Anonymous poll of NBA executives pegs return to school as best move for Svi, others
ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman on Wednesday identified the 14 college players attending this year’s pre-draft combine who have not hired an agent and then anonymously polled “multiple” NBA executives and asked them whether each player should stay in the draft or return to school for the 2017-18 season.
A whopping 12 of the 14 players identified — including KU junior Svi Mykhailiuk — were “told” to return to school, with only Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan and SMU forward Semi Ojeleye (from nearby Ottawa High) drawing anything other than advice to stay in school.
Swanigan, who was in the running for national player of the year and enjoyed a monster season for the Boilermakers was encouraged flat-out to turn pro now. Ojeleye, who started his college career at Duke before transferring to SMU, drew a mixed reaction, with half of the execs polled suggesting he should stay in the draft and the other half recommending that he return to school.
It’s an interesting exercise and it shows, at least in some small way, just how maddening the whole early-entry culture can be.
Remember, these 14 players are all underclassmen. And what is it we’ve learned about the NBA more and more during the past decade than ever before? That the NBA drafts based largely on potential, upside and where a player will be 3-5 years down the road not necessarily where a player is on draft night.
By that standard, you would think that a bunch of NBA executives would tell nearly every underclassman to give it a shot because the younger the player the better the prospect.
But that obviously is not entirely true, and it’s funny that it took an anonymous exercise such as this one to reveal that.
I don’t know the exact circumstances of all 14 players involved in this deal but I am familiar with all of them and, in my opinion, they’re giving great advice to darn near every one of them — including Swanigan and Ojeleye.
With that said, it does not change the fact that every year far too many players declare for the draft, watch the 60 picks on draft night come and go without hearing their names called and then move forward with their lives and/or careers only to wonder — at least a little, somewhere in the recesses of their minds — what might have happened had they played another year of college ball.
The NBA, through its recent loosening up of the pre-draft rules, which has allowed more underclassmen to test, gather good information and then pull out of the draft so long as they do it before the deadline and do not hire an agent, is a big time step in the right direction toward getting this kind of information in the right hands.
More players staying more years at their respective universities is obviously a good thing for the college game no matter what perspective you’re taking — fans, coaches, administrators, TV networks.
But I’d argue that it’s also a good thing for the professional game, as well.
These days, far too many players are entering the league who simply are not ready and that, at least in some manner, is watering down the pro game because of the guaranteed money given out each year to 30 first-round picks.
Whether it’s from a basketball perspective, or, more to the point, from a maturity standpoint, these young dudes are rarely ready for the real world, all that money, all those distractions and all those obligations, responsibilities and temptations that come with turning pro.
I’m not sure that there’s a huge difference between a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old when it comes to that, but every little bit of seasoning helps. And there’s no disputing that another year’s worth of life lessons and wisdom can only help prepare these young men for that professional athlete life.
As for Mykhailiuk, as you surely have gathered by now, he was advised by the anonymous NBA execs to return to Kansas for his senior season.
"I still hold out hope on him," one NBA executive told ESPN when asked about Mykhailiuk. "He's still really young and can be a catch-and-shoot guy. The question is whether he has a bigger role at Kansas next year than he did the past couple years."
That’s definitely the question. And the answer is not easy to come by.
With Malik Newman, Devonte’ Graham and Lagerald Vick all primed for big time roles in the Kansas backcourt and freshman-to-be Marcus Garrett and Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe also factoring into the mix, it’s worth wondering just how much more Mykhailiuk can be featured in a Kansas uniform.
He’s a returning starter and that’s more than four of the five players mentioned above have going for them, but he does have limitations and, as well all know already, Bill Self’s system is not one that often showcases one or two individual players. Even if that were the case next season, would Svi be one of those one or two players? Probably not.
So with that in mind, the return to school advice might not be all that sound. Sure it could help him. But how much is the question.
And if there’s a team or two or five or 10 out there right now that is willing to take Svi in the second round this year, a definite case could be made that following that path is the right move for Svi.
Time will tell. And we’ll know more — about Svi and all of these players — after the combine’s main events today and tomorrow.