Thursday, July 10, 2008

Follow-Up on Brandon Jennings

When I wrote the previous Jennings post, I sort of avoided any real discussion about the merits of the NBA age rule. However, that's sort of the subtext of the situation, so here's some people who have a much more eloquent take on it:

First, Dan Shanoff spells out just what a reasonable system of professional development in a less exploitative environment would look like:

Would I have gone to Europe if I were him? No: I would have signed a shoe deal (plus sold the rights to my story) and used that to finance a maniacal domestic training regimen, entirely geared around preparing myself for the 2009 NBA Draft, then becoming the most NBA-ready player in the class. I would create a template for any top prep to do this.

I hope this sets a new trend, next year and beyond: I hope that the other half-dozen or so high school seniors with obvious NBA futures opt out of the nuisance of the college basketball system to use their "one-and-done" year to focus on training for their NBA careers.

I hope that the NBA changes its policy, if not to unwind the age-limit (they never will) then at least allow/encourage preps to jump straight to an exclusive one-year NBA development program, through the D-League.

If the goal is the NBA, then why not? The system has at its heart the interest of several stakeholders, but never that of the player himself (in this case, Jennings). So, how about a path by which the (top-tier, one-and-done) player puts his interests first, and make the D-League a true developmental league? It's been pointed out that currently, the D-League is not set up to make this a reality, but maybe it should be (either way, that linked interview is very interesting and you should read it when you have the chance).

Also, a must-read post at knickerblogger. (No really, please go read it). An extra point added to what I've already said about the possibilities:

With European leagues breaking up the NCAA’s monopoly on young basketball players, don’t expect things to stay the same. Depending on the contract, European teams can receive up to $500,000 from NBA teams for a drafted player. With Jennings opening the door, foreign teams will have incentive to recruit America’s best underage basketball prospects. Eventually some organization is going to want to keep these players from going oversees. The NBA would have a motive since they would be paying an extra half million dollars for some of their draft picks. The NCAA might want to make a change before their basketball empire crumbles. And the NBDL could take advantage of this opportunity to make themselves a proper minor league. One thing is for certain, future 18 year old basketball prodigies will have more than one option to consider.

I hadn't even considered the extra buyout costs to bring over rookies playing on European contracts. In any case, it is possible (I suppose) for Jennings becoming "his generation's Kevin Garnett" but it's a little early to tell.

Also, something I rethought from earlier: not all European basketball is the EuroLeague. Maybe the skill level and development system won't be all it could be wherever he ends up. I guess we'll have to wait and see. However, the folks at ballineurope think the experience will help him as a player.

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