It is a momentous, excruciating day for Blue Devil fans, who yet again see a star athlete forgo the rest of his college career to pursue his lifelong dream of NBA success. Daryl Morey, Joe Dumars, Danny Ainge—pick up that phone and start swinging deals, because the Phil Fairleigh sweepstakes have officially begun.
Who else did you think I was talking about?
Yes, it’s possible for just about anyone to declare for the NBA Draft. Fairleigh, a redshirt junior who projects as a “stretch 4” and self-appointed player-coach, has spent his collegiate career running for both Duke's cross-country and track and field squads. Due to these time commitments, as well as to the fact that he hasn’t played basketball competitively since fifth grade, he wasn’t able to actually step on the court for the Blue Devils. His absence was devastating to Coach K’s squad, who really missed his interior presence throughout the season.
Still, since anyone 19 or older can announce his intention to become draft-eligible, that’s just what Fairleigh did. He now finds himself officially perched on the list of “Unknown Individuals” declaring for the draft, a designation Fairleigh considers “insulting” after “the kind of numbers [he’s] put up.”
Fairleigh’s career highlight, the “numbers” to which he refers, was a scoring outburst of three points on 1-14 shooting. Additionally, he also had a game where he made one of two free throws and has a self-reported career assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.1376, which Fairleigh likes to round up to one.
So although Phil “The Ostrich” Fairleigh is flying under the radar at the moment, he has just about two months to strut his stuff against top competition. Since many GMs are probably wondering just what this kid from the streets of Chicago (Lower Wacker Drive, to be specific) is all about, I took it on myself—as a serious journalist—to put together a scouting report on Fairleigh.
Let’s start with his measureables: he’s a 6’2” (5’8” without shoes), 135-lb behemoth. His wingspan is officially listed as “don’t worry about it,” and Fairleigh’s in the 99th percentile in the NBA in terms of percent body fat, coming in at well over 25%. His basketball IQ is “404 Not Found.”
But hold on—Fairleigh’s not trying to get drafted as an offensive or defensive contributor. No, given the recent trend of NBA teams trying to lose games (known as “tanking”) to get better drafting position, Fairleigh has coined himself a “tanking specialist,” with a number of coveted skills determined to get his team the best possible odds in the NBA Draft Lottery. As such, Phil “The Round Mound Stuck On The Ground” Fairleigh has demonstrated remarkable aptitude with setting moving screens, taking deep 2’s in transition, running the sidelines on inbounds from half-court, firing heat-check 30-footers after starting the game 0-for-7, committing lane violations on the first free throw of a two-shot foul and being fearless in the lane—even in the face of quintuple teams.
More importantly, teams often draft young players based on their potential, which has led to ignominious selections such as Kwame Brown, Michael Olowakandi and Robert Swift. However, Fairleigh has such a lack of potential that there’s no possible way he could be considered a bust, as expectations should already be properly lowered.
I realize that I probably come off like a shill for Phil “The One-Man Wrecking Ball” Fairleigh. So let’s consider his weaknesses: first and foremost, he listens to Nickelback. Fairleigh also has terrible body odor, which—along with many other factors—makes him a proverbial locker-room cancer. Finally, he has picked up the bad habit of playing in traffic (He’s literally a streetballer.), which, given the fact that he’s legally blind, means he may be an insurance risk for the team that selects him.
As a very principled individual, Fairleigh will force franchises to court him—he has publicly announced plans to hold out if he doesn’t get drafted into a major market. To further burn his potential bridges, he has called out Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich—“I’m not a fan”—and Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio—“he couldn’t cut it on the streets.” Regardless of which team drafts him, the first thing Fairleigh will do with his signing bonus is take a cab home to Chicago, before requesting the remainder of his bonus in $1 bills.
Although we haven’t discussed Fairleigh’s intangibles—he’s great at small talk and is a BIG fan of conspiracy theories—it’s time to look at the overall picture. Fairleigh considers himself a hybrid of Muggsy Bogues and Shaq, and his self-proclaimed idols include JaVale McGee (for his hoops IQ), JaMarcus Russell (for his sobriety) and Bob Dole (for his contagious enthusiasm). His basketball ability should fall somewhere on the spectrum of those three.
Best-case scenario: Fairleigh successfully leads an 0-82 campaign for his franchise.
Worst-case scenario: His play and brash nature antagonize fans to the point that they literally start World War III.
Draft Grade for the 76ers: A+
Draft Grade for all other NBA franchises: F