Those words have been sung more often than "New York, New York."
Josh McRoberts is a classic case of a player who supposedly was "picked apart" by scouts because he showed too much of his too-little game in a second season at Duke. Maryland's Terence Morris is the patron saint of this movement. And they're saying it about Georgetown's Roy Hibbert this year. It comes up so often that some people who really ought to know better — college coaches, for instance — begin to believe it.
This always has been garbage, of course. No player is a lottery pick until David Stern calls his name on draft night. Every year there are projections all over the Internet, and they can be entertaining and a tad informative, but none contains the degree of certainty that commonly is ascribed to them.
If you don't believe me, ask Texas A&M center DeAndre Jordan.
When this year's draft bonanza began, his name came up as one of the top 10 picks in nearly every mock draft in the basketball universe. When the real draft was held Thursday night, the Los Angeles Clippers took him with the 35th pick — the fifth player taken in the second round.
NBA scouts did not need for Jordan to return for another year at Texas A&M so they could "pick apart" his game. They pulled it off in about nine weeks. And though some noticed his "stock was dropping" as the draft approached, Jordan was widely accepted as a certain first-round selection in the minutes before Derrick Rose became the first overall pick.
So what happened? Jordan is 7-foot tall, an incredible physical specimen, a great leaper with long arms and impressive strength. That was supposed to be enough. But it wasn't. Teams thought it might help him to manage the transition to the league if he could, you know, play the game.
If there was any trend from this draft, it was that teams have decided the "potential" business is about as lucrative as the airline business. The first round is loaded with players who actually accomplished something before winding up on the NBA's doorstep.
Jordan has never been productive against quality competition. As it turned out, if he had gone back to A&M and demonstrated some level of improvement, some evidence he might one day present a challenge to Tim Duncan, Jordan might have become a real lottery pick instead of an imaginary one.
Jordan was not the only player who rushed into the draft on a diet of misinformation. These guys were the other big losers of the night:
Donte Green, Syracuse
If he'd stuck around with the Orange and shot the ball as his reputation suggested he could, he would have had a chance to go higher than 28th. Memphis couldn't wait to off-load him.
Darrell Arthur, Kansas
Maybe the buzz about a kidney issue caused him to fall to 27th, but passing on the chance to be a star as a KU junior probably cost him a few million.
Mario Chalmers, Kansas
He was so hot after pre-draft workouts he started showing up in some mock lotteries. Oops. Chalmers wound up as the 34th overall pick. Because he wouldn't have played point for KU next season, he'd never have gotten up to the very top of the draft. But he's too good to be a second-rounder.
Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
He was a first-team All-American and a Final Four hero. That couldn't even get him picked ahead of Walter Sharpe. A scout said last week that CDR's lack of athleticism needed to be countered by superior shooting ability, which it wasn't.
Trent Plaisted, BYU
There can't be anyone, not even in the Plaisted family, who thought this guy had a chance to land in the first round.
Bill Walker, Kansas State
I spoke to a coach just a couple weeks back who couldn't understand how Walker supposedly could have been a lottery pick a year ago and now he wasn't even a solid first-rounder. If that question wasn't answered adequately at the start of this piece, I will try again: Because Walker would not have been a first-round pick a year ago, because his lack of a consistent perimeter shot and shaky commitment to his teammates were impossible to miss.
You can't believe everything you read in a mock draft. But you can believe this.
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