NCAA March Madness vs. NBA draft policy: Are changes needed? (Part I)

The logo for the NBA draft.

The NBA Draft Logo is on the minds of March Madness players who hope to make the leap to the NBA this summer, but as debate heats up it is clear that changes should be considered.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As March Madness continues to draw more basketball fans to the television, the topic of players making it to the National Basketball Association (NBA) frequently comes up. The current model for the NBA draft allows for players to declare for the draft a year after graduation from high school. The common route for exceptional players is to spend a year in college playing basketball before declaring for the draft, a prospect that many are unhappy with and constantly discuss.

NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West

NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West has shared his views about the draft policy.

It is clear that the current NBA draft model is unpopular with many fans and players. Among the complaints with the model are the claims that NBA product is being compromised, the NCAA product is disturbed, and that the majority of the young players are unprepared for the fame, fortune, and high expectations. Although there is validity in some of these concerns, there are also exaggerations attached as well. Hall of Famer Jerry West, recently commented on the issue, in assessing the NBA talent pool.

“The NBA is in the worst shape it’s ever been,'” he said. One of the reasons for his critique was based on the number of young players yet to mature into what they were expected to as they were brought into the league. Another Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley, took it a step further by making it very clear that players need more time.

“I want kids to stay in college for two years…bad teams aren’t getting help, they’re getting projects,” Barkley said.

Barkley has been vocal as a March Madness commentator in sharing his opinion that college players need a minimum of two years in college to mature enough to be productive in the NBA as soon as they are drafted.

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley

Hall of Famer /TNT and March Madness Commentator Charles Barkley has consistently stated that potential NBA players need a minimum of two years in college in order to develop their game.

While West and Barkley are focusing on negative aspects of young players drafted in the NBA, they are completely absolving the executives that are paid millions to evaluate and enhance the performance of the young players they bring into the league. In fact, there is no direct correlation between age and performance as demonstrated by many of the recent draft classes. When supporters of players being eligible to enter the NBA straight out of high school mention recent ‘One-and-done players’ who are successful in the NBA, the counter is to call them ‘exceptions.’

The reality is every NBA player is the exception. Additionally, there is little to show that players like Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, or John Wall needed to stay in school a second year in order to become good players in the NBA. However, there is no escaping the reality that there is always an abundance of players not quite good enough to excel at the highest level of basketball, regardless of how long they prepare before entering the league. A possible solution is changing the NBA draft to resemble the college draft rules of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are former number 1 overall picks that spent less than two years in college.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are former No. 1 overall picks who spent less than two years in college.

MLB’s draft rules allow players to declare for the draft straight out of high school but if the player elects to go to college he must stay for at least three years. The NBA should adopt that rule and amend it to two years in college. The NBA is the best place for players to improve their games.

“College coaches work more on masking a player’s weaknesses…rather than improving the player and risk losing in the process,” NBA trainer and ESPN insider David Thorpe said about the issue.

Thorpe’s assessment explains why so many players have several skills that need to be developed, even after spending years in college. If the NBA wants to improve its product then the new commissioner, Adam Silver, and his team needs to hold the million dollar executives who own and operate NBA teams accountable for better scouting and developing of the young players drafted in the NBA.–OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Which team has the brighter future: the Knicks or the Lakers?

Carmelo Anthony (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are in different circumstances for marquee franchises but both have championship aspirations for the next couple of seasons.

Carmelo Anthony (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are in different circumstances with underperforming franchises but both have championship aspirations for the next couple of seasons.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The New York Knicks formally introduced Phil Jackson as president of basketball operations on Tuesday, March 18, sparking feelings of hope in the minds of optimistic fans. But there are plenty of skeptics who point to the tall task ahead of the “Zen Master” and many of the questions at the press conference were aimed at figuring out Jackson’s commitment to his first position as a basketball executive.

Phil Jackson had all the answers today at the press conference. This might not happen again for a while.

Phil Jackson seemed to have all the answers at Tuesday’s press conference. This might not happen again for a while.

There were a few noticeable takeaways from Tuesday’s press conference. Knicks fans must have felt annoyed to hear Knicks owner James Dolan almost gleefully admit: “I am not a basketball expert,” when he was asked specific questions. Dolan, however, recognized that it was time to hire someone who knows the game and he seemed happy to offer the position to Jackson. For his part, Jackson did not avoid the challenge with being present in New York year round, stating, “I plan to establish myself here [in New York] but I do have doctors and …other family I am committed to in L.A. as well.” With Jackson in the fold, there is a legitimate question as to which marquee, but underperforming franchise has a brighter immediate future: the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers?

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has the experience of building a championship team.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has the experience of building a championship team.

While Phil Jackson has plenty of experience as a basketball player and coach, current Knicks General Manager Steve Mills is in his first year in the position. This is in stark contrast to the Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak who is far more experienced. Kupchak is a former player and champion for the Washington Bullets and Lakers. He has been an executive for the Lakers since the late 1980’s. Kupchak learned directly under one of the best NBA executives of all times in Jerry West and has been the GM since 2000. This wealth of experience should give Lakers fans hope that Kupchak can fix the current mess the team finds itself in.

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson (l) and Lakers head coach Mike  D'Antoni may be looking for new jobs next season.

Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson (l) and Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni may be looking for new jobs next season.

