April 07, 2015

Losing Wisconsin Coach Laments 'Rent-a-Player' Trend: After Duke beat Wisconsin for the men's NCAA basketball championship, shots were still being taken. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan: "We don't do a rent-a-player." Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill: "Congrats to Duke, but I was rooting for team who had stars that are actually going to college and not just doing semester tryout for NBA." She later added: "I see I have stirred things up. Sorry, but I'm sad about the one and done thing. I understand why it's happening, but I don't have to like it."

posted by rcade to basketball at 02:13 PM - 30 comments

I admire Coach Ryan, but I don't think he needed to come forward with that complaint. There are a ton of people around the country who are not diehard fans of either school who have embraced the Badgers and have been making that very point on his program's behalf. He could have remained silent and let the multitudes speak for him. People understand what they saw during the tournament.

And it's so interesting that in the discussions on this topic, there is hardly a person to be found who will come forward to vigorously argue the merits of one-and-done. There is no argument for it, really, only an acknowledgement that it's the new reality and that some coaches have adapted to it better than others.

I'll bet Coach K would rather have four years to shape a player and person and not have to constantly and frantically reload to keep up with the Kentuckys. Fans would rather follow players on their favorite teams as they progress through their careers. Plus, some people much prefer watching college ball. I hear that Anthony Davis is doing well with the Pelicans, but I haven't watched him play in the NBA so I wouldn't know firsthand.

Just another case of the vast majority of interested parties living unhappily with what the NCAA has wrought, as Sen. McCaskill said.

posted by beaverboard at 02:41 PM on April 07

There is no argument for it, really,

"Removing unnecessary restrictions for employment" seems like a good reason.

The NBA/Players Union have negotiated away the ability for an 18-year-old basketball player from joining the NBA (like Lebron James) by forcing him to play a year at university (or Europe/Asia) before being drafted (another restriction on employment).

The fact that we let those two entities have control over the rights for a person who isn't yet part of either group is interesting enough, but to suggest that they should be forced to stay out of the NBA for even more time....that's crazy.

posted by grum@work at 02:52 PM on April 07

I'll bet Coach K would rather have four years to shape a player and person and not have to constantly and frantically reload to keep up with the Kentuckys.

Then pay the players some share of the immense wealth Duke/NCAA make off of them, and maybe they'll stay there for longer and finish their degree.

posted by grum@work at 02:56 PM on April 07

And it's so interesting that in the discussions on this topic, there is hardly a person to be found who will come forward to vigorously argue the merits of one-and-done.

That's because the perspectives is the owners saying "please protect us from our own shitty draft and development capabilities" and the players association saying "jobs for existing members over future ones." Both are protectionist over their individual interests, rather than the game's interest, which would be the broader audience's general point of view.

An argument might be made that folks getting an education/maturing before getting millions of dollars is a good thing, but the argument can't be made about the time it takes to go from 18 to 19 and experiencing life as a freshman in college. That doesn't change shit in a guy's life.

My crazy idea is to divorce the NCAA from its tenuous academic ties, let schools retain the brands and revenues, and turn it into a paid development league. Similar to the CHL in hockey, guys get drafted by age, but they can remain in the development league for a while if the teams choose, and/or if they want to get a degree they can simply not sign a team offer and become a free agent after 4 years in the new NCAA.

posted by dfleming at 03:21 PM on April 07

One and Done dilutes college ball but is also killing the NBA. Teams are forced to invest heavily in players who have talent but can't really play. Many of these college "one and dones" become "three years on the bench and dones" .. done meaning they are playing in some foreign country without a college degree.

I have no issue with the LeBron James / Kevin Garnett / Kobe Bryant type players who step in and play immediately. Last night we watched 2 likely lottery picks, Okafor and Winslow, get dominated by less talented experienced college players. These "lottery" players are nowhere near ready and much more likely to fail than players who have developed their game in college.

I hope young players start to approach the likes of Darius Miller, Deandre Liggins, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague, and others who have been sold on and then spit out of the "one and done" factories for advice before committing to these types of programs.

posted by cixelsyd at 04:11 PM on April 07

Teams are forced to invest heavily in players who have talent but can't really play.

