NBA lockout's potential impact on NBA draft

Wed, 10/13/2010 - 10:45pm

As the calendar creeps ever closer to the end of October, basketball fans start to salivate in a Pavlovian manner. They know what’s coming – the real hoops they’ve been deprived of for months. This season there is no shortage of compelling storylines: Can anybody stop the Heat? Can the Lakers repeat? Will Kevin Durant and the Thunder make the leap to elite status? The list goes on and on, and that’s without even mentioning college hoops.

But there is one dark cloud looming over otherwise bright basketball skies - the potential of a lockout after the 2010-11 NBA season. A potential work stoppage has the potential to shake up next year’s draft in many different ways.

The most obvious impact would be the inclination for prospects to come back for another year of college ball instead of jumping to a league that might not play a season. This could potentially devastate the underclassmen pool, possibly even cutting the number of early entries in half.

On the other hand, this idea will certainly be publicized to the point where some agents are sure to employ the reverse logic to players to entice them to come out. The idea being that a bunch of guys won’t be coming out because of a lockout, so maybe this is a year for middling talent to get taken higher.

A large part of this will be determined by individual player demeanor and goals. Will players on teams that have disappointing seasons be more inclined to come back and prove they can lead their team to victory since the guaranteed cash now might not be there?

Kyle SinglerKyle SinglerWhile they are top prospects, Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving seem like the kind of kids that would come back instead of sitting out a year. Truly elite talent, on their level, is going to be set either way, so why not compete instead of rolling the dice?

It’s more interesting to examine how underclassmen who might be projected mid-to-late first round will handle this situation. A guy like Derrick Williams, who is brimming with potential despite a lack of a defined NBA position, could see this as a chance to take advantage of other players stepping out and hoping a GM with a lottery pick bites on his athletic upside. On the other hand he could also look at trying to get Arizona’s program being back on the upswing as a reason to come back and possibly make a deep tournament run.

Oddly enough, the prospects who would likely benefit the most from a severe lockout threat are college seniors. While it’s true that they might be stranded without a league to play in after leaving school, they essentially have nothing to lose. They’re coming out one way or another, so if underclassmen shy away, NCAA seniors could dominate the draft in a way that hasn’t been seen in decades.

Right now the 2011 mock projects 4 seniors to get taken in the first round of the draft and a whopping 25 to go in the second. Crazy as it sounds, that number could increase.

Could Kyle Singler become a top 5 pick? Could Jimmer Fredette go in the lottery? It’s possible with a lockout looming.

The shadow cast by a lockout threat could lead to a very weak 2011 draft, and in turn make the 2012 draft loaded with talent. If that happens, look for the smarter GMs in the league to trade out of the 2011 draft and attempt to procure as many 2012 first round picks as possible.

One factor that won’t likely come into play is players leaving early to avoid any financial restructuring the lockout might cause. Unlike the NFL (or even MLB), the NBA’s draft and its contract/pay scale system isn’t horribly flawed and broken. Odds are against sweeping changes to its structure as a result of any new negotiations, so players will likely be compensated similarly in the 2012 draft as they would be in the 2011 draft. The issue for prospects will be whether they’re willing to wait a year without pay and play to collect that check.

Another thing to keep an eye on is how creative GMs will get if it looks like there won’t be a 2011-12 season (or even a truncated one). Might they “unofficially” send some of their second round picks overseas to European leagues. That could potentially solve the problem of the players not being compensated or getting serious playing time due to the NBA not playing games. Just a crazy little idea, which seems fitting for the craziness a lockout would bring.

Everything is setting up for some great basketball in 2010-11, but it’ll be hard to ignore the ominous lockout rumblings in the distance. A storm might be headed our way.

LeroyJenkins's picture
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You so cwazy

You so cwazy

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International players

I think that a lockout could bring them up in the draft board as well. Usually 2nd round picks who come from Europe decide to stay in Europe one or two more seasons. Some guy could decide to enter early the draft, taking advantage from this situation, since top prospects could stay another year in college.

From what I hear, there are not many good International players born in 1989 for the next draft (Macvan and Benzing maybe?). Anyway there are many good players born in the '90s who could declare in 2011. I think about Motiejunas and Vesely, two guys that should be selected in the lottery regardless of what's going to happen, but I also think about guys like Valanciunas or Musli, for example. All these guys could be first round picks, if some big name decides to skip this draft, and yet they could stay in Europe at least one more season...

