The NBA Draft is a funny thing. Actually, so is the NFL Draft, but that’s not relevant here. The immediate aftermath of the draft is filled with experts — also “experts” — trying to parse out whether a given team made a “good” pick or a “bad” one. Lots of words get thrown around: length, athleticism, shooting, motor, basketball IQ, etc.
Here’s the problem with trying to judge a pick right after it’s been made: It’s impossible. Even the supposed “can’t miss” prospects of the universe can still fall flat. Remember Darko Milicic? He was supposed to be the best center in the league … until it turned out he was terrible. And maybe he wouldn’t have been terrible if he’d gone to a different team, with a different coach and different teammates. We have no idea.
This brings us to the Chicago Bulls and their two draft picks Thursday night. Tony Snell of New Mexico went 20th overall, while Erik Murphy of Florida went 49th. I haven’t seen anybody really object to the selection of Murphy, and as a second-round pick, his odds of success are fairly long to begin with. This piece is going to focus mainly on Snell, as you may have guessed from the picture at the top of this page.
I don’t think I’ve seen two people agree exactly on the Snell pick. Some — not very many, but some — love it, some hate it, most are somewhere in between. Some people like Snell but thought No. 20 was too high a spot for him, others don’t have anything against Snell himself, but felt that there were better options out there. All of these people could be wrong. All of them could be right. We don’t know.
Let’s think back to 2007. The Bulls selected Joakim Noah ninth overall. I specifically remember hearing about how the Bulls would regret not taking Spencer Hawes there, because — so the argument went — Hawes could provide the type of back-to-the-basket scoring the Bulls supposedly needed. Meanwhile, Noah was criticized for not having much offensive skill — supposedly — and not being capable of averaging a double-double. Which is funny, since he would have been the consensus number one overall pick the year before if he’d declared for the draft.
Anyway, we know how that turned out. Hawes bombed in Sacramento and is now in Philadelphia, where most of the fans hate him. Noah, meanwhile, just made his first NBA All-Defense team and was a serious contender for Defensive Player of the Year. Oh, and he’s been averaging a double-double every year since 2009-10, with the exception of 2011-12, when he averaged 10.2 points and 9.8 rebounds. So … yeah.
Want more? Derrick Rose v. Michael Beasley was a legitimate debate in 2008. Turns out Michael Beasley is not actually good. Taj Gibson was supposed to be too old and not skilled enough offensively to warrant a first-round pick in 2009. So much for that. Jimmy Butler … well, actually a lot of people liked that pick in 2011. Never mind.
Here’s my point: Tony Snell might be good. He might be terrible. We have no idea right now. Hell, we probably won’t know a year from now, given that Marquis Teague — hailed as a great value pick in 2012 — is a year in and nobody can actually tell if he’s good or not. (I believe he will be eventually, for the record.)
Let’s all sit back, relax, and enjoy the coming years of Chicago Bulls basketball. It’s too hot during the summer to be getting all worked up about this stuff anyway.