Trevor Freeman
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May 29 - Applying Common Sense to the NBA Draft

“In any case, you had only to study the history of the draft to see that high school
pitchers were twice less likely than college pitchers, and four times less likely
than college position players to make it to the big leagues.”

As, I was rereading “Moneyball” for a 674th time, I was struck by that comment
and I decided to apply it to the upcoming NBA Draft.  This is because it is my
belief that Adam Morrison is the best player not currently collecting an NBA
paycheck.  I believe the case being made for Andrea Bargnani to be the first
overall pick is almost identical to the belief older baseball scouts once had
about high school pitchers.  The same words like “upside” and “potential” get
thrown out to cover up for a lack of quality statistics.   

Since 2002, there have been 24 foreign players with no NCAA experience taken in the first round of
the NBA Draft.  Of these twenty-four players Yao Ming is the sole player to have played in an NBA All-
Star game.  It’s not just that though.  Only Nene Hilario, Nenad Krstic, Boris Diaw, and Leandro
Barbosa have developed into players capable of starting NBA games.  So out of 24 players drafted
over the past four years only five have become legitimate NBA players.  That’s a 20.8% success rate.  

Over this same time period, there have been 56 upperclassmen drafted in the first round of the NBA
Draft.  Of these 56 it can be argued that Tayshaun Prince, Kirk Hinrich, Josh Howard, and Emeka
Okafor are amongst the top 40 players in the NBA.  This group also boasts a Rookie of the Year, Sixth
Man of the Year, and two nominees for the United States Olympic team.  Out of the 56 players at least
29 (or more than half) have developed into players capable of starting NBA games.

“Nick Swisher is, at best, the Mets’ sixth choice:  the Mets don’t even begin to appreciate what they are
getting.  The Mets are taking Swisher reluctantly.  If Billy had the first pick in the entire draft he’d take
Swisher with it.  He appreciates Swisher more than any man on the planet and Swisher….should….
have....been….his!”

Last season, Andrea Bargnani averaged 11.9 points and 5.5 rebounds a game in 22.5 minutes for
Benetton Treviso.  The best players he played against or at least the most recognizable names are
Scoonie Penn (The Ohio State University), Lionel Chalmers (Xavier), and Reggie Freeman (Texas).  
There was no recognizable player at the 4 and 5 you could really gauge him against to find out if he
can withstand the physicality of the NBA.  

On the other side of the coin stands Adam Morrison.  If there was any kind of reason behind the NBA
drafting process then Adam Morrison would be without a doubt the first player chosen.  No collegiate
player was under the microscope more than Morrison.  Every single game was discussed by the
masses.  The fact that he was anointed the next great white American basketball player would be
enough to cause many men to fail.  Not only that, but how many times was Morrison compared with
Larry Joe Bird.  1,787,056 times between November and March seems about right.

Adam Morrison never wilted under the microscope.  28.1 points per game.  5.5 rebounds per game.  
Five times over 40 points.  However, it wasn't just the fact that Morrison put 40 points on the board in
these games.  It was the caliber of opposition and the way he did it.  Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager,
and Brandon Roy all got their turns......and all of them were left in his wake.  If Andrea Bargnani played
in fifteen 40 minute games with Brandon Roy covering him…….could he even get 40 points once?
Morrison went over 30 points an astounding 14 times.  While Morrison didn’t dominate the NCAA
Tournament he certainly didn’t disappoint.  You can argue that if Derek Raivio and J.P. Batista don’t
each brainfart in the closing seconds of the UCLA game, Gonzaga is playing Florida for the national
title.

Adam Morrison has a complete offensive game.  His range extends well past
the NBA stripe.  When Morrison puts the ball on the floor, he is deceptively
quick and seems to always be able to get to whatever spot he wants.  The way
he shoots the ball is so effortless and pure, which is why he might be the best
player I have ever seen at scoring with a hand in his face.  Plus, Morrison
moves without the ball in such an intelligent fashion that he constantly seems
to free himself even when you know he is the focal point of the other team's
defensive game plans. This idea that he will only be an 18 point per night
scorer in the NBA is ludicrous.  If Morrison isn't a 23-24 point per game scorer
with about 6-7 rebounds tossed in on the next level, I will be surprised.  

“Paul doesn’t say that if a guy has a keen eye at the plate in college, he’ll likely keep that keen eye in
the pros.”

