Dad, Where Do Basketball Players Come From? – A Defense of the Draft

Dad, Where Do Basketball Players Come From? – A Defense of the Draft

If television is to be believed, there is no more terrifying situation for an adult than to be asked by a child, “where do babies come from?” Presumably funny at one time, the trope does little more than obscure a modestly profound philosophical bent: everything’s got to come from somewhere. If you wish to know the answer to that question, click here. If you wish to know where I’m going with this rambling nonsense, read on for more rambling nonsense and also maybe a wonderfully buried point about something or other. Earlier this week, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck wrote a very smart column about whether or not the Knicks should look to trade their first round pick this summer for veteran talent. The piece was filled with sensible points, such as Carmelo Anthony’s age (30) and what would constitute a reasonable trade package (an established All Star and a role player). While there’s nothing to outright reject, Beck did creep up to, and then later aggressively approach via Twitter, a fine line about the draft that ought not to be crossed. The problem w/”trade the pick” concept is that, at this time of year, fans buy every ounce of hype re prospects. They’re all future stars. — Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) March 12, 2015 When, of course, draft history suggests otherwise. The same guys people are frothing over today could be ripped as “busts” in two years. — Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) March 12, 2015 But people are forever fascinated by potential and promise and the allure of the 19-year-old who might become a star. — Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) March 12,...
Sam Hinkie:  The Smartest Man In The NBA

Sam Hinkie: The Smartest Man In The NBA

The reason you don’t have polio right now is because in the 1700’s someone had the radical idea to expose people to a less potent version of the disease (small pox) that was killing everyone at the time.  Lots of intelligent people said you can’t do that, but Edward Jenner and his historical successors went ahead and did it anyway and now you don’t have to worry about anything scarier than Ebola.  In fact, the concept behind vaccinations is so stupid in a profoundly brilliant way that people are still complaining about it today. Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie is not trying to cure Ebola.  It’s not his line of work.  But Hinkie is making lots of intelligent people shout “you can’t do that” at him thanks to a uniquely reckless approach to a longstanding problem.  In a constipated NBA, Hinkie might just be the clearest thinker in the business. The formula for building a championship team is relatively simple and straightforward.  Get one of the five best players in the world, find one of the fifteen or so best players in the world to play next to him, and then fill out the rest of the roster with pieces that fit neatly around the two stars.  The order in which a GM does this isn’t all that important, as the whole thing flows down from that first step anyway. Getting one of the five best players in the world is actually the least challenging part of the equation for a GM.  It more or less comes down to being lucky.  You either land the right pick in...
On Being An Apathetic Fan At The Start Of The Season

On Being An Apathetic Fan At The Start Of The Season

It seems unreasonable – unfair, even – that a fan should approach the start of the NBA season with relative apathy.  Joy and hope are chief among the emotions the beginning of any season is supposed to elicit, yet my burden is that of the indifference I feel towards the Brooklyn Nets, the team I support above all others in the world of sports. It is sometimes easy to forget the Nets could belong to Kansas City, Louisville or even Seattle.  Bruce Ratner had little choice but to sell a franchise that was hemorrhaging money in New Jersey, and it just happened to work out that a Russian oligarch was interested in both an NBA team and a piece of the New York market.  This fact and the lingering newness of Brooklyn are perhaps the organization’s only shields against rampant lethargy among the fan base that hasn’t quite decided what investment to make in the team. Experts have pegged the Nets to finish somewhere between 6th and 10th in the Eastern Conference.  On any given night, the Nets have too many solid players to be bad and not enough difference makers to be good.  Even Lionel Hollins, hired to replace the keen to leave Jason Kidd, was brought in not to improve the Nets offense or defense, but to squeeze as much blood from a stone that dates back to a different geological age.  Finishing between 6th and 10th in either conference is often called purgatory for teams with somewhere else to go. The Nets have nowhere else to go. The problem isn’t that the franchise is directionless; the...