Tonight the night - the NBA Draft is finally here! Thrill at the excitement of David Stern stepping up to a podium & reading names! Gaze at the glory of young tall men putting on team caps! Tear your ears off at the important insights offered by Stephen A. Smith!
So, right after Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley & O.J. Mayo go off the board with the first three picks, who’s left? Well, it certainly won’t be a bunch of Europeans this time around.
Dave D’Alessandro of the NEWARK STAR-LEDGER writes that basketball prospects from across the pond have lost a lot of value in the eyes of NBA execs in recent years. One unnamed Eastern Conference exec has gone so far to say that drafting a European player would be “counterintuitive”:
“You are drafting a 19-year-old guy at a time when a top-10 pick implies instantaneous results, but you have to be very patient. It generally doesn’t always work out. Unless you are really lucky, it will take a big adjustment — to the speed of the game, the zone rules, the longer 3. And those adjustments typically take all the player’s spontaneity away for at least a while.”
Early this decade, the European player was the popular pick to go with. From 2001 to 2006, the number of European players on NBA rosters had doubled from 26 to 52. But last year, the number diminished somewhat, with only 40 Euros occupying roster spots.
Another factor with the lowering number of Euros in the NBA is questioning how soft the foreign players are perceived in the American game:
An observation from 2004 still resonates: “As a rule of thumb, a European will say, ‘I will do the best I can, but I’m not going to kill myself to win a game,’” said European scout Tim Shea, then working for Charlotte. “Mental toughness is a big part of what separates us from the other continents.”
So, Dan Shaughnessy was right?!?