Fair warning…long post alert. The start of the tourney last weekend got me thinking, and I finally had the time to write some things down…
I’d be the first to admit I followed the NBA religiously when I was younger. While I traded baseball cards with my friends in grade school, I had a collection of basketball cards that rivaled their collection of football ones. I still have a box of old basketball jerseys stuff in closet too.
Ah…the good ole days:
Fast forward today, and I could care less about the NBA. Other than the big “stars” of LeBron, Wade, Kobe and a few more, I have no idea who plays pro ball. Anyone know the starting 5 for the Toronto Raptors? Yep..me neither (which by the way…why is there a pro-basketball team in Canada? eh..oh well, that’s another post.)
The NBA and college basketball has one problem that should be fixed immediately. I don’t like the one and done rule. It’s just that simple. Steve Kerr and Bill Simmons nail the argument about college players in Simmon’s recent podcast: http://es.pn/dIMRUd
I won’t type too much about what they say in the podcast, but they talk a lot about improving the game in both the NBA and college by giving players more time to develop. Kerr’s point about Kobe potentially playing for Duke is interesting, so check it out the podcast if you have a few minutes.
The biggest benefit to me for underclassmen staying in college is for NBA team owners. What motivates the average sports fan to pay attention to a pro-sports league? Knowing the players.
I don’t think that the NBA is relevant to the average fan because people have no idea who plays in the league. Keeping basketball players in college for solves the NBA’s problem. Have you ever watched the starting lineups of a NFL game and wondered why random names look familiar? Its probably because most of them played 3-4 years of football in the SEC. The average sports fan that watches the NCAA tourney hardly knows any of the “star” players for the good teams. And once these star players leave for the NBA, the average fans couldn’t care less. Keep these players on national spotlight during 3 or 4 years of NCAA tourney games, and everyone will know who they are.
Take a look at the top prospects from freshmen classes that would be seniors and juniors during this season of college basketball:
OJ Mayo – USC – Now plays for Memphis Grizzlies
Eric Gordon – Indiana – Now plays for LA Clippers
Kyle Singler – Duke
Michael Beasley- Kansas State – Now plays for Minnesota
Kevin Love- UCLA – Now plays for Minnesota
Derrick Rose- Memphis – Now plays for Chicago Bulls (in case you have noticed)
Jerryd Bayless- Arizona – Now plays for Portland Blazers
Now…the class of 2008
Tyreke Evans – Memphis – Sacramento Kings
Brandon Jennings – Arizona- Milwaukee Bucks
Jrue Holliday – UCLA – Philadelphia 76ers
DeMar DeRozan- USC – Toronto Raptors
Scotty Hopson – Tennessee
Kemba Walker – Connecticut
JaMychael Green – Alabama
Trey Thompkins- UGA
Greg Monroe – Georgetown – Detroit Pistons
Of these listed, only Singler, Hopson, Walker, Green, and Thompkins continued to play for their collegiate teams after one year. The possibilities and “what ifs?” if these players had stayed in school are endless. Could you imagine if both Jerryd Bayless (if he stayed all 4 years), Brandon Jennings (If he stayed in the country) paired with current forward Derrick Williams at ‘Zona? Unreal. Yet, by the time a collegiate basketball player was a junior, he not only would elevate his talent ceiling, but for team owners…his name recognition improves along with profit potential for tickets, jerseys, and etc.
Have you ever seen a problem where that hasn’t been fixed, because..well…it makes too much sense to fix it? This goes in that category for me. College basketball should take a page from college football as soon as they can. It just makes more sense to me.