In Defense of NBA Youngsters

Now that the NCAA men’s basketball season has wrapped up, basketball analysts will turn their attention to the 2017 NBA Draft, where 60 of the best college and international prospects will be drafted by NBA teams. This leads to a lot of overanalyzing about what the talent level of these young players will be years from now. NBA front office executives sweat bullets, hoping that they can make the right pick that will turn their franchise around. But, most of these players are not LeBron James or Kevin Durant. They won’t immediately have meaningful impact on an NBA team where they will be playing opponents who are physically and mentally more mature. But, this doesn’t stop analysts from writing off college players who don’t look like they are ready yet (Isaiah Thomas anyone?) or NBA players who are two or three years in the league and haven’t lived up to expectations.

The thing about this is that with the one-and-done craze of college basketball most players can be in the league for 3-4 years and still be only 21 years old! That’s really young! The one-and-done fad hasn’t been around long enough for players to be deemed busts or not. How can you look at a 21 year old basketball player and say, “I think I have seen enough from this guy. It doesn’t look like he is going to mature anymore as a player,” and just write him off. What the front office executives SHOULD be worried about is bringing these young players into an environment where they can mold them and help their development as players.

Raw talent obviously has something to do with it. In this year’s draft there will be a few players ready to compete at the NBA level. And even though this is considered a deep draft class, most players drafted in the lottery will not be ready to immediately contribute. They will need to develop their skills and get used to playing at the next level. Despite this, I guarantee a year from now there will be articles all over the internet talking about the 2017 draft class and who has performed up to “standards” and who hasn’t. Even though some of these guys will be 20 next year, there will be people saying how they haven’t progressed how the team thought, or if they will ever be a full-time contributor to an NBA team.

Let them play basketball give them some time before judging their skills. A year seems like a long time for people writing these stories every day, but for the players, they 10-15 year careers ahead of them. They know that development doesn’t happen overnight. So, for now, leave the kids alone.

Willy Goldstein, Sports & Opinion Editor