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Thread: Trade Dispute (ID: 29448)

  1. #1

    High school to the NBA, not a bad choice

    Tuesday, March 11

    Why major college ball isn't for everyone

    By Ric Bucher
    ESPN The Magazine

    There's nothing wrong with going to a major-college basketball program and harboring dreams of playing in the NBA. As long as you're a schizophrenic, don't stay too long or understand that you'll have a lot of habits to break upon turning pro.

    That is the discovery Mike Dunleavy Jr. made after being drafted third by the Golden State Warriors last summer. Maybe he understood it, in some part, already, Mike Sr., having played and coached in the league for practically Jr.'s entire life. But there's nothing like living it.

    "You almost change who you are," the younger Dunleavy says.

    Mike Dunleavy Jr. looks for his shot more than the open man now.
    Which brings us to the league's proposed 20-year-old age limit. If it's meant to force players to attend college or stay in school longer, it's a bad idea for all concerned. College programs will continue to prostitute themselves for players who only want a platform to showcase their game for the pros. NCAA rules and inferior competition, meanwhile, will prohibit those players from developing as fast as they could without restrictions.

    If it's to foster the NBA's development of the NBDL as a bona-fide minor league, though, then I'm all for it. It would bring the U.S. model of player development closer to the European one, where young players practice and play against men five and six years older, negating the physical advantage the pro-caliber teenager has over his peers. And nothing forces a player to develop fundamentals faster than not having a physical advantage.

    "It makes you become a totally different player," Warriors second-year forward Troy Murphy said.

    Dunleavy spent three years at Duke because he felt it took that long for him to be physically mature enough to play in the NBA. Those who mature faster, though -- see Amare Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant -- don't have anything to gain by hanging around on campus. Maybe that wasn't always the case, but it is now with the difference in the college and pro games so distinct. William Avery and Leon Smith failed as NBA players (at least for now) because they didn't take advantage of the opportunity the NBA provides a player to work on his game. Staying in college only would've delayed the inevitable.

    "It sounds silly to say the college game isn't good for guys, but there may be some truth to it," Dunleavy said. "If you're good enough to play 10 to 15 minutes a night and practice every day, you'll get dramatically better being in the NBA compared to staying in school."

    There's also a pro mindset a player has to develop. Mike Sr., perhaps disenchanted by how selfish and specialized the NBA game can be, prodded his son to be a team player with a complete skill set -- but being totally magnanimous among cutthroats, Mike Jr. found, isn't the answer, either. At first he attempted to mold his game around his teammates and promptly got lost in the organization's attempts to reward Murphy for his offseason work, justify Antawn Jamison's huge contract and keep Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas happy. All while first-year coach Eric Musselman instilled a level of defensive commitment and overall accountability that has been missing in the franchise for years.

    Having invested the No. 3 pick in Dunleavy means the Warriors will give him every chance to improve -- same goes for No. 2 pick and former Duke teammate Jay Williams in Chicago -- before pulling the plug, which is why a player would be foolish to wait if he knows he'll be a lottery pick. It's leverage. The more a team has invested in a player, the more they will try to shape their team to make sure they get a return on their investment. No player is good enough to overcome a system that doesn't take advantage of his strengths and hide his weaknesses.

    When you're at Duke, it's always about the team. After trying to fit in, I decided I need to be a little more selfish.
    Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    "I don't think there are too many guys in this league who don't have to be in the right place to succeed," point guard Earl Boykins said.

    A trip to Miami over the All-Star break to hang with his girlfriend, see his younger brother Baker play for Villanova and time on the phone with Mike Sr. convinced Mike Jr. to take a different approach.

    "We had a practice in Atlanta right after the break and he was just a new person," forward/center Adonal Foyle said of Dunleavy Jr. "He wasn't tentative. He came back with fire."

    Over the first six post-break games, Dunleavy scored in double figures four times while shooting 50 percent or better five times. Points, rebounds and assists, while remaining modest for a lottery pick, doubled.

    "When you're at Duke, it's always about the team," he said. "After trying to fit in, I decided I need to be a little more selfish."

