clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What if we treated American NBA prospects the same dumb way we treat international ones?

New, comments

Sometimes international basketball prospects don't pan out after being picked highly in the NBA draft. That's also true of American players! But we only talk that way about foreigners.

There are several elite foreigners in the NBA Draft: Kristaps Porzingis and Mario Hezonja are likely lottery picks.

But when teams are rumored to pick these players, fans -- and some analysts -- get wary. "What about Darko? What about Andrea Bargnani?!"

You see, those players were from other countries, and they didn't turn out to be worth their high draft projections. And these players are from other countries, too! CONNECT THE DOTS.

The reason this is incredibly stupid is because, well, sometimes foreign players are good. Frequently! And sometimes American players are bad! Frequently!

The foreign prospects you're discussing are different people. They have different skill sets, different strong suits. They are often from different countries! They've had different coaches! Projecting the failures of one on the other because they come from the same continent is foolish. Pass on a player because of their flaws, not because they're from the same continent where somebody was bad once.

What if we talked about American prospects this way? Let's find out!

Taking an American prospect with the No. 1 pick is a dangerous risk

By Norman McCollumnson

The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the clock in the NBA Draft, and almost every projection shows that they'll be taking Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns with the No. 1 pick. If they were to pass on him, they'd be expected to take Duke's Jahlil Okafor.

Looking at the history from past drafts, the Timberwolves are about to make a huge mistake. It's completely reckless that Minnesota would take an American big man when perfectly good international talents are on the board.

We've all seen the American busts. Who can forget when the Wizards took Kwame Brown just a few picks ahead of Pau Gasol?  Does nobody remember the Blazers took Greg Oden? Both cloddish big men who lacked the versatility to succeed in the NBA. Why do teams continue to take chances on American born-and-bred players, after all the failures?

Meanwhile, look at the depth and breadth of talent produced overseas: Pau and Marc Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Arvydas Sabonis -- all incredibly talented big men with varied skill sets.

It's clear that international players are set up better to be NBA ready. International players play against professionals -- full-grown men -- from the time they're teenagers. They don't have to worry about going to class. They just play basketball.

Meanwhile, American players play 30-ish games against the Southeastern Nowhere States of the world. Look at foreign prospects in Michael Olowokandi and Hasheem Thabeet, who went to college instead of playing overseas, and entered the league not even close to NBA-ready. Being a great center requires more than being tall and strong. It requires skills -- skills American players often don't develop in their brief amateur careers.

There's just so much you don't find out about American prospects in their pre-NBA career. Think back to Oden, whose career was wrecked by knee injuries. If NBA teams had more than a single season of amateur hoops on which to gauge him, they might have been able to find his tragic flaws?

Drafting American players while perfectly good foreign players are on the board is ignoring history and logic to select unproven players with minuscule track records. Maybe you can do that later in the draft. But it just isn't worth it to potentially waste a No. 1 pick on such a risky decision.

SB Nation presents: The 3-pointer has gone from novelty to necessary