College Basketball's Winners and Losers from the 2014 NBA Draft
Instead of writing the one-millionth article dissecting which NBA teams did the best and worst jobs during the 2014 NBA draft, we've decided to look at this thing in reverse and nominate the biggest winners and losers of draft night from a college basketball perspective.
For example, John Calipari and Kentucky are pretty big winners right now. Not only did the Wildcats have a player drafted in the lottery (Julius Randle) and another taken in the top 20 (James Young), but they still have easily one of the best teams in the entire country for next season.
Typically, a team's best-case scenario is either having an impressive showing in the draft or having a great roster for the following season—rarely both. But the Kentucky pipeline of signing great players and making them high draft picks remains very clearly intact for another year.
In addition to Big Blue Nation, here are eight more CBB winners and losers from the 2014 NBA draft.
It's not exactly a crapshoot to draft a freshman, but at least you have very good idea of what a four-year senior is immediately bringing to the table.
Even though Jahii Carson (Arizona State) and Eric Moreland (Oregon State) failed to get drafted, it was a pretty doggone good night for the Pac-12.
Aaron Gordon (Arizona) and Zach LaVine (UCLA) were both taken in the lottery. Kyle Anderson (UCLA), Jordan Adams (UCLA), Josh Huestis (Stanford) and C.J. Wilcox (Washington) were also taken in the top 30—thereby guaranteed at least a two-year contract.
The Pac-12's six first-rounders were more than any other conference.
It also had Dwight Powell (Stanford), Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado) and Nick Johnson (Arizona) drafted in the first half of the second round. The ACC was the only other conference with nine players drafted.
It might not seem like a big deal for a major conference to have that many players taken, but you might recall that the Pac-12 was a toxic dump just two years ago, sending all of two teams to the NCAA tournament. It only sent three players to the NBA that summer, and one of them (Jared Cunningham) has turned into a catastrophic waste of a first-round pick.
We'll see if the 2014 NBA draft has any sort of positive impact on the Pac-12's ability to recruit players over the next year or two, but it's certainly hard to imagine a way in which it hurts their chances of luring top prospects.
The 2013-14 season was a banner year for the A-10, sending six teams to the NCAA tournament. Between those six teams, there were 22 seniors who graduated—the vast majority of which were starters.
Surely they had four or five players drafted into the NBA, right?
Really? Not a single one?
Perhaps they'll omit from their recruiting brochures that being a member of the All-Atlantic-10 first team merely results in a business class ticket to a professional career overseas.
We would be remiss if we didn't at least give an honorable mention to the Big East, as well. Good thing Semaj Christon's name got called late in the second round, or else Doug McDermott would have been the conference's only player to get drafted.
Even at that, it had been six years since the Big East failed to have at least three players taken in the first round—let alone the entire draft.
Winner: State of Michigan
Between Michigan and Michigan State, the Wolverine State made up 19 percent of the first 21 picks of the draft.
Nik Stauskas to the Kings at No. 8 was a minor surprise. Most expected him to be a late lottery pick, but going that high was a little better than expected.
Subsequently, his former teammate went quite a few spots higher than anticipated, as Mitch McGary was taken by the Thunder at No. 21. McGary was a borderline first-rounder in most mock drafts, but actually ended up closer to the lottery than he did the second round.
Both Adreian Payne (No. 15) and Gary Harris (No. 19) were taken in between the two Wolverines.
Michigan's Glenn Robinson III was also drafted on Thursday night, taken by the Timberwolves with the 40th overall pick.
Despite losing all that talent to the NBA, both Michigan and Michigan State should still be in great shape in the Big Ten next season. Neither seems likely to finish ahead of Wisconsin, but a top-four finish for both is absolutely within the realm of possibility.
Loser: NCAA Jurisdiction
As mentioned on the previous slide, Mitch McGary was taken with the 21st overall pick after spending much of the season rehabbing from back surgery.
Many people expected him to come back for a junior year after hardly anyone expected him to return for a sophomore season in the first place, but he bolted for the NBA after failing a drug test that was going to result in a yearlong suspension.
But that suspension won't transfer to the NBA. He'll be allowed to play in October if his back is healthy enough.
Then we have P.J. Hairston, who was dismissed from North Carolina for a series of legal issues last summer before signing with the D-League and being taken with the No. 26 pick on Thursday night.
