Friday, June 29, 2007

The Flaw In The Draft

What's the most exciting part of the NBA or NFL drafts? Heck, what's arguably the most exciting part of most professional sports?

Trades. Trades can change the whole landscape of the league, and the direction of a team. I won't say "most," because I don't have the numbers, but a lot of trades take place on either draft day or in the few days leading up to the trading deadlines. Since the NBA draft took place last night, however, you can guess that I'm going to talk about draft day.

ESPN's draft coverage really kills the drama and excitement of those trades. We get the trade information very early, from ESPN "insiders." Then, 1-2 hours later, the trade is announced from the podium. It's like, why even bother announcing the trade from the podium at that point? Everyone knows that Jeff Green is going to Seattle, leave it alone.

But that's not really what I want. I want the trade announced from the podium, instead of by Rick Beucher, or whoever. When Green was available at the fifth pick and the deal was a go, that's when the trade should've been announced. Part of the fun of the NFL draft is watching it quietly, eating and relaxing, and then without warning, you hear those nifty little words from Paul Tagliabue: "We have a trade."

My understanding is that part of the problem sprouts from NBA trade rules, which are murky at best already. The extent to which the NBA has butchered the way free agency, trades, and the draft ought to be run is astounding. It's no wonder that they have trouble attracting new fans. For all the shortcomings baseball might have (such as arguable parity), there are very few times when the business end of baseball gets in the way of a deal. The business end may prompt a deal, for instance when a player's contract is expiring and the team can't afford to re-sign him. But the Tigers never have to worry about matching salaries with trade partners to make a deal happen. The NFL seems to do a good job of keeping business considerations out of draft day, and the NBA should take a note. Bring the drama back to draft night.

Another piece of this puzzle is the information before draft night about the Trail Blazers deciding on Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. Sure, that's great that ESPN found that out a day or two in advance. What a great piece of breaking news. But it would've been a lot more tense on draft night if you didn't know which of them was going #1 overall. The NBA doesn't know how to turn the NBA draft into good television, making more money for everyone involved.

I'll share my opinions on the actual draft itself sometime soon, possibly via Internet radio with Joe Mandi, but more likely on here or on the forum.

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