Apparently the NBA Draft is Thursday night – though you wouldn’t know it with all the attention being paid to the LeBron Sweepstakes, which gets underway officially July 1.
Folks in Washington and Philadelphia are excited about the draft. They’re getting John Wall and Evan Turner, respectively. As for everyone else? Good luck.
After the top-two, the rest of the draft is a great unknown and among the story lines worth tracking is where the three white-college players go. Nevada’s Luke Babbitt, Kansas’ Cole Aldrich and Butler’s Gordon Hayward all are projected first round picks. You’re asking yourself, “Why does it matter where the hell the three white kids go?” Simple, because no matter where they go, chances are it will be a wasted pick.
I have some words of advice for NBA general managers thinking about going white. Don’t do it.
Since 1995, 25 percent of players taken in the first round (109 of 437 total players selected) were white or white-ish. I counted light-skinned Latinos and a few Turks to boost numbers. But narrow that list to players with American collegiate experience and the number dwindles to 63, which includes non-Yanks like Steve Nash (Santa Clara), Vitaly Potapenko (Wright State) and Linas Kleiza (Missouri).
Of those 63 players, only four have become NBA All-Stars.
Now quick, can you name the four All-Stars?
I polled an entire sports desk at a major metro newspaper and not even the trivia-savvy, nerdy veterans could provide the correct answer.
Nash is the no-brainer if you can remember he went to Santa Clara. While two of the others were first-time All-Stars this past season (David Lee and Chris Kaman). Then it starts to get a little tricky. Keith Van Horn? No. Andrew Bogut? Not yet, but soon. Brook Lopez could be in the running soon. But no. Would you believe some Abercrombie-looking dude with a funky last name? That’s right, Wally Szczerbiak.
Really blazing a trail there.
I live in Indianapolis, and you’d think Pacers fans would be stoked about the proposition of drafting a local kid, having missed out on the likes of Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Eric Gordon and George Hill in recent drafts.
But talk to most Pacers fans and they’ll tell you if the team drafts Hayward, it would be the final nail in their fandom coffin. And it’s not because Pacers fans (the few thousand that are left) dislike Hayward. It’s just that he’s white. And I know you’re thinking that should be right up Indiana fans’ alley, seeing that the Klu Klux Klan was practically founded just an hour south in Martinsville, Ind. But Indy fans, white and black, are growing increasingly frustrated with their team’s resemblance to a CYO team – and not just appearance, but performance as well. The Pacers haven’t reached the playoffs since they were the No. 6 seed five years ago with an awe inspiring .500 record.
Perhaps the greatest white player of all-time, Larry Bird, runs the Pacers, so it’s far from a coincidence that the Pacers have a vanilla-tinge. And it’s a topic we’ve touched on before.
Last year, the Pacers boasted a league-high six Caucasian American players, including first round pick Tyler Hansbrough, who played all of 29 games because of a mystery illness. It’s never good when 50 percent of your roster is white when the league average is somewhere around 10 percent (including international types). But we’re not here to talk about the internationals. Everyone knows drafting kids from Europe and South America is an even greater crapshoot than your typical draft pick. You can either land the next Dirk Nowitzki or the next Pavel Podkolzin.
But use a first round pick on a white kid that played collegiately and you’re more likely to snag a Cal Bowdler, Kirk Haston or George Zidek. And if you’re lucky, a Cherokee Parks falls into your lap.
White First Round Draftees Since 1995
Denotes international without American collegiate experience.
No. 5, Ricky Rubio, Minnesota (Spain)
No. 13, Tyler Hansbrough, Indiana (North Carolina)
No. 22, Victor Claver, Portland (Spain)
No. 23, Omri Casspi, Sacramento (Israel)
No. 24, B.J. Mullens, Dallas (Ohio State)
No. 5, Kevin Love, Minnesota (UCLA)
No. 6, Danilo Galinari, New York (Italy)
No. 8, Joe Alexander, Milwaukee (West Virginia)
No. 10, Brook Lopez, New Jersey (Stanford)
No. 15, Robin Lopez, Phoenix (Stanford)
No. 21, Ryan Anderson, New Jersey (Cal)
