Daft Draft Analysis
The fact that teams frequently overvalue a player’s potential while devaluing actual production has been amply documented elsewhere, but I’m consistently baffled by sportswriters who exhibit the same tendency. Here, for example, is SI’s Chris Mannix:
PACERS — Tyler Hansbrough will probably have a long NBA career. He will collect NBA paychecks well into his 30s and retire a wealthy man. His work ethic is unquestioned, and Pacers coach Jim O’Brien loves players with a strong motor. But Hansbrough doesn’t have the size or explosiveness to thrive at power forward. He seems like a fourth big man in a rotation playing a limited role. That’s not what you are looking for at No. 13, not when potential high-upside players like Earl Clark and Holiday are still on the board.
So despite conceding that Hansbrough is a) a hard worker and b) extremely likely to become a productive member of an NBA rotation, Mannix insists that two players who may become wash-outs, bench warmers, productive rotation players or super-stars are unequivocally more valuable. Absent some deeper analysis of the players’ potential (What is the probability that Earl Clark becomes a super-star? 25%? 10%? 2%?), this makes absolutely no sense. In fact, the case for taking Hansbrough over Clark is very straightforward: while it’s possible that Clark will become the next Lamar Odom, a lot of knowledgeable people also seem to think that he’ll flame out spectacularly. Given the wide range of possible career paths for Clark (and Holiday) and the fundamental difficulty of gauging their talents at this point in their careers, the case for taking a proven quantity (insofar as such a thing exists in an NBA draft class) is actually pretty compelling.
On a related note, this off-season has been pretty interesting despite the weak draft class. Any early predictions for next year’s Finals? I count six legitimate contenders, which is a pretty crowded field by NBA standards (Lakers, Nuggets, Spurs, Magic, Celtics, Cavs).