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Looming Lockout

It would suck, that is for sure, but draft classes suffer from time to time regarding various factors. It more than likely would be like the 2006 draft to an extent, but probably better in all likelihood. I personally could see Kyle Singler being a top 5 draft pick, the kid has a lot of game and it would not be the worst thing in the world. If the early entries were cut in half, I honestly think it would end up being a good thing in the long run. I for one am mind boggled year after year that their are more early entry prospects in the draft than their are picks in the first round. Obviously for some it is due to maybe some bad advice, maybe not liking school, I am sure a bevy of reasons, but I think the early entries being cut in half might be bad for this year, but great for the long run. It would just mean that their would be a group of players more prepared to contribute right away that next year. So, while some of the bottom teams may not have gotten exactly what they wanted in 2011, they will just get even more of a boost in 2012. Heck, worked for OKC.

Now, as far as people saying the lockout will fully deter many of the top underclassmen from entering the draft, I think many will see this as an opportunity. Sure, the lockout may loom, and they may not get those NBA dollars right away, but with a chance to go higher in the draft and make more money down the road, I am sure we will still see a lot of interesting names. People will still come out to get their money, they may not get it as soon as they might have hoped, but I am guessing that they will figure things out in time to make it worth it for everyone involved. Why risk injury or being knocked out by some other young up and comers, just because you would be able to play more basketball? As much as I would love to think people had that attitude, I find it unrealistic. So, I hope this article proves me wrong, but I have a hard time seeing this draft become as talent drained as people like Chad Ford are predicting due to this lockout. It would be amazing for college basketball and for the 2012 draft if it did, but if Perry Jones, Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes come back for another year, expect Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight and Jared Sullinger licking their chops in hopes of moving up for that nice contract in the future. Honestly, as much as the CBA may change, I do not see the draft scale changing that significantly, because it is working out incredibly well. Dare I say, this brings back good old days of the draft, where a player might return to school to prepare even more thoroughly for the NBA, and I kind of miss those times.

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Would anyone drafted in 2011

Would anyone drafted in 2011 and if there was a lock out go onto the 2nd year of their rookie contracts in 2012-13 and thus be able to get onto the higher 2nd contract quicker?

I fully agree with Freddy that the European guys who already play professionally have nothing to lose and if some top NCAA prospects don't declare then the likes of Motiejunas, Vesley etc could go even higher than they project.

The top prospects like Harrison Barnes would have to do it all over again to retain their draft value against the likes of Drummond, Miller, Gilchrist etc. Also teams like Kentucky could have a hugely stacked roster if some of their 2010-11 guys returned along with their new recruits for 2011-12. I wonder if any uncommitted 2011-12 NCAA players might consider this when looking a college options although playing on a strong term would be great if they don't get the minutes they cannot showcase their game and maybe have to gamble on being drafted on upside only.

One wildcard could be will some guys follow the Brandon Jennings line and maybe play abroad for a year after declaring and being drafted. The nightmare for a team with a highly drafted player who they may not be able to sign due to the lockout could be that he gets a lucrative offer from Europe and stays there for a few years for example Rubio or knowing they can come over 3 years later like Splitter and get a better contract.

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That would suck to be a

That would suck to be a bottom 5 team in the league and end up with Singler in the draft lol

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Against the Jennings way...

In the end, should be clear that going to another country at 18 is not the best way to be selected high in a NBA draft. I take as example these two guys, Jennings and Jeremy Tyler.

Jennings took 500.000 dollars and went to Rome. He didn't play so much, and this almost destroyed his draft stock. What we've seen last year tells us he was a top 5 pick in 2009 draft, maybe top 3. Yet he's been selected at 10 in 2009, and he risked to be selected lower, since Bucks weren't completely sold on him. Taking the ready money, how many will he lose in the near future for this bad decision? At least 1-2 million dollars per year until his rookie contract expires...

Now look at Jeremy Tyler. He did the trip as Jennings before. But things didn't work, just as happened for Jennings. Now he's in Japan (!). This decision will cost him maybe more, and he'll be lucky to be selected in next year's draft.

Problem is, if you go to Europe, you cannot expect to play from day one and shine as a star. It's a different basketball that you have to learn, and nobody has much patience with a guy who's going to leave after one year. If you're not ready, you'll play few minutes, without a key role, burning this way your draft stock.

That's the reason I think that going overseas will be an option that players, expecially good ones, will not choose anymore. If you can be a star in college since day one, without the pressure you have playing professional basketball, I don't see the point in going to another country and risking your position. No surprise this year nobody tried that way...

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The NBA draft is about mone

I think as the season moves along the threat of a lockout, or at least an extended lockout, will be a lot lower. However, a decrease in rookie contracts is quite possible and will be the drum beat of every agent with a mouth. So, in order for players to lock in salaries at the current rate, they must declare under this CBA thus I think there will be a flood of players declaring instead of going back to school.

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