Thursday, June 22, 2006

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda...

With the draft less than a week away and controversy already thick in the air, I figure everybody could use a little certainty about now. So here are my lock-solid draft guarantees:

1. No matter who we pick half the people will excitedly hype the guy as the next coming of Jesus (Shuttleworth).

2. The other half will claim that we bombed.

3. Unless the guy turns out to be LeBron Jordan (or Shaq Chamberlain if he's big), one year from this date somebody will look back and say, "We could have picked ________. What a stupid GM we have."

I'd like to address the latter point today. Despite the illusion of surety and predictability created by hordes of prognosticators and their busy typing fingers, I'm firmly convinced that drafting is a near-total crap shoot. College, high school, or European excellence sometimes translates into NBA ability, but not always. You try to refine that body of work through combines, camps, and individual workouts. You measure these kids backwards, forwards, and upside down. You issue a battery of psychological tests and interview everyone they've ever known, worked for, or glanced sideways at. Even with all this, you're basically engaging in the NBA version of speed dating. Except instead of trying to determine who you'd like to meet for coffee next Tuesday, you're trying to find the best guy to give millions of dollars and the keys to your franchise to. And unless you pick the one candidate out of sixty who will have the best rookie year, some guy who's never met any of the players, hasn't seen them work out, and switched his own pick thirty-two times in the week leading up to the draft will tell you that you did it wrong and he knew it all along. Welcome to the real, live version of "You Be the GM".

So in celebration of our boundless wisdom as fans, earned through long years of honing our hindsight to 20/20 precision, I present the Best Draft Board Ever for the Portland Trailblazers. These would have been our selections if our dumb ol' GM's would have been as smart on draft day as all of us fans are years after the fact. Every one of these guys could have been ours with the actual first round picks we had. (I only reference possible uses for our second or later round picks if the potential players were remarkable. These are listed in parentheses.) Links lead to career stats, but will take you off this page. Peruse at your leisure and enjoy what could have been...

1970 Nate "Tiny" Archibald
1971 "Downtown" Fred Brown (and Spencer Haywood)
1972 Bob McAdoo
1973 George McGinnis
1974 Bill Walton (and George Gervin)
1975 Lloyd "World B." Free
1976 Adrian Dantley (and Alex English and Dennis Johnson)
1977 "Fast" Eddie Johnson (not the one you're thinking of unless you're a real hoops junkie)
1978 Larry Bird and Reggie Theus (and Mo Cheeks and Michael Cooper)
1979 Jim Paxson (and Bill Laimbeer)
1980 Kiki Vandeweghe
1981 Larry Nance and Eddie Johnson (the one you're thinking about) (and Danny Ainge)
1982 Fat Lever
1983 Clyde Drexler
1984 You Know Who (and Jerome Kersey )
1985 Terry Porter
1986 Nate McMillan and Arvydas Sabonis (and Jeff Hornacek and Drazen Petrovic)
1987 Reggie Lewis
1988 Anthony Mason
1989 Vlade Divac (and Cliff Robinson)
1990 Toni Kukoc
1991 No Pick
1992 PJ Brown
1993 Sam Cassell
1994 Voshon Lenard
1995 Theo Ratliff
1996 Jermaine O'Neal
1997 Bobby Jackson
1998 No Pick
1999 (2nd round Manu Ginobili)
2000 Michael Redd
2001 Zach Randolph
2002 Carlos Boozer OR Tayshaun Prince (I wimped out. Take your pick.)
2003 Josh Howard
2004 Sebastian Telfair
2005 Chris Paul

Egad! Think of the opportunities missed! Imagine the records broken by this juggernaut franchise! Why, they'd have to invent new numbers just so they could retire them! Consider for a moment the enormous trade value of just our leftovers. And the championships...ohhhhh, the championships!

So what conclusions are we to draw from this? That every GM we've ever had is a complete idiot, of course. (I mean, only hitting on 12 out of 50? Fire them all! Blindfolded monkeys could do better!) Either that, or maybe this isn't quite so easy as it seems and we should give these guys a break. I'm not going to spend all week proving it, but I bet if you looked through the draft history of every team you'd see the exact same thing. Want to wager?

I hope we hit it big on draft day, but I don't know if we're going to, you don't know if we're going to, even the GM's don't know if we're going to, especially this year. Often you can't really tell until years later. In the meantime what say we sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride?

A pre-emptive toast to whomever we pick. May he give us all reason to cheer and look forward rather than back.

--Dave (


Blogger Scott R said...

i'm just wondering what it could have been like if Sabis had come over when we drafted him in his prime, not years later when he was on the downside of his career. I do KNOW this though, if he did come over shortly after we drafted him the 90's being the bulls hayday would have been more of the "90's epic battles between the Blazers and Bulls".

6:57 AM  
Anonymous fatty said...

remember next year is the
draft period, no morrison,
no gay,no goggles bragnani
no aldredge,no roy nope
either noah or oden period..
no if's and's or but's
about it if they get either
1 or 2 next season in the
lottery, i'll buy season
tickets, also get rid of
the tumors fatbo&darius
while you're at it !!!!!

1:41 PM  
Blogger ignacio said...

kind of a threadkiller, that last. such is the obese one's MO. too bad.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Scott R said...

I'm not really understanding what fatty is trying to say. i've tried to read it several times and just can't figure it out. Help anyone?

1:43 PM  

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