June 11 - Applying Common Sense to the NBA Draft, Part 2
“As the thirty-fifth pick approaches, Erik once again leans into the speaker phone. If he leaned in
just a bit more closely he might hear phones around the league clicking off, so that people could
laugh without being heard. For they do laugh. They will make fun of what the A’s are about to do; and
there will be a lesson in that. The inability to envision a certain kind of person doing a certain kind of
thing because you’ve never seen someone who looks like him do it before is not just a vice. It’s a
luxury. What begins as failure of the imagination ends as a market inefficiency: when you rule out an
entire class of people from doing a job simply by their appearance, you are less likely to find the best
person for the job.”
Nikoloz Tskitishvili. DaJuan Wagner. Bostjan Nachbar. Jiri Welsch. Qyntel
Woods. Those names represent five of the players drafted before Tayshaun
Prince in 2002. Like Jeremy Brown in “Moneyball”, Prince rewrote his alma
mater’s record book and slipped due to body type. However, I believe that
while his “body” was the issue spoken publicly, Prince slipped for a more
profound reason. He slipped because of an NBA drafting system that has
slowly been breaking. What Prince really suffered from was having too many
people watch him play too many times in college.
The fundamental problem when a player like Tayshaun Prince slips to a
contending team is simple. The gap between the haves and the have nots increases. In the 2002
NBA Draft, there were eleven “swing” players drafted prior to Tayshaun Prince. The most notable
teams that missed were Denver (Nikoloz Tskitishvili), Cleveland (DaJuan Wagner), Houston (Bostjan
Nachbar), Philadelphia (Jiri Welsch), Toronto (Kareem Rush), and Portland (Qyntel Woods). Fans of
those teams can only shake their heads now because their team’s history could have been
dramatically altered had they pulled the trigger on Tayshaun Prince. Imagine the Philadelphia 76ers
and Cleveland Cavaliers with Tayshaun Prince playing second fiddle to Allen Iverson and LeBron
James. Just think about what we would be saying about a Toronto Raptors team that has a frontline
of Chris Bosh, Charlie Villanueva, and Prince.
”He’s the only player in the history of the SEC with three hundred hits and two hundred walks,” says
Paul, looking up from his computer.”
Common sense truly failed every single GM who passed on Tayshaun Prince. In Prince’s four years
at the University of Kentucky he added his name to one of the great record books in college
basketball history. In four years he scored 1,775 points which ranked him seventh in Kentucky
history. Prince was also second in three-point field goals made (204) and attempted (621) and fifth in
blocks (142). That last sentence is truly telling as those are the skills that have made him one of the
best forty players in the NBA. To top it off, Tayshaun Prince had a 41 point NCAA Tournament
explosion which should have given notice that Prince is a “money” player. Compare that to a Bostjan
Nachbar who got drafted on the basis of his 13.7 points and 4.1 rebounds a game for Benetton
Treviso (coincidentally the team that currently employs a man by the name of Andrea Bargnani).
It hasn’t just been Tayshaun Prince. The following year, Josh Howard was drafted 29th by the Dallas
Mavericks. Howard was a first-team All-American and the first unanimous choice for ACC Player of
the Year since David Thompson in 1975. In 2004, Jameer Nelson went 20th to Orlando despite
being the consensus National Player of the Year. Unbelievably enough three point guards including
a certifiable bust in Sebastian Telfair were drafted ahead of him. Should it surprise anybody that all
three of these guys have won starting jobs? Was it really that far-fetched to believe that Tayshaun
Prince and Josh Howard could be top-tier guys on NBA title contenders?
“All eight are college players. Most of them are guys the scouts either did not particularly like, or, in a
few cases, don’t really know.”
The upcoming NBA Draft will be the most interesting in years, because of the large amount of high-
level upperclassmen on the draft board. There are two names out of the top ten on espn.com and
nbadraft.net that a basketball version of Billy Beane wouldn’t pass on. The first is J.J. Redick. No
matter how much you hated him at Duke, you have to respect the numbers Redick put on the board.
J.J. Redick graduated from Duke as the most prolific scorer in ACC history. He also is the NCAA
career leader for most three pointers made. I can already see Redick drilling daggers for some NBA
playoff caliber team within the next two years. The other is Dee Brown. Brown was a first team All-
American as a junior and a second team All-American as a senior. He leaves Illinois ranked third on
their all-time scoring chart with 1,812 career points. Brown is also second in school history in career
3-pointers (299), career assists (674) and career steals (231). His 674 career assists ranks him fifth
in Big Ten history.
With the NBA Draft coming up later this month, I want you to take a look at the players that go 20-29.
In this grouping will be a player who did nothing but dominate at the collegiate level. Apply what will
now be known as the “Tayshaun Prince Corollary” and know that one these players will step in and
help a team already at the top of the NBA food chain.
Please read the first installment of “Applying Common Sense to the NBA Draft”
All quotes are from “Moneyball” written by Michael Lewis.
2002 NBA Draft: http://www.nba.com/draft2002/board/index.html
Chad “I smoke crack and I like it” Ford’s Big Board: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/draft2006/index
NBADraft.net, which is the most detailed NBA Draft site on the internet: www.nbadraft.net
If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.