I’m not sure why it took so long to get to a logical place on this, but we seem to be finally getting there.
The NBA, NCAA, and National Association of Basketball Coaches are proposing a plan to push back the date players must declare for the NBA draft by more than a month, from April to late May, according to both ESPN and the USA Today. What’s new and key is that a number of underclassmen would be invited every year to an NBA Draft combine and get a chance to meet and work out for teams interested in them. At the combine, the players would be an honest assessment of where they might fall in the draft from NBA teams prior to making their decision.
This kind of unbiased information is hard to come by for a lot of underclassman. The current system — put in by the NCAA three years back because they thought it would be good for coaches — forces players to make their decision about entering the draft one week after the NCAA Tournament ends. At that point NBA draft boards are fluid and players don’t know where they stand — and once the player declares for the draft he forfeits his eligibility. There is no turning back.
The NCAA’s goal was to give coaches an idea who would return before national signing day, but the side effect is a number of players who make poor decisions to go pro. It’s easy to know where you stand if you’re Jahil Okafor or a consensus top 10 pick, but a lot of players much farther down the pecking order have unscurpulous agents — or family members hoping to ride the gravy train — telling them they will get drafted in spots that will never happen.
Under the new proposal, if a player doesn’t get a combine invite it’s a pretty clear signal they would not get drafted. Even if they get one, if they are told they are a late second round or bubble pick, the player may choose to return to college. Now, a lot of those guys go pro, not knowing.
Kentucky coach John Calipari, who may be impacted more than any other college coach, said this is a brilliant idea, speaking to ESPN.
“This may be one of the best things the NABC has ever done,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari, who has had players leave school who weren’t lottery or first-round picks — players who could have benefited from knowing where they would be drafted. “This is the first time the NABC understood that they represent the players.”
This is long overdue. It’s necessary in a one-and-done world.
Even if the age limit for entering the NBA changes — whether it goes younger or older — this proposed new system is a good thing. It’s simple: Give these young men everything they need to know to make an informed decision. It sounds simple and logical, mostly because it is.
It’s just that logic, and the NCAA rarely go hand-in-hand.
If approved it would be in place for the 2016 draft (not this year).