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Hold Off on Calling This Year's Draft Class Weak

March Madness has slackened a bit, so it's time for us NBA specialists to plunge our feather-less necks deep inside the carnage and come up with a morsel or two. Hence Kurt Helin's piece on this draft, which states, bluntly, "This is a bad year to stink in the NBA." It gets crankier from there: ↵
↵⇥This has long been considered one of the weakest, if not the weakest, draft class of the last decade coming out of college. Play the first weekend of the NCAA tournament backed that up. What everyone saw are some nice players, guys that could develop into NBA role players. ↵
↵Okay, I can go for that. But aside from the 2003 Class, which changed the universe, and the 2007 bunch, which failed to, which recent drafts have been slated for greatness this early on? In fact, I have to respectfully disagree with Helin's analysis of recent history:
↵ ↵
↵⇥If your team sucked last year, you could have gotten Derrick Rose, who has become the Bulls best player out of the gate. Or, you could have gotten guys who are NBA starters and have a lot of potential, such as O.J. Mayo or Russell Westbrook or Kevin Love. ↵⇥
↵⇥If your team sucked two years ago, there was Kevin Durant, already one of the best scorers in the NBA, not to mention a number of other quality starters. Three years ago there was Lamarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy (if you didn’t make the mistake of taking Andrea Bargnani or Adam Morrison ahead of them). ↵
↵Rose, he was a stud. But Mayo's stock was only revived during workouts, Westbrook's been a bit of a shocker, and Love's proved the numerous doubters wrong. No one was looking at 2008 as a banner year, unless a team got No. 1 or No. 2. As for 2006, at the time, it was reviled as the worst crop in recent memory, the fall-out from a bunch of teens suddenly forced to serve a year in college. No one was certain that Roy would thrive in the pros, and incidentally, Bargnani is steadily putting together the game and output of a top pick. Might want to check on that, KH. ↵
↵The point? Yes, sometimes the tournament yields a plethora of hyped-up underclassmen. Or, more substantially, lottery guys who have played their way into the top-five. Helin's right that we're not seeing a lot of potential lottery picks really distinguish themselves. But this is only the first part of the process. It may be the end of that college stuff, but just wait till the ping-pong balls settle, workouts begin, and the pre-draft rumor mill inexplicably starts to inflate and crush players within sniffing distance of the first round. And the best part is, there's no telling how a draft will look three pro seasons later. So while the headline makes for good copy, the conclusion is, to say the least, premature.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.