So why then the push for an unknown/unpolished player like Andrea Bargnani over a proven
commodity like Adam Morrison?  Why then do you have somebody like ESPN’s Chad Ford saying,
“GMs starting to back up international scouts opinions that Bargnani might be the best player in the
draft.”  

The answer is simple.  It is sexier to take an unknown like Bargnani than a known like Adam
Morrison.  It is the same reason why the older scouts in “Moneyball” always wanted to draft the high
school players.  You can project these players in your mind.  You can build them as superheroes
because all they are is a blank canvas.  It is this kind of faulty logic that Billy Beane, Paul DePodesta,
J.P. Ricciardi and Theo Epstein slowly changed over time when it came to the MLB Draft.

What I find hard to believe is that there aren’t more forces at work (i.e. David Stern and Phil Knight)
trying to push Morrison as the first pick in the draft through various writers.  In Morrison, you have a
guy that will put a$$es in the seats.  Adam Morrison is the biggest household name to enter from the
college ranks since Carmelo Anthony.  If there was ever a time for NBA GM’s to tip their hat to
common sense, this is it.

Over the next month you’ll hear a lot of propaganda from the Chad Ford’s of the world about how great
Andrea Bargnani is.  Every time you read one of these articles I want you to remember that the last 6’
11” small forward from Benetton Treviso that was coveted by NBA GM’s was a man by the name of
Nikoloz Tskitishvilli.  He was drafted with the fifth overall pick in 2002.  Don’t blame yourself if you
haven’t watched him play.  Not many people have.   

Don’t be fooled by the hype.  Look past the words like “upside” and take a look at the statistics.  Then
ask yourself if Adam Morrison was named Adam Morrisonovich and was from Croatia instead of
Spokane…..would there be any doubt that he would go first in the draft?

Foreigners (no NCAA experience)

2002 NBA Draft                        

#1 Yao Ming                        
#5 Nikoloz Tskitishvilli                
#7 Nene Hilario                        
#15 Bostjan Nachbar                
#16 Jiri Welsch                         
#24 Nenad Krstic
#25 Carlos Delfino
#28 Leandro Barbosa


2003 NBA Draft

#2 Darko Milicic
#11 Mikael Pietrus
#17 Zarko Cabarkapa
#19 Alexsandar Pavlovic
#21 Boris Diaw
#22 Zoran Planicic


2004 NBA Draft                        

#11 Andris Biedrins                
#21 Pavel Podkolzine                
#22 Victor Khryapa                
#23 Sergei Monia                
#27 Sasha Vugacic

2005 NBA Draft

#11 Fran Vazquez
#12 Yaroslav Korolev
#26 Johan Petro
#28 Ian Mahinmi


Upperclassmen

2002 NBA Draft                        

#4 Drew Gooden                
#12 Melvin Ely                        
#14 Freddie Jones                
#17 Juan Dixon                        
#18 Curtis Borchardt                
#19 Ryan Humphrey                
#20 Kareem Rush                
#22 Casey Jacobsen                
#23 Tayshaun Prince                
#25 Frank Williams                
#26 John Salmons                
#27 Chris Jefferies                
#28 Dan Dickau                        

2003 NBA Draft

#6 Chris Kaman
#7 Kirk Hinrich
#9 Michael Sweetney
#10 Jarvis Hayes
#12 Nick Collison
#13 Marcus Banks
#14 Luke Ridnour
#15 Reece Gaines
#16 Troy Bell
#18 David West
#20 Dahntay Jones
#24 Brian Cook
#29 Josh Howard

2004 NBA Draft                        

#2 Emeka Okafor                
#3 Ben Gordon                        
#5 Devin Harris                        
#6 Josh Childress                
#8 Rafael Araujo                
#10 Luke Jackson                
#16 Kirk Snyder                        
#20 Jameer Nelson                
#24 Delonte West                
#25 Tony Allen                        
#26 Kevin Martin                
#29 David Harrison                 

2005 NBA Draft        

#3 Deron Williams
#5 Raymond Felton
#8 Channing Frye
#9 Ike Diogu
#13 Sean May
#14 Rashad McCants
#15 Antoine Wright
#16 Joey Graham
#17 Danny Granger                        
#19 Hakim Warrick
#20 Julius Hodge
#21 Nate Robinson
#22 Jarrett Jack
#23 Francisco Garcia
#24 Luther Head
#26 Jason Maxiell
#29 Wayne Simien
#30 David Lee



If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me at
trevor.freeman@realityfanforum.com.