More The Terrible Price of Freedom

I know we promised you the Recluse's Jennings reflections, but dude has a real job and was also intimidated by SML's comments.

So instead, here's my one worthwhile point: Let's not forget how many high school draft picks didn't actually know how to play basketball. And isn't Jennings exactly the kind of player who would never have gone straight to the pros? But who, apparently, has exactly the skill set, and game, to do things overseas. Remember, plenty of small-ish guards end up in Europe and make a decent living there. They may not play a Euro game, but they can play and make sense in a group dynamic.

One the other hand, imagine Josh Smith heading to Spain instead of college. Given international ball's hierarchies, premium placed on experience and some order, would he really have gotten the star treatment? Think how many raw international players get no minutes in their own league, but go first round and are developed in America.

In short, this a false hope. It allows guys who might eventually end up in Europe anyway to get there faster. But for a lot of the guys we most associate with THE JUMP, it's a non-starter, unless they want the experience of going thousands of miles away to be humbled—when at least in college, coaches know that one-and-done talents need to be gotten the most out of.

The real question is whether a J.R. Smith or Gerald Green could this route. Poor grasp of the organized game, but having a little bit of skill to go with the physical wows.

UPDATE: A very important message from the older FD generation.

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At 7/10/2008 4:10 PM, Blogger Reverend Paul Revere said...

Jennings is a shoot-first tweener? Have you seen dude play in games with other stars around him? He dishes the ball in Magic-esque fashion.

I'm gonna have to disagree with you here on this one. Jennings is a point guard that would've been a top 10 pick this year.

At 7/10/2008 4:15 PM, Blogger DanShanoff.com said...

Europe is a mistake, but skipping college is not.

If you are a true "one-and-done" player, the year of college, playing for a coach who cares more about his career security than your NBA prospects, isn't as valuable as spending the year training for the NBA.

Think about these guys who spend a few months with Grover or Abunaser and are more pro-ready from 8-12 weeks with a pro trainer than they are after 12 months with a college coach.

Jennings doesn't need to go to Europe; he needs a year of Tim Grover, coupled with a personalized regimen of barnstorming among college campuses, minor pro leagues and Europe.

Get it all sponsored (which is the easy part, if not at the dollar figures that top draftees get) and you're making a living AND getting better prep for the NBA than a year in college.

Or, more simply, the NBA could end the farce and have the D-League accept kids after high school for a year, in a special "select" program that preps them for the NBA Draft, yet puts them in front of fans so their name gets known.

At 7/10/2008 4:16 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Yeah, that was stupid. More I was trying to say that guards are often the ones who end up overseas, and that a lot of those guards fit that description. I changed it so I hope it makes more sense.

At 7/10/2008 4:47 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Hey guys, sorry for not finishing my Jennings post. I plan to write something about this issue at some point. I will say now that Jennings, in my view, is your typical preps-to-pros player in that he's a Top 3 player in his class. Unlike Telfair, he's got good size for a point guard and has most of the other traits NBA execs desire in a guard. If it was common practice (or had recently been common practice) for elite high school players to go pro back then, Kenny Anderson probably would've jumped. So would Marbury have. That's the kind of player Jennings is.

At 7/10/2008 4:51 PM, Blogger Reverend Paul Revere said...

I agree with Recluse. But Shoals, you make some valid points...however, I think this could lead to plenty of players who could make THE JUMP, following suit, especially if Jennings succeeds. I mean, if your fam doesn't have much dough, why not get paid now?

At 7/10/2008 5:12 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Short summary of what my post was going to say: I think it's pretty clear that this move is a big "Fuck You" to the NCAA and David Stern from Sonny Vacarro. I'm pretty sure he does not think it's the ideal situation for players to go play for a year in Europe, but he's going to advise kids to do it until he's able to force the NBA's hand. He's a shrewd motherfucker.

At 7/10/2008 5:38 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

The only PGs to make the jump in the entire post-KG decade were Livingston and Telfair. Possibly count Ellis, Williams, and Miles in there, but two of them slipped into the second round on position alone.

There's almost an inverse relationship between ability to play in Europe and desiredness out of hs. Regardless of whether or not guards seem more likely to end up in Europe than be-sized players.

At 7/10/2008 7:51 PM, Blogger themarkpike said...

Though, it might be short-sighted to see this as such a slight to Stern. There will, inevitably, still be ample talent going the traditional D1 route. However, how does this not fit into the globalized brand that Stern has been cultivating?

Sure, it undercuts the Dakota Wizards a bit, but that market has arguably been saturated with basketball coverage already. Now, the NBA can tap the veins of foreign viewers even more.

@Shoals. Where's grandmama, and I ain't talkin' bout LJ.

At 7/10/2008 7:55 PM, Blogger Tom said...

I still don't see the appeal of a situation like this to the European teams themselves. It will take him at least a year to adjust to the demands of professional Euro ball, and then he will bail for the NBA. Will his presence alone sell enough tickets to pay off on a charade like this?

At 7/10/2008 8:11 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

TMP, and others, see the update.

At 7/10/2008 8:50 PM, Blogger oliver said...

