The NBA draft looms at the end of this month, and a number of mock drafts are already floating around the web. Most of the attention goes to the top of the lottery, and two or three annointed "one and done" franchise players. However, a key component to any draft is the ability to find productivity throughout both rounds.
The NBA is a reactionary community, and is now "reacting" to the success of Chris Paul and Deron Williams at the point guard position, and is placing a premium on players at that position.
This elevates Derrick Rose, because he is seen as a premier talent with a defined position. It's easy to understand. True draft genius is manifested in finding and recognizing the truly productive player who doesn't fit the measurables, but somehow puts up numbers and wins on the college level.
Most often, but not always, these are tweener Guards and undersized power forwards. The league is loaded with them, and has been for decades. Guys who don't rock your world with a tape measure or vertical leap, but make the most of their minutes.
The tweener guard isn't a point guard, but isn't considered big enough to be a shooting guard. This is why two time All-Star Michael Redd, who led his Ohio State team to a Final Four was overlooked on draft day. Ben Gordan may come to mind.
In the '80's you could look at Andrew Toney, Vinnie Johnson, Fat Lever or the ultimate tweener guard of that era, Joe Dumars. If he were evaluated today, Earl "the Pearl" Monroe would be considered a tweener Guard. Here is the question of the day: If the Atlanta Hawks or Memphis Grizzlies could get a redo of last year's draft today, would they still take Acie Law or Mike Conley, who are defined position players, or tweener Rodney Stuckey (whose playoff play reminds me of Andrew Toney)? There will be a tweener taken in the late first or early second round who turns into a really productive player in the league.
The second category is undersized power forward. Kwame Brown looks great in warm ups, but Paul Millsap makes the most of his minutes. Leon Powe in Boston, Brandon Bass in Dallas, Rony Turiaf with the Lakers, were second rounders because they don't measure right who are productive players on playoff quality teams.
They aren't as tall as Darko Milicic or Robert Swift, but they bang and rebound. There will be an undersized power forward taken in the second round who will have a long and productive career.
What do these guys have in common? All of them were productive in college for decent programs. All of them have a "feel" for the game and play with maximum effort every night. None of them fit the dimensions of one position.There is something to be said for a history of productivity in contrast to imagined upside.
Keep in mind that when George Gervin entered the league, he was considered a weak forward, who really didn't have a position. Adrian Dantley was a 6'5" post player. Dennis Johnson played "guard". Not really a point guard, not really a shooting guard. Who would you rather have as your power forward? 6'8" second rounder Dennis Rodman or 6'11" lottery pick Chris Washburn?
The Chicago Bulls of the '90's relied on a string of undersized shooting specialists at the point guard position. Craig Hodges, John Paxson and Steve Kerr would never be mistaken for "Pure Point Guards". Productivity isn't always in the obvious package. So, where does that leave us?
When you read the mock drafts, when you prepare your mock draft, when you watch the draft...keep an eye on those tweener guards and under sized power forwards in the late first, early second, they will be contributing on a playoff team next spring!