Well - forced is a strong word to use there. There are teams like the Spurs who almost exclusively draft guys with 2+ years college experience or who come from Europe to high-ceiling one-and-dones. Cory Joseph is the one exception to this in the first round since before Duncan was drafted.

I'd have been really interested to see if the Spurs had Jonathan Bender et. al. on their first-round board at all, or if they're gaining from other teams consistently jumping early on these tools-y, athletic, minimal track record guys so they don't end up doing it later. They haven't drafted in the top 20 since Duncan, so it's hard to tell if their strategy at 8 would be the same as theirs is in the 20s, but in general they have avoided those kinds of investments for some reason.

posted by dfleming at 04:28 PM on April 07

... control over the rights for a person who isn't yet part of either group ...

Is your argument that the NBA is exerting unfair control over an 18-year-old by refusing to hire him?

That just sounds like a job qualification to me. I can't operate on patients until I earn a degree from medical school either. It sucks, but hopefully President Rand Paul will change all that.

I don't follow NCAA basketball any more. I liked it better when you had four or five years to follow the top athletes. It also feels to me like the quality of play isn't what it used to be.

posted by rcade at 04:31 PM on April 07

Job qualifications are unfair when their intent and effect are basically protectionist. Doctors have job qualifications because a certain level of skill and training is necessary before someone practices medicine, particularly considering the stakes. Basketball is different -- we have seen that some of these players can actually compete at age 18, so there is not much of a rational basis for the "job qualification," other than protecting the current players and protecting owners and GMS from the risk of failure and the consequences of bad decisions.

posted by holden at 06:57 PM on April 07

That just sounds like a job qualification to me. I can't operate on patients until I earn a degree from medical school either.

Like holden says, that would mean something if the best "doctor" in the world hadn't skipped "medical school", so trying to equate the professions is a bit silly.

posted by grum@work at 11:07 PM on April 07

simple solution: eliminate athletic scholarships. then college sports will be back to being college sports and the kids who want to play ball for a living will migrate to the development leagues that will inevitably spring up.

posted by hexagram at 12:17 AM on April 08

I can't operate on patients until I earn a degree from medical school either.

That's a false equivalency. Doctors have a licensure body which is concerned with consistent, safe skill-sets and capacity to act within the bounds of the profession. It's what separates professions from non-profession jobs - a quantifiable set of skills for which that designation endorses you as having.

There's no argument to be made that there's a standard like that for athletes - i.e., you don't need to prove you can shoot 40% from the three in order to be designated a basketball player...they are similar to how an economist doesn't have to do anything other than prove to their employer that they're capable of doing the job, but an engineer needs to prove they're licensed AND capable of the job.

posted by dfleming at 08:44 AM on April 08

Like holden says, that would mean something if the best "doctor" in the world hadn't skipped "medical school", so trying to equate the professions is a bit silly.

Then use journalism as an example. A newspaper could require a college degree as a hiring requirement even though some applicants would be fully capable of doing the job without one.

The NBA has a development league, so it has a place to put the extremely small number of 18-year-olds genuinely capable of playing pro ball at that age. It doesn't need college as a free development system for those freaks of talent.

For the other 18-year-olds, refusing to draft them without some college time benefits those players along with the NBA. They get more experience, and for the majority who will never reach the NBA, they have a chance at higher education.

The NBA rule isn't blocking players from pursuing the profession at 18. There are plenty of overseas opportunities now for the ones who hate the idea of going to college. There also are minor pro leagues in the U.S.

posted by rcade at 10:03 AM on April 08

That's like saying there are jobs at McDonalds in Europe, so why is [minority group] complaining we won't hire them at McDonalds here. NBA teams are so bad at deciding which high school kids are good enough that they've enjoined themselves as a group from even trying to find out. They force kids to either get into a US college or find a job in Europe to audition. And if a kid isn't academically qualified to slide under the door at a big-time college sports program, how well suited is he going to be to succeed in a foreign culture?

Given neither time in college nor overseas travel is required to be a success in the NBA how can requiring one or the other be anything but an unfair hiring practice? "Sorry, we only hire doctors who can stand on their heads for 5 minutes. Just a thing we do."

