We have the same argument at this time of the year that we do every other. Which players should leave school early and declare for the pros and which ones should stay in college for another year. Mostly, it is just another branch of the one and done debate. Usually, depending on your feeling about the rule itself, your belief about a player’s decision could be predetermined based off of your love for something that has nothing to do with their actual basketball abilities.
It is similar to how we tell athletes when they should retire. You know, from a distance. Without being emotionally involved in that person’s life, we are quick to tell them that they should hang it up. Without factoring in that the sport that person plays, possibly the only thing that the athlete ever wanted to do his entire life, is so important to the player that he doesn’t mind being not as good as he was a few years prior.
Still, we tell him when he should retire. Because, um, we would love for others to tell us what to do with our livelihoods, right?
We also like to tell kids who play a game for free (or at least a college education), what they should do concerning their future. If we believe them to be a player who can improve their draft stock by coming back for another year, we tell them they should come back. If it is thought that the player’s stock is maxed out, then we proclaim that it is a must that they toss their name in the NBA Draft.
Unlike the players, we don’t get anything out of them declaring early entry or staying in college. Well, unless you have a rooting interest in the college in which that particular player calls home.
Without knowing their circumstances, everyone tends to believe how all players should approach their professional futures. We also assume that every players’ goal is to get to the NBA. Which is silly, because a large portion of players might just dream about being able to play basketball, at any level, for money.
It is much more romantic to think that every single player that ever played the game has dreamed about being the greatest player in the history of the sport. And it is pretty easy to assume that, at least at one point in time, it is something they once hoped. However, much like anyone’s life, realistic expectations set in and new goals, dreams and hopes emerge.
Take a player who is projected to go in the second-round, where there is no guaranteed money. We say it makes no sense for that player to declare early. That the player should come back in an attempt to improve his stock. While we say all of that, though, we ignore the fact that he can do the same thing — improving his stock — while getting paid in the D-League or overseas. Why does it have to happen at the college level?
Oh, because you like it more.
That player may just simply want to get paid to work on his craft. While we, myself included, prop up college basketball as the second best place to play basketball in the entire world, a player could argue that they much rather work on getting better while focusing on only the game — not school, worrying about NCAA sanctions or fitting into their college basketball coach’s system.
Same goes for a player when he decides to stay. The guy we say can’t improve his stock anymore than where it is currently at. We call it a mistake that he stays. That the player is potentially losing out on a ton of money because he wants to play college hoops one more year.
So, we tell one guy that he is making a mistake of passing on — only potentially — improving his draft stock because he might have to make it in a place other than the NBA or college, all while we trash a different guy for passing on the money to play the game for free. Which bothers you more, the idea that the NBA might not be the everything for a player or the fact that you can’t control every players’ decision making?
Or, more likely, it just baffles you that the endgame might not be the NBA or college basketball. That a player just wants to make a living playing hoops as soon as possible, no matter the place.
There is certainly nothing wrong with having an opinion about a player’s draft stock, when is the right time for him to turn pro or anything of that nature. I just caution you from jumping to conclusions. What might be important to you might not be important to them.
Even if a player declares early and fails in the NBA, even if a player comes back to college and his draft stock falls, there are no wrong decisions regarding a player’s decision about his basketball and/or educational future. Why? Because it is his to make.