College coaches need to stop blaming NBA mock drafts
College coaches like to say mock drafts ruin prospects, but the facts clearly say otherwise.
A preface: Bill Self is, if you’re assigning hat colors, one of the good guys in college basketball. He has a record of setting his players up for success and honestly counseling them on their pro prospects. His Kansas program has produced more lottery picks than any other school since 2006. He does not appear to be one of the sharks of the game.
His crusade against NBA mock drafts, though, is pretty absurd. In a piece written by Bleacher Report’s C.J. Moore, Self makes up stuff to rant against the ills of the mock:
“You can follow the mock drafts, and they will have 120 players that are going to go in the first round this year,” Self said. “That is true. You can count them. That is going to be true. So obviously they don’t know, and they’re guessing. And some kids it takes more time in the system.”
That is … not true.
For 2014 NBA Draft, 21 players in 1st rd of the @DraftExpress preseason mock declared. Of those 21, 17 were in 1st rd of final mock in June.
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) December 16, 2014
Of course, Draft Express is just one mock provider. But let’s be real here: it’s exactly one of two NBA mock drafts anyone — Self, prospects, us — should put legitimate stock in. (The other: Chad Ford’s mock.) The other mocks that arrive in April, May and June (from the major and minor media concerns) have useful information, but no one trusts the rankings. Or, no one should. DX’s Jonathan Givony and Ford spend their lives pursuing this information. Everyone else shows up late out of obligation — some with more access than others, some with more common sense.
For Self to make that 120 number real, he’s including a lot of mock drafts that no reasonable fan, scout or GM considers worthy of much. And again, most of those don’t show up until April … when the NCAA season is over, after underclassmen have declared. There’s no chance DX and Ford cycle through a combined 120 prospects for the 30 first-round spots from November through June. It’s just not a credible claim.
But Self’s comments aren’t the worst in Moore’s piece. Brave anonymous scouts rip the mock drafts that I guarantee they use to trade info. The modern mock draft is a barter system in which team officials and agents give the mock artists bits of info in exchange for other bits of info. The artists then leverage that new info to get more info. The web grows until the artist has a mock they can believe in. For scouts to say something like …
The same scout called the mock drafts grossly irresponsible, because they are affecting families. Players and parents take them seriously, and that’s one reason you see so many bad decisions made by underclassmen each year.
… is to ignore the massive role NBA scouts have in the whole process!
Part of Moore’s evidence that mock drafts are destroying lives is this little factoid.
This past year 45 underclassmen declared for the draft, and only 28 of them were drafted.
Twenty-nine of them were actually drafted. The suggestion is that these underclassmen declared in April because they were led to believe they would be drafted. So let’s look at the 16 early entry candidates who were not drafted and a cached version of DX’s April 2014 two-round mock, shall we?
* One, Mychal Ammons of South Alabama, officially withdrew his name from consideration by the NBA’s deadline. He did not appear in the April 2014 mock from DX. It’s not entirely clear what he’s up to these days.
* Two of them, William Alston and Antonio Rucker, were junior college players who did not appear in DX’s mock.
* One of them, Ta’Quan Zimmerman, went to college in Canada, did not make the April DX mock and went undrafted.
* Isaiah Austin did not get drafted due to well-publicized medical issues. Declaring for the draft actually led to test that revealed he has Marfan syndrome. Had he stayed in school and continued to play, he would have been at serious risk. He is now working with the NBA.
* The following four players were included in the second round of the April DX mock (spot in parantheses) but went undrafted: Jahii Carson (No. 40), Jabari Brown (No. 44), LaQuinton Ross (No. 50) and James Michael McAdoo (No. 55).
* The following seven players were not included in the April DX mock and did not get drafted: Chane Benahan, Sim Bhullar, Khem Birch, Alex Kirk, Eric Moreland, JaKarr Sampson and Roscoe Smith.
So if you’re looking at DraftExpress — by far the top draft resource and most widely respected provider of mock drafts — zero projected first-rounders as of April 2014 went undrafted and only four projected second-rounders went undrafted. (Of those, Carson is playing in Australia, Ross is playing in Italy and Brown and McAdoo are in the D-League.)
Even better, only two players projected in the first round (where there are guaranteed contracts) in April by DX fell to the second round and none fell out of the draft. Those two players are Jerami Grant and K.J. McDaniels, both of whom landed with the Sixers, because the Sixers own every second round pick from now until Armageddon. Grant ended up with a guaranteed two-year deal worth $1.6 million that’s very similar to what the last pick of the first round would sign. McDaniels chose to sign a one-year deal that allows him to hit free agency in 2015, a bet that looks increasingly smart.
Even for the true collegiate underclassmen — not the J.C. guys or the Canadian university dude — going pro has seemed to work out. Sampson, Kirk and Moreland have NBA contracts, with the latter two getting frequent work on assignment to the D-League. The other four guys are in the D-League, looking for a call-up.
Where are all the tragic stories Bill Self, anonymous NBA scouts and C.J. Moore are talking about? From Moore:
Mock drafts, when taken as gospel by players and families, can be toxic.
Proof please. The idle laments of a college coach and anonymous scouts don’t actually count as evidence. Show us whose lives were made worse in 2014 by the existence of mock drafts or drop this tired crusade.
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