Put another way: what happens at midnight on someone's 19th birthday that makes them NBA ready? The day before they are not, the day after they are.

posted by yerfatma at 10:23 AM on April 08

A newspaper could require a college degree as a hiring requirement even though some applicants would be fully capable of doing the job without one.

Sure.

But the NBA doesn't require a degree or work experience.

All players must be at least 19 years of age during the calendar year of the draft, and a player who completed basketball eligibility at an American high school must also be at least one year removed from the graduation of his high school class.

That's it. There isn't anything that says they have to go to college or play in Europe. There is nothing except an age requirement.

I'm pretty sure that's codified age discrimination, agreed upon by a union that is determining employment for adults who aren't even part of their union.

posted by grum@work at 10:44 AM on April 08

A newspaper could require a college degree as a hiring requirement even though some applicants would be fully capable of doing the job without one.

That example isn't entirely anologous, either. Nobody here is arguing that an individual team shouldn't be able to have a policy of not drafting high school players. The issue is the collusion (for lack of a better word) among all teams that resulted in the "one and done" policy. In your example, the New York Times could require a college degree, but would do so at the risk of the next Bob Woodward joining the Washington Post at 18.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:09 AM on April 08

Then use journalism as an example.

Can you imagine a journalism or doctor draft? Pro sports is on a different planet from other occupations so I don't know how useful it is to compare them.

From the NBA's perspective there isn't much reason to be drafting 18 year olds. There are so few of them that are ready to play but teams still feel the pressure to take chances on them for the small chance that these seeds turn into superstars. So, the NBA takes a way that pressure and gives teams an extra year to see what those players are about before drafting them with the added bonus of controlling their rights further into their primes.

I don't like the age restriction from a fairness standpoint but there are a lot of things unfair about the NBA CBA. The draft: players are forced to move wherever they are drafted with no real recourse. Rookie scale contracts: players make far less than they are worth on the open market. Max contracts: players make far less than they are worth on the open market. Restricted free agency: team controlling where you work and your only recourse is to take a one year deal (risky and cheap) or continue to live/play where you don't want to. I would probably tinker with all of those before I would mess with the age restriction.

posted by tron7 at 11:13 AM on April 08

Can you imagine a journalism or doctor draft?

Mel Kiper needs something to do over the summer.

posted by bender at 12:25 PM on April 08

From the NBA's perspective there isn't much reason to be drafting 18 year olds.

I
think
that
there
might
be.

If drafting 18-year-olds is a bad idea and the NBA wants to stop teams from doing it, simply let them keep drafting those players and learn that it's a bad idea. The market will correct itself pretty quickly.

What the NBA/NCAA should do is allow a player to declare for the NBA draft, and if they are not picked/signed, still allow them to attend college without ruining their NCAA eligibility.
That should apply for high school students and active college students.

The draft: players are forced to move wherever they are drafted with no real recourse.

Rookie scale contracts: players make far less than they are worth on the open market.

Max contracts: players make far less than they are worth on the open market.

Restricted free agency: team controlling where you work and your only recourse is to take a one year deal (risky and cheap) or continue to live/play where you don't want to.

The first two screw the incoming players without them having any say, while the last two are at least negotiated by the people they are affecting.

posted by grum@work at 01:04 PM on April 08

From the NBA's perspective there isn't much reason to be drafting 18 year olds.

The NBA's perspective should be that the best possible product is the 450 or so best players are playing in the NBA each season and they're maintaining some level of parity of opportunity for each city that has a team. I can't imagine a scenario where one year less of LeBron James is a perspective a league concerned primarily with the product would have.

The reality is, however, that profit motive is behind the draft and the rookie contract scale, and it's in place largely to recompense the richest players and the owners through the CBA negotiations. If guys enter the league at 19, rather than 18, then their service time/contracts go out another year and effectively reduce the number of potential free agent years.

It's not a perspective that's particularly fan-focused and thus not one I'm speeding to endorse. If an owner doesn't think 18 year olds are appropriate in the NBA, they can elect to draft more seasoned players like the Spurs do.

posted by dfleming at 01:45 PM on April 08

Put another way: what happens at midnight on someone's 19th birthday that makes them NBA ready?

