Thursday, May 3, 2007

NBA Early Entry List Announced...

How Should the NBA Draft be Handled?

The NBA has announced the Early Entry List for this year’s draft. Of the 58 college players, there are 42 juniors, seven sophomores and nine freshmen. College players have until 5:00 p.m. on June 18 to withdraw and be guaranteed of retaining their NCAA eligibility as long as they don’t hire an agent. As I stated in my "Should I Stay or Should I Go" post, players who are not drafted are eligible to return to their college teams as long as they don’t hire an agent.

Sixteen sophomores and freshmen is actually fewer than I thought. Keep in mind though, there are only 60 spots in the draft, and this list does not take into account the seniors who are eligible for the draft. I guess if a player has stayed in college for 4 years, the NBA scouts are no longer interested in wasting a draft pick on them.

I would have posted my thoughts on how the draft should be handled earlier, but I was busy considering whether or not I should enter my name into the draft. In the end, given my hoops skills, I thought it would be financially more advantageous for me to forego the draft and stick with my day-job as a municipal employee. That should give you a hint of my hoops skills.

For starters, let me state that I am a traditionalist. By that I mean that I have never cared for players leaving school early for the NBA. As a college basketball fan, I want to see the best players stay in school, but I guess there won’t be any more Tim Duncans. Over the years I had accepted that the elite juniors needed to make the jump to the NBA. Of course being a State fan, I was happy to see the likes of Worthy and Jordan go early, but seriously, they had done all they could do in college and it was time for them to play for pay.

After the elite players, there are those who fall under the Charles Shackelford rule. These are the players who would not be academically eligible to play their senior year. I guess some of these players could red-shirt and hope to regain their eligibility, but if a player has not been able to adjust to college life after 3 years, they probably never will.

While I was thinking about this article, Adam Gold made a remark about the NBA and the draft that made sense. The NBA does not set their rules up to benefit the NCAA. The only reason that 18 year olds cannot enter the draft is because the league got tired of making bad picks and wanted more time to evaluate young players. Let’s face it; I could probably look respectable against high school talent. The NBA realized that they could not properly evaluate high school players, so they decided they needed to see what young players could do against college talent.

For all intents and purposes, the NCAA has become the minor league for the NBA. This is a great deal for the league’s owners. In Major League Baseball, there are about five minor league players for every major leaguer. Player development and payroll are tremendous expenses for major league owners. There are 12 D-League teams feeding the 30 NBA teams. As a result, the NBA’s player development costs are minimal.

So, what should be done about the draft? I have always thought that Major League Baseball has the right idea. The First-Year Player Draft as it is called allows Major League teams to draft players once they have graduated from high school. Once a player attends a four-year college, they cannot be drafted again until they have completed their junior year in college, or until after their 21st birthday whichever comes first. Teams lose their rights to a player if he returns to school after being drafted.

This system has an advantage over the NFL Draft, because, it gives talents like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant a chance to play pro-ball right out of high school. It also allows underclassmen return to school without penalty if they are not drafted as high as they would have liked or if they are drafted by an undesirable team.

Realistically, I do not think this system will ever be adopted since there are not nearly enough minor-league basketball teams to allow extended player development. In the long run, everyone would be benefited by NBA teams drafting on a player's actual accomplishments instead of their upside. Also, it would be helpful if there were a better system of advising underclassmen on where they can expect to be drafted. Today’s elite players are pampered and are often surrounded by people who will do and say anything to profit from their relationship with the player. Until there is a way to curb the influence of these people, there will always be players who lose their college eligibility based on poor draft advice.

The ACC Fan Blog will keep you posted on which players actually listen to the realistic advice and pull their names from the draft.


Ken White said...

Hard to see another Duncan, but kids like JJ and Sheldon will come along at those schools where team truly becomes family.

One real question is, is a truly big, popular, profitable minor league system ever possible? In baseball, do teams like the MudCats and Durham Bulls break even? I'm assuming they do although I don't know for sure. I had always thought that it might be possible to have many more minor league basketball teams, with real regional feel (for example, mostly players from the ACC playing in a Carolinas team) might work, BUT the problem is, they just can't compete for fans during the college season. It almost HAS TO BE played from April to October, and it is hard to get people thinking about basketball during those months.

One interesting thought I had would having NBDL teams actually have college conference affiliations. I know this crosses all kinds of lines that might be dangerous, but let's face it, it is all business anyway. So what if there was an ACC NBDL team, splitting their home game schedule between Gboro and DC. An SEC affiliated NBDL team playing in Kentucky and Altanta. You get the idea. Take the 12 biggest conferences and affiliate an NBDL team with each, make sure 90% of the players have ties to their conference or area, and see if NBDL could gain enough popularity to eventually become a valid entity.

Anonymous said...

Would love to see something like that. This is a football country and unfortantly basketball will never be poplar enough.

Anonymous said...

Minor leage baseball teams do make money. Keep in mind that the team owners are not responsible for salaries. They are paid by the major league teams that the players are signed to. I'm not sure about travel, but I think MLB probably kicks in a bit for that too.

The reason Minor League Baseball is successful is the lack of competion in the summer. Way too much competition in the winter months for minor league basketball to draw well. The old Fayetteville team in the D-League drew about 500 - 1,000 a night. The Crown Arena actually is more profitable without the D-League since they no longer have to worry about switching the arena between hoops and hockey.