FreeDrafto Minus One
Any other year, and I’d least by now have circulated several strained attempts at guessing round one, usually with some Euro going twice as a nod to my own stupidity. On this very morning, however, I am here to proclaim to you that 2006 is indeed a mockless Draft, both in my house and down to its very restless core. Granted, rigid prediction around this day is always abject folly, especially once the lottery has swung shut its rusty doors of distinction. The rise of potential as a market force has made it even more impossible to guess what lurks inside general manager’s skull, as international composites and unformed Americans tempt subjectivity’s maniacal breeze. Still, between teams’ clear and present holes and some commonly-held hierarchic tiers, it’s usually possible to paint a picture of how things might reasonably go down.
I guess there’s some tempermental value in projecting exactly how teams will pick, brainlessness and all, yet for me that’s never been the point of a mock. We mock not to approximate the madness that is Draft Night, but to put forth our “expert” estimation of how, in a perfect, sane world, the whole would be smelt. The cult of draft devotion involves not a fetishization of how retarded front offices can be, but a chance to build a self-contained, rational universe, in which you play the role of a league’s worth of perfectly sane GM’s. It’s a devilish puzzle, an attempt to create a logical structure while taking into account the mutually inventive variables of talent, fit, and draft position. Whether you do so on behalf of your home team, or as one simply prone to marvel at the crystalline beauty of it all, caring about 6/28 is idealism, plain and simple.
Which brings me, then, to this blessed anum currently upon us. In 2005, I heaved with the giggles when it began to look like picks fifteen through thirty-two might be interchangeable (no link; it reads like shit). How young and spritely I was then, to have nurtured this dream despite its relative pettiness! That may have been a particularly turbulent crop of prospects, but it still sported several future stars and a host of well-groomed men destined for stability. As I write to you from a mere four days before the saintly jump-off, anyone who says their draft board makes sense is a liar with no cause to be pure. It’s virtually foolish to try and unlock the mystery of what’s coming up on Wednesday, since there’s very little sensible raw material to work with. Depending on who you listen to, teams are all equally excited about or equally nonplussed by everyone slated for the top ten; almost everyone, or no one, in the lower first round could make a last minute ascent; and perhaps owing to the success of teams like the Mavs and Suns, suddenly “need” rings slightly hollow as a driving concept.
This is indeed a Draft of Discovery, beginning with the way one feels compelled to approach the honorable pastime of obsessing over it. At the risk of sinking the mansion, in this case "discovery" means seeing just how egregiously and mightily this most sacred of nights can fall victim to GM’s whims and neuroses, as they themselves have been cut loose from the same fundamental forces that govern our attempts to think for a perfect version of them. I’m making no mocks for the simple fact that, as drafts go, this one will be composed almost entirely of drama, silliness, and questions that will take years to resolve themselves. I’ll even suppose that it will be hard to judge them on the spot, as few pieces in this grand befuddlement have enough shiny facets to mean much of anything; few of us will be able to, in any lively manner, spend the hours immediately following debating who should’ve gone to whom and when, in the same way that all flour is good food, all dirt a liability, and all eggs a credit to humanity.
So much as the ’05 Finals were a respite from all things fun, human, and transfigurative, I invite ye to look upon this draft as one beyond reason or logic, one in which the full spontaneous, human hi-jinx will light the way as never before. We know few answers, but have an unprecedented appreciation of just how many goofy questions hang thick in the air. Perhaps rather than craft a kingdom of sound thinking, we should look upon a few brave actors as they dare to brave the most unforgiving rapids of high-stakes talent evaluation, poised as never before to be swallowed alive by an endless chain of doubt. The glory will lie not in its confirmation or defiance of our well-laid roadmaps, but instead in these men's insistence that something altogether scarier and more primal sometimes lines the seat of the basketball mind.