With the conclusion of the NHL Playoffs last night, we have but one event left before we descend into the deep, dark abyss that is summer sports. Our one last hurrah before we are subject to two-hour Baseball Tonight nightmares every night is the NBA draft. It is an event that can change a franchise’s fortunes for decades unlike any other in sports. Basketball is so unique in the sense that a single player can change a team from a doormat to a contender.
With the success of the Spurs this year, it has never been clearer that these franchise-altering players can come from anywhere in the draft. They may be college superstars like Tim Duncan, virtual unknowns such as Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, or somewhere in between like Kawhi Leonard. By far the most intriguing of these categories is the second because it is the one ever fan dreads the most. No one wants to hear their team pick that mid-major kid who has barely been mentioned by analysts and never played on national TV. Even worse is the completely unknown EuroLeague player. In fact, the only time drafting a EuroLeaguer was when the Wizards drafted Jan Vesely started making out with his smokeshow girlfriend and claimed Blake Griffin was the “American Jan Vesely.” We all know how that turned out.
Not many from either category have a long shelf-life in the NBA these day but each team is still willing to take a gamble on the off chance that they find that player that is the missing link between them and a championship. Here are a few of these unknowns that have made it onto mock drafts: