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Guest Post: Unlike the Yin Seeesters, Brandon Loves the Draft

June 23, 2011

A good friend of the Yin Seesters, Brandon, lover of the draft, was kind enough to do a guest post for us today about, you guessed it, the draft and the ways in which the Bulls f-ed it up in years past:

Oh E. Brand. (Photo Credit: romanisburning.com)

I might have cried the night of the 2001 NBA Draft. I don’t remember.

Back in 1999, the Bulls drafted Elton Brand first overall, and he was supposed to save the Bulls. Or at least, that’s what I thought in my head. I didn’t care that Steve Francis was a guard, and that it’s harder to find a good guard than a good power forward. We picked Elton Brand (a good basketball player AND, later, a world class actor), and all Steve Francis did was stick a “co-“ on the front of a Rookie of the Year award that rightfully belonged to my favorite player. Jackass.

Elton Brand, Marcus Fizer, Jamal Crawford, Ron Artest – that was our future. Despite the fact that we were coming off an awful year (a very awful year at 16-66 with no real bright spots except for Elton Brand’s 20-and-10 averages, and despite the fact that in the long term, both Fizer and Crawford were projected to play out of position in that lineup), I had hope for this core, and if we could add another player to it with the fourth overall pick, perhaps a true center and Chicago guy like Eddy Curry, we would at least be one step closer to reclaiming some of our glory days. It might still take another year, but who other than Shaquille O’Neal himself could really move and handle Baby Shaq?

Or at least, this is what I thought as a 14 year old watching and listening to the draft. I was very excited about it. In the weeks leading up (ever since the season ended, and far before that too, really) I was glued to NBADraft.net’s mock draft, waiting to see who they thought the Bulls would take. Their final mock had Curry going at 2, and the Bulls taking Eddie Griffin. I couldn’t really get behind that.

At this point we knew that Kwame Brown would probably go first overall to Michael Jordan’s Washington Wizards. We also knew that the Hawks were going to trade the number 3 overall pick to the Grizzlies for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and that the Griz were going to take some kid named Pau Gasol from Spain. There were rumors going around that then Bulls GM Jerry Krause would reach for Shane Battier with the 4 pick, as he liked both players from Duke and players with long arms.

Kwame Brown went first overall, and then another high school center, Tyson Chandler, went to the Clippers. Pau Gasol went to the Hawks as expected (the trade wouldn’t be finalized until a couple of weeks after the draft, but it was a foregone conclusion on draft night), and then Eddy Curry to the Bulls.

Then rumors started swirling around on the radio. I was glued to WSCR on the radio and I was running back and forth between my radio (and computer) and TV. The Bulls were planning on making a trade for another lottery pick, likely giving up Elton Brand. I released all of the obscenities that I knew (and I spent a lot of time watching South Park, so there were many), and I started running around more frantically to see what was going on. Trade news would always break on the radio before breaking in the draft room, and they announced the trade on the radio: Elton Brand traded to the Clippers for Tyson Chandler and Brian Skinner. I figured there was still a chance it might not be true since it wasn’t announced by David Stern yet. I was holding out hope. Maybe Elton Brand wouldn’t be traded.

Then this happened.

Dammit. Expletive deleted. Expletive deleted. Expletive deleted. Expletive deleted.

The rest of the draft was kind of a blur. We picked Trenton Hassel in the second round, but by that point I didn’t care as much.

That night I hated the trade, I hated the draft, I hated Jerry Krause (long overdue, really), and on some level I hated my team for letting this happen. Yeah the Bulls got two of the top 4 picks in the draft, but we had to give up an incredibly solid, 20-10 basketball player in order to do it. A player that Hubie Brown (Basketball Elder [tm]) said on the radio was the only player on the Bulls who would be a starter on a second round playoff team, which was his barometer for being a player that mattered and was worth keeping. Now who did the team have to lean on? Chandler and Curry wouldn’t be any good for another few years. I wanted out of the lottery and back into the playoffs. There’s no worth in having the worst record in the league (as we did in 2000-2001) if you’re not even guaranteed a top 3 pick. There was way too much risk involved here with what would surely be at least two more future lottery picks and two big 18 year olds here.

I pulled up the draft grades on NBADraft.net later that week and saw the Bulls with an A+ and the Clippers with an F (the page doesn’t seem to exist anymore, but that’s what I remember) because the Bulls added two top tier talents and the Clippers didn’t get anything out of the draft except a pretty good power forward when they could have had a more impact player. That didn’t really make me feel any better, and I knew we would be right back in the lottery the next season. I was telling myself this wouldn’t be the case if we kept Elton Brand, but at that point I knew that it was all speculative anyway.

But at the same time, I think that’s the night where I learned to love the draft. Of course, the moves didn’t pan out for the Bulls, (unless you count trading Eddy Curry to the Knicks for a bunch of assets, then sure, it worked out fine) but that doesn’t mean that, at some level, it wasn’t exciting to see the moves, to see the backdoor wheeling-and-dealing, to see what an often misunderstood man in Jerry Krause always wanted to try to do: build a team from the ground up with two young, big cornerstones, and without Michael Jordan. It was a new beginning for the Bulls, and even amidst my rage that night I think I could see that, and could tell that, at the very least, it wasn’t nothing.

The draft is a night of new beginnings for some teams, and even with the shallow draft class, it certainly is a new beginning tonight for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and on some level the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves, just as it was in 2001 for the Bulls, which I thought sucked at the time because we just had a new beginning on draft night in 1999. These teams will look a lot different after the draft than they did before, which is both frightening and exciting. It’s frightening because it might not work out, but it’s also exciting because maybe it will.

I’m not going to do too much speculation because it’s hard to tell who’s going to be available after the 20th pick, and I haven’t followed the players that far down the board close enough. Irving will probably go number 1, it’ll be interesting to see if the Wolves trade the second pick, and of course, anything involving Jimmer Fredette will be…something. For the Bulls, however, I do know that tonight is not a new beginning. We’ll be lucky to pick three guys who can play on an NBA roster for more than 40 games. I’ll be happy if we can find one.

Enjoy the draft, love the draft. It could be the first day of the next chapter in the history of your favorite franchise. And hell, even if it’s not your favorite franchise, it’s fun to see the first day of the next chapter of someone else’s.  Tonight when that clock on NBADraft.net hits 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes and 0 seconds, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be on the clock. Oh boy, let’s go (this was supposed to be in comic sans, dammit wordpress).

–Brandon

 

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