adding to the team’s depth at SF. Meanwhile, they skip out on their need at PG and pass up on Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Raymond Felton.

2004: The Portland Trailblazers select Sebastian Telfair over co-Naismith winner Jameer Nelson. Both players fit the team’s specific need. Nelson was easily the better player of the two, but Telfair was chosen for his upside.

2004: The Toronto Raptors draft upon need with the selection of Rafael Araujo and pass up on the upside of Andre Iguodala. Araujo has since been traded, and Iguodala is the cornerstone of the Sixers’ franchise.

2004: The Cleveland Cavaliers draft Luke Jackson over Josh Smith. Jackson was the more polished player, while Smith was the player with massive potential. Jackson is now with the Toronto Raptors averaging 2.0 PPG. Smith is averaging 16.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and is quietly becoming an intimidating force on the defensive side of the ball.

2003: The Detroit Pistons select Darko Milicic over the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade. Milicic was a player chosen for all of his potential. Anthony was the best player available. Bosh had upside, but was also a player of need.

The strategy each team takes into the draft differs. What do you, the readers, believe is the best kind of strategy? What strategy do you hope your team uses to remove themselves from lottery status? Let me know.