Casspi? It can’t be! (International vs. America debate – Introduction)
NQTC Reader/Contributor Gavin will be doing a 4-part series leading up to Thursday’s draft discussing, among other things, the pros and cons of drafting an international player. Enjoy!
The Chicago Bulls organization has never been afraid of drafting international players, and as of a few weeks ago some pundits opined that the Bulls might add another name to the historic list of drafted internationals: Kukoc, Tarlac, Duenas, Bagaric, Sefolosha (immediately swapped Carney for him), and Asik (immediately traded for from Portland).
After seeing articles like this one in the Sun-Times (raising the possibility that we might see the Bulls drafting Omri Casspi with one of their first round picks) it got me thinking of the whole idea of drafting international players. Sure these picks are great for a GM to sell to their fan base, explaining that the team is getting a “fundamentally sound” and “unselfish” player who they can hide overseas for a couple years for extra seasoning while saving some cap room to sign that key American free agent you are much more familiar with immediately after the draft. A number of questions came to mind as I contemplated the Bulls drafting Stormin’ Norman’s favorite Israelite, the Maccabi Tel Aviv product who is working on an answer to Kareem’s signature move which he calls the “Hebrew Hook.”
These questions included: 1) How many of these foreign draft picks actually get signed by the team that drafts them? 2) If they do get signed, how many make it onto a roster? 3) How long does it usually take for these players to make it to the NBA, or in other words how much “seasoning” do they get before they are ready? 4) Is Fran Vasquez then officially over-seasoned? 5) For as much as international players are hailed for their sound fundamentals honed in team-focused basketball academies rather than individual-focused AAU tournaments, does that skill set prepare them any more for the NBA than going to a U.S. college for a few years (a question that Memphis is undoubtedly asking in its analysis of Ricky Rubio and Hasheem Thabeet)?
Over the next few days leading up to the 2009 NBA Draft we’ll look at previous drafts and look to answer these questions and others that pop up, while also offering some advice to Gar Foreman and the rest of the Chicago Bulls’ braintrust. (Psst… Gar… don’t draft Omri Casspi. Stick to the Blueprint. Say it with me and Commissioner Stern: “the Chicago Bulls with the 26th draft in the 2009 NBA draft select Wayne Ellington.” Trust me, we won’t be angry with you.) (That’s a USA jersey, he’s wearing. His nation wants him Gar. If you don’t pick him, the terrorists win.)