    A tightened rotation as Musselman attempts to keep the Warriors in playoff contention has prevented Dunleavy from getting consistent minutes since the mini-burst, but his minutes-played average is at 15 minutes. He'd be playing twice that many minutes a night at Duke. But for anyone with an NBA career in mind, that would not be time well spent.

    And Ones

    Two reasons the Warriors, despite their terrific improvement this season, don't have a solid foundation to continue that success: Management didn't back up Musselman by suspending Richardson and Arenas for their one-day sit-out over playing time a few weeks back. Sure, Musselman could have kept them out of the starting lineup, but that's hardly punitive, which is why Musselman didn't do it. And although he didn't intend to play them more minutes, in the course of winning the next game that's exactly what happened. The message sent to the rest of the team: Grouse and not only will you not be punished, you'll get what you want. It's no accident Erick Dampier complained about his touches a few weeks later. Reason No. 2: The Warriors' second team of Dunleavy, Boykins, Foyle, Jiri Welsch and Chris Mills thumps the first team of Murphy, Jamison, Richardson, Arenas and Dampier in scrimmages. Now, second units beat the first units on a lot of teams and it doesn't always affect playing time, but the first team usually demands a rematch out of pride. There's none of that going on with the Warriors' first team.

    This is how far the idea of going to college for an education has fallen off the radar -- Bay Area high-school stud Leon Powe told a radio host he decided to attend Cal rather than go straight to the pros because he wanted more time to work on his footwork and jump shot. The host lauded him for his choice.

    If you're wondering why, at a time players need more tutelage than ever, the players union traded training-camp days for expanding the first round to best-of-seven, here's the answer: money. Players and owners were concerned that revenue, which determines the salary-cap figure, was not projected to go up this season. That would mean less money for salaries. More playoff games, of course, would solve that. If the league truly wanted to improve its product, it would keep training-camp days and reduce the number of exhibitions -- but that would lower revenue, which is why that wasn't an option.

    Kings fans, after cheering Jon Barry in his previous visits since being traded to the Pistons, booed him vociferously two weeks ago all because Vlade Divac offered $5 to anyone who would. Both Scot Pollard and Divac, who apologized to Barry on the court, mocked the Sacramento faithful afterward. Pollard called the fans "ignorant morons" and Divac offered $1,000 to anyone who could jump off the Sacramento River bridge and not get wet. That's a little strong. The only conclusion that can be drawn: Kings fans can be bought.

    Frank Sinatra, Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley -- these are the musical legends the NBA has featured at great expense to promote the league. I'm told by marketing gurus it's an attempt to recapture the white 50-something crowd that has been turned off by the league's hip-hop style, but I've never associated those three with hoops, ever. The worst is the unidentifed white drummer who looks like Kenny Mayne in the Sinatra spot; even he seems to sense he's out of his element. I don't have any marketing surveys to back this up, but wouldn't Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Lou Rawls or Tower of Power appeal more to any baby-boomer basketball fan than gray-faced Keith Richards? And if they absolutely had to have a white face, how about Dr. John, Bruce Hornsby or Dave Brubeck?
    Ric Bucher covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at Also, send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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  3. #2
    Great article and a very good read. Sums up my argument completely.

  4. #3
    yep it summed up mine too, I say go if you can. why not take the shot. I know people who have done dumber things, oh like me plenty of times.

    I remember talking to a couple of MLB players and I asked why do you guys ask for so much money, they said we were pimped at every level getting here, now it is time for us to be the pimps.

    ah yeah and 4 players staying in one hotel room with 2 beds and eating ramen noddles for breadfast lunch and dinner was no joke either. all for $800 a month in pay when we couldn't even get a second job.


  5. #4
    There was one show on the Duece one day where they followed a double-A team around and showed their life. $13 a day for food. How can you live on that? They'd show how they would stay in these hotels in the middle of nowhere and they had to eat hotel food. That $13 would be shot in one meal.

    As far as hoops, if you can make the money, go for it. I won't feel bad for you though if you don't turn out to be a long time NBA player and all your loots gone because you blew it all in 2 years.

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