NBA Draft Shouldn't Overlook Da'Sean Butler
Today's medical reports have told us that West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler, likely winner of Most Gruesome Final Four Moment this year, has a torn ACL in his left knee, along with a mild MCL sprain and two bone bruises. This will mean anywhere from two to four months of post-surgery rest and rehab before Butler can seriously entertain the idea of playing basketball again.
ESPN college basketball analyst Pat Forde has said that, because Butler will not be able to work out for teams at the combine or participate in summer leagues, it is a sure thing that he will not be drafted this summer.
I am hard pressed to agree with Forde, largely because of how many other poor players have passed through the draft. From 2000-05, there were 349 players drafted, and fully 30 percent of them (106) were out of the league completely within three years.
Only seven players taken in the bottom half of the second round over that time have made any impact in the NBA: Trevor Ariza, Flip Murray, Luis Scola, Kyle Korver, Mo Williams, and Michael Redd.
Just as many players from the top of the draft flopped, like Darko Milicic, Zarko Cabarkapa, or even Fran Vasquez, who was drafted fifth by the Orlando Magic in 2005 and never played a single minute for their organization.
Given all of those failures, I find it very hard to believe that a team would not draft a player who could at the very least be a productive regular 6th man just because he got injured.
An ideal comparison is probably Kenyon Martin. A star forward at the University of Cincinnati, Martin broke his leg in the Conference-USA tournament. It cost his team a No. 1 seed in the tournament, and he was down for several months recovering.
Martin was still drafted first overall that summer, and has turned in a respectable 10 year career in spite of several subsequent injuries. Butler doesn't quite have Martin's size, but is just as aggressive, and his scoring and rebounding numbers over his NCAA career show it.
He may not have the hoopla of a John Wall or Evan Turner, but Butler could be just as productive at the pro level. Mock drafts have shown him getting taken anywhere from 21st to 45th (middle third of the draft), and I see no reason for that value to change simply because he needs time to recover from an injury.