NBA Draft Time Machine: Volume One

Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; NBA commissioner Adam Silver addresses the crowd before the start of the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; NBA commissioner Adam Silver addresses the crowd before the start of the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft is a wondrous event. Every year, we get to see 30 kids secure guaranteed contracts, becoming millionaires in front of our very eyes. Having said that, it’s fun to get into our virtual time machine and look back at some of the coolest, best, and funniest moments that have graced our television sets throughout the years. 

This will be a running occasional feature, where we will use the glorious powers of YouTube to go back in time and see some of our favorite players of yesteryear and find out where they will spend the first (in some cases) ten minutes of their career. To the Google machine we go!

Scottie Pippen: Fifth pick in the 1987 NBA Draft

“Scott” Pippen was something of a surprise pick at fifth overall in 1987, coming from Central Arkansas University after experiencing a seven inch growth spurt in college. It was such a surprise that they didn’t even know he went by Scottie. Also, one has to note how Scott’s voice sounds eerily similar to Dave Chappelle’s impression of Tiger Woods in the racial draft, easily the greatest draft satire of this or any other time period.

And it looks like they’re not entirely sure…what Pippen is. The player they compare him to is DENNIS RODMAN. Seeing as how there is no universe where Pippen is even remotely comparable to Rodman, I’ll just assume that NBA Draft scouting by the media has gotten better by leaps and bounds. We’ll probably enjoy seeing Larry Conley’s prognostications quite a bit during this series.

Let’s move forward in time for our next video to another dynamic defensive wing.

Shane Battier: Sixth pick in the 2001 NBA Draft

It’s hard to believe that Battier is already retiring after just being drafted in the 2000s. This video is just chalked full of little gems, such as Charles Barkley being excited that one of the players drafted can legally drink or him ribbing Kenny Smith for the UNC-Duke rivalry not actually being a rivalry.

But the real action starts at about the 1:30 mark, where we not only hear Hubie Brown discuss Battier’s tremendous package, but we also get to see a younger, more fully-folicled Ernie Johnson. Then at the 1:45 mark, they even show a video of Battier doing a choreographed cheer routine on video. Battier finishes off the video by being the only draftee to ever use the word “archaic in his post-draft interview. This guy probably could have stepped into a broadcast booth at the age of 22 and been better than Jon Barry.

We’re actually going to stay in the same draft, just skip a pick, and take a look at Cleveland’s favorite son. No, I’m not talking about LeBron James.

DeSegana Diop: Eighth pick in the 2001 NBA Draft

First off, it’s painfully obvious none of the guys on the panel know anything about Diop. It’s really rather remarkable the development we’ve seen in media knowledge about the draft in just 13 years. Charles Barkley, who now covers the NCAA Tournament while still not watching a game of college (or high school in this case) basketball, says that Diop could be another Hakeem Olajuwon. Hubie then says maybe the Cavaliers have grabbed another Mutombo. Because you know, you have to compare African guys to other African guys. Well, at least they didn’t write about 600 words saying that he is the only player alive with enough potential to be better than Shaquille O’Neal.

Needless to say, Diop never turned out to be anything nearing that. But he did have some pretty cool nesting dolls made out of his likeness. Next, we flash forward to 2007, when a tall Chinese center apparently took Hollywood by storm.

Yi Jianlian: Sixth pick in 2007 NBA Draft

There’s just so much insanity to unpack here. First, Fran Fraschilla compares Yi to 50 Cent, which, uhh, what? I don’t even know what “he’s hip-hop” means as far as an NBA draft prospect is concerned. I think I’m going to try to work that into every evaluation I can from now on.

Then, Andy Katz tells us that Yi is a perfect fit for Milwaukee despite the fact that the team has never seen him before. Anytime you can trust Del Harris and his non-existent work as a draft evaluator to make your pick for you, you’ve gotta do it. Seriously, these are things that would NEVER fly today, and they were just happening seven years ago. The level to which the NBA’s scouting system has improved is quite literally immeasurable due to technology.

Finally, we have the interview, where Yi gets to show off some of the hip-hop that Fran told us about. Or, well, he just tells us about attending the Shrek and Pirates of the Caribbean premieres, and how much he likes American food compared to its Chinese counterpart. I feel reasonably confident that his career would have gone 72 percent better had he allowed Michael Bolton to sing Stuart Scott a song about the Pirates of the Caribbean movies after being drafted.

We’ll end each one of these posts discussing memorable draft suits of the past, and rate them on a scale from Drew Gooden to Andrew Wiggins, or the Gooden-Wiggins continuum. Our first guest here is a long white pinstriped suit.

Tim Thomas: Seventh pick in 1997 NBA Draft

So, uhhh. That’s a lot of white. A nearly blinding amount of white, actually. Then there is the shiny shirt underneath with no tie. It’s not a great look by any means, although I do think this has been slightly overrated as a terrible draft day suit over the years. It doesn’t help that it’s probably two sizes too long. I’d rate it closer to the Gooden side of the continuum, at about a 4.


Do you have any other favorite draft day scenes? Let us know and we’ll profile them in the future.

Sam Vecenie

Sam Vecenie is the editor-in-chief of Upside & Motor, as well as an editor at Hardwood Paroxysm. He likes to spend endless hours watching random NCAA game film, and scouring the internet for international basketball. You can find his other work at SBNation's college basketball platform.