This is sli-iightly off-topic, but am I the only one who's wildy excited about the idea of the NBA expanding to Europe? Teams in Rome, Madrid, London, Berlin? Sign me up.

I also wish that the NBA did the soccer thing of dropping the worst team down into the "second division," though I don't like soccer. But that would be great. Bad year for the Knicks? Boom. Welcome to the NBDL, fellas! Enjoy your games against Tri-City and Peoria...

Such a practice would definitively end the whole "tanking to get a better draft pick" fiasco, for sure.

At 7/10/2008 8:50 PM, Blogger T. said...

I think this image of Euro teams as basketball factories where everyone is fundamentally sound and adept at moving without the ball and cutting with precision is probably off. Sure, the ball might be like that at Tau Cremica, CSKA or any of the other big Euro teams, but there's gotta be a Euro version of the Grizzlies that a JR Smith or Josh Smith could thrive in.

If not, there's always China, the Philippines or Latin America. But I think even second and third tier basketball countries pay decently.

At 7/10/2008 9:20 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

That's what I was getting at. It's not like the Americans overseas are the most fundamentally sound ones. I do think, though, there's a lot of difference between being a gunner and being completely raw.

Two words for you: Dubai.

At 7/11/2008 2:55 AM, Blogger Notorious D.I.G. said...

This situation has to appeal greatly to Euro teams. You get a shot at a possible NBA caliber talent for bargain prices.

Say the kid get paid 100K and bombs. The team basically loses nothing. the kid gets a nice handful of green and everyone goes their seperate ways.

Or better yet he actually contributes to the team, still makes his cash, and everyone walks away smiling.

Eitherway 2 things happen. 1)The team takes a low risk/high reward flyer. 2)The kid gets paid plus a year of pro ball under his belt.


At 7/11/2008 11:19 AM, Blogger Nate Jones said...

Look, even if the kid bombs in this one year playing PRO ball, he will still be a top ten pick. Ask anybody that works for a pro team, and they'll tell you that. He's just too darn talented and his game is too marketable for him not to be. I just hope whoever is representing him has acquired the proper insurance in case of injury. Other than that, it's a win for the kid. He can concentrate on basketball for a year, without the burden of academics and meddling of ESPN outside the lines trying to dig up dirt on him for every dime he's ever taken under the table to help out his family. Outside of what he makes in Europe, he can also be supported by shoe companies, agents, or whoever else without scrutiny about that. He can be provided or pay for top notch personal training without NCAA or ESPN outside the lines scrutiny. I mean there are so many way he wins with this, I can't even tell you.

And Jennings will end up killing in the NBA. He's a bigger, stronger, flashier Kenny Anderson with Vince Carter like boosties. Plus his swagger and confidence is off the charts. Unlike most heralded high school PG's, he loves to share the rock.

I'm telling you, BJ and Demar Derozan will have all of you guys creaming all over yourselves during their rookie years. Compton is coming to take over the league in 2009!

Also, I don't know which post it was mentioned, but there was a comment about the D-League modifying its rules to allow one and dones to play there. The D-League already has such a rule. You can go play there right after high school if you want. I thought that was the best situation for Brandon, because the competition and coaching are both better than the NCAA, and he would still be stateside. The problem is that the A level player in the D-League only makes $2K per month playing basketball there. He'd get that as part of his aid/living expense money at Arizona, so there were no financial benefits. But my idea was for him to be proactive in securing backing from a shoe company or other marketing partners and create buzz and media attention around what he was doing, so that when he did go the league, he would be on a crazy high platform.

Either way, I'm wishing BJ success.

At 7/11/2008 11:27 AM, Blogger dimitris said...

Since I live in Europe I thought I should contribute to this very interesting debate. First of all, many European teams have been giving significant playing time to teenagers, even if they are not particularly athletic, provided they can play within their system. It started with Toni Kukoc playing heavy minutes for 3 time European champion Yugoplastika and the Yugoslavian national team ever since he was 18, and has continued with the likes of Jaric, Gasol, Sofoklis Schortsianitis (played his first pro game at age 15!), Ricky Rubio and, yes, Darko. Therefore if Jennings responds well to the more structured style of play (and thanks to his court awareness I believe he will) his team will let him play because he is just too explosive for most Euroleague guards. It should also be noted that European teams play no more than two games a week and do not travel much-this means more practices, that will help Jennings improve individually and become a better teammate, as long as his coach knows what he is doing.
His team will also benefit by having one of the top 3 US talents in his age group at a discount price. Ticket sales will go up and even if he doesn't perform well, remember that Euroleague teams do not rely on Americans as much as they used to, thanks to their ability to bring in as many European guys as they wish.Plus when he is drafted it is very likely that his NBA team will have to pay his European team a buy out in the range of $500,000, which could be very important in a market when one of the greatest European point guards of all time, Theo Papaloukas just got traded for about $1 mil.
And finally a disclaimer: Jennings MUST play at a top tier team, where his back up will be able to take some of the pressure off and his coaches will work with him more dilligently. If he ends up in a team fighting to avoid relegation or caught in a slump featuring personnel changes etc then he could pick up some bad habbits that won't be easy to shake off in the NBA.

