"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why the NBA is a Different Sport Than the NCAA in Basketball

Here is the Rivals 150 ranking for the high-school class of 2007 in basketball, the boys who would have been seniors in 2010-2011 in college.    It ranks Duke's Kyle Singler as the fifth best recruit in the country, ahead of current NBA All-Stars Kevin Love (no. 6) and Blake Griffin (astonishingly, no. 23), and only two behind current NBA MVP Derrick Rose.  

And here is the same ranking for the high-school class of 2010, including Duke's Kyrie Irving as the no. 4 overall recruit.   So basically Singler and Irving were ranked the same coming out of high-school.  

In his first (and only) year at Duke, Irving missed all but 11 games with a freak toe injury, while Singler played four years, started every game, and was the MVP of the Final Four his junior year when Duke won the national championship.

Now, here is an article from John Hollinger of ESPN ranking the likely NBA draft order.... Irving goes No. 1.   But Singler is nowhere to be found!   

How is it that a player who was so highly rated coming out of high school can play four years in college for a great coach, have tremendous success, including a national championship, and have his draft stock plummet to the point where he will be lucky to catch on as a prospect in the D-League, and more likely will end up playing in the Euroleague?   And, at the same time, his teammate, who was not significantly more highly rated coming out of high school, is the consensus Number 1 pick, even though he played only 11 games as a freshman? 

My conclusion:  the NBA is simply a different game played by a different caliber of athlete... taller, quicker, faster, more agile, stronger, etc.   If you are that kind of elite athlete (like Irving), college experience doesn't matter.   If you're not that kind of elite athlete (like Singler), all the college experience in the world won't matter.   It's that simple.

Fine.  But why then does the NBA and NCAA collude together to restrict opportunities for talented athletes to move directly to the NBA when they are ready, and instead makes them wait a year and play college for a year before they can start?    I think that rule is stupid, and it's particularly stupid (and possibly racist) when you see young white girls making millions playing tennis at age 17 or 18.   Just sayin'.

Singler is a great kid and will do well in life.   But isn't it somewhat sad to be that good and yet not quite have what it takes to play at the highest level? 

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