Draft Week Excitement, and the Specter of Sam Bowie

I’m in my last week here at Metblogs, due to some personal stuff, but it’s a great last week to be here, given the upcoming Blazer Draft on Thursday.

In the past week, both Greg Oden and Kevin Durant have come to town for their workouts, and as such a couple of us Metrobloggers have made our cases for each. I think we should pick Greg Oden. Alex thinks we should take Kevin Durant.

One of the main reasons people have for taking Durant over Oden, and one of the things that secretly nags at me in the whole thought process, is our historic experience with taking a center over a scorer. We are very much in a similar situation to where we were back in 1984 today.

1) We need a dominant center.
2) We have a wing who we’ve tabbed as our man of the future (Brandon Roy, versus Clyde Drexler back in the day).
3) There’s a guy on the board who we’d be more open to taking if not for our wing of the future.

And so I wake up at night haunted by dreams of what may be to come; Greg Oden going down with bad knees (or back, or ankle) while Kevin Durant single-handedly takes Chicago to the promised land.

It’s with this in mind that I direct you to Dave’s discussion of this very issue over at the Blazers Edge blog:

I just finished reading a book called Tip Off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever by New York Daily News columnist Filip Bondy. (We’ll have a full book review on Monday.) The story looked not only at the players but at the draft process itself. It’s unbelievable how different things were then compared to today. There were no individual workouts. There was hardly any game film. Scouting staffs were small. If you were lucky you saw your draft pick on national TV and then maybe for a day or two at a combine or pre-draft camp. You relied on coaches’ recommendations, inside information, and your own gut instinct. When you were right you looked like a genius. When you were wrong–and that happened pretty often–those were the breaks. If you go back and look through those drafts in the 70’s and 80’s you’re going to see a lot of names that look completely misplaced…far more than you’d see from recent drafts. Guys like Jordan and Bowie wouldn’t be bursting on the scene in their last couple years of college nowadays. They would have left a video and statistical trail through scouting departments since the 7th grade, much like Greg Oden has. I would never tempt fate by saying a Bowie-type pick couldn’t happen again. But I would argue it’s going to be rare compared to back in the day.

People often forget that 1984 wasn’t the Bowie draft or the Jordan draft, it was the Olajuwon draft, plus Barkley, Stockton, and a few others. With the information gathering and analysis techniques available today it’s overwhelmingly likely that, given the same draft pool, the order would go Olajuwon first, Jordan second, and then Barkley, Bowie, and a couple others might have been duking it out for 3-6. The correct analogy for our choice, then, is not Jordan-Bowie but Olajuwon-Jordan. Either way that goes it has a happy ending.

Indeed, put that way, and with a better idea of how much more advanced the process is today, I’m feeling much more comfortable in my decision on Oden.

So now the interesting part is figuring out how the rest of the draft will go. Portland has several 2nd round picks, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who expects a flurry of trades on draft day that will land Portland a second 1st round pick and a solid small forward, in exchange for some or all of the second round picks and, hopefully, Zach Randolph (though more likely Jarrett Jack or someone along those lines).

So, what are your predictions for how draft day will shake out? I plan my last post here at the Metroblog to be a draft day recap, so I’m as excited as many of you to see what our wunderkind, Kevin Pritchard, is able to pull out of his magician’s hat…

4 Comments so far

  1. Jay (unregistered) on June 25th, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

    I’m all for Oden as well.

    Good luck in your future endeavors.

  2. Daaaaave (unregistered) on June 25th, 2007 @ 2:43 pm
  3. Cami (unregistered) on June 25th, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

    Wow, bye Rusty! Good luck.

  4. souteastmax (unregistered) on June 26th, 2007 @ 10:18 pm

    Good luck to you Rusty!

    Great post on the draft. I agree, any hometown fan is haunted by the Sam Bowie / Michael Jordan history. I always ask myself: would Jordan have thrived in Portland, Oregon?

    Clyde & Co. were such a class act and great entertainment, even though they “only” gave us Western Conference Championships and playoffs. (I had a vested interest back then, since Kersey was a neighbor…)

    Remember the 1977 history: we won a championship with a center with bad knees (Walton) and a very deep team and great coach… and Darth Vader…

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