David Berri wrote a very good article for The Atlantic where he estimated the economic value of each player on the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team. Joel Embiid’s performance this season is worth around $800,000 to the University of Kansas.
Assuming these estimates are in the ballpark of accurate then Chris Webber was easily worth over one million dollars to the University of Michigan during his time in Ann Arbor. Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s value to his college is probably in the many, many millions.
Prep athletes in the two major sports have to look ironically enough to Europe to take advantage of the (mostly) free market. Five years ago Brandon Jennings got paid $1.2 million in salary and endorsements to play in Italy for one year before he was eligible for the NBA draft.
If top North American athletes want to stay in ‘these United States’ Berri suggests a “simple solution”:
“…Let’s imagine a scenario where more than one school decided to create a “professional NCAA.” A collection of “rogue” teams could both pay their employees (i.e. student-athletes) more money, and have someone to play (hence be able to produce revenue).”
Surely the SEC in football and ACC in basketball could secede from the NCAA and form a “pro NCAA” as David Berri suggests. What would be the harm in that?
Big time schools could face P.R. issues if they spend fewer (or zero) resources on non-revenue producing sports. In the “pro NCAA” Duke and UNC would decide for themselves if they want their basketball revenue to be spent on less popular sports programs. Their decisions would in-turn be a signal to the best high school softball players or swimmers to either be more or less interested in attending Duke and UNC.
Colleges seceding from the NCAA would dramatically increase the freedom of the very best young basketball and football players. Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker could offer their employment via contract to willing participants in the “pro NCAA”. A dozen major schools seceding would send a clear message to the current NCAA cartel, NBA players and owners that their failed business model is their problem.
The Milwaukee Bucks standout second year big man John Henson will celebrate his 23rd birthday on Saturday. When he came out of North Carolina NBA teams viewed him as a defensive and rebounding specialist. When the Bucks picked him 14th in the 2012 draft it seemed reasonable. His rookie season Henson proved to be a below average shooter (50% True Shooting) but awesome rebounder (13 rebs/36 mins). He was a decent shot blocker who got into some foul trouble.
Coming into this year Milwaukee hoped for an improvement but no one banked upon the strides Henson would take under new coach Larry Drew. His minutes have doubled this year while his scoring has maintained (16 points/36 mins each year). Key improvements have come in his shooting (54% TS) and ball handling (more assists and fewer turnovers). The only part of his game to decline at all is his offensive rebounding though Henson is still leading the team in O-Rebs.
Last but not least John Henson’s shot blocking totals have gone through the roof. Seemingly overnight he has become one of the top five shot blockers in the league equaling his outstanding college record of 2.5 blocks/game. The final component that coach Drew must be happy about is that Henson is committing 25% fewer fouls while raising his block totals.
Nearly all post defenders commit more fouls than blocked shots. As a second year player John Henson is nearly one-to-one (63 fouls-to-62 blocks). The “more blocks than fouls” territory is inhabited only by Anthony Davis and Tim Duncan. Could John Henson become the third member of this elite group of rim defenders?
The 2014 version of the Washington Wizards have Marcin Gortat as their starting center. At 6’11” Gortat has been a solid rebounder his entire career grabbing 17% of the missed shots while he’s on the floor. This year his rebound rate is a career low 15%. Especially low are his offensive rebounding totals.
Randy Wittman‘s team is around league average at crashing the boards. So who is picking up the slack for Washington this year? That would be 6’7″ Trevor Booker. The former Clemson standout was the 23rd pick in the 2010 NBA draft. Now in his fourth season with the Wizards, Booker is leading the team in rebound rate (17%).
Despite Wittman playing Booker only 19 minutes/night the swing forward has almost as many total rebounds as Wizards starters Nene Hilario and Trevor Ariza. Coming off a 24 point, 14 rebound night against the Hawks on Friday it is now time to “Free Trevor Booker”.
It’s too early to determine if the Orlando Magic chose wisely with the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. With 20 pro games under his belt Victor Oladipo has shown the defensive ability we thought he would coming out of Indiana.
Here are Oladipo’s most similar defensive comps among NBA rookies in the past decade:
With the official retirement of Allen Iverson I thought it worth a look back at his draft class. The 1996 NBA draft was absolutely stacked. Iverson was one of eleven 10,000 point scorers in his class. He was second among his own class in career scoring with 24,368 NBA points scored. First would be prep-to-pro shooting guard Kobe Bryant.
For comparison, the ’95 and ’97 drafts had a combined eleven players who would go on to score over 10,000 points in their NBA careers. Iverson, the top overall pick in 1996, ranks only fourth in the class in career assists (6 assists/game). Steve Nash, Stephon Marbury and Kobe all had more assists than Iverson.
The least valuable player among the top six picks in the ’96 draft was Kentucky stand-out Antoine Walker. Walker went on to be a three-time All-Star pick and starter on the 2006 Miami Heat championship team.
In addition to the top six picks I would argue that nine players drafted became at least good NBA players. The worst of these fifteen guys was either Walker or Jerome Williams. Not too shabby considering Williams led the NBA in Offensive Rebound Percentage in ’99 & 2000.
Allen Iverson is viewed as an obvious hall-of-fame choice. As much as I liked AI as a player I’m not totally convinced of it. He does have four scoring titles plus two seasons as the NBA leader in steals. Also, he and Larry Brown dragged a ’01 76ers team to the NBA finals despite starting Aaron McKie and Eric Snow alongside Iverson.
OK, maybe I can talk myself into his HOF case. We are going to need a further deep dive into the topic.