|Charlotte made Melvin Ely a lottery pick in 2002|
Thursday's draft has none of that. The most likely top pick is Nerlens Noel, a guy who blew out his knee and may not be ready for the beginning of the season. I only wish the Portland Trail Blazers had the top pick so it would get me excited. If Noel doesn't go No. 1, it could be Maryland's Alex Len ... a guy who couldn't even crack the All-ACC team this past year. It could be Kansas' Ben McLemore, a guy who just isn't impressing scouts. Honestly, it could be anyone and no one will be in awe of that individual.
This will be a draft of role players ... and that isn't a bad thing. I've always been big on seeing the NBA Draft as that: you have a few future superstars, a couple of All-Star guys and several guys who could either have a long career or one that they shine for a bit and then fade out. We just watched a Finals where guys like Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard played key roles for their teams. They can't all be LeBrons.
However, who really knows who those guys will be. It could be a Reggie Bullock who finds a long career as a sharpshooter (maybe a Danny Green?), or Otto Porter as a two-way player (Kawhi Leonard?), or a Trey Burke in a Gary Neal type role.
It reminds me of the 2002 Draft. In that draft, there was one true super star in Yao Ming. There's nothing like that here for a variety of reasons. Only three players other than Yao made an All-Star team: Amare Stoudemire, Caron Butler and Carlos Boozer. Boozer was a 2nd round pick.
That draft was filled with guys who have made decent careers. Guys like Nene, Tayshaun Prince, Drew Gooden, Mike Dunleavy, Matt Barnes and Luis Scola. Udonis Haslem went undrafted that year. It was also filled with guys like Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Dajuan Wagner, Melvin Ely, Marcus Haislip and Fred Jones. P.S., those guys were all lottery picks.
The 2000 Draft was nearly as bad. Only Kenyon Martin, Jamaal Magloire and Michael Redd made an All-Star appearance during their careers from that draft. There were guys like Mike Miller, Jamal Crawford, Hedo Turkoglu, DeShawn Stevenson, Eddie House and even Eduardo Najera that forged a career.
Or this could be as bad a draft as the one waaaaaaaay back in 2011. That was the draft that scared away the top prospects due to an impending NBA labor battle. Because of that, these guys were picked in the top 10: Enes Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo and Jimmer Fredette. There have been diamonds in the rough like Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vucevic, Iman Shumpert, Kenneth Faried, MarShon Brooks, Jimmy Butler, Norris Cole and Chandler Parsons. Kyrie Irving, the top overall pick, is a stud. Klay Thompson is turning into one. Kemba Walker is progressing nicely. Outside of that, there's no one to be ecstatic about.
So as your favorite team drafts on Thursday, don't get caught up in any hype. Just hope this guy can at least help your team down the road when the guys you drafted last year and next year are able to be the stars.