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NBA Draft: Jay Bilas Delivers Effusive Praise But ESPN Needs to Shake Up the Cast

The consensus on ESPN’s Thursday’s NBA draft? Dullsville. The production was a snoozer. Like a Monday Night Football game, everybody at ESPN loved every draft pick. There were certainly a couple WOW picks – for starters, Dion Waiters 4th, and certainly Terrence Ross 8th – yet ESPN’s talking heads trio of Jay Bilas, Jeff Van Gundy and Chris Broussard rarely got into disagreements or challenged one another.

Portland had two top 11 picks and came away with Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard – both might be fine players – but the Blazers could have had Austin Rivers and Tyler Zeller. There were plenty of opportunities for discussions and compelling TV.

It was boring TV.

Why is Van Gundy even on the telecast? He essentially admits to watching very little college hoops, and offers nothing but the occasional moment of deadpan humor. Chris Broussard, who once was a great reporter for the New York Times, spoke in broad generalities for 95 percent of the broadcast. After the Top 10 picks, you could see ESPN going to him less and less and Fran Fraschilla more and more.

(ESPN seems to be conflicted over how to use Broussard. Is he an X’s and O’s guy? Is he an “information” guy like Peter King is on NBC or Chris Mortensen is at ESPN for football? It feels like ESPN wants him to be one of the two, but he isn’t quite ready for either role.)

Perhaps I’m being too critical. Maybe I enjoy the riveting NFL draft so much, I wish ESPN put as much effort into picking as strong a crew for the NFL draft. A couple suggestions:

* Jalen Rose excelled in college and the pros. Since he’s going to College Gameday anyway, why not have him practice sparring with Bilas?
* If Rose replaces Broussard, then Doug Gottlieb – another guy who will generated plenty of back-and-forth with Bilas – should be moved from the radio team and take Van Gundy’s seat. Then, like the NFL draft does, ESPN can cut away to reporters like Ric Bucher and Chris Broussard and Andy Katz to give viewers the NBA angle.

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