Posted on: June 25, 2009 2:10 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2009 2:49 pm

Room To Grow

This rookie class has a very tough act to follow considering what we saw last year.

But tonight can only guarantee one thing, David Stern will stand on a podium and shake a bunch of hands.

Not that it makes the draft an unimportant event. It's still something I'll be watching. And I'll hear a bunch of opinions regardless of whether or not my baller friends are actually clairvoyant.

I'm sorry if you came here for predictions. But I just don't want to look back on this 20 years from now and feel like one the guys who told Portland to pick Bowie over Jordan. Even though Bowie averaged 10 points/8 rebounds/3 assists/2.7 blocks as a rookie. He also made the all-rookie first team in a draft class that had Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Sam Perkins, Kevin Willis, Otis Thorpe, Alvin Robertson, and Carl Lewis (even though he didn't achieve anything with a basketball).

And then there's that ridiculous 2003 draft class. 

Which had this 7-foot guy that now plays for Memphis who shook Stern's hand before Melo, Bosh, Wade, Hinrich, Kaman, Ford, Jarvis Hayes, Mickael Pietrus, David West, Dahntay Jones, Boris Diaw, Sasha Pavlovic, Travis Outlaw, Kendrick Perkins, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Kapono, Luke Walton, Josh Howard, Steve Blake, Willie Green, Zaza Pachulia, Mo Williams, James Jones, Udonis Haslem (undrafted). 

But it's not like the Blazers in 1984 sat around watching the young Tar Heel get above the rim and declared he wasn't for real. They had this guy named Clyde Drexler who is one of the best shooting guards of all time. Jordan did more in his career but would you have seen that coming the moment MJ first shook Stern's hand? Mind you, Jordan's hand had yet to be on the label of large gatorade bottles.

But Jordan was somebody, Jordan made a serious impact the instant he introduced himself to the hardwood but nobody predicted that in the mid-90's he'd be teaming up with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck to beat a team of "Monstars" that leeched away the skills of Barkley, Ewing, Larry Johnson and Muggsy Bogues. 

Portland just felt like the Bowie was the better fit.
An inside presence could develop and grow to help the Blazers play the paint.

Just like how Darko was expected to learn to be a benefit to the rising rotation of Prince, Billups, Rip, and Ben Wallace. I think that rotation won the championship that year too. I'm not denying that it was a waste to pick up Darko but Joe Dumars ended the 2004 season not with regret but with another ring on another finger.

Who knew?

Some mock drafts had Maciej Lampe going as high as #5 in the 2003 draft... Good thing Miami thought otherwise.

Dwayne Wade was a spectacular pick that continues to bless the city of Miami. But even I had my doubts. I mean, the Heat were in need of a center to ease the pain in Brian Grant's knees and a true point guard to distribute the ball around. A declining Eddie Jones and a sophomore Caron Butler were the leading scorers. They had Rod Strickland, Travis Best, and sometimes even Eddie House (when he couldn't shoot 3's) bringing the ball up and we drafted a 6'4 COMBO GUARD?

That's right, I'm here in the wonderful world of sports journalism to tell you that I was wrong.

And I'm glad I was wrong. It ended up being one of the best years to watch the Miami Heat. And Dwayne Wade promises to bring more.

Tonight, we'll see selections, handshakes, and maybe a few cases of bad suit selection. But even bad suit selection doesn't predict bad shot selection.

I'll be watching the draft. I'll be watching the trades. And I'll be making an opinion.

Blake Griffin will be given the responsibility to uplift the Clippers and Ricky Rubio will have to unleash his insane ball-handling and behind-the-back passing beyond YouTube. But no one's success is guaranteed.
Tonight, these guys that get to step on the stage and shake Stern's hand are promised a new life and a new opportunity. But with that power comes the responsibility to keep the body and mind in shape and discover new dimensions.

So I can't come here and tell you how everyone is going to handle their job.
There's just so much work that has yet to be done.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com