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Posted June 27, 2010
NBA Draft vs. NFL Draft
I was looking forward to seeing what happened during Thursday's 2010 NBA Draft. But if my friends had invited me out to go drinking or do something, I would have gladly skipped.
I just don't care that much about the NBA Draft, and it came as to no shocker that the 2010 NBA Draft was the most boring broadcast of the NBA Draft in its history.
There was no emotion. Stuart Scott tried his hardest to be an energetic host, but it just didn't matter. The NBA Draft for me has lost its luster. It's gone. I knew I wasn't alone when Bill Simmons mentioned repeatedly how bored he was on draft night.
How did we get here, and why is the NFL Draft far more entertaining than the NBA Draft?
First of all, the NBA Draft simply will never be able to match the impact that the NFL Draft has on the league. There are usually 3-4 extremely good players in every NBA Draft, but after that it's just a lot of good to below-average talent. The second round of the NBA Draft is like watching the fifth round of the NFL Draft - you don't watch it unless you are a Draftnik. You just don't.
The NFL Draft has far more impact on its teams. You might be able to get three or four impact players from an NFL Draft class, but in the NBA Draft you are lucky if you get one.
Of course, the NFL's biggest edge over the NBA is the complexity of the sport, which leads to a far more intriguing draft. There are simply more possibilities on what can happen because it's a more detailed game.
In basketball, we have five positions (PG, SG, SF, PF, C), but in football we have about 10 really important positions (QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DT, DE, LB, CB, S) and even these can be further broken down.
The NBA Draft is just too predictable. What will happen on Draft Day? Just go to our 2010 NBA Mock Draft and see for yourself. That mock nailed the first eight picks because there are fewer possibilities. It's easier to pin the needs down of the teams; there are less players targeted at high picks simply because of the nature of talent versus need; in the NFL Draft, need is a greater concern.
In basketball, it is much easier to trade players, but in football - forget it. Trades don't happen very often. Therefore, in the NFL Draft there is far less fluidity, which enables NBA front offices to just draft the best player on the board.
Another reason why the NFL Draft is more entertaining is the quarterback position. There is simply no parallel to basketball. No specific position gets more media coverage than the other - the only real bias there is the media and fans loves explosive guards, and this is why shoe companies cater to guards more so than forwards and centers.
Let's talk about the biggest thing lacking at the 2010 NBA Draft: energy. There was none. The fans didn't have it because the fans didn't care. Maybe the Knicks not having a first-round pick had something to do with that, but even if the Jets and Giants didn't have first-round picks, Radio City Music Hall would still be rocking.
The 2010 NBA Draft was simply lifeless. I don't think I can blame ESPN for anything. Jay Bilas is great on television (Chad Ford isn't). Stuart Scott is energetic and has personality. The interface for the NBA Draft is the same as the NFL Draft.
The biggest difference between the NFL Draft and the NBA Draft is that people really care what happens in the NFL. The league is more popular, and because of that there is simply more hype. ESPN starts hyping for the NFL Draft in January. They don't start hyping the NBA Draft until two weeks before. I didn't realize the NBA Draft was on Thursday until the day before.
I'm sure one can make the argument that the one-and-done rule really hurts the fans feeling a connection for NBA prospects, but I just don't think it matters THAT much. Most fans didn't have a clue who Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith was. Draftniks say they watched him, which is bulls***. Nobody watched Baylor play, but there is more interest in the NFL Draft, and because of this people familiarize themselves with unknown prospects more quickly.
However, the most underrated reason why the NFL Draft is what it is today is because of The Godfather: Mel Kiper Jr.
I took a public speaking course over the summer last year and there were a lot of Western Kentucky football players in my class. We talked a lot about the NFL and the NFL Draft, and a couple of them didn't like Kiper for some unknown reason.
I asked them, "What do you think of when you think of the NBA Draft?"
The football players shook their heads. Nothing came to mind.
Then I asked them, "What do you think of when you think of the NFL Draft? Mel Kiper Jr."
None of them disagreed. There is no Kiper for the NBA Draft. There is no headlining figure that you have been watching for years and years. Kiper was in the movie Jerry Maguire, and every (real) man that saw that movie knew exactly who the guy with the dark, slicked back hair and suit was when Maguire took Rod Tidwell down through the lobby.
Nobody brings the energy and passion that Kiper does to the NFL Draft. Todd McShay was very good on Day 3 of the draft, and I can't believe I am saying this, but if they don't bring him back for Day 1 in 2011 they are idiots. Yes, I paid McShay a compliment, but he deserved it - he saved Day 3 of the NFL Draft for ESPN.
However, McShay will never be Kiper. He has to be who he is, but he just won't be able to bring the same personality or image that Kiper does to the table.
If the NBA Draft had a recognizable figure whom you looked forward to watching, then we'd all be more interested. Even if you hate Kiper, you still watch him because hating him is entertainment for you.
The only way I'll watch the NBA Draft from now on is if I'm really bored. If I forgot to work out or go for a run earlier in the day, then I'll skip the NBA Draft. I just don't care.
The NFL Draft is better on every single level: fan interest, importance, hype, media coverage, tradition. As long as the NFL is doing great, the NFL Draft will always be fantastic.
Yes, even with Kiper gone, it will still be an amazing event because he's a big reason why we all love the NFL Draft in the first place - and this love will never, ever fade for any of us NFL Draftniks.