What happens at midnight on someone's 21st birthday that makes them alcohol ready? What happens at midnight on someone's 18th birthday that makes them voting ready? The number of people we're talking about here -- the small number of 18-year-olds ready to jump directly into the NBA -- is not where I'd draw the line on arbitrary age restrictions.

Given neither time in college nor overseas travel is required to be a success in the NBA how can requiring one or the other be anything but an unfair hiring practice?

So you'd support an NBA team drafting a 16-year-old?

posted by rcade at 02:15 PM on April 08

I think that there might be.

The teams have reason to draft them if they are available, the league really doesn't. All of those players would be there at age 19. It's not like their rookie seasons were so great that you'd miss them if they weren't there.

What the NBA/NCAA should do is allow a player to declare for the NBA draft, and if they are not picked/signed, still allow them to attend college without ruining their NCAA eligibility. That should apply for high school students and active college students.

I could get behind this if there were somewhere for the players to play while they're still not good enough to pull significant NBA minutes. I don't want some 17 year old sitting on my NBA team's bench even if he might be the next LeBron/Jonathan Bender. So an expansion of the D-League or some sort of understanding with the NCAA but I have no idea what that would entail.

posted by tron7 at 02:25 PM on April 08

Are soccer and baseball suffering from teams signing 16-year-olds?

posted by dfleming at 02:26 PM on April 08

It's not like their rookie seasons were so great that you'd miss them if they weren't there.

I suspect every Cavaliers fan who watched LeBron go 20/5/5 his first year (one of four people to ever do that as a rookie) would've missed him quite a bit.

posted by dfleming at 02:30 PM on April 08

So you'd support an NBA team drafting a 16-year-old?

16-year-olds are not adults. If the NBA wants to have a "legal adult" requirement, then there isn't anything wrong with that.

posted by grum@work at 02:52 PM on April 08

Sure, but I don't care about Cavaliers fans.

posted by tron7 at 02:54 PM on April 08

What happens at midnight on someone's 21st birthday that makes them alcohol ready? . . . arbitrary age restrictions

Except that's a law passed by the government so I don't see it as comparable. Government can make arbitrary age limits and has to*, but I can't think of many other places where a business group is able to do so. The only one that comes to mind are MPAA ratings and those are actually a voluntary agreement within the industry.

* E.g., you have to start drawing from your retirement accounts at age 70 because the House wanted it to be 69 and the Senate 70 (or vice-versa).

posted by yerfatma at 03:14 PM on April 08

... I can't think of many other places where a business group is able to do so.

The case for a private business imposing age restrictions is stronger than a government doing so. A government has far more obligations to its people than a private business has to its employees.

As a private enterprise the NBA has no obligation to 18-year-olds to allow them to join one of its teams.

To me it's no different than airline setting minimum age requirements for its flight attendants, which I believe all the major carriers do.

posted by rcade at 04:01 PM on April 08

I hope young players start to approach the likes of Darius Miller, Deandre Liggins, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague, and others who have been sold on and then spit out of the "one and done" factories for advice before committing to these types of programs.

Darius Miller played 4 years for the University of Kentucky. DeAndre Liggins played 3 years at UK before moving on to the NBA, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones, Patrick Patterson all played 2 or more years. Not every draft pick produced by the Calipari coached Wildcats has been a "one and done" player.

posted by ampto11 at 06:06 PM on April 08

Not sure that Jermaine O'Neal is the best example to use there Grum. While it's true that he went on to have a nice career, he was quite awful in his time with the Blazers.

He was just too young and nowhere near ready to play in the NBA. If I recall correctly he was only 17 when he was drafted. It wasn't until he moved on to Indiana that he blossomed into an excellent player. It was still a good move for him though since he spent four years getting first round money instead of taking pots for jocks at some hoops factory.

posted by Mothball at 04:47 AM on April 09

Shit, if an 8-year old had the stuff to take the NBA to school, I'd be like, damn girl. Just do it.

Age requirements are just there to protect the mortals. Slamdunk Godlet is on her way.

posted by Hugh Janus at 09:56 AM on April 10

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