FORT WAYNE – No, this is not the NFL draft. Lets get that straight right off.
The NBA draft is not Kiper and McShay and all that Warp Factor Nine analysis, and it does not have the half-life of plutonium. A child conceived in the first round will not be old enough by the sixth round to go to the Nuggets, the way it sometimes seems in the NFL draft. Mainly this is because the NBA draft has no sixth round.
No, sir. Its two rounds, one night, 60 picks. Short and sweet. Speed dating as opposed to the Courtship of Eddies Father.
What this means for Deshaun Thomas tonight is he wont have to wait until hes on Social Security to find out where hes going, even if he might have to wait longer than hed like.
Most of the draft nerds have the former Mr. Basketball from Bishop Luers going anywhere from 37th to 50th, which means early- to late-second round. And thats probably about where he should go, all things considered fairly.
Turn an objective eye on him, and what you see is a 6-foot-7, 230-pound tweener whos probably not big enough for a power forward and likely not athletic enough to be a full-time small forward. Which means whoever drafts him is going to have to figure out a way to hide him at times, especially on defense.
He is not Victor Oladipo, a projected top-five pick with major upside whos the object of a lot of overheated affection right now, judging by all the trade talk swirling around him. Hes not Cody Zeller, a projected top-10 pick wholl likely find his niche in the NBA as a power forward. Hes not Otto Porter or Nerlens Noel or Ben McLemore or Trey Burke – or even Alex Len, the Maryland 7-footer whom no one outside College Park had heard of until four or five days ago, when he suddenly became the sexy pick to go No. 1.
Thomas isnt any of those. His genius, and the reason you pick him, is that he can score on anyone. Sag off him on the perimeter, and hell arc-weld you with threes. Play him tight, and he can get to the rim on you.
He is, as one draft analyst points out, a useful second-unit weapon – a guy like, say, former Providence star Ryan Gomes, a six-year pro who played in Germany last season but whos started 371 NBA games and to whom Thomas has been compared.
And, yeah, OK, so useful second-unit weapon doesnt quite have the ring to it of the next LeBron James. But every NBA club needs one. And people have made a living in the League – a remarkably healthy living – on much less.
Maybe Thomas is not Oladipo or Porter or Noel, but hell likely be breathing some pretty rarefied air a few hours from now. All the years theyve played high school basketball in this town, after all, and it takes you about 30 seconds to name the guys from Fort Wayne whove been taken in the NBA draft.
Youve got Willie Long (1971) and Walter Jordan (1978) and Clyde Dickey (1974), first off. Youve got Tracy Foster (1987). Youve got Jim Master (1984), Eugene Parker (1978), Tom Baack (1968), Tom Bolyard (1963), Mike McCoy (1963), John Flowers (1986)
And now, likely, Deshaun Thomas.
Who averaged right at 20 points and six rebounds for Ohio State last year.
Who led the Big Ten in scoring in 2012-13.
Who, despite the book on him – a less-than-athletic, less-than-stellar defensive presence – was better at both ends at times than the book suggested.
Time for the next chapter.