Let's fix NBA Draft Coverage.

Surely we can crowdsource a better broadcast. I will be happy to sit in the truck cueing up video clips, and you can play the producers.

What problems did we see last night, and how can they be fixed?

Let's put this in perspective. We knew going in that ESPN's draft show would be bad, but somehow last night managed to fall below the standard of Stephen A. Smith's legendary rant against Portland in 2006 – or for that matter his complete recanting of that rant the following year on those same air (uh, cable) waves.

As obnoxiously wrongheaded as Stephen A's bloviation was, there, it at least had shape. He made an argument about a team's overall approach. Though his argument was utterly wrong, even that effort represented a significant step up from what we watched last night. Stephen A's eyes were not glazed over. He thought about what teams might be trying to do. 

Here are some problems I see. What are your solutions? Want to kick mine around?



We never even see team depth charts!

(Seriously, what the heck? How little effort did you want to show, here?)

Come up with an easily-readable way to display each team’s depth chart.

Colored names can indicate players who may leave in free agency or who’ve been added earlier tonight via the draft . (To add a little granularity, perhaps we should show players added at the trading deadline last year too.)

"This is how the Wizards’ roster is changing" is the goal, here. Show us how each team’s roster is being shaped. It’s a draft.

The production never even shows us a usable list of remaining players.

Jay Bilas’s Top 10 remaining prospects, for example, doesn’t give us any hint when a team "reaches" because we can’t see how far down our expert voice (such as he is) thought that player should have gone.

As each player’s chosen, give us a quick consensus list of some kind and show the name being graphically removed from that list.

We could also do "tiers" of talent, so as to show if someone generally expected to go in the second tier of the draft is slipping in that way.

(No, there’s no magic way to make "the definitive list." This is a third party broadcast, though, so you can make it any way you want. That’s how the Jay Bilas list works, anyway.)

Other graphic improvements:

For example: three-way trades need to be shown in a way that quickly, clearly describes incoming and outgoing assets for each team. Just listing what each team doesn’t let us see how our team made out very easily at all.

Hire a fricking graphics specialist with an independent mind, ESPN.

Sweet goodness, how is it possible for the broadcast to fall so badly behind trades as the evening goes by??

Our talking heads badly need specific assignments, one of which obviously would need to be "Following trades underway/rumored." (See below.)

I would strongly recommend changing out at least two of the talking heads for people with specific expertise. One of those areas has to be Rumor Mongering. Get a Notes… columnist who’s willing to go on-air. How hard is that?

Our four talking heads are exhausted and put out little effort past the middle of the first round.

They need something to do, the poor people. Break up the way you cover things so that each person has a different set of stuff to talk about, and then spread that information out into different pieces of your set. Let them sit and stand and walk around, and interact with screens.

The coverage completely fails to reflect different perspectives on how talent is evaluated.

For example, last night at #4 overall Cleveland chose Tristan Thompson – a clear case where numbers-mindedness strongly influenced the pick. Hollinger had Thompson rated at #3 overall, but a team not seeing things in that way would have said that was at least a modest reach. Nobody on our broadcast seemed to have a clue about that, despite that fact that Hollinger himself is employed by ESPN. There was no meaningful discussion of the move, which was among the most interesting of the night. Gah.

Again, split up assignments. Choose your talking heads based on their ability to represent different perspectives on talent.

Hollinger, or someone like him who’s good on the air, should represent the numbers-grinding perspective. Somebody else should stand up for the college scouting world. (No. No, that does not mean Dick Vitale.)

ESPN did have a specific person chosen to speak for international scouting last night. Frankly it struck me as more a reflection of how little effort the usual speakers wanted to make in that area. But that’s how you need to approach this.

There is nothing going on in the draft room!

When New York area fans acting like buffoons represents exciting action on screen, you have trouble.

There are some tables with oddly static basketball centerpieces, some bottles of Gatorade (apparently to be displayed, not drunk by nervous families, or so we’re told), and some mugs. People sit waiting at empty formal tables.

Messy ribs. Shellfish requiring hammers to open.

I half-kid. But how about this: Let the draftees request some sort of favorite meal for the evening. "You made it. This is like kids getting their favorite food on their birthdays." Give us something to reflect the individuality of the players.

Or leave them at home, and have local TV do a feed. Show us the different neighborhoods kids came from. Show us the park where they played when they were little, with their friends playing pick-up in the background and then – the Stern call!

Do something to put some life into this thing.


Your suggestions.

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