No. 23, Kosta Koufos, Utah (Ohio State)
No. 10, Spencer Hawes, Sacramento (Washington)
No. 18, Marco Belinelli, Golden State (Italy)
No. 20, Jason Smith, Miami (Colorado State)
No. 24, Rudy Fernandez, Phoenix (Spain)
No. 28, Tiago Splitter, San Antonio (Brazil)
No. 30, Petteri Koponen, Philadelphia (Finland)
No. 1, Andrea Bargnani, Toronto (Italy)
No. 3, Adam Morrison, Charlotte (Gonzaga)
No. 11, J.J. Redick, Orlando (Duke)
No. 18, Oleksiy Pecherov, Washington (Russia)
No. 26, Jordan Farmar, Los Angeles (UCLA)
No. 27, Sergio Rodriguez, Phoenix (Spain)
No. 30, Joel Freeland, Portland (England)
No. 1, Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee (Utah)
No. 11, Fran Vazquez, Orlando (Spain)
No. 12, Yaroslav Korolev, L.A. Clippers (Russia)
No. 27, Linas Kleiza, Portland (Missouri)
No. 30, David Lee, New York (Florida)
No. 8, Rafael Araujo, Toronto (BYU)
No. 10, Luke Jackson, Cleveland (Oregon)
No. 11, Andris Biedrins, Golden State (Latvia)
No. 12, Robert Swift, Seattle (High school)
No. 14, Kris Humphries, Utah (Minnesota)
No. 21, Pavel Podkolzin, Utah (Russia)
No. 22, Viktor Khryapa, New Jersey (Ukraine)
No. 23, Sergei Monia, Portland (Russia)
No. 27, Sasha Vujacic, Los Angeles, (Slovenia)
No. 28, Beno Udrih, San Antonio, (Slovenia)
No. 2, Darko Milicic, Detroit (Serbia)
No. 6, Chris Kaman, L.A. Clippers (Central Michigan)
No. 7, Kirk Hinrich, Chicago (Kansas)
No. 12, Nick Collison, Seattle (Kansas)
No. 14, Luke Ridnour, Seattle (Oregon)
No. 17, Zarko Cabarkapa, Phoenix (Serbia)
No. 19, Sasha Pavlovic, Utah (Russia)
No. 22, Zoran Planinic, New Jersey (Bosnia)
No. 25, Carlos Delfino, Detroit (Argentina)
No. 3, Mike Dunleavy, Jr., Golden State (Duke)
No. 15, Bostjan Nachbar, Houston (Slovenia)
No. 16, Jiri Welsch, Philadelphia (Czech Republic)
No. 18, Curtis Borchardt, Orlando (Stanford)
No. 22, Casey Jacobsen, Phoenix (Stanford)
No. 24, Nenad Krstic, New Jersey (Serbia)
No. 28, Dan Dickau, Sacramento (Gonzaga)
No. 3, Pau Gasol, Atlanta (Spain)
No. 12, Vladimir Radmanovic, Seattle (Serbia)
No. 14, Troy Murphy, Golden State (Notre Dame)
No. 16, Kirk Haston, Charlotte Hornets (Indiana)
No. 17, Michael Bradley, Toronto (Villanova)
No. 24, Raul Lopez, Utah (Spain)
No. 5, Mike Miller, Orlando (Florida)
No. 7, Chris Mihm, Chicago (Texas)
No. 9, Joel Przybilla, Houston (Minnesota)
No. 15, Jason Collier, Milwaukee (Geogria Tech)
No. 16, Hedo Turkoglu, Sacramento (Turkey)
No. 24, Dalibor Bagaric, Chicago (Croatia)
No. 25, Jake Tsakalidis, Phoenix (Greece)
No. 27, Primoz Brezec, Indiana (Slovenia)
No. 29, Mark Madsen, L.A. Lakers (Stanford)
No. 6, Wally Szczerbiak, Minnesota (Miami, OH)
No. 12, Aleksander Radojevic, Toronto (Barton County CC)
No. 15, Frederic Weis, New York (France)
No. 19, Cal Bowdler, Atlanta (Old Dominion)
No. 21, Jeff Foster, Golden State (SW Texas State)
No. 24, Andrei Kirlenko, Utah (Russia)
No. 28, Scott Padgett, Utah (Kentucky)
No. 3, Raef LaFrentz, Denver (Kansas)
No. 8, Jason Williams, Sacramento (Florida)
No. 9, Dirk Nowitzki, Milwaukee (Germany)
No. 12, Michael Doleac, Orlando (Utah)
No. 15, Matt Harpring, Orlando (Georgia Tech)
No. 16, Bryce Drew, Houston (Valparaiso)
No. 17, Rasho Nesterovic, Minnesota (Slovenia)
No. 18, Mirsad Turkcan, Houston (Turkey)
No. 19, Pat Garrity, Milwaukee (Notre Dame)
No. 26, Sam Jacobsen, L.A. Lakers (Minnesota)
No. 27, Vladimir Stepania, Seattle (Georgia, Republic, not University)
No. 2, Keith Van Horn, Philadelphia (Utah)
No. 12, Austin Croshere, Indiana (Providence)
No. 18, Chris Anstey, Portland (Australia)
No. 19, Scot Pollard, Detroit (Kansas)
No. 20, Paul Grant, Minnesota (Wisconsin)
No. 11, Todd Fuller, Golden State (N.C. State)
No. 12, Vitaly Potapenko, Cleveland (Wright State)
No. 14, Peja Stojakovic, Sacramento (Serbia)
No. 15, Steve Nash, Phoenix (Santa Clara)
No. 20, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland (Lithuania)
No. 23, Efthimi Rentzias, Denver (Greece)
No. 25, Martin Muursepp, Utah (Estonia)
No. 27, Brian Evans, Orlando (Indiana)
No. 29, Travis Knight, L.A. Lakers (UConn)
No. 6, Bryant Reeves, Vancouver (Oklahoma State)
No. 12, Cherokee Parks, Dallas (Duke)
No. 15, Brent Barry, Denver (Oregon State)
No. 17, Bob Sura, Cleveland (Florida State)
No. 22, George Zidek, Charlotte Hornets (UCLA)
No. 24, Loren Meyer, Dallas (Iowa State)
No. 28, Greg Ostertag, Utah (Kansas)