The Draft Lottery on May 16 will determine the final order of the 2017 NBA Draft, but the draft is about more than just those top picks.
When you factor in the entire draft, the Suns having the #2 spot in the lottery only gets them ranked as having the 5th-best draft haul among the 30 NBA teams.
ESPN is using this nerdy BPI tool to give draft value to every pick for every team - much the same concept that the NFL has used for decades in valuing potential draft pick deals - and comes out with the Suns having the 5th best total draft value.
The teams ranked ahead of the Suns have multiple first round picks, which gives them the edge over the Suns. Sacramento (projected with the 7th and 10th picks), Orlando (projected with 4th and 25th), Boston (first overall, plus 3 seconds) and Philly (5th plus 4 seconds) rank higher than the Suns.
But this is my problem with applying a point total to each team’s draft picks, and where it might be perfect in the NFL world there’s just not the same impact in the NBA.
The NBA is about individual talent. Only five guys play at once, versus 22 in the NFL. The NBA roster is only 15 deep (including the new two-way slots), while the the NFL roster is 58 (including practice squad).
The average NFL team is looking for 3-4 contributors per draft, if not more, and doesn’t even need those guys to be superstars. For example, while the Browns will draft the top overall talent, no matter how good that guys is he doesn’t really tip the scales on their future. Miles Garrett could be a 10-year star for the Browns, but his presence alone won’t win games. Their future will be determined by the other picks in the draft - not just the one.
On the contrary, the NBA is all about that one superstar difference maker. If you can find a cornerstone in the draft, your future as a franchise can be dramatically altered.
Of course, you can’t just hit on the one guy and go home. New Orleans and Sacramento proved that with hitting on Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins several years ago now, and it didn’t get them anywhere. You have to hit on good players every draft.
But in the context of a single draft, all you need is one.
So the Suns, right now before the actual lottery on May 16, have the second-best chance at getting a franchise-changing talent in the 2017 NBA Draft. It doesn’t mean they WILL get the second-best player. It just means they have the second-best chance at it.
Not the 5th best. The second-best.