Of all the drafts of all the pro leagues, the NBA draft is the biggest mystery to me. It's exceedingly short (only two rounds) and the method of selecting the top 14 picks is a little redundant.
The purpose of a regulated amateur draft is to allow the teams that are doing the worst to get the best available young players to make them better. Hence, for most leagues, the draft order is merely a reversal of the final fortunes of its teams, then affected by trades and penalties.
This is where the NBA always baffles me.
It takes those 14 teams that aren't allowed into the postseason (less than half the league, by the way), and then throws their names into a hat and picks them out to determine the order.
The reasoning behind this twist to the draft is to prevent teams that suck from sucking even harder in order to land that top pick.
I find it interesting that David Stern has to hold his owners hands so much in this process. He's like a father dangling a new toy for Christmas in front of his kids' faces, but only if they're really super-special good! He's essentially taking the benefit of the draft away from certain teams in certain situations.
The irony is the draft is such a crap shoot and GM's are so often misinformed and mislead by hype, that it doesn't matter that the order is all wonked-out.
Take the Portland Trailblazers, for instance. Twenty years ago they decided they really needed a big man (Sam Bowie) in the middle to complement their high-flying, floor-running winger (Clyde Drexler).
Sound familiar? How about last year familiar?
There were two consensus top players in the draft, Kevin Durant and Greg Oden. One was a sweet shooting, penetrating wing-man with huge upside while the other a defensive minded big-man with good offensive upside.
Once again, they have their franchise two-guard; they needed a big man again.
Durant certainly has the most versatility and upside, both defensively (huge wingspan) and offensively (just wants to score more than the other guy wants to stop him), but the age-old axiom of the NBA is that big men win championships.
So they once again take the big guy, and once again have been burned.
Oden fractured his leg so bad (in a pickup basketball game of all things) that he underwent a surgery that usually takes years to fully recover from (if recovery is achieved at all, Chris Webber never was the same). He has age on his side, but I don't like the early fragility in a man as tall and thin as Oden is.
In the end, he may end up no better than a slightly better than average offensive center, but more of a defensive stopper, a slightly shorter Dikembe Mutombo.
Durant on the other hand may lead the Oklahoma City Sonics (sorry Seattle fans, it is inevitable) in scoring for his entire career. I foresee him averaging 25-30 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists a game over his career, and coupled with the right coach and peripheral players, may be a championship leader waiting to happen.
Now we see this year's draft: Chicago, Miami and Minnesota nab the first three picks, which should net them the Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, or Michael Beasley.
If Chicago knows what's good for them, and I don't expect they do judging by their recent moves, they go with Rose and trade Kirk Heinrich or Ben Gordon for more picks.
Minnesota and Miami could both use Love, but I think one or both may get scared away by his size (a few inches small for the typical 5 man), and OJ Mayo could be the superstar talent that Minnesota is looking for to go with Corey Brewer and Al Jefferson.
Time only tells, but one thing is for certain: no one knows what is going to happen when the balls drop, and even more certain, no one knows what is going to happen when the kids take the floor either.