Hello there, fellow Spurs fan. What another glorious June day we've woken up to. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and all is right with the world. If you're anything at all like me, you still have a stupid smile on your face, thanks to the wonderful events of June 15, 2014.
I mean, Manu dunked on a guy! Sure wasn't expecting to ever see that again.
So happy. Sooooo obnoxiously, annoyingly happy.
The odd thing is, not every citizen in our basketball universe feels the way we do. I don't want to alarm you or anything, but if you peek outside the curtains you'll discover panic and gloom on the streets, mass hysteria and scores of people acting frenetically and yelling irrational nonsense.
Believe it or not, the NBA draft is already upon us. You may not have noticed, since it's the second most meaningless day on the NBA calender for Spurs fans outside of the draft lottery, but take my word for it, the fans of other teams are going positively bonkers about this thing. Supposedly this is one of those drafts filled with people who actually have seen a basketball before and have a general idea of the rules and principles of the game, so already we're at a higher level of intrigue than say, last year, or 2000.
What a gasoline fire 2000 was. The most win shares was by a Turkish dude, which should never happen even in the Turkish league, let alone the NBA. My theory is Y2K had everyone too worried to practice basketball for at least a whole year. Just awful. I'd love to see a "30 for 30" documentary on it, with all these former GMs just screaming, "What did you want me to do? There was nobody out there! NOBODY!"
Anyway, enough preamble. Here is a ten-step (that's two more than Dwyane Wade gets) guide to watching the draft for Spurs fans.
1. Should I actually watch this thing? It seems pointless.
Yes. It's June. Most of the good shows are in the off-season. Most of the good sports are in the off-season. The day's World Cup games will be finished well before. There are no good movies out, unless you haven't seen "Edge of Tomorrow" yet, and if you haven't then go do that. There's literally nothing better to do than watch the draft unless you're one of those weirdos who enjoys your friends and loved ones. Just be warned, if you skip it, it's gonna take you like... three minutes to catch up on what you missed later on. Unless you have a smart phone. Which you probably do.
2. But ... those ESPN "personalities."
As do I comrade, as do I. However, they have exclusive broadcast rights, so you're kind of stuck. I'm not gonna sugarcoat it, but it's not going to be a total nightmare. Mike Wilbon and Magic Johnson will not be involved. I'm pretty sure Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless aren't in the picture. We'll probably have the freshly retired (and vanquished) Shane Battier handling the interviews rather than Stuart Scott. The actual panel will have their annoying quirks, but for all their faults at least Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose make an effort to be prepared. This won't be like Charles Barkley saying of Tony Parker, "I've never heard of him, but if he was picked in the first round, he must be good."
(To the Chuckster's credit, he nailed it.)
There will be bad jokes and shaky analysis, but they'll still know a thousand times more about these prospects than you or I do, so please cut them some slack. I won't since I have to write a draft diary, but you really should.
3. Do I need to spend a couple of hours ahead of time doing research so I'm familiar with this draft class?
Good heavens, no.
Here's all you need to know: The top prospect, and pretty much the only prospect capable of being a true, franchise-altering guy is Joel Embiid. He's a one-and-done from Kansas who's being compared to Hakeem Olajuwon. Unfortunately, his medical history is starting to resemble the fella drafted right after Olajuwon. Embiid already missed the NCAA Tournament with a bad back and then broke his foot last week, which is going to reportedly keep him sidelined four-to-six months. Cleveland has the first pick (of course they do) but they're so terrified that they're desperately looking to trade down.
Outside of Embiid you have a couple of wing types in Duke's Jabari Parker and Kansas State's Andrew Wiggins who each disappointed badly in their brief careers as student-athletes and bombed in the tournament. There's Dante Exum, an 18-year-old, 6'6" point guard from Australia who's almost a total mystery. There's another stud foreign prospect, Croatian Dario Saric, but he's decided to play in the Turkish league for another two seasons. Then there are three young power forwards in Arizona's Aaron Gordon (the most athletic), Kentucky's Julius Randle (the best banger) and Indiana's Noah Vanleh (the best shooter, but he couldn't even lead his team to a tournament berth). Oh and there's Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart, who can't shoot and is a bit of a nutter, and Creighton's Doug McDermott, who reminds me of Wally Szczerbiak.