At 7/11/2008 12:19 PM, Blogger mdesus said...

Message to all. The Toni Kukoc on facebook is the real Toni Kukoc. I know this because knowledge is knowledge.

At 7/11/2008 1:04 PM, Blogger fabrizio said...

I'm from Europe too...Italy...and I'm a bit skeptic: I think the situation is a lot more difficult and complex than what you're making it. I don't know him as well as most of you, and he's probably a lot more talented than I give him credit for (and I give him credit...), but I don't think Euroleage powerhouses (the only teams with serious money) are gonna search for him, for 2 reasons: 1) they have the players...a team like Panathinaikos has Diamantidis, Spanoulis and Jasikevicius, and even if Jennings has the potential to be 100 times the NBA player those last 2 were, right now, in FIBA basketball, they are a better fit for a team trying to win (and the situation is almost the same for Tau, CSKA Moscow, Olympiakos...). 2) in Europe you have 2 spots for non-European players, and even if missing on them doesn't break a season like it used to it's still kind of a big deal, therefore those teams always try to get players that have already proven themselves in Europe, perhaps at a slightly lower level (a la Terrel McIntyre, who was great in Siena and has been heavily courted by Moscow).
Jennings would probably have to go to a lesser team, but for them the extra-Europe are even a bigger deal, those teams tend to need a lot from them, and fast, and while I'm sure they would love to have a big time talent I'm more sure that they would be scared to death of an 18 year old kid (that it's not even theirs to grow and make some money from...like Rubio...actually one of the very few kids that get some serious playing time).
Now, if you were makin' it too easy I'm probably makin' it too hard, I actually hope that some Italian team rolls the dice with him and see him succeed, but there are a lot of things to consider.

At 7/11/2008 4:25 PM, Blogger The Hypnotoad said...

Well, the kids going to have so much hype around him that i'm sure a bigger team will try and sign him, i'm sure there are plenty of fans that want to see what a star like him is supposedly like on one of their teams. But i'm sure in the future if his path catches on it will be difficult for lesser known highschool athletes to find good deals.

At 7/11/2008 4:59 PM, Blogger mc said...

"Plus when he is drafted it is very likely that his NBA team will have to pay his European team a buy out in the range of $500,000"

i think this is the key point. if a euro team takes him on and, say, benches him for the season, they can still negotiate an nba-buyout that will give them a decent financial incentive to take on the "risk." i'm not all that familar with the ebb and flow of the euro-game, but it seems that the situation is such that at best they get ~$400k profit (plus a spark off the bench) and at worst they get ~$400k profit. who wouldn't want ~$400k profit? is it not that simple?

the discussion as to whether he can be that "spark off the bench" is much more interesting.

At 7/11/2008 7:05 PM, Blogger dimitris said...

Fabrizio-you bring up a good points regarding the quality of European guards, but I don't think that NBA scouts expect Jennings to come in and average 20 and 10. So even if he plays a supporting role in a Euroleague club he could be a top 10 pick in 2009, as long as he proves that he can run a team. Remember that Gasol was taken with the 2nd or 3rd pick after averaging something like 9 points with Barcelona and Nowitzki was a lottery pick from a second division team in Germany. So NBA scouts will be looking more at the maturity level of his game against much more experienced guards and less at his stats or how he did in individual matchups. In this regard, filling a limited but specific role in a top tier team will actually help his draft stock more than being the first option and taking 20 shots a game in a mediocre team.

At 7/11/2008 8:24 PM, Blogger Justin said...

I was talking with a D-1 player you'd all surely remember who went overseas to play after graduation. I asked him to recount his season and his experiences playing abroad. Bear in mind, this player is freakishly athletic and had he not been injured, would have been drafted in the lig... probably early 2nd round material.


"Well, it all started out great. The first month of the season, I was shredding - 28 to 35 points most nights. I was the best player in the league and my agent was getting calls from all over. Then cats started catching on. Our team wasn't deep and they'd start double-teaming me. My stats went down but we were still winning. Then the motherf*****s started triple-teaming me. By the end of the season, I couldn't touch the ball and I was pulling down 4 points/game. My team released me 3 weeks before the season ended and sent me home."

The point of all of this, of course, is that it sometimes doesn't matter how good you are if you're playing in a crappy environment and your opposition can throw junk-defenses at you. Go play in Europe, BJ, but realize that unless you're on a top-flight team in a top-flight league, it's just a payday.

At 7/12/2008 6:36 AM, Blogger Notorious D.I.G. said...

Ok You guys are stupid. the only people hating are people who are jealous.

We're not talking about a possibly 2nd round talent who put up good numbers on a shitty college team.

This guy is grade A. Prime NBA stock. It's like if you were a Euro team and could grab freshman Kenny Anderson, Iverson, Bibby or Conley. YES. Big teams are gonna pay this guy.

And likewise, next year NBA teams are gonna pay this guys. Stop being faggots (read: pieces of dry wood rubbed together to make fire)and recognize game bitches!

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