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The Importance of the 2009 Draft

As Ben and I were tossing around the finer points of our Point-Counterpoint posts yesterday, he came up with an interesting observation that brought up a key question regarding the draft.

Ben's analysis was spurred by a direct question from the Talkin' Ball folks, namely "What do we do with the draft pick?"  The assumption there is we have an asset in the #24 selection.  How do we use the asset to benefit the team best?  The draft pick is central to the discussion and its importance is assumed.  I, on the other hand, started from a different base:  the needs of the team.  We have depth and experience issues, most critically at point guard.  We have current players who may or may not factor in to the team's future.  The draft pick could provide another player at that position, but solving the issues at hand is of paramount importance whether or not that pick is involved.

Both approaches are absolutely valid.  You never, ever waste assets in this league.  You have a pick, you need to do something productive with it.  However "productive" can't be applied in a vacuum, nor is it divorced from the team's situation.

These disparate approaches to the same issue lead to different conclusions.  They both beg one, central question that each assumes the answer to but neither justifies.  That is the issue up for discussion today:

How important is this draft, really?

As we hit on this question it struck me that this was the first time in years that we had the freedom to ask it.  You can't very well dismiss the critical nature of the draft for a 20-win team, nor for a team that won the #1 overall pick, nor even for a borderline lottery squad looking to make the leap into respectability.  We've had to assume the importance of the draft as a matter of course.  This year, however, there's debate.

Obviously you can't go completely one way or another.  To simply dismiss the draft as unimportant would be as ludicrous as to suggest that this selection automatically weighs as heavily on the franchise's future as did the Oden or Roy/Aldridge picks.  The answer lies along a continuum between these two extremes.  Whereabouts on that continuum do you pin this year's draft?  Would anything good that comes out of it go in the "nice bonus" category or is this draft a sneaky critical moment in disguise?  Tell us why you fall where you fall on this issue if you would.  If you think the draft carries significant importance, what (in general) do you hope to see out of it?  If you think it bears less significance, what do you feel the Blazers are missing and why don't you think the draft is the answer?

Enjoy the discussion!

--Dave (