Today is NBA Draft night. Usually it's not a huge deal for Maryland fans, but there's a little bit of intrigue this time around: just how highly will the Terrapins' former star big man, Jordan Williams, go? Williams famously left Maryland a year early despite not having a particularly NBA-friendly game, and his departure has been a point of contention for Terp fans ever since.
Frankly, I haven't seen, and probably never will see, the point to the debate. Jordan made his decision. He's not a guaranteed first-round pick, but that doesn't mean he didn't do what he thought was best for him. By going pro, he gave up the chance of being a legend, like Greivis Vasquez. But he's still a Terp, and he still gave us this, so I wish him the best of luck tonight. Because, hey, he might need it.
It's apparently now common knowledge that Jordan's not a first-round pick. Chad Ford has him going to the Wizards in the second round, at #34. Jonathan Givony, probably the best mocker in the business, has him going to the Hornets at #45. So does WalterFootball. Other mocks, like Sporting News' and The Hoops Report's, don't have a second round, but don't have him going in the first. It's looking like a lock that, unless some team unexpectedly, quietly fell in love with him, Jordan won't be getting that guaranteed first round money.
Williams was generally considered a fringe first-round pick, and a lot of mocks had him going to Boston at #25 early on. His strong performances at early workouts supported that. But he apparently started to wear down and has been sliding down the draft boards lately. That stands in stark contrast to Vasquez, who was pegged at his eventual #28 slot more and more as draft day neared.
Of course, that doesn't mean Jordan won't go in the first round - it only takes one team - or, if he doesn't, that he made the wrong decision necessarily. A lot of people said that if Jordan returned to school, he'd guarantee himself a first round spot. I thought that argument was faulty. He might guarantee himself a first round grade, but if he couldn't get into the first round in the weakest draft ever, there's no way he'd hack it when Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Terrence Jones, Jon Henson, Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb - want me to go on? - put their hats in the ring next season.
And a second round draft pick doesn't mean he won't have a career in the lig. As Bill Simmons so often says, you only need one elite skill to stick around in the Association, and Jordan might be the best area rebounder in the draft. That should keep him on the end of an NBA bench for a decade or so, while some more "talented" guys end up in Europe. ESPN, in fact, considers him a great buy in the second round.
Good luck to Jordan. I'll be watching.
This can serve as an open thread for tonight's draft, if anyone's interested. Jan Vesely clips, anyone?