Everyone is so enthralled with the lottery process and being a lottery pick. Does it really matter what pick you’re drafted in the first round? We don’t think so, and we’ll do our best to explain why.
Take for example Texas freshman Avery Bradley.
Bradley had a very good season for an underachieving Longhorn team that sputtered in the Big 12 this year. He averaged 12 points, three rebounds, two assists, and one steal per game before his team was bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Wake Forest.
There is rampant speculation that Bradley will declare for the NBA Draft , based on the fact he is sending his car back to Washington, among other things.
We don’t doubt for a second that Bradley will put his name into the draft, but not sign an agent.
In fact, we’d encourage him to do so.
Another year of scrutiny may show that Bradley doesn’t handle the ball well enough to play point guard and is undersized to be a go-to shooting guard. Too many players' thought process when deciding to put their name in the draft revolves around how high they'll go.
You hear time and time again that a player should only declare for the draft if he is a lottery pick. You saw Daniel Orton say, “You know, if I’m a lottery pick, it’s something I have to think about.” In Bradley’s case, you had his coach, Rick Barnes, weigh in, “If a guy is a sure-fire lottery pick, he should leave. If not, he should seriously consider coming back.”
Why should someone have to be a lottery pick to put their name in the draft early?
Last I checked, every first-round pick got guaranteed money. Also, if you’re going to get drafted in the first round, going in the bottom of the first round puts you on an even better team.
I know that if you enter the lottery you’ll, typically, have more of a chance to play because the team is worse. You also get a little more money, but not as much as everyone would think.
According to the NBA rookie scale , the difference between going 14th and 20th is roughly $500,000 a season over three years, or $1,500,000 total.
While this may seem substantial, this also means you make $1,000,000 or more for a year when you’d be making $0 in college. Also, you reach your second contract a year faster, which more than makes up for the $1,500,000 you forfeited by getting drafted five spots later.
In this year's draft, going 14th means you’ll be playing for the Memphis Grizzlies. If you go 19th you’ll be playing for the Blazers, 20th or 22nd the Thunder, 21st the Spurs, or 23rd the Celtics. Getting picked a few spots out of the lottery doesn’t kill you; in fact, it may be better in the long-term.
So please, Avery, don’t hesitate to put your name in the draft. You might not get to buy that third Mercedes right away, but you’ll be fighting for a playoff spot and learning from the best coaches in the world.
For more coverage of the 2010 NBA Draft visit The Rookie Wall