Would you know an NBA draft pick without a name tag?

Notwithstanding the broadcast, the webcast, the radio feeds, the Twitters and the overblown but expected wall-to-wall, they-took-the-point-guard-from-Slovenia! coverage by all of the ESPN networks, I have a question for the masses:

Blake Griffin is a beast. Unfortunately, there just aren't a lot of household names beyond him in the draft.

Oklahoma's Blake Griffin is a beast. Unfortunately, there just aren't many other household names in this NBA draft.

How much do you care about this NBA draft?

I hate to sound like the old guy on the porch. But it seems to me that the draft has lost some of its allure.

I love the sport — basketball players in general remain the greatest all-around athletes in pro sports — and I suppose there’s still some lingering drama before each selection.

The problem is the draft has become relatively faceless. Once you get past the first few names — and this season, once you get past Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin – there isn’t much to identify with. Most need name tags.

This season’s projected No. 2 pick: Ricky Rubio, a point guard from Spain. Would you know Ricky Rubio if he dropped from the sky and fell into your morning Cocoa Puffs? If Ricky Rubio knocked on 100 doors, how many people would say: “THE Ricky Rubio?!? The point guard from Spain?!? I loved you in the Barcelona game!”

There are two big reasons for what’s happened:

♦ The influx of European players. Three years ago, six Euros were taken in the first round, including Andrea Bargnani, who went first overall to Toronto. (Then again, Shelden Williams, an American, went four picks later to the Hawks. So much for our superiority.)

♦ The influx of high school players. While there have been some obvious huge successes — LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, etc. — most high schoolers have flopped. Even when the NBA mandated that players must attend college for at least one season, it didn’t help much. When players stayed in college for at least two seasons, more fans became aware of who they were.

OK, so is it just me?

Who else out there in the blogosphere can’t tell the draft picks without a scorecard?

26 comments Add your comment

Powder Springs Jacket

June 23rd, 2009
11:36 am

Good points Mr. Schultz, in fact, I know some people that couldnt tell the differece between Marvin Williams and Chris Paul, and Shelden Williams and Brandon Roy.

Mychelfromatl

June 23rd, 2009
11:37 am

G State Ben

June 23rd, 2009
11:47 am

The impact of the international players will likely be very limited. With Rubio and Omri Casspi coming off the board in the 1st round. People should be able to find these players and pick them out of lineup because the majority (save Rubio, Brandon Jennings and a few others) played college basketball for more than one year. No, there is not the sexiest names but there is plenty of depth and quality players for the Hawks to Draft.

Rick Sund, it’s your time to shine.

Jeff Schultz

June 23rd, 2009
12:03 pm

Powder Springs — Safe to say most can tell the difference now between Chris Paul and Marvin Williams (and Shelden).

Ted Striker

June 23rd, 2009
12:09 pm

I simply memorize player tattoos and word associate the tatt to the player’s name. It’s scientifically proven to be 27% faster than Vegas facial recognition software.

JSS

June 23rd, 2009
12:22 pm

For all of you Hawk Speculators… I want to share how the LA Times presents their Blog on the Lake Show…
http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2009/06/mitch-kuphcak-exit-interview.html

Tell me what you think?

Jeff Schultz, since the implementation of the NBA/Player Association age restriction just what is the percentage of players who entered prior who have failed to remain in the Association? More importantly, what is the percentage among the “one and done” players?

Big Ray

June 23rd, 2009
12:33 pm

Jeff,

Could be a combination of lackluster talent, as well as the reasons you listed above. I think you really hit on a point when you mention the one-and-done types. Suddenly very few guys have “can’t miss” talent, and everybody has “potential.” Ugh….

Big Ray

June 23rd, 2009
12:34 pm

LOL @ Ted Striker…

Johnny Hazeltine

June 23rd, 2009
12:39 pm

There are age restrictions everywhere. Why not, for the sake of the NBA product, have a two-year age limit? This doesn’t say that great basketball players can’t go to the D-League or to Europe and make money. But what is does do is give the scouts and front offices a chance to see how a player makes adjustments over the course of an offseason. This shows work ethic and maturity, as well as developed skill. That’s just my two cents.

Jeff Schultz

June 23rd, 2009
12:57 pm

Striker — I like the system

Big Ray — I think talent is there. Athletes/players are better than ever. They’re just not developed enough.

Johnny — I think Paul Hewitt proposed giving high school players 2 choices: 1) Go straight to the NBA; 2) Go to college for at least three years. I’m OK with that. It would help college and the NBA.

blonju

June 23rd, 2009
1:07 pm

i don’t know what everyone is talking about – this draft is stronger than the media purports it to be .. as far as player recognition, i’d say i could recognize 30-40 players in this draft by face alone .. if you watch march madness, and love basketball, this draft is no different than any other .. granted, there is no “superstar” jumping off the page at us, but there are a number of quality, nba-ready players who will impact their teams dramatically next season .. there are 5 or 6 point guards who will receive major minutes next year, whether they are starters or backups (flynn, jennings, maynor, lawson, teague, evans) – If the Hawks can get TY LAWSON, we might be saying you can get a “Great Player” at #19!!

gram

June 23rd, 2009
1:41 pm

First, the “two big things that have happened” aren’t the case anymore.

1) besides Rubio- who if you follow basketball at all, sure as all doesn’t need a nametag b/c I think this kid’s name has been thrown around since before he was a teenager- there isn’t going to be many foreign draftpicks this year and my guess the trend away from foreign players will continue as many continue to flake out in the leage
2) you cant come straight from high school to the nba anymore. duh.

