In the Long Run, Draft Position Means Little, Opportunity Means Everything

Eric Weiss makes a great point on DraftExpress: in all the jockeying for draft position among agents and teams, what's best for the players long-term income and success is not being picked higher in the draft, but being in an environment where they get the opportunity to succeed.

It’s easy to assume that a player with great natural ability will automatically realize his potential in any situation given such basics as playing time and coaching. But, the game is so much more intricate than that, just as life is more complicated than simply waking up and driving to work in the morning. The interactions and relationships one has with coworkers, supervisors, teammates and coaches are going to be the foundation elements of happiness and productivity in the workplace.

Going off the logic that simple draft position and the talent that earned it was enough to determine success, what is the explanation for players such as Jermaine O’Neal, and Boris Diaw, who realized little of their ability with their initial teams, only to blossom in different circumstances. Truly, Darko Milicic and Kwame Brown have just started to give a glimpse of similar metamorphoses as players after failing to live up to expectation and buckling under the weight of lofty draft position.

The bottom line is this: Success is predicated on variables far beyond anyone’s ability to measure with complete accuracy. No person’s true worth in any sense of the word can be summed up by a number ranked 1 through 30. Rarely do players such as Tim Duncan and LeBron James come along. Most players rely on far more than physical talent to succeed, and even those such as James are special because of the so-called intangibles they possess. At the end of the day, players are remembered for what they accomplish after they’re drafted, and the number they got selected at holds little significance. It’s the situation one gets drafted into that allows for all the rest to unfold and that is a measure yet unquantifiable.