Monday, June 2, 2008

Predicting the Future

While doing all the usual preparation for this year's draft -- basically immersing myself in DraftExpress, mock drafts, message boards and sports talk radio -- a very different kind of question presented itself. In fact, it was mentioned so many times here in Memphis in the months leading up to the draft lottery that I am absolutely dumbfounded that nobody is bringing it up now. That question is: What position do we avoid taking in the draft?

This might seem to be a rather strange question, but allow me to give you some background. As my co-blogger Chip wrote a few weeks back, a few Grizzlies fans had actually taken the stance that selecting Mike Conley with the #4 pick last year was a mistake of colossal proportions, given that everyone knew that this year's draft would be chock full of quality PG's, headlined of course, by the Memphis Tigers' own Derrick Rose. In other words, the Grizzlies front office should have known that they were going to be getting another very high draft pick this offseason (and that they would be trading Pau Gasol without receiving a quality big man in return), so they should have taken a big man last year. Never mind the fact that Damon Stoudamire was still recovering from a career-threatening knee injury and that backup Kyle Lowry was still unable to do anything with the wrist that was injured 10 games into his rookie season. After all, you're supposed to draft based on talent/potential instead of need, right? Remember that these are the same fans that were predicting 40+ wins for this team back in September/October.

So with that in mind, shouldn't we be looking ahead to the 2009 draftees before deciding who to draft this year? That makes sense, doesn't it? So, do the Grizzlies avoid Anthony Randolph or Kevin Love (or even Michael Beasley) this year, because they could take Blake Griffin, Earl Clark or Patrick Patterson next June? Or should they shy away from centers Brook Lopez and DeAndre Jordan, because the early mock drafts have 3-4 centers listed among the Top 15? I need to know, so I can inform Chris Wallace. After all, he'll need to formulate a gameplan based on the fortune telling ability of the fanbase, since they were way ahead of the curve last year at this time.

Obviously I'm not lumping all Grizzlies fans into this group -- they know who they are though. They are the same ones who knew that Kendrick Perkins would turn into a decent NBA player after 4 years of barely reaching mediocrity. They also knew that Amare Stoudemire was going to be a phenom -- even though none of them had actually ever seen him play -- and that the Grizzlies should have drafted him even though he refused to work out for them. And they'll never let you forget that they were all for drafting Carlos Boozer and Josh Howard. Any day now they'll start talking about the fact that they insisted we should have taken Jason Maxiell or Ronny Turiaf over Hakim Warrick in 2005 (but only because they have to wait for people to forget that they originally said Jarrett Jack). After all, they've never been wrong about anything....ever.

Sorry if this seems like an attack on a segment of a dwindling fanbase, but it gets a little tiring listening to the people who insist on living through hindsight and the idea that they are more qualified to run an NBA franchise than the current front office. So step up to the plate, all-knowing collection of wise men and soothsayers. Tell me now who should be on our wish list for next year so that we'll know who the best pick is this year. I'll be waiting in rapt anticipation to publish your spot-on prediction so that you can proclaim your brilliance at this point next year.

As for me, I have no idea and readily admit to it. I make my best-guess picks and then live with it. Last year I had Al Horford, Mike Conley and Corey Brewer on my wish list for the #4 pick. Horford went at #3, we took Conley and I was very pleased at the time -- and I still am. The year before that, I wasn't expecting the trade that landed us Rudy Gay, so I only did research for the #24 pick, where I hoped that we would choose Jordan Farmar. I learned later that Farmar didn't want to come to Memphis and that his agent discouraged the Grizzlies from taking him, which left them to select Kyle Lowry at that spot. Given the choice between an unhappy Farmar or a pleased-as-punch Lowry, I'll take Kyle, even though Farmar has proven to be a very solid player with the Lakers.

This year, I truly have no idea what to make of this draft class after the first three spots. I believe that Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo will go in those positions and I have no idea who the Sonics will take, although it appears that Jerryd Bayless is a good bet. I could make the case that any one of Eric Gordon, Anthony Randolph, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love, Danilo Gallinari, Russell Westbrook, DeAndre Jordan, Darrell Arthur or even Joe Alexander is the "best talent available" at #5 if that's how the first four picks shake out. The simple truth is that I don't know and I do not envy the Grizzlies front office for having to make that decision. What separates me from those I outlined earlier is that I put it out there for others to see now, rather than waiting to see how Player A performs versus Players B - F through their first, second and third seasons and then proclaiming "what should have been done".

I guess that's the good thing/bad thing about being a blogger. Once I hit that "Publish Post" button, it is out there for everyone to see and for them to refer back to after I have been proven to be correct or to be a fool. I can live with that though. Now who's with me?

BallHype: hype it up!

4 comments:

EPope said...

Not me. There is an inherent problem to your argument of asking the fan or blogger or analyst to do something better than Grizzlies management (in this case drafting). We aren't paid millions to be experts like they are. The Grizzlies front office should be held accountable for their horrific draft record from 2000 through 2005.

I call it like I see it. I assume this was in part a response to my post at Vatican Smoke.com, as seen here:

http://vaticansmoke.blogspot.com/2008/05/grizzlies-draft-history.html

I enjoy your blog

Anonymous said...

So apparently 3 out of the top 10 prospects, excluding Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley, said they would refuse to play for the Grizzlies if they were drafted by them. They don't know who it was, but I assume it was O.J. Mayo and someone like Jerryd Bayless and Eric Gordon. How unfair is that? I mean we could love a player, but he refuses to play for us. Why? We have a young, up-and-coming team. Is it the city? I don't know but that is ridiculous. You shouldn't be allowed to do that. Eli Manning did it. John Elway did it. Yi Jianlian tried to do it. And not many people know this, but when Coach Cal was with the Nets, they were going to draft Kobe but his agents threatened to send him to play ball is Europe if he was drafted by them, so they passed on him, L.A. traded into the lottery and picked him, and the rest is history.
We should be like the Bucks did with Yi and stand our ground and draft the player we like, no matter what they want. That is just wrong to me.

MemphisX said...

All I will say is this, until I see a player actually sit out a year to enter the next draft...draft who you think is the best player and then refuse to even consider trading him.

Rick said...

You can scour the league and find only a couple of GMs who have made extremely informed and solid draft picks that had little to do with luck. The Spurs seem to be the best at it of late. There are many piss poor decisions but not many stand head and shoulders over Chris Wallace and Jerry West in success or failure in the draft. I may be wrong but it seems like you do as much homework as the next guy and go with what you feel is right. sometimes you hit (Boozer, Arenas, Parker) and sometimes you crap out (Dahntay Jones, Stromile Swift)