Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NBA Draft Lottery Rose-Beasley Mania!
(Plus: Another Rant Against Age Limits)

As I mentioned this morning, I love the NBA Draft Lottery. I think that goes back to my childhood fandom of the Bullets, who were perennial Lottery losers. It was my playoffs.

The consensus has shifted that the Lottery's big prize is Derrick Rose, rather than Michael Beasley, who is a strong -- and consensus -- No. 2. No. 3 and beyond is a toss-up, depending on which team is there and what their needs are.

Rose is like Oden in that he is a true franchise-changer. Consider Chris Paul and Deron Williams, because -- coming out of college at least -- Rose is a better NBA talent than either of them.

Beasley is like Durant in that he could be a franchise player, but there is really no guarantee. After all, Durant was simply a poor man's Rashard Lewis this season. Working in Beasley's favor is that he is better -- more suited to excel in the NBA -- than Durant.

You won't hear much about that, because all the Durant-backers from a year ago would be loathe to admit that their "game-changing" favorite isn't even the best forward prospect of the past two drafts -- that would be Beasley.

But as you watch the mock drafts come screaming out of the mainstream media and blogosphere in the wake of the Lottery's results, please note how many freshmen there are on the list -- it is the best signal that the NBA's age-limit remains totally idiotic.

The only thing worse than the current age limit would be to raise it unconditionally, similarly to the way that they installed this first age limit.

Here's a novel idea: Let the market work. From '95-06 that is exactly what it did, producing highly efficient results, particularly among prep-to-pro players.

The idea of an "age limit" is very simple: If you don't want to "ruin" your NBA career prematurely, don't enter the NBA earlier than you should.

"Should" is an amorphous notion -- was Monta Ellis wrong to enter the NBA when he did? Most experts would say he did just fine for himself, even though he went much later than he thought he would.

The bottom line is that NBA GMs are, for the most part, highly rational: You don't take prep Dwight Howard over college Player of the Year Emeka Okafor because you are an idiot, blinded by potential. You take him because you are fairly certain Howard's upside is vastly greater than Okafor's. Howard's "expected value" is far superior to Okafor's -- but not that much. Just enough to know you would take Howard over Okafor if given the choice of both. Okafor remained a superior choice to the players that went below him.

The point is that GMs who wildly pick young prospects and end up with a sketchy "hit" rate won't be GMs for long. There is a built-in incentive to do what is in the GM's own best interests, which align with that of the team.

Most GMs in the Lottery will be taking freshmen -- in their first year of draft eligibility -- over older players who could have entered the draft in previous years but didn't, because the weren't good enough to play in the NBA. (See Tyler Hansbrough: If he would have been a Lottery pick after his freshman year, he sure as hell wouldn't have stuck around for the past two seasons.)

This is because those freshmen are better prospects than the older players -- this isn't some fad. And if those players were available a year ago, they likely would have also been first-round picks (if not drafted quite as high as they will be taken next month).

All I'm saying is: Look at the signals the market is sending. Look at the history of efficiency within the market (before artificial constraints were clamped onto it). In this case, the rules should follow what you are seeing unfold in front of you.

Enjoy the Lottery! I love that Jay-Z will be there, representing the Nets (watch for coded signals to LeBron!), but I love even more that the Kings are sending a fan. That's what the Lottery should be all about.

-- D.S.


pv845 said...

The NBA GM took Howard over Okafor because of the history of injuries, the fact that Okafor had a known ceiling and Howard was a man-child.

As for Rose, he will not be a franchise changer. Who was the last PG to do that.... no one! He is not a Lebron type player that has size and can overpower players. He will have trouble adjusting to the size of the NBA.

Looking at the freshman from last year, Mayo would have been the number 1 pick. Now he is the 5th or 6th best player that has baggage. You tell me that every NBA GM isn't happy knowing that now?

Josh R. said...

Just implement the MLB model already: you can go pro after high school, but if you do decide to go to college you have to commit for a certain amount of time (longer than one year). In MLB I believe it is three years. This gives the cream of the crop (the Oden's, the Durants, the Beasleys) the chance to make their money, it gives college teams continuity and the ability to market players; it'll improve college ball because of the guaranteed development time and allowing teams to play together; it won't negatively impact the NBA as it still allows the best in early, and might improve it due to said development time.

Mikepcfl said...

I agree the age limit is not a good thing. But I think what happened is that it took the NBA time to adjust to all these high schoolers jumping into the league. At first, the league didnt know how to manage them. There were some high profile busts because the teams tried to treat the kids like the veterans. Now I think the NBA has caught on to how to handle the kids and you dont see that many high profile flameouts now.

Clay said...

Considering that some of the NBA's premiere players over the last ten years...Kobe, McGrady, Howard, KG, LeBron, etc. It never really made sense... Especially since there have been high schoolers who've become more than serviceable in their careers. People like Al Harrington, Jermain O'Neal, and co.

wellsortof said...

I disagree with pv845's comments on a point guard franchise changer. Look no further than Jason Kidd joining the Nets in 2001. Went from loser to NBA finalist immediately 2 years in a row. Also didn't hurt that they also had young up-and-comers Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson, and that the NBA East was terrible at the time.

And oh yeah, Magic and Isiah were pretty good too.

Dan, did you think you were watching Game 7 of the Lakers/Kings 2002 finals? Tons of missed shots, Peja throwing up airballs, the champion just knowing that they would win? Seemed that way to me.

Michael W said...

Wow, congratulations to Chicago. They've been a mess ever since MJ left. Maybe they'll finally get things moving in the right direction.

Would have liked to have seen Portland win it, though. What a starting 5 THAT would have been.