Nobody asked me, but ...

8:39 AM, Jun 27, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Without question, the best thing about Thursday night's NBA Draft is - voila - we've actually heard of some of the players who are going to be picked.

Of course, there are the requisite number of foreign guys who will go, but, for the most part, you or I might have actually seen some of these guys dribble a ball in an American college or university gym. That's rare these days, especially when it comes to the NBA - a truly international game.

What never ceases to amaze me is how few draft picks ever stick in the NBA.

The world plays basketball - we're not talking about curling - but each year there are only a handful of players who even make a team.

If you're a late first-round draft pick, you'd better be careful. You'll probably get a spot, but rent in your new hometown, don't buy.

And if you're a second-rounder, well, stay in a cheap hotel until they tell you you made it or they tell you to go home. Oh, by the way, being seven-foot tall doesn't hurt. Being six-foot tall does, but if you can squeeze out another 12 inches, somebody will pay you at least for a little while.

Just compare the NBA Draft to the NFL Draft. I know there are a lot more football players on a team than in basketball, but a first- or second-round pick in football is making the team, at least for one season, whether or not he's a player or a stiff.

And those picks, first or second choices, are like gold in the NFL. Teams don't trade them away without thinking about it long and hard.

The NBA? A second-rounder, OK, you can have our second-round pick in the draft, just send us some water bottles and Gatorade and we'll call it even.

Of course, there are exceptions. Manu Ginobili was taken 56th overall in the tail end of the second round, but most guys drafted that late would rather not even be drafted.

They're better off not getting picked and trying to latch on with a team as a free agent. Most second-rounders are labeled with the dreaded "P" word, and that means "project."

"Give him some time to develop and he might become a player" is what the scouts will tell you.

Naturally, if your favorite team selects a "project," he'll never develop and will become just a footnote. And the team picking right after your team will find a stud and that guy will haunt you for the next decade. It never fails.

So, with a world full of basketball players, only 60 of them will hear their name called in this year's draft. And of those 60, the guess here is that 35 of them find an NBA home. Those are not good odds.

Those who have good odds are the guys who will go in the first 10 picks. They'll be smiling in their fancy suits and hugging commissioner David Stern like there's no tomorrow.

The first one to go will be Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel. We heard a lot about him in high school, but didn't get to see much of him in college because he hurt his knee.

But he's (ding, ding) seven-foot tall and a defensive whirlwind. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the first pick and they need to do one thing with it: Keep it and take Noel.

I like Ben McLemore from Kansas and Anthony Bennett from UNLV and Trey Burke from Michigan. They are all tremendous players, and we can pronounce their names, but they are not 84 inches tall and will not control things under the basket like Noel.

To the Cavs: You don't know what you'll get in the Round 2, but you do know what you can get in Round 1. Don't trade the pick, just be happy you have it.

A little certainty in a draft that has uncertainty every year is a good thing.

The Sports Network

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