Altering NBA draft could be costly, ineffective
- From: libnus <anonymous@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2011 16:20:52 +0000 (UTC)
Altering NBA draft could be costly, ineffective
The NBA proposed adding a third round to the draft, but players countered
with an array of changes. (AP)
Former ESPN reporter Chris Sheridan, writing at his new site
SheridanHoops.com, reports that NBA owners have proposed adding a third
round to the draft as part of the collective bargaining talks set to
resume today. Sheridan also fleshes out a union proposal that would force
good teams to give up first-round picks and redistribute those picks to
bad teams. The union?s backing of that general concept has been reported
before, and it fits in with the players? view that owners can achieve the
stated goal of increased competitive balance without imposing a hard
team-by-team salary cap. Move around some picks and share some revenue,
and ? bam ? there?s your parity! (I remain unconvinced that true, NFL-
style parity is possible in basketball.)
Here?s Sheridan with the details of two separate union proposals:
Under one proposal, the 15 teams with the worst records would continue to
pick 1st through 15th, but then would also have the 16th through 30th
picks. The teams with the top 15 records would have the first 15 picks of
the second round, then would have the 44th through 60th picks, too.
Under another proposal, the teams with the eight worst records would get
an additional first round pick, beginning with selection No. 22, and the
teams with the eight best records would have no first-round picks but
would select at the top of the second round (picks 31 through 38), then
also would get the final eight picks of the second round.
? To say this stuff is on the back burner would be an understatement, and
Sheridan acknowledges that these nitty-gritty details won?t get the floor
until the major issues ? the revenue split and the hard cap ? are
resolved. These draft proposals are interesting, but they are simply not
on the radar yet, according to sources familiar with the talks.
? The proposal to add an extra round to the draft is not so interesting,
at least at first blush, and I?m not sure what the owners see as the
goal. Perhaps there?s the possibility that adding an extra round would
shift a handful of roster spots around the league, from pricey veterans
to cheap rookies on non-guaranteed contracts, but that kind of shift
would likely be small or negligible. The second round is already a
crapshoot with the likeliest outcome for any pick being a brief and
undistinguished NBA career.
Two years ago, ESPN took an extensive look at the history of the draft
and found that 90 percent of players picked in the second round have
contributed essentially nothing in the NBA. Only five of the second-round
picks from the 2007 draft are guaranteed any NBA money next season,
though a couple of others (like Josh McRoberts and Kyrylo Fesenko) should
find work in the league. Only eight of the 2008 second-rounders are still
in the NBA, and while 2009 was something of a boom year for second-round
picks, only three of the 30 guys taken in the second round of the 2010
draft logged at least 300 minutes as rookies.
Which is to say this proposed third round is only going to produce more
of the same ? more guys on non-guaranteed deals, more training-camp cuts
and more players stashed overseas forever. NBA teams have only 15 roster
spots, and most already cap themselves at 13 or 14 players.
Adding more of this NBA flotsam might be meaningful in conjunction with a
continued expansion of the interaction between the NBA and the D-League,
and that figures to be a connected issue that comes up at the tail end of
these CBA talks. Teams now can assign only first- and second-year players
to the D-League, and they can assign each such player to the league just
three times per season. A loosening of those restrictions, plus the
addition of an extra floating roster spot or two (with a competitive
salary), could make a third round much more viable at little cost to NBA
teams. But even little costs matter to most teams.
? The union?s proposal to rejigger the draft by giving more first-round
picks to lottery teams would be a much more meaningful change, but I?d be
blown away if owners go for either of the union proposals described
above. Players selected in the mid-to-late first round are rarely stars,
but the chances of finding one are much greater than in the second round.
And a guy in that first-round stretch of picks is much more likely than a
second-rounder to be a useful NBA rotation player for several seasons,
according to the ESPN study. Guaranteed money might have something to do
with that, because teams under the old CBA were tied to first-round picks
for at least two seasons and thus likely to provide them with precious
minutes and time. But teams and their scouts are smart; first-round picks
are better players, as a whole, than the guys selected later.
I?m dead set against this proposal if I?m a big-market team, and that?s
before you even consider the moral objection some people have against
rewarding bad teams with extra picks. Robbing an elite team of the
opportunity to select a good young player in the late 20s makes it harder
for that club to construct a long-term plan and transition into the next
era as its stars age. That could increase parity by cutting short a
team?s dominance, but that strikes me as unfair and unfriendly to fans.
It could also backfire on the union in a way.
If I?m the GM of a really good team and I know I?m not going to be able
to rebuild through the draft, I might limit guaranteed contracts to two
or three core players and use the rest of my cap space on non-guaranteed
deals year to year, especially if the league manages to impose a more
restrictive salary cap. Without the draft, teams might need more
flexibility to pursue free agents or make trades every season, and that
could have an unanticipated trickle-down effect on mid-level veterans. Or
perhaps top teams seeking first-round picks might feel compelled to trade
key veterans to the non-playoff teams holding those first-rounders.
All of this stuff could theoretically increase parity, but at what cost?
This is all conjecture, of course. And it?s conjecture about side issues
that won?t get much attention until the end of this process. The smart
money is on the 2012 draft looking a lot like the 2011 draft, though some
tweaks are possible if both sides are truly committed.
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