Even though it’s standard operating procedure for nearly every national site, I’ve never been a fan of grading drafts right after they occur. While it’s nice to think we know how a player’s college game will translate to the pros, there are too many factors and variable to be able to truly determine what type of pro these kids will be. Will injuries strike? Will the player improve on weaknesses? Will a teams’ system match what a player does well? Answers to these questions (and many more) can shape a career just as much as how often their jumper falls or how well they play defense.
However, if you go around the web, there’s also a different take on grading the draft; a take where the writer is asking “who won and who lost in this draft”? And while the answers to most of these questions are big name players or franchises that made especially questionable (or great) decisions on their draft picks, there’s also another type of “loser” that is consistently showing up on these lists.
Namely, the college player that left early that should have stayed in school.
And if you dig around the web a little, you’ll find that the Lakers’ selection at pick #41, Darius Morris, is one of the players appearing as a loser in this draft.
Darius Morris could have led Michigan toward a possible Big Ten title. Now he’ll have a hard time sticking with the Lakers.
Meanwhile, over at Yahoo!, Marc Spears includes Morris on his list of players that left school too early hoping for a first round selection, only to slip to the 2nd round where contracts aren’t guaranteed.
What no one is saying, however, is that Morris isn’t talented.
Furthermore, from my line of thinking, these critiques only further my belief that the Lakers potentially stole a real talent in this draft with the 41st pick. I mean, if many thought another year in college would have boosted Morris’ draft stock to the point that he would have landed in the 1st round next year (in what’s considered a much stronger draft by every expert), then I’m more than happy that the Lakers acquired such a talent when and where they did this year.
Obviously, there are no guarantees that Morris will develop. And Katz’ may prove to be right in his assessment that Morris doesn’t stick with the Lakers. However, the talent base is there and by all accounts so is the work ethic. If he progresses as naturally with the Lakers as he would have with the Wolverines, the Lakers may have found a keeper. And if that turns out to be the case, no one will be talking about how Morris was a loser in this draft but rather how the Lakers were winners.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, some of the skills that surely prompted the Lakers to draft Morris in the first place. Enjoy.