Watered-down talent: Such is the product of an ever-increasing amount collegiate underclassmen and high school contenders and pretenders bolting for the greener pastures (or just a certain green paper product in general) of the NBA. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are the latest examples of why it can be a positive choice, their predecessors being current MVP Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady. These are atypical cases though. Plainly put, the explosion of early draft entries is getting to a point of ridiculousness.
While reading the list of underclassmen and those yet to receive a diploma who have declared themselves eligible for the draft, there is a troubling trend of under-qualified hoopsters chasing pipe dreams into the league.
For example, one kid – Jackie Butler, out of McComb High School in Mississippi – had options of going to school and getting a free education. Rather, McComb has since elected to try his luck with the NBA draft. ESPN draft expert Andy Katz ranks McComb as a second round draft pick at best, meaning there’s no guarantee he’ll make his future team’s roster, and there’s a good chance he’ll be a no-namer instead of a collegiate Hall of Famer.
Now for those of you who follow basketball religiously, can you figure out how many players picked in the second round of the draft have found much professional success? For those of you who aren’t basketball fiends like myself, don’t bother busting out your calculator; the answer can probably be found by counting your fingers.
With so many young players itching to break the bank in the NBA, perhaps they could consider staying in school (or going to school for that matter) a sounder investment.
Take Saint Joseph’s University’s stud senior point guard Jameer Nelson, for example. Nelson, as a junior last year, decided to test his value as a draft commodity at the annual pre-draft rookie camp in Chicago. After being labeled as a late first-round to second-round pick at best, Nelson elected to stay in school for his senior season, get his degree, and try and raise his draft stock.
Nelson led his Saint Joe’s squad to a #1 national ranking at one point, a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, an undefeated regular season and, most importantly for him, he catapulted his stock from the second round to a sure-fire lottery pick.
Similarly, Anthony, a Denver Nuggets small forward, elected to attend Syracuse University for a year to hone his skills because scouts weren’t convinced when he was a high school baller.
One national championship later, ‘Melo proved his worth to NBA scouts, which warranted him a #3 pick overall, and he was the best rookie in the league not named LeBron.
Brooklyn phenom Sebastian Telfair should probably take some of these facts into consideration. The cousin of superstar Stephon Marbury has appeared on the cover of several magazines, already signed an endorsement deal with Adidas, yet many NBA executives have severe doubts about the legitimacy of his potential.
The result of all these youngsters jumping into the big show is most visible in the Eastern Conference. So many raw, undeveloped talents on the floor has led to a serious decline in the quality of basketball (see Washington, Chicago).
Something has to be done; this is a troubling trend which is slowly deteriorating both the NBA and the NCAA, not to mention the promising careers of so many talented players. Hopefully David Stern reads the Nexus.