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Outside » Outside Features

Hitting the Lottery?: Congrats NBA fans, here's a bunch of draftees you've never heard of

The MBA draft turned trendy with the youngest players becoming preference along with many Europeans.



Few sport-related events are as bizarre and endlessly confusing as the NBA Draft, which comes just a few weeks after the end of the nipple-twistingly long NBA season, at the precise moment when the needle on most fans' Give-a-Damn-o-Meter is fluttering between "whatever" and one of those thumbs down/fart sound combinations that was the ultimate dis of 1998.

There was a time when the NBA Draft was exciting, or at the very least, topical. It was a graduation of sorts for the best college players to cross the bridge from undergraduate poverty to instant millionaire status as fans proudly welcomed whatever All American their team of choice had selected from the pool. Then, it changed about a decade ago with the influx of straight-outta-high-school hotshots expediting the process by foregoing college all together. Also, people in countries most Americans (sadly) had never heard of started playing basketball - and getting damn good at it, too.

It's not that the players aren't as athletic or talented - they probably are - the problem is that the draft is hardly the showcase of household-name college players it once was. You see, it's not all that fun to sit and wait for slimy ol' David Stern to come to the podium and slap a ball cap on your squad's newest acquisition when you've never heard of the guy. And that's exactly what happened last week when the Utah Jazz used their third overall pick to bring aboard... Enes Kanter? You remember him from last year's Final Four, right? No, you don't. The 19 year old is from the delicious country of Turkey and tried to play some college basketball for King Calipari at Kentucky, but that attempt was thwarted by NCAA officials, so he mostly just lounged around in sweat pants all season.

You could dismiss this seemingly odd pick as merely the Jazz following Utah state laws that requires there be no less than four inordinately odd-looking white men on the roster at all times, but the Jazz weren't the only ones to go young, international and perhaps risky this year. The Raptors followed the Jazz two picks later by selecting Lithuanian seven-footer Jonas Valanciunas. There were plenty other Europeans in the first round, but the college selections are just as unproven, for the most part. No one even knew much about Kyrie Irving, other than that he was injured for most of his only college season and wears an excellent sweater vest.

But NBA owners, like Hugh Hefner, want the youngest, most allegedly talented stars on their team, no matter how unproven they might be. While this trend continues to prove largely unsuccessful, it hasn't stopped anyone. I mean, can anybody tell me what happened to supposed game changers Sebastian Telfair (who starred in his own ESPN documentary) and Darko Milicic (who starred in a YouTube video in which he threatened to perform unspeakable sex acts on a referee's mother and/or daughter)? They're at the end of the bench in Minnesota. For real. It doesn't get much lower than that.

But what about the big stars of March Madness, like Kembe Walker and Jimmer Fredette? They went at numbers nine and ten, respectively, about 25 minutes after most basketball fans with half a life had flipped over to see someone punch themselves in the nards on America's Got Talent or Cougar Town. Now, I'm not some sort of paranoid xenophobe. I don't mind foreign players and I'm not an ageist, either. I like young kids and their sexy cell phones and all that. I'm just wondering why they even put this thing on television. I mean, was it really worth missing that Cougar Town rerun to find out that the team currently known as the Sacramento Kings (for at least another year) selected some guy named Bismack Biyoba? Courtney Cox needs all the support she can get, you know?

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