Saturday, December 22, 2012

Guest Post: Fix The NBA's Youth Problem

Guest post today from my brother, Sean Kiley:

I’m not a big college basketball fan. I watch during the conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament, and that’s about it. (Northwestern Pennsylvania is not exactly a Division-I hotbed.) I was struggling to figure out why I didn’t enjoy a sport that I love the professional version of, and I figured part of it out: college basketball games on TV all look the same. Seriously. They all play the same up and down the court offense with little variation. Defense is marginal at best.

I'm not helped by the fact that I don’t have the slightest idea who the players are, since anyone who is any good is gone to the NBA after a season. There’s no time to get to know the players like we could when I was a kid, and Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon stayed at Houston, or Jordan and Worthy at UNC, or Laettner at Duke. It just doesn’t happen anymore. It’s to the point now where a player sticks around until his senior year, and you think to yourself “What’s his limitation? If he was any good, he’d have come out after his freshman or sophomore season.”

Very few of the players who come out early are instant stars in the NBA (there are a few, to be sure) but most would benefit from staying in college until they were a little bit more seasoned. There aren’t many who could succeed more at the age of 19 than they do at 18. There’s really not that much of a physical difference. They get to the NBA and have to get used to the more physical nature of the game. Basketball people call it “seasoning.” I just think that the kids would be better suited going to school for a few more years then sitting on the end of the bench for Sacramento watching them get blown out by Oklahoma City.

I have a solution!

The NBA needs to do what Major League Baseball does: You can declare for the draft right out of high school, and if you get drafted, you go pro, if they pay enough. If not, and you turn down the money and the pros, and decide to go to college, you have to stay in college for at least three years. (I’m not sure if there are redshirts in D-I. If so, then the redshirt year counts. I would think that it wouldn’t matter because anyone who was going to come out after their junior year would be good enough that the coach wouldn’t redshirt them. I digress.) Following your junior year, if you decided to come out, your original drafting team forfeits their rights to you. This rule would also mean that if a player leaves college after a year or two and goes, say, to Europe or China, they would have to wait until they would have been a junior to return to the US to play in the NBA.

This of course, would have to pass the muster of the NBA owners and David Stern, who would probably hate it because it wasn’t his idea, and he’s the most sinister commissioner in sports. (Goodell is the most power-mad, Selig the most senile, Bettman the most incompetent, and Stern the most sinister.) If the NBA and NCAA could get together and do that, I would definitely watch college basketball in February when the football season ends, instead of wishing there was hockey or waiting until baseball starts.
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