July 01, 2011 by Joe.CimineraIs there anything in professional sports more boring than drafts?
The answer is no, unless we’re counting curling as a sport. I mean, if the National Basketball Association is going to make me wait an hour and half to watch the Sixers draft the next Todd MacCullough, you better at least let Stephen A. Smith interview the draft picks with that charm and professionalism for which he’s known.
The NBA and the NHL both recently held their drafts, and while these draft classes won’t come into their own for a few years, it is still the fix us sports junkies need in the off season — and more importantly, it is something to critique.
For the past few years the NBA has really used New York City to promote the draft – big city, stars of tomorrow, Jay-Z music pumping, you know the drill. Well, due to some renovations at Madison Square Garden, the draft took its talents to Newark, N.J., this year.
Experts have been saying this draft class for the NBA is one of the weakest in years, and they weren’t kidding. After picks one (Duke’s Kyrie Irving to Cleveland) and two (Arizona’s Derrick Williams to Minnesota), there were no sure things.
With four international players going in the top 10, including the highly touted Enes Kanter, the draft did have an international flavor this year, but it was also stocked with some of the most exciting players we saw in the NCAA last season. Jimmer Fredette, the sharp shooter from BYU, was drafted 10th by Milwaukee and then traded to Sacramento, and the leader of the national champion UConn Huskies, Kemba Walker, went ninth to Charlotte.
Our beloved 76ers picked 16th. Apparently the dart which general manager Ed Stefanski threw at the draft board hit Nikola Vucevic, a 6-foot-10 power forward from USC. It appears that Vucevic will be able to contribute on the boards, but in order to defend the top big men in the NBA he’ll need to get stronger and faster. The Sixers added some Philly flavor to the draft, taking Temple center Lavoy Allen in the second round.
The NHL draft, which was actually televised, provided us with a plethora of names we can’t pronounce and won’t see again for another three years or so.
The Flyers made some noise around the NHL draft, trading team staples and men-about-town Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in order to a) clear cap space and b) get a pick in the first round of the draft, which was held in Minnesota.
With the eighth pick in the draft the Flyers took center Sean Couturier. In my research of Couturier I discovered he’s 6-foot-4, handles the puck well and is solid on face offs. I also learned his favorite superhero is Spider-Man — thanks to NHL.com for that — and his other favorite sports are baseball and football, which will come in handy in Philly because those are the only sports more popular than hockey here.
Does the name Ryan Nugent-Hopkins mean anything to you? Probably not, but it will. Nugent-Hopkins was the first overall pick in the draft and he’s headed to Edmonton where expectations will be as high as the bat signal — yes … his favorite superhero is indeed Batman.
The NCAA had a strong showing at the NHL draft, with 59 current and future collegiate players being selected, including talented Northeastern University defensemen Jamie Oleksiak who went 14th overall to Dallas.
So, while Kyrie Irving may be hosting a show to announce his next team in a few years, and while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may be drinking from Lord Stanley’s cup later on, for now, these drafts are a nice break from mid-season baseball for the sports connoisseur; a reason to complain, and most importantly, a glimpse into the futures of our favorite teams.