The NBA draft is over and it is pretty much time for us all to move on from that and from draft fascination for another year. Before I do that, though, there is one last thing that I want to touch on – a personal pet peeve. The second round of the NBA draft is ridiculous. A total waste of time. It should be eliminated immediately.
The contracts in the second round aren’t guaranteed. That means that one of three things happen. It’s not rare for a guy to find himself a roster spot, and even to become a contributing player. About as often, though, a guy isn’t good enough, or he isn’t given a chance, and he’s a free agent before the season even starts. The third and most annoying possibility is that a team picks a European project and stashes him in Europe forever. None of those are particularly interesting, none add a lot to the league, and there is a better way to accomplish all of it. Free agency. If a player doesn’t get picked in the first round then they should become free agents immediately. There are a pile of good reasons for this, but here are five for now:
1. Keep more kids in school – The second round acts as a safety net for too many marginal players. They think that they have a shot at making the first round and they know that they will make the second if they don’t, so they leave school early. If nothing else they earn themselves a spot at a training camp. If you took away that safety net then more kids would be more inclined to stay in school longer and college basketball would benefit.
2. Help kids who are good enough to come out – A player picked in the second round really is a second rate citizen. Free agency would help their causes. Currently they don’t get anything at all unless they make the team. Under free agency, players that were good enough to contribute to a team would be in a position to negotiate a contract with some form of guarantee in it.
3. Free agency would create more interest for fans – The second round creates pretty much no buzz. In fact, people seem to dismiss players in the second round because they know the reality of their position. If unpicked players became free agents as soon as the first round ended then there could be a signing frenzy for the players much like there is after the NFL draft. Properly promoted, that could be far more interesting than the current situation.
4. European players could be brought over when they are ready to play – It would make for a much more interesting situation if European players were free agents until they decided to come over and play in the NBA. That would make their eventual acquisition more competitive, and it would make European scouting a much more precise science, and therefore one with higher stakes.
5. Teams don’t care – Just look at the number of trades made this year in which a team traded several second round picks down the road for something now. That shows how much value teams think that the picks have – not much. The NBA was improved by cutting the draft down to two spots, and it would be further helped by this additional cuts.