The NBA Draft is scheduled for tonight and it figures to elicit little more than a yawn from the average sports fan.
The only intrigue is which big man is going to be selected first, Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky or Jahlil Okafor of Duke.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have the first pick and all signs point toward them selecting Towns, who came on like gangbusters for the Wildcats. Okafor is regarded as the more polished player at this point, but Towns is believed to have the bigger upside.
I’m sure the Los Angeles Lakers, who pick second, would be more than happy to add Okafor to make Kobe Bryant’s final year with the team more tolerable. After so many great years, the Lakers were reduced to shambles last year and Bryant was shut down early to allow him to get healthy for his farewell tour.
What’s sad about the draft is, from all indications, there won’t be a senior picked until the 12th selection. Wisconsin 7-footer Frank Kaminsky should be the first four-year player to have his named called. That right there tells you the state of college basketball as four-year stars have gone the way of the dinosaur.
The latest draft experts have three freshmen and two foreign players among the first five picks and six freshmen among the Top 10. It proves my point more and more that college basketball has become somewhat of a joke for the good players, who are in college just biding their time since players can not go to the NBA right out of high school.
You can’t tell me that Okafor or Towns wouldn’t have helped some team last year. Okafor has dynamic post moves while Towns is a 7-foot brute.
In the past, I’ve been opposed to high schoolers jumping straight into the pros, but I’ve changed my stance. Granted, 90 percent of the youngsters aren’t ready physically or emotionally for the NBA, but them being in college for one year is a slap in the face to our institutions of higher learning. Why make them go to college when they know they are going to declare after their first year? They’re not in college to be educated, they’re there because they have to be. I’m sure once basketball season is over, these freshmen are not in class every day, they’re working out in preparation for the NBA draft.
For every Karl-Anthony Towns there’s going to be a Cliff Alexander. Alexander was supposed to be the big man Kansas needed to make the Final Four, but turned out to be a bust and wound up being sat down by the Jayhawks because of potential NCAA sanctions. He has entered his name into the draft, but probably won’t go until the second round. My guess is that since he’s undersized (maybe 6-8 at the tops) and is somewhat stiff as he’s all muscle-bound, he’ll be a CBA drifter, going from team to team and pocketing a minimal salary.
As for KU’s other top freshman from last year, Kelly Oubre, there’s a chance that he could go in the lottery. If so, he’s being drafted on potential (I hate that word) because he ran hot and cold for the Jayhawks, but his length and 3-point shooting make him a reasonable gamble. He’s going to get bounced around like a pinball because of his slight build and never developed into a consistent shooter as a freshman. I just can’t see him being an All-Star, which is what a lottery pick should develop into. He’ll probably be a backup for at least three or four years and maybe have a moderate career.