Port Adelaide was a mess. The list? Terrible. The coach? Sacked. The club had no members, poor crowds and a $2 million loss to deal with. The captain and coach of Geelong had flown in to try to tempt its best player away.

If a team ever ”deserved” a priority pick-me-up, it was the Port Adelaide of 2012. That it didn’t get one can’t mean good things for Melbourne. Unlike the Demons, the Power has never ”earned” a priority pick. Like Melbourne, the club has been languishing for a while now, not playing a final since 2007.

This year they have a new coach, who the players believe in and want to play for. The club is spending more on its football department. Its new president, David Koch, has rounded up more money, and let a more stable administration do its job. It has more than 40,000 members. Travis Boak re-signed and stayed.

On the ground the players have looked fitter. Many have matured. The club traded well, and fairly cheaply. Hamish Hartlett is fit, and Robbie Gray too. Second year in, Chad Wingard is looking every bit a No. 6 draft pick. First year in, Ollie Wines is doing the same.

It is far from a fait accompli that Melbourne’s request for a priority pick will be successful, and that it will make its third No. 1 choice in six years. It probably won’t be until late August that the AFL executive decides what, if anything, the club deserves by way of draft assistance, and takes its view to the commission.

On getting first pick in the draft, the answer seems more likely to be no than yes. The Port Adelaide experience shows a club’s hopes can start bubbling again very quickly once the right people are in the right jobs, and the players are being well-conditioned and coached.

Melbourne looks terrible, and has been playing terribly. But look through its list and it becomes obvious it has some excellent building blocks already in place. For all the early picks that haven’t worked out, lots remain. Jesse Hogan would probably be No. 1, if available in this year’s draft. The Demons have been stricken by injury, with Mitch Clark out of the side for so long it has almost been forgotten how well he started last season.

If it is decided the Demons need draft help, a priority pick isn’t the only option. Could Melbourne be given a pick it is compelled to trade? Could it get a pick placed in the second round? Could it have access to one or two previously nominated players out of the state leagues? Could the AFL do other things to help, like make sure the money it has promised Melbourne is used to pay its full (front-loaded) salary cap, giving the club scope to chase an out-of-contract player?

The AFL wants to get the first round of the draft back to as straightforward an order as it can, as soon as it can.

Already this year, Melbourne should have pick one or two, plus an early pick in the pre-season draft. Its new coach has half a list, maybe more, to work with. Surely that will do.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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