The NBA draft will take place tonight in Brooklyn, N.Y., bringing in one of the most talked-about draft classes in recent memory. With names like Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum, the draft is full of players who could run the league one day.
The basketball world will focus on the teams with the top picks and try to analyze and reanalyze just where each player might go. Get ready for ESPN talking heads to figure out each player’s strengths, ceiling and how he is going to fit into the team that picks him.
But one thing I’ve learned as an NBA fan is to pay attention to the little things. So while the Cavaliers franchise may change with a top pick, I’m really looking out for the teams that pick after them.
First there’s Embiid, a Cameroonian-born center from Kansas who, as of two weeks ago, was the consensus No. 1 pick. But on June 20, injury concerns were confirmed when Embiid underwent surgery on a broken foot.
Embiid’s draft stock has since dropped significantly, and most people have the center falling to the fourth or fifth pick. Some believe the teams in those positions will be drafting a bust, but I’d rather examine Embiid’s potential.
Those teams might be getting the steal of the draft – a 7-foot versatile big man who can own the paint defensively. Embiid has also shown a wide range of talents on offense, boasting an array of post moves and shooting from around the perimeter.
Injuries should always be a concern with big men, but I say you take the gamble. When you’re in the fourth, fifth and sixth position, you have to roll the dice and hope you hit it big.
I also want to see who beyond the big names becomes the star nobody expected. A potential All-Star can always slip through the cracks, whether it’s John Stockton going No. 16 in 1984, Tony Parker going No. 28 in 2001 or Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard going No. 15 in 2011.
These players end up bringing just as much to their franchises as some of the top picks, but the difference is the caliber of teams drafting them. Those mid- to late-round picks usually go to teams on the cusp of being contenders, and it leads to the team becoming elite.
The final intriguing part of the draft is the possible trades that may go down before the night ends. Trades have a strange way of happening during the draft, and this year’s big name is Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love.
Love is an elite NBA talent despite never making the postseason. He has grown tired of Minnesota’s inability to surround him with better players, and trade rumors have been coming out for weeks.
With a loaded draft class, teams may use their picks as a part of a possible deal for Love. If a Love deal goes go down, it could spark a chain reaction for the rest of the NBA free agents and their destinations in the draft.
So enjoy the festivities of the first hour of the draft as the top players walk up to the stage after hearing their name called and take pictures with the commissioner. Just remember to stay for the later stages, because championships can be won there, too.
Tommy Romanach is a 21-year-old mass communication senior from Dallas.