The NBA draft is this Thursday and even though many are not professional basketball fans, the annual event has some local interest.
Former Huntington Prep start Andrew Wiggins could be the first overall selection in the draft. He finished his one and only freshman season at Kansas and then declared for the draft.
The likely first three pics were predicted to be Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Wiggin’s Kansas teammate Joel Embiid. However, the news came out this past week that Embiid, a 7’0” center, has a stress fracture in his foot. Embiid was scheduled to have surgery Friday to repair his right foot
This may drop his stock. Some thought the Cleveland Cavaliers, who need a center, would take him with the first pick. Embiid worked out for the Cavaliers last week. Wiggins worked out for the Cavs on Wednesday and Parker was expected to audition for the top pick on Friday.
However, he also had back problems at the end of the season for Kansas and missed their last few games. If you think about history and big men who were drafted on potential, but because of injuries, never came close to the hype.
Do Sam Bowie and Greg Oden ring a bell?
Then there is Kentucky’s Julius Randle. The word came out recently that he also had a foot injury. He was predicted to go anywhere from fourth to sixth in the lottery, but his injury could scare off NBA teams.
My favorite team, the Boston Celtics, have the 6th overall pick and also the 17th pick. There are rumors floating around that the Celtics may trade these picks and a couple of players for Minnesota’s All-Star forward Kevin Love. I think this would make a lot of Boston fans (including Alex Anderson) very happy.
Several other teams are trying to package something to trade for Love. So trades could alter the upcoming draft.
Another Kentucky player that will likely be taken in the first round is shooting guard James Young. He will probably be taken in the teens.
Other players expected to go high are Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Indiana forward Noah Vonleh, Arizona’s and Australian Dante Exum. The last few drafts have been affected by European players. Many foreign born players are now in the NBA.
Smart has a lot of talent, but he had some issues with his temper. He stormed off the court while playing WVU in Morgantown this year in a Big 12 conference game. He later had issues going into the stands to attack a fan after being heckled. This could really hurt his draft status.
Other interesting names in this year’s draft are Player of the Year Doug McDermott of Creighton, who played all four years for his father. He is a great 3-point shooter and one of the NCAA’s top all-time scorers. It is rare these days to see a young man play all four years before entering the draft.
UConn’s Shabazz Napier, who led his team to a national championship, will go somewhere in the first round. Michigan’s Glen Robinson II, whose father played in the NBA, will get drafted fairly high.
Many General Managers know that drafting players is like rolling dice. You think a player is a “can’t miss,” but many times these picks don’t pan out.
Then there are those hidden gems that may have been picked in the second round and end up becoming all-stars. Even free agents that are not drafted can make it as a professional.
Many of these young men will become instant millionaires. Some cannot handle the fame and the money. Others are level headed and don’t have any issues.
Either way, the draft can not only change the future of an NBA team, but also the lives of many young men who can dribble a basketball with ease and have a silky smooth jump shot.
The draft is now televised and has become an event for pro basketball fans.
It is hard to judge heart, work ethic and determination. Talent is one thing – but there are those intangibles that make a player.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33 or Twitter @KyleLovern)