By Laurence W. Holmes–
(WSCR) “I have no idea who that guy is…”
That’s what Bulls analyst, Kendall Gill, told me and Jason Goff Thursday night after the Bulls drafted Nikola Mirotic. It’s about the same reaction that everyone had when the Bulls made a trade to move up and get the 6’9″, 210lbs forward. What that shows you is that even hardcore observers of the NBA still find a lot of European players to be a mystery. It’s interesting that as global as the NBA wants to become, and as connected as the world is by technology now, there still isn’t as much reliable intel as you’d like.
It’s funny how excited all of us get when it comes to the NFL and NBA Drafts. What’s strange is how different the two sports are. The NFL Draft is like a final exam. You spend hundreds of hours watching college football, reading the Pro Football Weekly Draft Bible, watching combine drills and consuming any information on position groups that you think your favorite team may need. When April comes around, you’re ready. You know what your team needs and usually you have a bunch of players in mind that fit those needs. If you had to write a blue book on what the Bears should do, you could do so eloquently.
The NBA Draft is like a pop quiz. Sure, you’ve been to class. You’ve taken notes. You may have even done your homework by watching the NCAA tourney. You love talking hoops with your friends and feel pretty comfortable with the material. Then the draft comes. You walk into class and all of sudden there’s a quiz on your desk and it’s got questions in a bunch of different languages that you don’t speak. You weren’t watching Spanish League ball. So you start thinking to yourself: Where the hell is Montenegro? What’s a Jonas Valaciunas? Is Bismack Biyombo a basketball player or a resort in the Congo? Some of these guys are made up, right? Oooh, I know the answer: Earned Runs divided by Innings Pitched times nine…Shoot! That’s baseball.
Then you just start guessing because you see familiar names in the multiple choice section: a) Jimmer b) Kemba c) Markeiff d) all of the above. I’m so confused…Finally, at the end of the day you get a cookie and Jimmy Butler is drafted. You think to yourself: Phew. At least we covered that guy back in the winter…
After the NFL Draft you may not agree with the picks, but you’re at least comfortable that you know who’s walking into the Halas Hall doors. It’s an essay exam. You’ve made your argument and as long as you back it up, you can still walk away with an A.
With the NBA you’re just drained, confused and disillusioned. The professor says: “Pencils Down!” You look at your test and there are tons of scratch outs. Your Scantron sheet is a mess. You start to think that it was a bad idea to just guess “C” for questions 10-20.
When it comes to the NBA Draft, just ball up your test, throw it in the garbage and hang your head in shame as you walk out. Maybe you can get extra credit by explaining pick and roll defense to Carlos Boozer…