The last few months have seen many NBA scouts badmouth the upcoming 2013 NBA draft for apparently lacking in talent and being bereft of any potential superstars. Adam Zagoria just quoted one NBA GM declaring that the upcoming draft was "historically weak."
All of which makes me laugh.
To say that drafting NBA players is an exact science is absurd, and to predict if an entire draft will be "good" or "bad" before it happens is just asking for trouble.
The truth is we just don't know. It is incredibly difficult to project what a young college player will turn into down the road. Hyped draft classes often end up disappointing us, and lowly regarded second-rounders sometimes become All-Stars.
We just don't know what will happen with players from this draft five years from now, and when a scout or general manager terms an entire draft weak he is really just spouting out nonsense.
What Zagoria's article pointed out is the fact that there is no clear superstar available in this draft. But there rarely is.
Dwight Howard was hardly considered a sure thing when he came out in 2004—Emeka Okafor was almost picked before him. In 2005, Chris Paul dropped to the fourth pick—obviously teams had no idea they were drafting a superstar. In 2006 Rajon Rondo, arguably the best player in the entire draft, was selected 21st overall. No one thought he would turn into a perennial All-Star.
The 2007 draft, we can say, was different. That year scouts finally knew there were superstars available at the top of the draft. Everyone could take a sigh of relief. Greg Oden was one of the most highly decorated first overall picks in recent memory, and the Portland Trail Blazers were envisioning a dynasty.
Oden, of course, has only played 82 games over the course of his injury-laden career. Meanwhile, Marc Gasol, the 48th pick in that year's draft, has become arguably the best all-around center in the NBA.
Another important thing to remember is that even the worst drafts produce at least three players who make the All-Star team. The infamous 2000 NBA draft produced three All-Stars—as well as solid players like Jamal Crawford, Mike Miller and Hedo Turkoglu. That is a worst-case scenario, and usually drafts are far better than that.
So it is best to admit we just don't know what a draft class will turn into down the line. I have been following and studying the draft far too long to tell you otherwise. The 2010 draft was supposed to be great, but has disappointed us so far. Meanwhile, the 2012 draft was considered weak, but now it looks pretty good with the surprising emergence of Damian Lillard and Andre Drummond.
When it comes to an NBA draft, you try your best to figure out who the best players are in it. But we often fail. Projecting the future is very hard. So don't be fooled; we have no idea how good the 2013 draft will be, and that is OK.