3 Players to watch for in the 2014 NBA Draft

This year's draft class features highly touted freshmen  (l - r)  Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

This year’s NBA draft class features highly-touted freshmen (l – r) Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Thursday June 26, 2014, the National Basketball Association (NBA) will hold its annual draft and as usual there is intrigue surrounding the top pick. Even with top prospect Joel Embiid’s foot injury and subsequent surgery, there is great anticipation for the landing spots of other top prospects like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle.

The Philadelphia 76ers would  use their second 1st round draft pick to take Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall in 2013. Carter-Williams would win NBA Rookie of the Year this past season.

The Philadelphia 76ers used their second 1st round draft pick to take Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall in 2013. Carter-Williams won NBA Rookie of the Year this past season.

However, there are always players that receive less attention heading into the draft and end up becoming valuable players. This past year’s NBA Rookie of the Year winner, Michael Carter-Williams, was drafted 11th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Two years ago Damian Lillard won NBA Rookie of the Year after being drafted 6th overall by the Portland Trailblazers. Additionally, this year’s NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, was drafted 15th overall in the 2011 draft by the Indiana Pacers (and traded on draft day to the San Antonio Spurs).

Current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Pacers and traded to the San Antonio Spurs that evening.

Current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Pacers and traded to the San Antonio Spurs that evening.

This year there are three players that are a bit under the radar, but can make a significant impact in the near future if they go to the right team that provides the best situation.

Former UCLA guard Zach Lavine has the skill set to be a valuable starter for years to come.

Former UCLA guard Zach Lavine has the skill set to be a valuable starter for years to come.

Zach Lavine (Guard) UCLA: Lavine is expected to be drafted somewhere in the middle of the first round but has top of the first round talent. The 19-year-old 6’6″ guard has dynamic athleticism as illustrated by his 41.5″ vertical jump at the NBA combine. Additionally, Lavine is a combo guard with good ball-handling skills and shooting ability. His inconsistent performance in his only season in college has scouts unsure of how he will translate to the next level. The best fit for him would be the Charlotte Hornets as the 9th pick. His offensive skills, defensive ability, and athleticism would blend excellently with a Hornets team that needs to improve its perimeter play.

Former Michigan State forward Adreian Payne will look to translate his offensive ability to a lottery draft pick selection.

Former Michigan State forward Adreian Payne will look to translate his offensive ability to a lottery draft pick selection.

Adreian Payne (Foward/Center) Michigan State: Payne is expected to be drafted towards the end of the lottery and there are 14 lottery picks. The 23-year-old senior is ready to contribute right away and sports an impressive 7’4″ wingspan on his 6’10” frame. He is an excellent shooter, making 42 percent of his three-point attempts his senior year in college. He needs to improve on defense but can immediately help a team that can use frontcourt scoring. An ideal fit would be the Denver Nuggets with the 11th overall pick. Their team suffered numerous injuries last season and could be ready to turn things around quickly with a healthy roster and talented draft pick or two.

Former Wichita State forward showcased an offensive repertoire that many NBA teams can use this upcoming season.

Former Wichita State forward showcased an offensive repertoire that many NBA teams can use this upcoming season.

Cleanthony Early (Small Forward) Wichita State: Early is expected to be drafted towards the end of the first round. The 23-year- old senior gained notoriety with his fantastic play during the NCAA tournament this year. At 6’8″ Early has good size for his position and has demonstrated an ability to create his own shot while also being able to shoot from the perimeter. He has to show improvement on the defensive side but he will be a great addition for a playoff team looking to add bench scoring immediately. The ideal place for Early would be 21at overall, going to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have struggled to get consistent scoring from players not named Durant or Westbrook. The team can remain in position to contend for a championship next season with the addition of player like Early who can make an impact right away.–OnPointPress.net–

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

NCAA vs. NBA draft policy: Are changes needed? (Part II)

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has made it a priority to address the issue of raising the age limit from 19 to 20.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, holds up the name of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won the NBA Draft Lottery. Silver  has made it a priority to address the issue of raising the age limit from 19 to 20.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is down to its final 4 teams vying for the NBA Championship for this season. Meanwhile, Tuesday marked the beginning of the next season as the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Draft Lottery, giving them the chance to pick first in the draft in consecutive years. While the draft lottery creates a modicum of suspense for NBA fans, the league would be better suited making major changes to the NBA Draft that would make the teams better for the long run, analysts say.

