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Chillin' with Dylan—Why the NBA is relevant still

June 26, 2014

    The NBA draft is tonight starting at 7 p.m. and it got me thinking just how far the Association has come in rivaling football.
    The marketing of both sports have really set the bar when it comes to a 12-month schedule of sports and how much we think about them. When the football season is over, fans revel in the aftermath of the Super Bowl and the celebrations/parades that go on with that.
    When that has died down, however, we quickly turn to draft mode where we watch seemingly every move of potential first round draft picks and beyond in an attempt to uncover who will go where before the actual draft event.
    (ASIDE: Who would have guessed that the Browns would essentially be trading Trent Richardson to the Colts for Johnny Manziel straight up?! When the Colts traded their first round pick to Cleveland, that’s exactly what they did!)
    After the draft we begin conditioning and player contract holdouts followed by a lot of talk about where players will end up in the trade season until finally we get close enough to the season to start truly salivating once again.
    The same is true now with the NBA.
    The Spurs dominated the Finals but once the series was finally over, did we stop talking basketball? Not for a second. In fact, thanks to LeBron James’ second “decision” coming, basketball has (temporarily at least) eclipsed sports coverage for what is normally set aside for baseball and football preparations. The World Cup has been a welcome distraction as well, despite my mediocre interest in soccer.
    With LeBron and Carmelo Anthony both free to move about the country as they please now, the draft seems all that much more important.
    The new thing in the NBA is to group superstars together and see how far you can ride them without actually having any talent around them. It has worked so far but not to establish a dynasty.
    The Heat have made the Finals four years in a row now with the James/Wade/Bosh trio and Boston had a good run with Pierce/Garnett/Allen/Rondo but fell short a few times.
    I think these teams with superstars on the brain are forgetting the main element here: role players.
    Where would Michael Jordan be without Steve Kerr to knock down the game winner during the 1997 game six clincher over the Jazz? Still the greatest player on earth, I know, but you get the point.
    Yes, Pippen was a superstar in his own right, but Jordan didn’t sign a “big” contract until 12 years into his career. During his first rodeo of three championships in a row, he was making less than $4 million a year! Look at how far we’ve come.
    With the new trend being superstars unite! we have to retool the way we structure salary caps and team construction. In order for Melo and LeBron to play on the same team, both would have to take a significant pay cut. Even then, teams would be suffering from a lack of support around them like Miami did against San Antonio in this year’s finals.
    Still, despite LeBron’s decision upcoming, the hot topic for tonight is where Joel Embiid will go in the draft. Since bursting on the scene as the potential number one pick, the Kansas freshman center has been the talk of the town.
    Then he got hurt...
    Well, he was already hurt with a back injury but the more daunting and career-threatening nag is his foot surgery. The back has healed fine but players, particularly gargantuan 7-foot tall centers in the NBA, have seen their careers end thanks to these sorts of foot injuries including Bill Walton, Rik Smits, and most notably, Yao Ming.
    So if Embiid doesn’t go first in the draft because of his questionable status, that leaves fellow Jayhawk star Andrew Wiggins and Duke stud Jabari Parker at the top.
    Will these two go first or will there be another surprise from the Cavs at number one like when they took Anthony Bennett?
    It’s not always the draft picks themselves that draw the attention, but the moves around them that seem to define the draft. I look at when the Pacers drafted Kawhi Leonard, then traded him straight up for IUPUI’s George Hill.
    Sure, the Pacers have had Hill as the starting point guard since then, but Leonard is the one with the NBA championship. Who got the better deal?
    Those are the questions/answers that make the NBA interesting, even in the summer months.

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