Having had some time to myself the last couple of weeks, I've had an opportunity to spend some of it (the part that wasn't spent having my kid jump all over me or shlepping him all over the place) reading up on these top draft picks. Honestly, the more I read, the less I'm impressed with this "star-studded" draft. Other than Wiggins, I don't think there are any superstars here, or if there is, it's someone we have no idea had that level of ability. There are some guys who are going to be nice players and contribute to their teams, but I feel like Wiggins is the only blatant franchise player in this draft. A lot of people love Parker and Randle, but I don't see either of them ever being a franchise guy (there's a small chance for Randle, and probably none for Parker).
I'm not feeling the Parker love. I know everyone loves him, but I don't see that he's going to be that awesome. What does he actually do well besides pass? I don't see the Pierce comparisons at all, except for the lack of elite athleticism. Pierce was/is a terrific shooter and scorer. Parker is a good passer and a nice kid. He'll have a good long career as a third option on a good team, sort of an Andre Iguodala type without the athleticism. I love Dre as much as anyone, he's still my favorite player, but I recognize that he isn't anything close to a franchise-altering super-di-duper-star. I feel like Parker is that guy. He's good (before everyone jumps down my throat accusing me of saying he sucks), and people will love him because he's such a great kid and hard worker and unselfish teammate, but you'd better have someone better than him on your team to carry the water if you want to contend for a title.
And Randle got destroyed by Wiggins when they went head to head. From what I can tell, he's all body and no skills. That might be a slight exaggeration, but he's no CWebb. CWebb was a ridiculously skilled player who could kill you with finesse as well as playing a power game with strength and athleticism. He had a legitimate jumpshot out to three-point range, a repertoire of post moves, and was a terrific facilitator from the high post. Z-bo is probably a better comparison. Z-bo is a good but not great player who for most of his career was much better known for making bad offcourt decisions than for his basketball prowess. Hoopsstats has Z-bo ranked as the 10th best PF in the league, which is pretty good, but not franchise-quality. Randle will be OK, he's a great athlete and he's big. But I saw someone comparing him to LeBron last week (I think it was last week). Randle isn't a generational player. He's a big guy with great physical tools and not the foggiest notion how to use them. The only way he should be mentioned in the same sentence with LeBron is "Randle, as opposed to someone like LeBron, hasn't quite figured out how to play basketball yet." It took Z-bo like 10 years to be a real contributor to a good team, and he's still far from the transcendent superstar it seemed like he had the physical tools to be. It's not unreasonable to project Randle at about where the new, more respectable Z-bo is now, a Top 10 PF. Then again, Thad Young is 14th, and no one ever accused Thad of being a franchise player.
This draft, regardless of how we have all gotten hyped about it, is a one-horse race. It's Wiggins or it's Wait Til Next Year. With our 2-3-4 pick, we'll get a nice player for our development-oriented staff to work on, but we're not getting a franchise guy.
Yes, I know it's me, and I'm supposed to hate on everything. It's what I do best, and I do it well. But I've spent enough time reading about these guys now, and they don't excite me as much as they excite everyone else. Other than Wiggins, obviously. But we're not getting Wiggins, I think we all realize that by now.
I'll make my completely unfounded prediction based on absolutely nothing but my own natural cynicism right now:
We're going to draft third, get Parker, everyone will be super-psyched and talk about how he makes everyone else better, etc. He won't really impress his rookie year, because he has to catch up with the speed and athleticism of the NBA game, and he really hasn't developed his offensive arsenal. Then, in his second year, he'll have some good games and some crappy ones, but he'll be playing more, and we'll overemphasize the good ones and overlook the bad ones, and we'll start feeling like we're getting somewhere. Then, by his third season, we'll see that he's a nice player, but he just hasn't taken that Great Leap Forward, and we'll predict a fourth-season breakout. Then he has another season as a nice player, and people are going to wonder why he isn't breaking into the elite SFs. He'll get re-signed, and Hinkie is smart enough not to overpay, and we'll all wonder why we're not paying more for one of our "core guys," He goes on to continue to be a nice player, and eventually, we'll figure out that this is who we have. A guy who is OK at everything and awesome at none (except for the ability to play point forward. Sound at all familiar? He'll probably be a terrific perimeter defender, too, although he doesn't have Dre's ridiculous athleticism, but he's the kind of kid who will care a lot about playing good defense). Meanwhile, he'll get crushed under the pressure of being Not-Wiggins and be miserable his entire time here. Levin will go to his death (figuratively speaking) defending him and claiming he's just about to turn the corner, but by his eighth season, finally is ready to cut bait on him. He isn't re-signed, he signs as a free agent with San Antonio, and is a valuable role player, which is what he was meant to be in the first place.
In other words, after watching one of the worst seasons of tank-ball the world has ever known, our reward will be a nice role player who won't move the needle much.
Of course, I could be wrong. Not-so-athletic guys who can't shoot become NBA superstars all the time. Right?
And teams who master-tank always get the #1 pick, right?