With Brandon Jennings great start there are articles popping up all over the internet. One on ESPN got me a little riled up. The article itself is not bad, but I think ESPN is a little ignorant of itself. The article details Jennings experience in Europe and how he was in the ESPN top 5 all season until draft time started, then he dropped. The article wonders why he dropped, and I BELIEVE ESPN is partly at fault for his fall.
All during the draft process the ESPN “Draft Analysts” always took a shot at Jennings whenever they could. Whether it was Bilas or Vitale, they would never miss a chance to promote Flynn or Curry or Evans or Lawson above Jennings. They always found ways to attack Jennings shot or character, when in all likely-hood they have not seen Jennings in person since maybe his McDonald’s AA game.
Look, I get it. Jennings ditched college for Europe. If he succeeds you will see more players do that and this directly effects Bilas, Vitale and ESPN. College Basketball is what put ESPN on the map and it still is a huge part of its programming, especially when football winds down in January until the tourney starts in March. College Basketball becomes more and more uninteresting each year. It is all about the tourney now, rendering the regular season meaningless. The only regular season games that are watchable at this point are games with these high-profile freshman like Kevin Love, Derek Rose and Kevin Durant.
If College Basketball loses more of these players it will show in the ratings. I couldn’t help but feel that some of the ESPN analysts were making it a point to bash Jennings and I was not sure how accurate they could even be without seeing him in person.
I do not entirely blame ESPN, I just think they should get some blame. If Vitale and Bilas have not seen a prospect in person, they probably shouldn’t bash him. They should not try and find any way possible to promote a college kid over him just because the kid went to college.
Flawed Draft Process
The draft process for the NBA is flawed. The draft occurs within a couple weeks of the finals ending, this is not much time for front offices to evaluate the talent. I always hear that the NFL draft boards will really start to change later in the process because this is when the coaches have had time to break down the film. I am not sure coaches get as involved with the NBA process and it shows in the results.
The NFL season ends in early February and their draft is not until late April. The NBA season ends in early June and the draft is in a couple of weeks. I know the teams that are out of it are in the evaluation process, but to hold the draft only a couple of weeks after the season shows how little the coaches are likely to get involved.
Flawed Workout Process
Some players will only workout for certain teams. Some players avoid other players. Some players will do any workout at anytime. This is not an apples to apples comparison and results in poor evaluations.
It was also stated in the article that Jennings was cocky or trash-talking in workouts. Do you blame him? He was willing to do workouts whereas other college players would not. At the same time he was getting bashed, while these players were getting praised. How in the hell do they think they can base a guys character off of this flawed process is beyond me. The agents and NBA need to work something out in the next CBA that gets these guys all together again. Years ago there was a good draft camp, now it is almost non-existent. Lets go back to a main combine to at least see guys at comparative positions play each other, without that, there probably shouldn’t be the strong judgements on the players that there currently is.
So there are a few different parties to blame for Jennings fall to 10. You could also throw in the European system, his team in Greece for not playing him more, and several other reasons. One thing I liked from the start, and an item I think the scouts forgot, was that Jennings was solidly thought of as the top HS player from his class. History has shown that being the consensus top player in your High School class leads to great things.
As a Bucks fan I say thank you to the flawed process and the gift of Brandon Jennings. But I will still curse you for many of the other Buck draft busts that are too numerous and painful to mention.