The 2012 NBA draft was good, not great.
It had one can’t-miss prospect (New Orleans big man Anthony Davis), another quick-emerging star (Portland point guard Damian Lillard) and a bunch of guys who’ll be solid contributors with lengthy careers.
If two NBA scouts who travel the country each college basketball season are right, the 2013 draft won’t come close to that.
The Observer consulted with two long-time scouts (neither connected to the Charlotte Bobcats) as conference seasons commence in the college game. Each works for a team likely to have a top-10 pick. Each spoke on condition of anonymity because neither is authorized by his employer to speak publicly on draft prospects.
While the two conversations were separate, each conveyed the same conclusion: This isn’t the year a franchise-changer will emerge from the draft process
“I don’t think this is a good draft,” said one scout. “This is the year you should consider trading your draft pick – no matter where it is.”
“The draft lottery was always supposed to be about exceptional players going to the worst teams,” said one of the scouts. “We’ve eroded the concept of ‘exceptional’ – exceptional doesn’t really exist anymore.”
Both scouts say that erosion can be traced to the so-called “one-and-done” rule that governs draft eligibility. Under the collective-bargaining agreement, U.S. players can’t be in the draft until they’re at least one season removed from their high school graduating class.
The unintended consequence of that, these scouts say, is players with pro aspirations now consider one season of college ball the maximum they should stay.
“Now they think one season is the ceiling, not just the floor,” one scout said. “That creates a problem.”
That’s what we all do,” the scout concluded. “We draft guys who are a lot like the ones we already have, only the guys we already have are better at least right now.
“But these guys are younger, so we get excited in the moment. And then you come to realize you haven’t changed much with your high pick.”