The 2016 NBA Draft …

The NBA Draft is tonight. Over the past several weeks, there was some buzz around the question:

    Who will the Sixers take with the first pick? – – or alternatively – –

    Who will suffer the fate of having to play for the Sixers?

That “controversy” went the way of all flesh earlier this week when the Sixers announced that they will take Ben Simmons with the #1 pick. Simmons is a gifted player; if you happened to see the game he played against Kentucky when LSU beat the Wildcats handily, you know he has skills. People have questioned his “passion for the game”. Not having had the opportunity to do a Vulcan Mind Meld with the young man, I cannot assess his passions or his nonchalances. I do know that one aspect of his game that has yet to develop is an outside jump shot; basically, he is not much of a threat from outside 10 feet.

The Lakers have the second pick and they should take Brandon Ingram in that slot. Ingram is a better scorer than Simmons at this stage of their development but Ingram needs to add strength if he is going to survive in the NBA.

After those two picks, the Celtics are up – and the Celtics really control what is going to happen tonight. Boston has 8 picks in this two-round draft; three in the first round and 5 in the second round. What the Celtics do with all of those picks will determine how the draft goes.

I have a few comments about specific players – ones who get mentioned in reports about team workouts and the like. I will put them in alphabetical order lest anyone impute some meaning to the order here:

    Kris Dunn (Providence): I read one report that said he might go as high as #2 to the Lakers. I will be most surprised if that happens. In fact, after watching Providence play a couple of times last year, what I recall is that Dunn was clearly the best player on the Providence team and was a good defensive player; however, going #2 in the draft? Sorry, I do not see that or anything really close to that…

    Buddy Hield (Oklahoma): I said this several months ago and I’ll say it again here. He has a great outside shot and great range. However, he does not create shots for himself and his defense is mediocre. I think he might be this year’s version of Jimmer Fredette.

    Donta Sabonis (Gonzaga): I love this guy. No one can question his “passion for the game”. And he has what commentators like to call “a high basketball IQ”. He passes very well from the post; he rebounds well and he defends well.

    Denzel Valentine (Michigan St.): He has plenty of talent and he is a solid all-around player having had 4 years of top-flight coaching from Tom Izzo.

I have no doubts those 4 players will all go in Round 1 of the draft tonite so let me now turn to my “sleeper pick” for the draft.

    Fred Van Vleet (Wichita State): He is not the best “fill in the blank here” as compared to other guards in this draft. There are better shooters, passers, ball handlers etc. However, Van Vleet is very good at everything you want a guard to do – and some of that derives from the fact that like Denzel Valentine, he got 4 years of good coaching in college. I think that a team in need of a point guard – a backup for the first year or two to be sure – would do well to pick up this guy tonight.

There remains some doubt about the Russian track and field team’s participation in the Rio Olympics. The International Track Mavens suspended the Russian team because of widespread doping – and demonstrable involvement by the Russian Track and Field Overseers in providing the drugs and covering up any positive tests. It is a sordid mess indeed.

The IOC seemingly is wavering with regard to allowing the Russian track and field athletes to compete. Technically, the IOC lets the various international federations determine compliance with World Anti-Doping Agency rules and standards. Nonetheless, we all recognize that the IOC answers to a “higher authority” – that being the “highest bidder” for their favors. So, there remains some uncertainty.

This situation is akin to the one we often see with regard to colleges who violate NCAA rules so flagrantly that the NCAA has to impose sanctions on the sports program(s) involved. What happens there – and what seemingly is happening here – is that the real ne’er-do-wells are not really punished but a bunch of athletes are.

The real “bad guys” in the Russian Track and Field Fiasco are the people in the national organization that has been providing PEDs to athletes and then falsifying/covering up test results. Yes, the athletes have probably derived performance benefits from using whatever they tested positive for; but they were not the orchestrators nor the cover-up coordinators. Those miscreants will not be punished in any meaningful way should the Russian team be disinvited to the Rio Games.

Brad Rock found a way to inject a bit of humor into this messy situation with this recent comment in the Deseret News:

“Russia’s track team has been banned from the Olympics due to doping issues.

“IOC officials suspected testosterone was involved when they learned everyone on the women’s team refused to ask for driving directions.”

Finally, Brad Dickson had these two comments about the recent NFL Draft in the Omaha World-Herald:

“The Miami Dolphins are confident they got the best gas mask-wearing, bong hit-taking, accepted-money-from-Ole Miss player available in the draft.”

And …

“A Cleveland Browns fan started a Go Fund Me campaign to pay for therapy for the team’s draft picks. I have nothing to add here.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………