It happens every spring — we fall in love with length and athleticism. With potential. With the dreaded “upside.” Then we get to Summer League and the NBA season and we see that guy we loved the night of the NBA Draft and we say, “wow, he has a long way to go to be a basketball player.”
Washington’s Paul Pierce was on the Dan Patrick Show Tuesday (aired on the NBC Sports Network) and talked about that, saying in today’s NBA he “probably wouldn’t be drafted.” He noted that as hyped as this last NBA draft class was Pierce hasn’t seen basketball players, just athletes. (I’d suggest giving Andrew Wiggins some time, but we’ll see.)
I don’t think that’s true, but he might have gone lower than the No. 10 pick he was out of Kansas back in 1998. He’d have ended up being the kind of later first round pick that smart GMs of veteran teams make.
Pierce was more athletic than some people remember, but he has always had that crafty, old man at the Y game where he just always seems to make the right read, the right pass, and can get to his spots and hit contested shots from there all night long. His game was never about overwhelming athleticism, it was about his IQ, his shot making.
And sometimes all that does get overlooked. In part because some guys struggle to bring that to the next level, but those that can play for a long time in the league.