Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

On this KIA-SMB Rookie Draft Controversy: Who wants the No.1 pick?

Who wants the No.1 pick?
by rick olivares

By the time you read this, the annual Philippine Basketball Association Rookie Draft is history (this column is written on a Sunday morning because of deadlines). It gives newbies hope in fulfilling their pro basketball dreams while it causes jitters among fringe players who conference after conference look to land a roster spot.

Now in the 32- year history of the PBA, the big man – power forward or center – has more oft than not, been the top pick of the rookie draft. Twenty-three times to be exact.

Like its NBA counterpart, practically almost all top picks play for the squad that drafted them. That changed in 1998 when Shell drafted Danny Ildefonso then sent him to San Miguel for Noy Castillo. Imagine what it would have been like had Danny paired with Benjie Paras on that Shell team? As it happened, Shell faltered and eventually left the league while Ildefonso led SMB to a bunch of titles and was named one of the league’s greatest players of all time.

There next time controversy reared its head was 11 years later when I broke the news that Japeth Aguilar did not want to suit up for Burger King as he preferred to stay with the national team! He did sign with Burger King, played one game was it? Then was traded away to TNT then released to the national team.

In 2010, Air21 selected Nonoy Baclao but traded him away after one conference! Yet after a season and half, he was brought back by Air21!

Then in 2015 Rookie Draft, BlackWater traded its spot to TNT which in turn selected Moala Tautuaa. In that same draft, Mahindra (as KIA was known then) selected Troy Rosario but sent him also to TNT.

In all these instances, I had to wonder what is going on? Don’t these teams want to win? With KIA, that’s two consecutive years they are trading away their top pick (not necessarily the number one selection). I do not for one minute buy their reasoning -- assuming that Christian Standhardinger is the top pick – that he does not fit their so-called unconventional system. Then if you don’t want Standhardinger, then get Kiefer Ravena. Or someone in the draft that fits what they want to do. As it is, they are trading away the pick. It doesn’t make sense.

If you look at those draft picks we pointed out, none of the players traded for the number one pick lasted with their new teams. Castillo did well for Shell but became better when he moved to Purefoods.

A cursory look at the NBA’s number one overall picks, only three times in the 70-year history of the league, has the consensus pick been traded. The first was in 1986 when the Philadelphia 76ers traded the number one overall pick (which turned out to be Brad Daugherty) to Cleveland for veteran Roy Hinson, Jeff Ruland, Cliff Robinson, and cash. It could have been acceptable however, the Sixers offloaded the popular Moses Malone to Washington in the same season. Daugherty could have learned playing behind Malone and alongside Charles Barkley. As it is, he turned the Cavs into a power while Philly would not be the same until the 1993 when they acquired Rick Mahorn. Hinson, Ruland, and Robinson were serviceable at best, but injuries eventually hurt them and they didn’t last in the City of Brotherly Love for more than three years.

In 1993, the consensus number one overall selection, Chris Webber, was sent by the Orlando Magic, to Golden State for Anfernee Hardaway. It seemed to work for the Magic who had Shaquille O’Neal at that time plus veteran power forward Horace Grant. Hardaway balanced the line-up. It worked for three years before the Magic imploded. C-Webb left Golden State after one year for Washington.

In 2014, the Cavaliers sent Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota for power forward Kevin Love. We know how that turned out to be.

I see nothing wrong with trading draft picks, even top picks. However, you trade them to make your team better. It cannot be anything less than that or people will smell something rotten. When making selections, you get parts to add to fill gaps or you simply get the best player. That conundrum reared its head in the 1985 NBA Draft when the Portland Trailblazers selected Sam Bowie and not Michael Jordan. What many people do not know or maybe conveniently forget, Portland needed help upfront. Bowie fit the bill. Jordan was an exciting high-flyer and had a suspect jumpshot. The Trailblazers already selected their own high-flyer with a suspect jumper in Clyde Drexler a year earlier. Of course, it can only be said in hindsight it was a mistake. But was it? Portland with Drexler went to two NBA Finals. Jordan of course, won six and is generally acclaimed at the Greatest of All Time. But he went to the right team with the right situation. We aren’t sure he would have been afforded that chance with Portland.

With that in mind, I am not sure how Jay-R Reyes, Ronald Tubid, and Rashawn McCarthy make KIA better this year. I think it wouldn’t have been as controversial if SMB added a regular rotation player to the trade list.

In the PBA, you win by getting the best players. If you look at Barangay’s recent championship, they overwhelmed Meralco by their sheer size and talent – add their superb outside shooting in Game Seven – with Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Joe Devance, and Justin Brownlee. The Bolts only had one stud inside and that was Allen Durham. Sure, there was Ranidel De Ocampo but he got injured.

Now should SMB select Standhardinger, that gives them two frontcourt beasts. June Mar Fajardo will see fewer double teams and get more rest. It will allow Marcio Lassiter and gunner like Alex Cabagnot and Von Pessumal to flourish. But man... along with Arwind Santos... what a frontline!

But that’s all speculation at this point. The true worth of this trade will be known by the end of next season. In the meantime, the league has to bear all these controversies and actuations. It’s all part of the deal.


  1. Give SMB all the trophies.

    KIA is becoming nuisance team. Get rid of them. They seem to operate as mole fir SMC comoanies.


    what baffles me is that decision.

  3. and now this...