The NBA announced this week that NBA Draft. From one coast to the other, folks flipped out. Here's but one example:for the 2017
I don't quote that tweet to single out Matt Stephens or his beautiful baby. It's just that his tweet perfectly summarized the reactions of so many.
He called these underclassmen stupid. And to that, I'd say two things:
1. That's a stupid comment on his part.
2. Why do people care so much?
To be clear, I get it if you're a fan of a specific team that might be about to lose multiple players early who could reasonably return to college. You love your school. So if you're anxious or upset about an on-the-fence prospect, that makes some sense on some level. But what doesn't make any sense on any level is to be baffled or outraged by the sheer number of underclassmen declaring. Or to call anybody stupid for taking advantage of a system that allows underclassmen to do exactly this with little to no downside.
You all realize that, right?
Literally any underclassmen who hasn't already declared early for the NBA Draft twice can declare early for this NBA Draft and still return to school provided he doesn't retain representation and formally withdraws by the May 24 deadline. Given that reality, you shouldn't be shocked that the number of underclassmen exercising this option is 137. You should be shocked it's not higher. You shouldn't be shocked when even a moderately talented underclassmen declares for the NBA Draft. You should be mildly surprised when even a moderately talented underclassmen doesn't.
I'm not saying all 137 will benefit from their decisions.
Because they won't.
But there's no obvious harm in declaring.
So why not?
Truth be told, in time, a good percentage of these prospects will get meaningful feedback from NBA front office executives and then just return to school, none the worse. And, of course, some won't. I do understand that some won't return to school. And I know that some of them will go undrafted. But guess what? There are 70 undrafted players in the NBA right now -- among them Wayne Selden, who went undrafted last year and started NBA Playoff games for the Grizzlies last week. So going undrafted isn't a death sentence. And while it is true that Selden is more of the exception than the rule, what's also true is that the majority of the players who will remain in the NBA Draft but not make the NBA are still good enough to earn a paycheck playing basketball somewhere, and they'll probably make more next year than the average recent graduates from the schools they're leaving.
What's so awful about that?
Best I can tell, most of these players know exactly what they're doing. The elite will hire representation and enter with both feet in. Others will go through the process, listen to the feedback and respond accordingly. Others will stay in no matter what because they're just ready to get on with their lives. And, yes, some will regret their decisions someday.
Again, my question: Why do people care so much?
Students drop out of college every year for questionable reasons. Some move to Hollywood and pursue an acting dream. Some decide to tour with a band. Some opt to bartend full-time. Some just hate school and don't want it anymore.
Do you worry about all of them too?
I mostly try to worry about my kids and let everybody else worry about theirs -- because who am I to say what's stupid or smart when it comes to the decisions strangers make about how they pursue their careers? Sometimes people chase dreams against the odds and fail. Sometimes people chase dreams against the odds and succeed. Sometimes what matters to you doesn't matter to the person next to you. And I just don't have the energy to get worked up about every decision every young person in this world makes.
But I digress ...
All that said, the bottom line remains the bottom line, and the bottom line is this: A lot of the underclassmen people are calling stupid today will intelligently withdraw from the NBA Draft next month. Some others will stay in, be selected and become millionaires. Some others will stay in, go undrafted and still become millionaires. Some others will stay in, go undrafted and still make a decent-to-good salary playing basketball somewhere besides the NBA. And only a handful will actually look up a year from now and feel like they made a colossal mistake.
Simply put, I'm OK with that.
And you should be too.