I have had three weeks to digest the latest charade that is the NBA Draft!!
Let me start by stating that this has zero to do with my feelings towards the “kids” that were drafted. I am clearly aware that this is a dream come true and something that will change their lives forever. When their name is called all of the hard work they have poured into their craft is realized.
I get it.
The problem is twofold, but I will use this post to discuss the issue that has driven me crazy for a number of years.
Why does the NBA continue to take chances on underdeveloped talent? And before you come at me with the “They have a right to earn a living,” let me tell you that I get that as well. I agree with you, they do deserve the right to earn a living. But what is happening, more often than not, is they are getting a paycheck then sitting on the bench for 3-4 years, then getting a shot once they have developed.
For the player I say, “Get your money!” If someone is stupid enough to give you millions of dollars on what you may be able to do at the highest level (even when you couldn’t do it with college kids), then more power to you. You have worked hard for years to get to the level that you have attained.
What is getting lost, however, is the saturated NBA talent. So, why would the NBA continue to reduce their product to mediocrity? For every Moses Malone, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James story, there are ten Tyrus Thomas NBA obituaries!
Not to pick on Tyrus, but I am a Bulls fan so I will. Why on earth did you think you could hack it in the NBA? He was the 6th pick in the 2006 draft and released by the Charlotte Hornets in 2013 (I also live in Charlotte. Double whammy!).
Is the dream to play and succeed in the NBA, or is it to collect the paycheck and live the lifestyle. If the latter reigns true then there is no problem whatsoever in the process! My apologies, I digress.
What the NBA needs to do is protect itself from the Darko Miritics and Hasheem Thabeets of the world.
In case you were wondering Thabeet is the guy in the full warm-up gear.
The NBA is supposed to be the best of the best in the world. At this moment is this something that can be said with confidence? I know I can’t say it. What I can say is that it is comprised of phenomenal talent, but it is also hindered by guys who should be working on their craft in practice and games (COLLEGE) not just taking up space at the end of the bench and collecting a paycheck while the real players do the extreme heavy lifting.
How can this change?
Simple, take a look at the MLB draft process (http://www.draftsite.com/mlb/rules/). They allow kids to be drafted right out of high school. The catch is that if you go to college you must remain there for three years. Of course with anything there are loopholes. Take Brandon Jennings for example. He spent a year after high school playing in Italy. This was the right move for Brandon because he felt he was NBA ready, but because of the new NBA rule, he had to go to college before entering the draft. In my opinion Brandon was very close to NBA ready, but the majority of kids coming out of high school are nowhere near ready to make that leap.
I often hear the argument that “These young players have the right to earn a living!” This is correct; they do have that right just like doctors, lawyers, scientists, golfers, hockey players, etc. The difference is that a hospital is not going to take a kid just out of high school that was in honors chemistry. Why? Because they do not have the knowledge and experience to conduct surgery on anyone! Would that same hospital take a chance on potential and let the young doctor learn on the fly? NO! And if they did that hospital would close immediately.
Let’s look at something a little closer to basketball.
Major League baseball has the formula down to a science. Where the two leagues currently differ as it relates to the draft is in the age discussion.
The reason that MLB can have this in place is that they have a farm system to specifically grow talent. They invest in these kids and then give them all of the tools to grow into a major-leaguer. They don’t put them on the bench and hope they can realize their potential. They actually work with them and not at the cost of losing and wasting money.
The NBA does have a farm system of sorts in the NBDL (http://dleague.nba.com/), but they do not put in the same focus and commitment that MLB does. How many kids have you heard about or seen go through the ranks of a major league farm system? I would guess thousands (IF you follow baseball on any level) and hundreds if you were a casual fan. Now, take the same question and change it to the NBA. How many guys have you heard of coming through the “D League”? Maybe a couple.
So, if the NBA wants to stop through away money and giving their fans (not all, but a lot) a mediocre product, they need to either get behind the “D League” or allow these prospects to hone their in college. The NBA and college basketball will be better for it in the long run.
I give this years NBA Draft