In the end of June Adam Silver will have the privilege to say, “and the number one draft pick in the 2015 NBA Draft is……” Until the new edition arrive we have to listen to a young Ralph Tresvant and just cool it now (see what I did there). Last week the NBA Draft Combine was held where numerous draft prospects some highly touted some not so much displayed their talents to many scouts, coaches and GM’s. In their interview sessions various players such as Stanley Johnson and D’Angelo Russell said that they are the best player in the draft and they should be drafted number one overall next month. Is being called the Number 1 draft pick the title that you really want to hold?
First things being the number one draft pick will get you endorsements, instant fame, possibly a nickname from Robert Flores or Stan Verrett, a ridiculous rating on NBA 2K16 and most importantly about $26 million dollars over the next 4 years. So you mean to tell me for the next presidency I will make close to $6.5 million dollars a year…where do I sign up. The distinction of being the number one draft pick is a gift and a curse. You can be a Monster like the Meek Mill track or the fans can start chanting you some doo-doo-doo-doo like the Troy Ave hook. I don’t have to be a car driver on Talladega Night to remember the saying ‘first or last’. This tends to be the mindset of people not just athletes but the stage in sports is set for such a dramatic story. It’s the universal goal to be the so called savior, the franchise cornerstone, superstar and inspiration to the youth. Being chosen Number one carries a mystique of its own in which those picked after you will train harder just to dethrone you. But we tend to forget that even though they are the number one pick in their perspective draft they are still rookies. They still putting ProActiv on their face, they can’t even buy alcohol by themselves shit some of them still get carded to see a R rated movie yet they are supposed to get a struggling team amped up like the Ante Up classic.
The measurement of the number one pick is based upon the players that were drafted after them and amongst the number ones of yesteryear. Their careers are under higher scrutiny for a number one pick can average a double-double and still be a bust because at number 9 there was a player who was selected All-Decade Team and won multiple MVP’s.
Tonight during halftime of a playoff game, the NBA will showcase its lottery selection which will determine which team will get the number one pick June 25th. The most popular names to come up are Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell. A wise man once said, ‘It’s not how you start its how you finish’. We as fans must realize that this is another level and it will take time, effort and patience. I can still remember the transition from high school to college. I felt out of place like Larenz Tate in the movie Inkwell until I got with an older woman and then the world was synchronized. Some players use this as fuel, some exceed expectations and some just stay on E. For every John Wall there’s an Andrea Bargnani. An NBA bust can happen at any time for example Adam Morrison, Darko Milicic, Chris Morris but being a bust at number 1 is unfathomable. So for those teams that drafted Michael Olowokandi, Kwame Brown, Joe Smith and others were left with a bitter taste in their mouth as other players in those drafts went on to flourish like McLovin in Superbad.
We live in a microwave society in which we need our results not now but right now. We are yelling ‘expeditiously’ so loud even Joe Clarke has no choice but to move quickly. Sports are the same way in which they want their production now. If you’re allowed to sit for a year or two and develop then why not, see what it does in other sports such as baseball and football. Every NBA career is shaped by decisions made by management as well as the players itself. The higher picks are awarded to the teams that are turrible-Charles Barkley voice or a team led by idiots and then they ask Moses either the player or the Biblical icon to save everyone. So the question becomes is it the production or the draft selection. For example Michael Olowokandi was number one and had a lackluster career but if he was number 10 would he still be a NBA bust. Is the number one pick title too much to handle? But in that same draft you had Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitizki, Vince Carter, Antwan Jamison and my favorite player from that draft Cuttino Mobley but at 10 there was Paul Pierce who will be a first ballot Hall of Famer and still hitting clutch shots to this day. If they did a re-do of the 1998 NBA Draft would Paul Pierce go number 1?
I learned a valuable lesson in 2003; it isn’t the physical that breaks down the quickest it’s the mental. Every player has its own uniqueness that made them the player that they are today so what if you are not number one are you really last, is the hurdle that much harder to climb or does the journey become that much more rewarding when you achieve success. Would you rather have the mountains moved for you or would you rather climb the mountain?
Another variable to consider is the jump from high school to NBA and the phenomenon known as the One-and-Done which make it even harder for team executives to effective evaluate talent because a crucial mistake in the draft means pink slips instead of openings of pink lips. For every Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James and Tracy McGrady there’s a Jonathan Bender, Al Harrington and Jermaine O’Neal. Being a Number 1 pick offers no guarantee of success. From 1990 to 2009 only three number picks led their teams to NBA championships: Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and LeBron James. Let’s not forget Shaq and LBJ lost in their first appearance in the Finals with their original team and it wasn’t until they went to another team that they won a championship. Even though Glenn Robinson won a championship with the Spurs in 2005, he didn’t lead them to a title. 60 percent of number one draft picks made at least one All-Star team but according to society’s standards their career was average at best. Some were derailed by injury such as Andrew Bogut and Greg Oden and there are others who just let the pressure burst pipes in their veins and they didn’t live up to the hype. In the past few years we have been delighted to the likes of Anthony Davis and Andrew Wiggins with Anthony Bennett being the mulligan of the NBA draft.
You only get your name called once. The draft may only last for a few hours but your career last a lifetime. Welcome to the NBA and may you flourish even if you will be labeled as Public Enemy Number 1.