The advent of the NBA Draft Lottery was meant to be a deterrent to teams intentionally losing so that they could have the number one pick in the draft. The main impetus for the change was consecutive years where the Houston Rockets (1983 & 84) seemingly tanked in order to land two highly touted prospects, Ralph Sampson in 1983 and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984. The change was necessary but the overreaction to institute a draft lottery allowed for a routine in which the worst teams do not receive the best players.

The NBA Draft lottery was instituted after the Houston Rockets received the #1 pick in 1983 & '84 and used them to select Ralph Sampson (r) and Hakeem Olajuwon (l) respectively.

The NBA Draft lottery was instituted after the Houston Rockets received the #1 pick in 1983 & ’84 and used them to select Ralph Sampson (r) and Hakeem Olajuwon (l) respectively.

Contrasting this with the National Football League (NFL) model that aligns the top pick with worst record, with the exception of consecutive years, one can see why there tends to consistently be a problem with the distribution of talent in the NBA. The draft lottery system raises questions about the legitimacy of the process as conspiracy theories are constantly attached to this system. All of these issues make the questions about who should be eligible to be drafted seem minor, yet the age of the draftees continues to be an issue that’s front and center.

The hoopla surrounding this year’s draft class was focused on talented underclassmen like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, and Julius Randle. These young men were all freshmen when they declared for the draft. They are the latest in a consistent string of talented youngsters who spend just one year removed from their graduating high school class before declaring for the NBA draft, as is currently required by the NBA. Many are opposed to this ‘one and done’ rule in theory, yet there is more excitement surrounding this draft class than there has been in several years.

This year's draft class features highly touted freshmen  (l - r)  Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

This year’s draft class features highly touted freshmen (l – r) Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

Numerous opponents to the NBA’s ‘one and done’ rule make many unsubstantiated claims as to the certain improvement of the quality of the NCAA and NBA if the the rule goes away.

ESPN president John Skipper described the rule on age limits:

“The single worst violation of student-athlete relationships,” Skipper also said: “I have no quarrel with kids wanting to go play basketball. I think they should have to stay a couple or three years.”

ESPN President John Skipper is one of many who oppose the NBA one and done rule.

ESPN President John Skipper is one of many who oppose the NBA one and done rule.

Skipper is among the many who believe the indentured servitude that is collegiate sports is a better fit for the very athlete who will generate billions annually for televisions networks, advertisers, institutions, and franchises. Interestingly, Skipper is against these college players being paid.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has received greater attention from his handling of the Donald Sterling mess than for his initial agenda, which has been to change the ‘one and done’ rule.

“I’ve been a proponent of raising the age [limit] from 19 to 20 because I think it would make a better league,” announced Silver in a conference call with sports editors in April. With no data to back these assertions, Silver has repeatedly stated the importance of raising the age limit.

NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson supports the one and done rule and points out the exploitive nature of the NCAA.

NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson supports the one and done rule and points out the exploitive nature of the NCAA.

Inquiring minds should ask: What financial benefit would the league see if this were to occur? The simple answer is, without any other changes, an increase in the age limit would drastically reduce the average players’ earning potential. Players are far less likely to receive maximum contracts after the age of 30 and a change of the ‘one and done’ rule automatically pushes every player closer to 30 by the time of their second free agency contract. Meanwhile, there is no salary cap for coaches and executives.

As is stands, the millionaire executives paid to evaluate, draft, train, and coach the players have unlimited earning potential, with a longer period of time to do their job. However, players would have their earning potential limited and have to spend more of their physical prime playing for free. Many supporters of the ‘one and done’ rule think about current athletes and the luxurious lifestyle they are afforded.

The Cavaliers won the number one pick in the NBA draft with new General Manager David Griffin (l) receiving congratulations from Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum (r).

