As the NBA and its owners met with the NBPA today an odd subject in the negotiations was broached. Chris Sheridan, over at his new site www.sheridanhoops.com, broke, earlier today, what the owners were proposing:
SheridanHoops.com has learned that NBA owners have proposed adding a third round to the annual draft, a proposal that the players’ union has countered by offering an array of changes to the draft that would help address the owners’ desire for more competitive balance.
Sheridan goes on to explain possible changes to the draft whereby a competitive balance would be the ultimate goal of the draft. One such proposal is that the 15 worst teams in the league be awarded all the eligible picks in the first round of the draft and the 15 best teams begin drafting with the first 15 picks in the second round. This can be considered lopsided at best but it very well lead to a competitive balance. However, the entire issue of rookie contracts would likely have to be rewritten. That may happen nonetheless depending on how negotiations pan out between the two sides as they (hopefully) move towards ending the lockout.
Another such change to the drafting structure that is mentioned is that teams with the eight worst records would receive a second first round pick. The second pick would come beginning with the 22nd selection in the first round. Teams with the eight best records would not receive a first round selection. However, those teams would reverse roles with the worst eight teams in the second round and receive two picks then.
All of this is slightly convoluted at this point. As these are merely proposals one should not put too much merit behind them becoming an actuality of the draft. However, it is one of the most interesting and curious proposals that has become known outside of the closed-door negotiations. Why would the owners want a third round added to the draft? Teams rarely utilize players taken late in the first round let alone the second round (San Antonio sticks out as a major exception).
The second round of the 2011 NBA Draft saw franchises reaching with their picks and selecting players that had little, if any, real hope of ever seeing playing time in the NBA. This is not the case for all the players that were taken but towards the end it became an absurd spectacle. Stuart Scott, who hosted the draft openly mocked some of the late picks because their names became so hard to pronounce. Scott was reffering to players such as Milan Mačvan from Serbia, Chukwudiebere Maduabum of Nigeria, Tanguy Ngombo from the Qatari League, and Ater Majok from Australia. It would be shocking if any of these players even came to the United States let alone to play in the NBA.
This late second round draft free-for-all led to quality college players being drafted late, Isaiah Thomas was taken last in the draft, while some, like Ben Hansbrough, were overlooked completely. If this is going to become a trend then why add a third round to the draft at all?
Competitive balance is just the owners’ and GM’s way of saying that they want a longer draft so that they can make wild draft picks while not missing out on talented players who would otherwise not be drafted. They want as much as they can but this does not seem like it will quell the frivolity that took place late in the 2011 draft. Not only did the teams appear to not really care much about who they drafted but the crowd bemoaned the picks as well and frequently broke out into chants targeted at Jeff Van Gundy, who was on ESPN’s broadcast team covering the event, and Adam Silver, the deputy commissioner of the NBA who announced the picks in the second round. Does the NBA really want to extend the draft to a third round?
Kurt Helin of NBC’s ProBasketballTalk points out that adding a third round to the draft could be costly for owners as well:
Theoretically a third round could capture those undrafted guys — but those are guys who need development, years in the D-League or Europe before finding their way to the NBA (most of the time). Do the owners plan to start picking up those development costs?
The short answer there is no. Not a chance. The lockout is all about, from the owners’ and NBA’s perspective, how the teams are losing money at an alarming rate and if the trend continues the NBA itself will cease to be solvent. How then can the addition of a third round improve the financial well-being of a league that is doomed, or so the owners would have us believe? Paying for more rookies, who will likely contribute little to a team, does not seem like the best idea towards returning to the black.
Long ago, like in the 1980s, the NBA had many more rounds to its draft but those days, much like Frankie Goes to Hollywood, are distant memories. Teams have shown that they are more willing to make wild far-reaching picks late in the draft rather than selecting a kid from a good college program who has the potential to contribute. A third round to the draft? Not until the teams and owners can prove that they are serious about the draft outside of the first round.