Brittney Griner: Mark Cuban's Interest in Baylor Star Is Cheap Publicity Stunt
Brittney Griner has no place in the NBA.
While fans have been left to hypothetical situations in regard to a female basketball player in the NBA, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has made it apparent he would consider drafting the Baylor Bears star (h/t Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com):
"If she is the best on the board, I will take her," Cuban said before the Mavs' Tuesday night game against the Los Angeles Lakers. "I've thought about it. I've thought about it already. Would I do it? Right now, I'd lean toward yes, just to see if she can do it. You never know unless you give somebody a chance, and it's not like the likelihood of any late-50s draft pick has a good chance of making it."
When criticizing the possibility of a female athlete making the jump to a male league, it's hard not to sound sexist or patronizing of female sports in general. Without getting too insulting, Griner simply doesn't deserve a spot in the NBA.
Cuban is right about one thing: The value of a late second-round pick is very little. A team is unlikely to get a star player that late in the draft. However, it's hard to present selecting Griner as anything more than a publicity stunt.
Connecticut Huskies coach Geno Auriemma, although not the most popular of women's basketball coaches, is of the same opinion (h/t Sean Highkin of USA Today):
Obviously Mark Cuban is a genius because he's been able to parlay some great ideas into billion dollar industries and he's done a great job as owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He's won an NBA championship and he's done an awful lot for basketball. His genius would take a huge hit if he drafted Brittney Griner. And if Brittney Griner tries to make it to an NBA team, I think it would be a public relations thing and I think it would be a sham. The fact that a woman could actually play right now in the NBA and compete successfully against the level of play that they have is absolutely ludicrous.
It's not as if the Mavericks would be breaking new ground. The Indiana Pacers offered a tryout to Ann Myers, generally considered to be the best women's player around, in 1979 (h/t Conrad Brunner of Pacers.com). Brunner wrote that bringing in Myers was more than likely an effort to boost what were sagging ticket sales for the Pacers.
Griner was a force in college, as evidenced by her massive block and scoring totals. However, she's not even the best women's player around. Maya Moore, Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi are better basketball players. Nobody is clamoring for any of those players to get an NBA tryout right now.
This has the same feel of the arguments as to whether the best college teams could compete against the best pro teams. It's a completely ridiculous thought because pro teams are made up of the best college football players at every position. The college teams would be played off the park.
Of the best women's basketball players today, who would be the best choice for an NBA tryout?
NBA teams, despite the low standard of some team's benches, are made up of largely decorated college or high school players. It's the absolute top percentile of basketball players across the globe.
At 6'8", Griner has the size. The problem is that she is nowhere near the kind of athlete that NBA players of her height are. Griner's speed would be miles behind what it takes to make it in the NBA. If she's a seven-footer, it would be completely different. But she isn't. She can't match up at the 3 because of her lack of speed, and at the 4, she would be overpowered.
Where in the women's game she can tower over the competition, Griner would be entering the land of the giants.
She wouldn't even be the first player period who relied so much on bullying opposing players, only to have that skill completely negated by the pros. Tyler Hansbrough was not a great athlete but had a highly decorated college career, winning a national title and numerous player of the year awards. He's averaging 7.0 points a game this year; hardly inspiring.
We very well may see the day when a women's basketball player is so immensely talented there's no way she could fail in the NBA. Griner, though, is nowhere near that player.
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