For the NBA community, draft night marks another chapter in the future of basketball. Young men’s dreams come true as they don their new teams’ caps and become instant role models for the younger generation watching at home.
The NBA Draft also means a heavy media presence. The event is streamed on ESPN, and in a market where money is king, the major sports network did not want any attention to be taken away from their broadcast. This is why they have enforced a rule in recent years stating that no ESPN reporter—including top NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski—can report the picks until they come in.
Of course, the man affectionately known as “Woj” found a work-around. Now, draft night also features fans gluing their eyes to the @WojESPN Twitter feed, watching as he pens tweets using synonyms to the words “drafting” and “selecting” while still clearly leaking the picks ahead of time.
Wojnarowski used six different words to describe this year’s first-round selections. Without further ado, here they are ranked from best to worst.
/iˈmajən/ — form a mental image or concept of
One of the better word choices from Woj on Wednesday night, “imagine” has Latin roots and fit perfectly to describe the scenario in which Tyrese Haliburton fell to the Sacramento Kings at No. 12. The originality of this verb combined with the way Woj penned the rest of his tweet makes this his top word selection from draft night.
/ikˈsīdəd/ — very enthusiastic and eager
Woj employed an adjective for the eighth pick in the draft, describing the New York Knicks as “excited” about Obi Toppin dropping to them at No. 8. With a mixed Latin and French origin, this is a very fitting verb to explain the Knicks’ feeling when Toppin fell to them. This checks in at No. 2 on the list due to the fact that it’s not merely a synonym to words like “targeting,” “selecting,” or “focusing on.”
/əˈmərj/ — become apparent, important, or prominent
Woj used this verb to describe Anthony Edwards’s status as the Minnesota Timberwolves were on the clock with their No. 1 overall pick. Originating from Latin, this verb isn’t exceptional but garners some respect because it kicked off Wednesday’s draft. It checks in at No. 3 on the list due to its definition and how Woj used it to describe the selection.
/hī/ — great in rank, status, or importance
A beautifully-worded novel, Woj’s tweet describing the Washington Wizards‘ decision to draft Deni Avdija at No. 9 featured a plethora of verbs and adjectives. In the end, he explained that Avdija was “high” on Washington’s board. The word, which has Dutch and German roots, is a solid synonym but remains a very common phrase in the sports world, especially during free agency and drafts. It would have been nice to see Woj stray away from words commonly used to describe sports.
/ˈtärɡət/ — select as an object of attention or attack
One of the few words listed here with an English origin, “target” was utilized in a bountiful manner by Woj on draft night. He picked the verb 30 times. While his commitment to the word was respectable, many Twitter users displayed disappointment by his lack of originality. After all, he used just six different words to describe the first 30 picks of the draft. This is a bland word choice and could have been better replaced by alternative phrases.
/ˈfōkəs/ — pay particular attention to
Originating from Latin, “focused on” was the verb of choice for Woj as the Charlotte Hornets selected La’Melo Ball with the third overall pick in the draft. There is nothing special about this verb; it’s essentially the same as using “selecting,” “drafting,” or “picking.” This was Woj’s worst word choice and it’s not very close.
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