I think that the one-and-done players are the reason that the draft has lost its muster. Kids get hype out of high school when they are the next big thing. Then a lot of the big hype kids who would be the talk of the draft straight out of high school go to college for a either at a second tier college (like a Arizona State) to get big minutes or go to a big school and share time with the established starters. In the first instance, unless the kid is putting up 25 and 20 like Beasley at KState, they fall off the radar. In the second instance, unless they ball out, people don’t know them well and are still skeptical (see Tyreke Evans). In both instances, the second year of college is necessary or else everyone is better off coming in out of high school

NRBQ

June 23rd, 2009
1:44 pm

Not buying the greatest all-around athletes idea, Jeff.

Show me one NBA player who could hang with Troy Polamalu thru OTA’s, the preseason, practice, and 19 or so games without expiring on the field.

JSS

June 23rd, 2009
2:23 pm

NRBQ… Easiest question in the world to answer… LeBron James
Troy is all fast twitch, and I love that about him… Leads to violence on the playing field…
People are always confusing 7 second duration of the NFL with real stamina of the constant action sports and the high cardiovascular conditioned efforts…

By the way, I saw NRBQ at 688…

jhan

June 23rd, 2009
2:52 pm

I like Hewitt’s idea about high school players – maybe he’ll come up with a good idea on how to win in the ACC.

chiefs fan

June 23rd, 2009
3:05 pm

They all lokk alike to me.

Marcus

June 23rd, 2009
3:18 pm

Can’t agree more. I am not a huge college b-ball fanatic, but in the last 3 drafts (which I have not watched), after reviewing the whole run-down in the next days paper………my facila expression (aftert pick no. 5) is most likely ..”WHO da L is that?!?!?” mostly due to HS kids (not named Lebron), early entry players and the obligatory European “star-in-waiting”.

Aaron

June 23rd, 2009
5:12 pm

Wait, you’re a sportswriter for one of the largest (remaining) newspapers in the country and you don’t know the people entering the NBA draft?

Perhaps you should do a little research.

RealSquawk

June 23rd, 2009
8:05 pm

was there no way for us to get the fifth pick. I mean geeze. maybe this is a weak draft.

James

June 23rd, 2009
11:20 pm

How about the hawks should send Josh Smith to Phoenix for Amare Stoudemire.

James

June 23rd, 2009
11:21 pm

Another suggestion how about the hawks should send Josh Smith to Memphis for the #2 pick and then they could select Hasheem Thabeet.

Mz. Hawkdafied

June 23rd, 2009
11:31 pm

Heck no, Josh Smith’s talent is worth more than a draft pick. The Hawks definitely shouldn’t trade Josh for a draft pick.

ken

June 24th, 2009
12:29 am

I have to agree that this is one of the weakest drafts I have ever seen (not bad as 2000). I know most of the players, and believe that a good number can be successful. I am a real die-hard basketball fan though, and I really look forward to the draft regardless and want to see good things happen for the game. Even with that bias though, I can still acknowledge how week this group is overall. Hands down there are no superstars (Clark and Derozan have the talent,but takes much more), Blake is the only all-star and maybe two other players will appear in an all-star game during their careers. There are quite a few players who could stick awhile if they end up in the right situation. So it’s not pointless, depending on how things play out and if guys end up in places where they can continue to develop or learn from veterans who knows?

ken

June 24th, 2009
12:41 am

I agree with Paul Hewitts idea of stay 3yrs or straight to pros, which I think will ultimately happen, but in the mean time 2 yrs is much better than one and done. A major problem is all the sports agents and leaches that get attached to these kids and steer them in the wrong direction for their own selfish reasons. They are a part of the culture though sadly, and aren’t going anywhere. Beyond that though, some kids just don’t like school or it isn’t for them. Those guys can go oversees or the developmental league.
And as far as trades go, all the hawks core players virtually play the same position. So if we are going to part with someone it needs to be for a point guard or a center. In the draft, I’d trade Josh Smith to Memphis for Rudy Gay and #2 pick(Thabeet) or Mayo, Thabeet, and a future pick. I also liked Josh Smith to New Jersey for Devin Harris, #11 pick(Earl Clark) and change, but hey we’ll see if Sund knows what he is doing?

cdog

June 24th, 2009
4:29 pm

WHAT I WANT TO KNOW IS WHY IS RICK SUND CELL PHONE STUCK IN HIS EAR AND NOTHING IS HAPPENING? THE BUCKS, WIZARDS, PISTONS AND OTHER EAST TEAMS ARE TRYING TO GET BETTER. BUT NOT YOU. HOW DID YOU EVER BECOME A GM?DO YOU WANT TO GET BETTER? GET WOODSON SOME TALENT SO WE CAN PLAY FOR THE TITLE NEXT YEAR. BOSTON IS SHOPPING RONDO. HE COULD BE THE POINT.TRADE UP FOR THABEET OR TRADE FOR A SOLID VETERAN IN THE MIDDLE.PACHILLIA IS NOT THE ANSWER. HANSBBRO,TY LAWSON OR JEFF TEAGUE WOULD BE SOLID PICKS ALSO. IF YOU SIT BACK AND LET CLEVELAND GET THEIR BIG MAN, THE BULLS GET BETTER YOU SHOULD BE RUN OUT OF TOWN. SPEAKING OF THE BULLS, BEN GORDON IS ALSO AVAILIBLE

C money

June 24th, 2009
4:41 pm

Can you say Jamal Crawford? http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4284512 . Make this happen pleeeease and then draft Lawson.