Back in the real world, LeBron James will be the first
pick even if the team that holds it secretly thinks
heís the second coming of LaRue Martin, because the
merchandise sales and sellouts alone will guarantee a
financial windfall to whomever drafts him.
But if we think about a parallel universe where all we
care about is wins and losses, my colleague Stewart
Mandel raises an interesting question: Is LeBron James
still the right pick?
Sure, he has his faults. His jumper is erratic, he
hasnít faced NBA-level competition (including those
practices with the Cavaliers), and he doesnít fill a
Center Darko Milicic, the likely No.
2 pick, can put a check mark next to all three of
It doesnít matter, because of everything James brings
to the table. Ball handling. Passing. Superior
A 6-foot-8, 240-pound frame that is
already more chiseled than that of many NBA vets. And
by all accounts, heís got the love.
Compare him to other players of similar size and
skill, and thereís only two that fit the bill: Grant
Hill and Magic Johnson.
Heís as athletic as Hill was
pre-ankle-surgery, and like Hill he struggles with the
J. But heís also an inch taller and 20 pounds stronger.
Magic couldnít shoot when he entered the league
either, and he was an inch taller than LeBron.
didnít have nearly the hops and shot a flat-footed
push shot; LeBron will be much more effective getting
his shot off in traffic.
So basically, weíre looking at a guy who is somewhere
between Grant Hill and Magic Johnson -- at age 18.
Which means, in two words, draft him.
not be the next Jordan, and Mr. Mandel has aptly
pointed out some of the reasons why.
But heís a heck
of a lot closer than anybody else.