Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Weekly What-if

As a certified arm-chair NBA second-guesser, the what ifs of the world are my expertise. Not just what iffing about loses, but about anything. So, in my first installment: What if Yao hadn't been able to enter the 2002 NBA Draft, and would have instead gone the next year?

If you've read Yao's book, Yao: A Life in Two Worlds, you'll know that it was extremely difficult for him to to enter the Draft and then go to the States. It was very possible that he could have been delayed for a year, and then entered in the 2003 draft. If so, the Cavs would have had a choice between Lebron James and Yao Ming. As a GM, who would you choose? Both are players that are very, very rare. To get one is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, literally. Yao has extraordinary skills for 7-6 guy. Lebron has amazing skill and maturity for an 18-year old guy who's 6-8. Two, almost unique athletes in one draft. Who would you take?

I think that if the Cleveland GM had to choose, he would still take Lebron. Lebron would only be 18, and Yao would already be 22. But then there's another what if. If Yao was there for the taking, then the Pistons would probably have taken him second instead of Darko. What if Yao was playing for the Pistons and starting? Imagine the Pistons lineup, and then put Yao in at center. That would be a team not just with defense, but with a star center to anchor them on offense. I'd bet anything they would have beaten the Spurs in the 2005 Finals, and probably have gone to the Finals this year as well. But, of course, that didn't happen.

Just something to mull over.

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