All of these gentlemen will be drafted long before the Spurs make their first pick.
4. So if the Spurs can't get anyone good, what's to watch?
Well, the Spurs found Hall-of-Famer Manu Ginobili with the 57th pick in 1999. They found another Hall-of-Famer in Tony Parker with the 28th pick in 2001. They acquired Kawhi Leonard, a minute after he was picked with the 15th pick by the Pacers in 2011, trading George Hill for his rights. Heck, they even found Tiago Splitter with the 28th pick in 2007.
The Spurs haven't exactly been, you know, bad at this.
5. That's fair, but admit it, there's a lot of dead time on these shows, and so many commercials. Any suggestions for getting through those?
Of course. I recommend reading this Bill Simmons column. It's a re-do of the last 19 drafts, dating back to 1995. As you might guess, the Spurs fare pretty well in it.
The thesis of the column is that it doesn't much matter if your team doesn't have a lottery pick because player evaluation is mostly dumb luck. It doesn't matter if it's team executives, scouts, coaches, analysts, pundits, journalists, bloggers or fans, the golden rule of any draft class is the same in every sport: No one knows anything.
And that's why it's fun to watch. It's not our livelihoods on the line. We can point and laugh years later when people blow picks. For the people involved, it's less funny.
6. I can at least skip the second round, right?
You can do whatever you want, it's a free country. I wouldn't skip it though. In addition to Ginobili, the Spurs have drafted DeJuan Blair, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic in the second round. Sure, they traded two of those dudes before they ever played a minute for the Spurs, but still, you better believe the league pays attention whenever the Spurs do anything. R.C. Buford is a wizard.
7. Give me one non-Spurs reason to be excited about this.
Trades! Trades involving actual basketball-ing humans you've heard of! The Cavs aren't the only ones scared of making a bad lottery pick. Reportedly the Kings at no. 8, the Hornets at no. 9, the Nuggets at no. 11 and the Suns at no. 14 all want to get the heck out of dodge as well. Teams that don't have a first-round pick, like the Knicks, are supposedly trying to move up. All-Stars like Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo and Josh Smith and other names like Klay Thompson, David Lee, Arron Afflalo, Harrison Barnes, Dion Waiters, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Martin, Norris Cole and pretty much any Nugget, may be moved. There will be many transactions, I swear.
Everything may be quiet and serene on the Spurs front, but the rest of the league is FREAKING OUT, man. So let's tune in and watch the world burn.
8. Okay, that sounds kind of fun, but this thing is still gonna drag at times. Any other tips for me to multitask during the draft?
Of course. Following the right folks on Twitter on a night like this is mandatory. I'd start with @ZachLowe_NBA, @WojYahooNBA and @HPBasketball and then of course our very own @Jejegomez_PtR plus all your other usual Spurs follows.
J.R. Wilco will be live blogging with Stephen Shepperd, and there will also be an open thread at Poundingtherock.com, and so stop on in and share your thoughts with the rest of the community.
9. Sounds like fun. So, who do you think the Spurs will draft?
Some furriner none of us have heard of who'll be immediately stashed overseas. He won't join the team until Tony Parker retires, but don't let that ruin your night. If I had to guess, I'd say it'll be a French wing like Damien Inglis. There's also Swiss power forward Clint Capela, Serbian power forward Nikola Jokic or Spanish giant Walter Tavares.
But it's not really about the Spurs. This is the one night of the year where we can blissfully watch the rest of the league tinker and scheme without anger, jealousy or worry. The race is over and the Spurs won. They're at the top of the mountain and enjoying the view, surveying the kingdom they've conquered. Let the rest bicker and barter among themselves, it makes for great theater when you're the king.
10. Ok, I'm ready to watch! What should I eat?
It's hard to go wrong with pizza. Less messy than buffalo wings, which is important if you need your fingers for typing. You can also get it delivered, which is key. You don't want to miss any wall-to-wall draft action because you're actually making your own dinner, do you?