There's a pretty dangerous precedent being set here in which good players can dodge NCAA punishment by declaring for the draft or signing with the D-League.
Winner: Zach LaVine
A total of nine freshmen declared for the 2014 NBA draft.
Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh were all candidates to be taken in the top six. James Young and Tyler Ennis were expected to go near the end of the lottery or shortly thereafter.
And then there was Zach LaVine.
Aside from maybe Sim Bhullar, no underclassman declaring for the draft was more instantly criticized than LaVine. He only started one game at UCLA and only averaged 9.4 PPG. By all accounts, it sounded like he was declaring for the NBA just because he wanted to get away from UCLA without having to sit out a year by transferring.
But then the predraft workouts started and he began skyrocketing up everyone's draft board. In the end, he went from a role player for an above-average-but-not-fantastic team to the back end of the lottery with the No. 13 overall pick.
Take that, Twitter haters.
For just about the entirety of the 2013-14 season, there was one name that found its way into every single conversation: Doug McDermott.
Even people who watched virtually no college basketball whatsoever had heard of Dougie McBuckets as he climbed further and further up the all-time scoring chart en route to 3,150 career points in college.
But despite being arguably the best college basketball player of our generation, he wasn't even considered one of the 10 best players in this year's draft.
Of the first nine picks, six were freshmen, two were sophomores and one was Australian export Dante Exum. Elfrid Payton was the first upperclassman taken at No. 10—and let's be honest, if he had gone to a more well-known school than Louisiana-Lafayette, he probably would have declared before reaching his junior season anyway.
Xavier Thames just barely got drafted (No. 59) after a great four-year career at San Diego State. Sean Kilpatrick didn't get drafted at all after an even better four-year career at Cincinnati.
I get that you draft for potential—particularly if you don't anticipate legitimately competing for a title in the next few years—but it's just a shame that guys who stay in school for four years to fully develop their game end up making less money for their first four years in the NBA than their 19-year-old counterparts.
I mean, Derrick Favors has already made almost $20 million in the NBA, and it wasn't until his fourth season that he was really worth what he was making. Tyrus Thomas made $37 million before teams finally gave up hope on him.
Winner: Sun Belt Conference
A few years ago, I couldn't have named two teams in the Sun Belt, unless you count Western Kentucky and "a bunch of teams that lose to Western Kentucky" as multiple teams.
But now that Louisiana-Lafayette has produced a lottery pick in Elfrid Payton, it might be time to start paying attention to what they're doing down there in SEC country.
They already had one team that was making waves over the past few years, as Georgia State has become a popular destination for big-name transfers. This summer, the Panthers landed Kevin Ware from Louisville and Jeremy Hollowell from Indiana. This comes after getting Ryan Harrow from Kentucky during the previous offseason.
And let's not forget that the Sun Belt sent two teams to the tournament two years ago when Middle Tennessee received a bid to the first four.
With the A-10 and Mountain West effectively becoming "minor" power conferences and the Missouri Valley and Horizon taking a step back after losing Creighton and Butler, respectively, we're about due for a minor conference to rise up to what we used to refer to as the mid-majors.
It seems the Sun Belt is ready to fill that role.
It's one thing to get worse by losing a player early to the NBA lottery.
It's another thing entirely to be scraping together the pieces because of players who will enter the month of July as free agents.
There are quite a few teams who might not be as good as they could have been if they had retained their undrafted early declarers.
Arizona State (Jahii Carson), North Carolina (James Michael McAdoo), Ohio State (LaQuinton Ross), St. John's (Jakarr Sampson), Missouri (Jabari Brown), New Mexico (Alex Kirk), Oregon State (Eric Moreland) and New Mexico State (Sim Bhullar) all lost a player who has probably already fired anyone who advised him to forgo his remaining year(s) of eligibility.
But UNLV takes the cake for having two non-seniors who didn't get drafted.
Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith each averaged a double-double last season for the Rebels, but they won't be showcasing their talents in the NCAA or the NBA next year. Each player declared for the draft after his junior year and didn't hear his name on Thursday night.
Worse yet, it's not hard to argue that their decision to declare for the draft was a big part of Bryce Dejean-Jones' decision to transfer away from UNLV.
The Rebels might still do alright in the Mountain West with one of the best recruiting classes in the country, but they also might have been this season's Wichita State if everyone had stayed.
Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.
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