The Cavaliers won the number one pick in the NBA draft with new General Manager David Griffin (l) receiving congratulations from Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum (r).

They forget about the hundreds of athletes that came before them who were completely taken advantage of. They do not consider that these current NBA rules are already restrictive, considering how dependent the sport is on selling its superstars. NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson points out:

“Colleges are greedy, They want to keep them [kids] in school because it helps them – it helps the coach, it helps the winning percentage.”

The NCAA’s motive is clear, keeping talent that produces billions annually for as long as possible makes sense for business. However, the NBA seems to be confused by claiming to want to put the best product on the floor. But this year’s draft class illustrates that a great number of the best players available are 19, not 20 or older. So why wouldn’t the NBA want them? Actually they do. They just realize that so many of their executives are so poor at developing these youngsters when they come into the league that they hope to get more finished products. Unfortunately for them, there is no business immune to the pitfalls of poor management, which is the NBA’s biggest problem, not age limits as the league tries to suggest..–OnPointPress.net–

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

Men’s or Women’s NCAA basketball championship, which is more compelling?

UConn senior guard Shabazz Napier (l) and his head coach Kevin Ollie (r) hope to continue the school's winning tradition on Monday night.

UConn senior guard Shabazz Napier (l) and his head coach Kevin Ollie (r) hope to continue the school’s winning tradition on Monday night.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Monday night the Kentucky Wildcats will take on the Connecticut Huskies in the Men’s National Championship. On Tuesday night the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will challenge the Connecticut Lady Huskies in the Women’s National Championship. Both games have intriguing stories that are sure to make the matchups entertaining.

The Kentucky Wildcats freshman Julius Randle (l) and Aaron Harrison (r) will attempt to lead  the school to their second title in 3 years.

The Kentucky Wildcats freshman Julius Randle (l) and Aaron Harrison (r) will attempt to lead the school to their second title in 3 years.

The men’s championship features two schools that have been very successful over the past fifteen years, yet neither team made the NCAA tournament last year. Kentucky features five freshmen, led by forward Julius Randle and guard Aaron Harrison. Harrison has become known for his late game heroics in this tournament. When asked about his confidence late in games he expressed, “You can’t be scared to miss…you want to be the guy that makes all the big shots.”

Connecticut is led by senior guard Shabazz Napier, a member of the 2011 National Championship team which was led by current Bobcat Kemba Walker. Napier displayed confidence in his team as he proclaimed, “We believe in each other and continue to believe…we are going to win. That is what we do.” On the sidelines, Kentucky’s coach John Calipari will be seeking his second national title in three attempts. Meanwhile, Kevin Ollie is in only his second season as a head coach and is already demonstrating his ability to lead the Huskies through difficult situations.

Notre Dame's senior guard Kayla McBride (c) attempts to lead her school to their second ever national title on Tuesday night.

Notre Dame’s senior guard Kayla McBride (c) attempts to lead her school to their second ever national title on Tuesday night.

The women’s championship features two schools that have been among the best over the past several years. Notre Dame gained national exposure when it was led over previous years by Skylar Diggins. However, this year’s team was led by recently injured senior forward Natalie Achonwa and senior guard Kayla McBride. Both players have been members of Notre Dame teams that have defeated UConn several times over the past few season but not in the NCAA tournament. UConn is looking to repeat as champions and win a record ninth national title. Led by junior forward Breanna Stewart, the Lady Huskies are likely to be favored to win as they have championship experience and their main contributors are healthy.

Breanna Stewart will be leaned heavily upon to lead UConn to their record ninth national championship.

Breanna Stewart will be leaned heavily upon to lead UConn to their record ninth national championship.

The University of Connecticut is looking to make history as they can achieve a feat only once completed before (in 2004) in having both the men’s and women’s team win the national title in the same year. Both teams are aware of their unique opportunity. As Lady Huskies guard Bria Hartley describes, “Our men are excited for us and we’re doing the same for them…both teams worked hard this year.” Interestingly, the University of Louisville had a chance to accomplish this feat last year but was unsuccessful. Yet another intriguing reason to watch both national championship games.–OnPointPress.net

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