In part one I said I like the lottery format, but question if the NBA’s one-year rule was long enough to evaluate players in college.
For those who disagree with “forcing” kids to go to college for two years, remember that there is nothing in the rules that says the players have to attend a school. Brandon Jennings left high school and went to Europe for a season before being a first-round draft pick for the Bucks.
Then there is the D-League. P.J. Hairston was kicked off the UNC squad and went straight to the developmental league. He played for a few months and earned enough kudos to become a first-round pick by the newly renamed Hornets.
The minimum age to play in the NBA is 19 right now, but the NBDL’s minimum age is 18. If the NBA bumped the age up to 20, the NBDL could become a more popular route for high school seniors who aren’t interested in college.
Speaking of the D-League, then-commissioner David Stern said in March 2005 that he wanted to see the league expand to 15-16 teams with each NBA team affiliated with a minor-league team.
While the D-League has grown from eight teams to 18, Stern’s vision still hasn’t come to pass because several pro teams, including Charlotte, don’t have any affiliation with the D-League.
Founding owner Bob Johnson made some poor business decisions (especially regarding TV rights) in the Bobcats’ first couple of years of existence, so the team had to cut costs including folding its D-League team, the Fayetteville Patriots.
Having a relationship with a D-League team could benefit all NBA teams. In 2011, 23 percent of players in the NBA had spent time in the D-League. This has risen to 33 percent — a full one-third of the league — this past season.
In fact, six members of the world champion San Antonio Spurs played in the D-League previously.
The D-League also brings us back full circle to my original topic of the NBA Draft.
In the early years of the NBA, the draft continued until teams ran out of prospects. In 1968, teams kept going through 21 rounds.
By 1974, the league decided to cap the draft at 10 rounds. Most of these players never saw time on the court, so the draft was reduced to seven rounds in 1985.
The 1986 draft was well known for its problems with drugs, from the death of Len Bias to the drug suspensions of potential stars like Roy Tarpley, Chris Washburn and William Bedford.
However, there were nearly 30 players selected AFTER the first two rounds who eventually made it onto the court.
Some of those picked in the later rounds included Drazen Petrovic, Kenny Gattison, David Henderson, Anthony Bowie and Pete Myers.
Still, the NBA decided to reduce the draft to just two rounds in 1989.
True, a lot of second-round picks have trouble making a roster. But what about the D-League?
I believe the NBA should expand the draft to three or even four rounds so that teams can choose more players. Those who don’t make it on their NBA roster can be shipped down to the D-League, but still be the property of the drafting team.
Look at some of the players who didn’t get drafted this year.
There is the aforementioned James Michael McAdoo with his 14.4 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Bryce Cotton, Providence, averaged 21.8 points and 5.9 assists. Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick scored plenty of points per minute in reduced time — an average of 24.4 points per 40 minutes.
UNLV’s Khem Birch blocked 3.8 shots a game, but needs playing time to develop.
The day after the NBA Draft concluded, Draft Express listed 25 notable players who weren’t drafted. That’s enough for another round of draft picks right there, and that’s the ones who were considered good — there might also be some projects out there for whom it’s worth taking a shot.
Teams are so worried about missing out on an international player with a chance to shine that they don’t give many chances to American athletes who are slow to develop.
Expanding the draft and letting teams maintain draft rights would allow these late bloomers to develop.