The NBA Draft took place last Thursday, and we saw some players go much later than expected.
Just one year ago, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III could have been picked in the top five. This year they went 21st and 28th respectively.
Looking simply at their college statistics, there is no reason why these two players should have had their draft stocks go down this year. They both had nearly identical numbers from last year to this year, with the only difference being their age.
Injuries were also a factor, but neither has an injury that seems too serious. (Sullinger has had back issues while Jones III may have issues with his knee).
Sliding out of the lottery actually landed these players on two very successful teams, with Sullinger going to Boston and Jones III headed to Oklahoma City. The problem is that they both missed out on millions of dollars in not being picked by a lottery team. The money may not matter to them, but no person wants to miss out on the chance to earn a few extra guaranteed millions of dollars.
John Calipari is often criticized for his reputation of having his players only play for one year before leaving to the NBA, but he is smart for pushing them to leave. Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went 1-2 in this year’s draft, but they may not have if they came back for another year. They both showed tremendous upsides, and another year in college would only give people an opportunity to pick apart the downsides of their games.
The one-and-done trend will continue unless the NBA institutes a new age limit for players entering the league. If they require players to play for two years, then two-and-done will be the new trend. There will always be those who will get out of college basketball as soon as they can, and as long as they have the talent there is nothing wrong with their choice.
College may not be right for some players, and it is quite pointless for a player to be forced to go to school if he is talented enough to be in the NBA. Those scholarships could be spent on other players, but that argument is another one entirely.
Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III will have great opportunities to show their abilities on great teams this season. Even if they have successful seasons, and even careers, players leaving early to avoid having their stocks dropping will be popular for years to come.