Monday, May 12, 2008

Mayo's Money

OJ Mayo (the gifted freshman guard from USC who is expected to be a top 10 pick in the NBA Draft in June) is accused of taking cash during his high school and college days from the agent who is now representing him. Listening to the commentary on ESPN radio today, I was struck by how most of the talking heads put the blame on either USC, the NCAA, or the NBA. The NBA now requires players to be at least one year removed from school to be eligible for the draft. According to these geniuses, that makes them culpable for creating a situation where Mayo-type situations are inevitable. In my mind, there are two parties to blame: OJ Mayo (and his family) and the agent and his cronies.

Doesn't the NBA, as a private organization, have the right to conduct it's business as it sees fit? They have decided that it's bad for business to draft 18 year olds and pay them millions (based on their performance against high school kids) to sit the bench (Jermaine O'Neal) while they learn to play. The NBA doesn't owe it to an OJ Mayo or Michael Beasley to let them enter whenever the player sees fit.

However, here's a plan that might improve things for everybody: anyone can declare for the draft out of high school, but if you are not taken in the top two picks, you can't be drafted. If un-drafted, you go to college or join the NBA's development league. The next year, you can be drafted, but must be taken in the top 5. The third year, you must be taken in the first round. This would allow the NBA to benefit from players who can be stars immediately (Lebron, Derrick Rose), but teams wouldn't be tempted to make risky picks on unproven athletes. The players would be more likely to get an education and for those who aren't college material, they could make a decent living and develop their game in the D-League.

To quote Walter Sobchak, "Am I wrong?"


Rudi said...

Frankly, Jon, I'm surprised at your desire for regulation here.

It would seem to me that in a free market, if a team is willing to pay insane amounts of money to take a risky chance (i.e. the Kwame Brown issue) on an unproven talent, then they should be able to do this.

If LeBron #2 (a fully pro-ready player) is currently a high school senior, the NBA won't allow him to be hired, despite having the job skills required. This seems like age discrimination to me.

For every LeBron James, Kevin Garnet, Kobe Bryant (interesting how the NBA's top three stars never went to college) there are several Kwame Browns. Too bad. I don't hear Kwame complaining- he's loaded, and, if he invested wisely, he won't have to work for the rest of his life. That's America!

While it's tough to find the "pro-ready" senior, that's what makes drafting exciting and unpredictable.

Jon Vander Plas said...

I don't want any regulation from outside parties. My argument is that the NBA has every right to decide this issue for themselves. Each team is not the equivalent of a firm in a free market. The league is the firm.

It's bad for the league to pay people millions to sit the bench. It'd be better if they went to college and entered the league ready to go. But it's also bad to keep out players who could star immediately - that's where my solution comes in.

Rudi said...

But in America, when it is deemed that the job candidate has the skills necessary to perform the job, and a firm won't hire the person STRICTLY on the basis of age, isn't that age discrimination?

And if the NBA is the firm, then this is a basketball monopoly that is shutting out some prime job candidates from ANY basketball job SOLEY on the basis of age/grade level.

It seems to me that the problem is with the teams inability to police themselves. Every team knows that its a risk to draft these young-uns, but the risk/reward is well known. Again- teams are hoping for a Garnet, Bryant, or James, but often end up with a Kwame Brown.

If a team deems that a player is ready, and it turns out that that player is NOT ready, tough luck for that team. What if, back when LeBron was draft ready, this rule was in place? Cleveland basketball would still be a laughing stock. It only takes one player to turn things around in the NBA, and if you screw a city out of that star player, it could have negative fall-out for 10-15 years.

It certainly seems like the league is currently reaping the rewards of the old system (three no-college mega-stars), so why limit these types of players at all?

Let the scouting and teams determine who is ready, and draft accordingly.

Jon Vander Plas said...

The NBA doesn't have a monopoly, there are other pro leagues, both here and over seas.
The NBA, as a private organization, has deemed that most high schoolers do not have the skills necessary to play in the NBA (or at least that it's too difficult to determine if they do). They could require a 4 year degree (as many employers do) if they wanted to, but instead only require a player to be 1 year removed from HS.
Playing one year in college gives the players a level of stardom that's hard to achieve in the NBA in your first year. A college star is more marketable than a high school phenom.
It sounds like it is you who is calling for regulation on the NBA. I want them to be able to handle this issue the way they think is best.