NBA Draft: Trail Blazers Need to Stop Drafting European Players

Tyler WardAnalyst IJune 17, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 14:  Head coach Nate McMillan of the Portland Trail Blazers talks with Nicolas Batum #88 during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 14, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Suns defeated the 115-111.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Over the past decade or so, there has been a lot of hype surrounding European players. And the hype is just too much. And plus, ESPNs Fran Fraschilla needs something to do on draft night, right?

I'm not "hating" on European players, but how many great players have come out of the draft since 2000? (I'm just going to let ya'll know now that Dirk was 1998, so no need for that.)

The answer is not many. Off the top of my head, the serviceable players include Pau Gasol, Andrea Bargnani, Hedo Turkoglu, Nene, Yao Ming, Danilo Gallinari, Nicolas Batum and Serge Ibaka. There's also a couple of decent players like Rudy Fernandez, Jose Calderon, Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw.

But my point here is that more times than not, a European selection will more than likely ride the bench or won't come to the United States at all. After all, we've seen such players as Yaroslav Korolev and Fran Vasquez combine to play 34 games since they were drafted in 2005 (and Korolev played all 34).

I'm not saying that they never need to come to the United States, but their hype should drop by a humongous amount.

Many front office employees are mad at themselves for using their team's highest selection on a foreign player that will turn out to be mediocre at best, and that's if he even comes over in the first place.

There are a few teams around the NBA that believe that the foreign players will eventually pay off, but they have yet to see anything from them. One of those teams is the Portland Trail Blazers.

Since 2004, the Blazers have used three first-round selections on European players.

Victor Claver, 2009, and Joel Freeland, 2006, have yet to play a single NBA game. Sergei Monia, the 23rd overall selection in 2004, played in just 23 games for the Blazers before being dealt to Sacramento. He played three games for the Kings and has not appeared in an NBA game since.

Not to mention there have been numerous second-round selections by the Blazers that include Federico Kammerichs (2002, zero games), Nedzad Sinanovic (2003, zero games), Ha Seung-Jin (2004, 46 games), Ricky Sanchez (2005, zero games) and Omer Asik (2008, played zero games for Blazers).

By using some of these selections, the Blazers have traditionally missed out on a lot of intriguing prospects that could have benefited the team. But instead, the front office decided to take multiple chances on European players that have yet to give them anything.

I understand that the potential is just as great as any of the other draftees, but there is a slim possibility that they will even come over to the United States in the first place.

Simply put, the Blazers need to cut their losses and stick to American-born players (I'm not trying to be racist or anything; just listen).

When a team drafts a player from the states, there is already a 50 percent possibility that they will make the roster (and that's just the second-round choices; the first-rounders are pretty much a given).

They also seem to have more tenacity than the foreign-born players, as a number of them have been thought to be floppers or "wimps." It has also been said that the big men don't utilize their bodies enough and fail to bang in the paint (Gasol, Yao and Bargnani).

However, European players usually seem to be prolific shooters, but there is a lot more to basketball than just shooting. In order to be considered a "good" player, one must be able to do multiple things on the court, whether it be shooting, rebounding, assisting, blocking shots or whatever.

In all honesty, I find it difficult to pick out a player that can do multiple things an exceptional way. Gasol can score a good amount of baskets, but has never been that great of a rebounder (yes, I understand he averages eight to nine, but a player of his size should grab more.).

Nene is a quality rebounder, but lacks an offensive game. Turkoglu can shoot the ball very well, but is not that great of a passer or rebounder. Gallinari is also a great shooter and has the slight edge over Turkoglu in the assists and rebounding departments. Ibaka is a great defensive player, but lacks an offensive game.

I could go on, but I'm just going to stop there.

Teams need to realize that not every foreign player is going to be a great player. There will be some that will never come to the states and would be considered a waste of a selection (hell, I'm surprised Ricky Rubio is even coming over just to play for the league's worst team).

It's just a shame to think, as a Blazers fan, that there could have been a few solid players currently on the team, but the front office decided to go in a different direction.

In 2009, instead of drafting Victor Claver, the Blazers could have used that selection on Taj Gibson, Roddy Beaubois, Toney Douglas, DeJuan Blair, Sam Young, Marcus Thornton and Chase Budinger. Any of those players would have been a solid contributor to the team.

Portland used their first-round selection in 2006 on Joel Freeland, who was taken with the 30th overall pick. Instead, they could have used Craig Smith, Daniel Gibson, Leon Powe, Ryan Hollins or Paul Millsap.

The worst of all, however, may be the 2004 draft. They used their 23rd selection on Sergei Monia, but could have selected Kevin Martin, Tony Allen, Beno Udrih, Delonte West, Anderson Varejao, Trevor Ariza, Chris Duhon or Sasha Vujacic.

It's just amazing to think of all the possibilities and what could have been. But they made their selections, and so far, it has somewhat come back to bite them.

And to reiterate again, I have no problem with the European invasion. I just believe that some of the players aren't what they're cracked up to be and their potential is fairly unjustified. Europe's version of basketball and the NBA are completely different, so I understand that the transition may be difficult.

But the European players need to at least give it a shot instead of staying overseas and not even fulfilling the NBA's needs. It just doesn't make that much sense to me.

Many teams have wasted draft picks on players that have stayed overseas. Things in the NBA may have been completely different if there were no European players.

The Lakers may not have won two straight championships. Boston's Big Three may have never happened. Same for Miami's version. The NBA landscape could be completely different right now. It's like going back in time and killing a fly and seeing how that impacted the future.

But for now, teams need to realize that it would be best to pick an American-born player, because there is practically a guarantee that he will try his hardest to make the team.

I just hope the Blazers realize that they need to start thinking things through, and at the very least, get a guarantee from the foreign player that he will come to the U.S. before drafting him.