As the confetti rained down on top of the Cavaliers it signaled an end to another NBA season, one that went by too fast. It seemed like only yesterday Kobe Bryant kicked off his farewell tour, that Curry was lighting up the world, and Pacers fans were nervously watching Paul George’s every movement fearing the worst. What a difference a season makes.
Now the NBA becomes reborn again as dozens of players will anxiously wait Thursday night to hear their name called by Adam Silver. Dreams will be recognized, tears will be shed, and the words "…from the University of Kentucky" will be spoken more times than thought possible. Twitter will be ablaze with instant analysis of every team’s selection, Jay Bilas will be fawning over wingspan, and fans of everywhere will hitch their wagon to their team’s selection.
Yes, draft night is magical. You know what else it is, though? A crapshoot.
No amount of tape, of interviews, of tests, of drills, of workouts will guarantee what kind of NBA player someone will turn out to be. Yes all those things help coaches and general managers get a vague idea of how someone will turn out. If it did Darko Milicic wouldn’t have been drafted. Giannis Antetokounmpo would be on the Cavaliers, and the Pacers would have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in their backcourt (Pacers fans weep softly).
That’s why when Adam Silver announces the Pacers selection Thursday I will attempt, and I encourage everyone out there to do the same, to withhold any firm judgement on that player for at least two seasons. The only exception being if said player has off the court issues then I will lay waste to him with judgement.
I get it. It’s easy and fun to make a rash judgement about what a great or horrible pick it was. Everyone loves to give their two cents. That’s why Twitter and group chats exist. We all think we know the correct answer when in reality the people who are in charge of these organizations forget more information each day than any of us could learn in a lifetime.
That’s why whomever the Pacers draft deserves our unconditional support. At first. Ragging on a player before he even sets foot on the court accomplishes nothing. It doesn’t make that player more likely to perform better and it has even been known to make players play worse. Roy Hibbert anyone? These guys have worked their entire lives to get to this moment and who are we to take one look at them and turn our backs because we wanted someone different. Being a fan means supporting your team and all the players on it.
The hardest part will be if he has a slow start or looks underwhelming. Doubts start to trickle in, the Pacers draft too late for anyone to be considered a bust, but the prospect of a wasted draft pick isn’t much better. Now you have to wait a full season before getting another crack at the draft. I would urge patience, very few players can begin a season the way Kristaps Porzingis did or have such a noticeable impact like Karl Anthony-Towns. For as much as we love Myles Turner now, it took him a couple of months and an injury before we really felt his presence. Adjusting to the speed, the strength, and the athleticism of the NBA game is no easy task. Everyone has an adjustment period, and each period is different for each player.
Draft night brings so much promise and hope to a team and player. Let’s not be the ones to kill it prematurely.