Like excited Jose Mari Chan fans in Christmas, several NBA teams, as early as now, are looking forward to next year’s draft, with some squads already adopting a tank-now mindset. The more losses, the better!
Some believe tanking is the right move. The reason? A trio of insanely talented college freshmen: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle--sure-fire prospects over whom teams are salivating. Current league-worst Knicks and Bucks (both have a .188 winning percentage as of writing) must be nodding maniacally.
Don't laugh: They'll kick some serious butt on the court starting next year
Plucking first-year studs has become a trend. In the six of the last seven drafts, the top pick was a freshman--just like the other 18 of the 35 players chosen in the top five in the same period. That’s an astounding 63 percent rate for those one-and-done college ballers.
This says a lot about the prevailing mindset among teams willing to roll the dice on guys that just got their driver's license: talent trumps experience.
Recent history says drafting freshmen isn’t a completely terrible idea. Since 2000, 10 have become All-Stars, with one having an MVP plum to boot: Derrick Rose, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, , Jrue Holiday, and Kyrie Irving. Barring major setbacks, several will become All-Stars soon (Anthony Davis, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Mike Conley); and some are fast becoming stars (Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond, Derrick Favors, Eric Bledsoe, DeMar DeRozan, and Thaddeus Young.)
But, it ain’t a fool-proof strategy. A prime example is Greg Oden, who has been as sturdy as wet tissue. Some have become second-tier guys at best (Michael Beasley, Tyreke Evans, OJ Mayo, and Marvin Williams); some are hardly visible (Brandan Wright and Tyrus Thomas); while some just completely disappeared from the basketball radar (Dajuan Wagner, the late Eddie Griffin, and former PBA imports Rodney White and DerMarr Johnson.)
This year’s crop of freshmen looks legit though headlined by the triumvirate of Wiggins, Parker, and Randle--arguably the most celebrated in history. Talented, versatile, driven, and confident, their one-year college stints seemed more of a formality. They’ll land in the NBA soon and they’ll be bearing gifts of dunks, dishes, and double-doubles.
We present, the future Three Kings of the NBA.