Sports media and the blogosphere blew up a couple days ago, as the possibility of adding a third round to the NBA draft was reported to have been discussed as part of the ongoing labor negotiations. By day’s end Wednesday, some had publicly opined that this idea could be the “Best Thing To Come From [the] Lockout.”
Of course, here are BallinEurope, we basically had one question: How does this affect The Continental game?
Below, BallinEurope UK guy Sam Chadwick takes a look at some of the pros and cons – or rather the Massive Benefits and Consequences of an NBA Draft round three – vis-à-vis European basketball. Plus, there’s some stuff about Darko Milicic.
So how many rounds is too many? The current NBA Draft has two rounds, two picks per team with a total of 60 players making the grade to join the world’s most elite league.
In comparison, the NHL has its own draft, with last year 211 players selected and 210 the year prior. The NFL draft is even more complex, with 32 picks each in seven rounds, plus “compensatory picks” … I’m confused already.
But back to the NBA: The addition of a third round to the NBA draft will either produce Massive Benefits for the European game or Catastrophic Consequences. Those items look as follows.
• More Europeans in the NBA. Speak now or forever hold your peace: Who doesn’t want more Europeans competing in the NBA? Who doesn’t want European players playing against the best of the best night in night out? The NBA will make players improve, with increased likelihood of finding a star a la Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, etc., but a greater likelihood of finding key role players such as Danilo Gallinari, Marco Belinelli, Juan Carlos Navarro, Darko Milicic, Luol Deng, Rudy Fernandez, etc. More picks should result in more European players drafted, which should result in higher-quality players.
• Darko freed. I am not yet ready to rate Darko Milicic a “Bust”: His career has been the result of a failure in the system. It’s not his fault he was drafted where he was; it is the fault of the team, the GM and the scout who decided to pick Milicic, a player who averages 6.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game, shooting 46% from the field and possessing more NBA championship rings than Lebron James should not be considered a bust. The addition of a third round means that teams don’t need to take such a huge risk on an unknown player so high up in the draft. In the multiple-first-round-selections proposal, teams at the upper end of the draft board could wait it out and potentially use their second first-round pick to choose a player like Milicic.
• More players staying in Europe. Above I stated that more Europeans would play in the NBA and that is still the case, this point here is that players who are considered not ready are more likely to stay in Europe and develop, the way Tiago Splitter stayed in Spain to continue his development – or Joel Freeland, Marc Gasol, and Juan Carlos Navarro. Young players who were drafted in 2011 such as Davis Bertans and Bojan Bogdanovic will be able to continue developing in Europe, moving to the NBA when they are ready and the (more) Europeans who get drafted in future can do the same.
• More players will return. Juan Carlos Navarro played one season in the NBA for the Memphis Grizzlies and made the All-Rookie second team. That off-season, Navarro was one of the most sought-after players, one Memphis were desperate to bring back; instead, he signed for Barcelona and the rest is history, i.e. leading Barca to Euroleague and ACB championships. Another player to call short his NBA career was possibly the New York Knicks’ answer for years of point guard problems: Sergio Rodriguez, who returned to Europe after posting NBA career highs in points and field goals while connecting on 34.7% from long range and adding 3.4 apg. Many players have also considered returning to Europe when things start to go wrong … Rudy Fernandez being a prime example of a player who very nearly quit his NBA career to star in Europe.
• More Europeans in the NBA, or The NBA could steal all the talent. With a third round in the NBA draft more Europeans are likely to declare – we could lose all the Rubios, the Navarros, the Gasols, the Dirks, if all top-level players from Europe leave for the NBA, what’s going to be left for us? Obviously this is completely theoretical, but all the entire European top-tier one day just decided to jump from the sinking ship and hitch a ride on an NBA contract? The good thing is, unless the NBA expands its number of teams, we can be pretty sure there will always be some top-level talent here in Europe … Thank God!
• Darko freed. The fact that Europeans are considered weak, soft and generally busts is because of players like Milicic, who has given people reason to doubt Europeans drafted high. Americans will always see a Euro in the top 10 and immediately ask if he is going to be a bust; they’ll ask if he’ll be soft, if he is going to be a long-range jumpshooter and not much else. Those questions will arise until a European is drafted at no. 1 overall and becomes a Lebron type … even then he’ll be criticized until he wins a ring. F.Y.I., an incredibly insightful account on Europeans in the NBA from the great Hardwood Paroxysm may be found here.
• More players staying in Europe. Those NBA draft picks who get picked at, like, 58th overall and actually really suck … you know, those guys that, because of their NBA draft pick status they assume that they are one of the best in the world. When they don’t get a contract in the NBA, guess what they do? Return to Europe for some nice salary and average what? 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game? We don’t want those guys clogging up minutes for a Euroleague team who could probably sign an Englishman and see more productive stat sheets for half the paycheck.
• More players will return. I personally love the NBA, and I’m sure some of you reading this despise it, but when I see Juan Carlos Navarro hitting those floaters for an NBA team over some of the most athletic people in America, it makes me happy; when I see Sergio Rodriguez running the Knicks, it makes me happy; when I see Marc Gasol dominate the paint like a big man is supposed to … well, you get the picture. Some players I want to stay in the NBA – unfortunately for me, some of them come back. (I’m looking at you, Juan Carlos…)
Personally, I think an additional round would be a success for Europe, with the likelihood of the talent emigrating incredibly low, but the positives of European players being selected and developing into Tony Parkers, Dirks, Gasols makes me giddy. And when all these European stars return for Eurobasket every two years carrying their NBA rivalries, NBA talent means that Eurobasket will be the place where these guys can exact revenge.
Sam Chadwick is the co-head coach of the Solent Kestrels U14 basketball team, along with dividing the remainder of his time among an assistant quantity surveyor job, university studies and sportswriting. You can follow him on Twitter at @chadwick9.