There is a great deal of focus on the upcoming season and how these franchises will rebound, yet the Knicks still have a chance to make the playoffs this year. Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson will have a hard time retaining his position regardless of the team’s final win-loss outcome. The Lakers are already eliminated from playoff contention and their coach, Mike D’Antoni, will have a difficult time convincing Lakers’ management to continue being patient with him, if the Lakers finally come to their senses. Neither team can know what direction their team is headed before they know who the leader of their team will be. Both franchises have to figure out the coach of the future to help create structure for these teams.

Robert Sacre (l), J.R. Smith (c), and Jordan Hill (r) are unheralded members of the Knicks and Lakers that are not likely in either teams' long term future.

Robert Sacre (l), J.R. Smith (c), and Jordan Hill (r) are unheralded members of the Knicks and Lakers that are not likely in either teams’ long term future.

The Lakers will have only Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash definitely on the roster for next season. They will have plenty of cap space and their first round draft pick this year. Meanwhile, the Knicks will be over the salary cap next season, whether Carmelo Anthony opts out of his contract or not, and they do not have a first round draft pick this year. Both teams have publicly stated a desire to wait until the summer of 2015, when a host of all-star caliber players become free agents, before they spend the money the team has available under the cap. This process may seem prudent but may not work for the stars of each prospective franchise. Bryant has only two years left on his deal, and maybe in his career. He has been clear in recent comments: “no I’m not that patient…I don’t want to be a part of another season like this,” he has said. Anthony has also been on the record stating, “I want to win championships…in the near future.”

Both teams have several decisions to make about players, personnel and coaches. The Knicks now have a brilliant basketball mind in the front office and a top 5 scorer currently under contract. However, the Lakers will have 2014 and 2015 to strategically spend free agent money, make trades, draft players, and build a championship contender, like they normally do. It’s a toss-up to see if the personnel/coaching/player movements will achieve the desired results for either team.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Honoring NBA greats who paved the way for today’s superstars

Bill  Russell deservingly, receives a great deal of recognition for his accomplishments.

Bill Russell appropriately receives a great deal of recognition for his extensive career accomplishments.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As the National Basketball association (NBA) exits the month of the All-Star game, many fans are looking forward to the playoffs and the MVP race. The recent conversation about all-time great NBA players always features Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and many, many, more. This has prompted OnPointPress.net to honor some of the all-time greats who deserve as much recognition as those who are regularly mentioned.

At the end of each month, for the rest of the NBA season, we will highlight a center, forward, and guard who deserve to be recognized publicly and often.

Moses Malone is one of the best centers of all-time.

Moses Malone is one of the best centers of all time.

At center, we recognize Moses Malone. Malone started his professional career in 1974 in the American Basketball Association (ABA) as one of the first players to go straight to the pros from high school. Malone played for 9 different teams during his 21-year career, while earning MVP honors 3 times (79′, 82′ and 83′) and making the All Star team 14 times (2 ABA and 12 NBA).

Malone was the key acquisition of the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983 and the Malone\Julius Irving-led team finally captured the NBA championship in a sweep of the Lakers that season. Malone was named MVP in the Finals as well. Many basketball fans remember Malone for his serious demeanor and exceptional rebounding prowess. Malone retired in 1995 with 29,580 points, 17,834 rebounds, and 1936 assists. He should regularly come to mind when discussions of best centers of all time is raised.

Elgin Baylor, is not only one of the best players of all-time but is also the best scorer (27.4 ppg) in Lakers history.

Elgin Baylor, is not only one of the best players of all-time but is also the best scorer (27.4 ppg) in Lakers history.

At forward, we recognize Elgin Baylor. Baylor was the first overall draft pick of what was then the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958, and won rookie of the year honors in 1959. One of the best scorers of all time, Baylor would later average 27.4 points per game in his 13-year career (currently 4th best all time). Baylor would put together a phenomenal stretch while averaging 34.8, 38.3 and 34 points per game, respectively, in the 1960-63 seasons.

Baylor, along with Jerry West, led the Lakers to the NBA Finals on eight different occasions but had the dubious distinction of losing every appearance. As fate would have it, Baylor would suffer a serious knee injury that cut his career short. In fact, he retired early in the 1972-73 season, the same season the Lakers would set an NBA record winning 33 consecutive games and finally winning the championship. If not for the Celtics domination of the sixties, Baylor would definitely be brought up more regularly. Baylor (6’5″) was also an exceptional rebounder, who averaged 13.5 rebounds per game (career high 19.8 rpg in 1960) for his career.

Hal Greer holds the career scoring record for the 76ers.

Hal Greer holds the career scoring record for the 76ers.

At guard, we recognize Hal Greer. Greer joined the NBA in 1958 with the Syracuse Nationals, which eventually became the Philadelphia 76ers ,in 1963, and would play his entire career with the franchise. Though he played many years with Wilt Chamberlain, Greer holds the record as the 76ers all-time leading scorer.

The 10-time All Star would team with Chamberlain to lead the 76ers past the Boson Celtics in 1967, ending the Celtics 8-year championship run and culminating in the first title of the 76ers franchise. Greer actually led the team in scoring (27.7 ppg) during that playoff run, which marked the pinnacle of his career. Of the guards that played throughout the 1960’s, only Oscar Robertson and Jerry West are more accomplished than Greer.

This article is not intended to be a biography for these players. Instead, the writer’s intent is to remind fans of the contributions these players made to the exciting game of basketball and to the NBA in particular. Stay tuned as we honor more NBA greats in the near future.–OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.