On Monday, ESPN’s Chad Ford released his initial mock 2014 NBA Draft. Little can be more annoying to a college sports fan than a mock draft nine months before the event itself, and a weeks before the athletes themselves even start practice. Yet, here we are talking about it.
How unfair is it to our young athletes, some of them freshmen who have been in college less than a month, to be talking about their futures so flippantly? Ford’s list is so nauseating to even look at. Nine of the first 10 players he has being selected haven’t played a single second of college basketball. Not one second. He is basing every single pick strictly on their high school body of work and their reputations. Two of the 10 are international players but are both still teenagers.
What is so silly about these mock drafts this early is that not a single NBA game has been played either. No one has any clue what will happen when the teams start to lace up the high tops, or what teams will lose enough games to be in the lottery, or how the lottery balls will fall. It is such a useless, worthless waste of words that should be ignored when published this early. ESPN, Chad Ford, and all other sites and folks out there putting together these drafts with very little real data, should be ashamed of themselves.
Why am I even discussing this? Because Ford lists three Kansas Jayhawks, all freshmen who have barely memorized their class schedules yet, are in Ford’s top 19. He has Andrew Wiggins slotted first, which is no big surprise, Joel Embiid 10th, and Wayne Selden 19th.
Embiid is maybe the biggest stretch here, not because he is isn’t talented. It is because he is relatively new to the game of basketball, and there is a very good chance he doesn’t even start this season. If he progresses as hoped, he should see plenty of playing time. Enough to be a top 10 NBA draft pick? That may be a little high. And maybe a year or two too early.
Ford mentions Selden wasn’t even on his board a month ago. Suddenly, without playing a second in a college game, he is in the top 20? Come on, Chad! How about you wait until they get at least a few games under their belt. No one knows how 18-year old are going to react to the college life and the bright lights of big time college basketball.
Why can’t Ford, and others of his ilk, just let these kids be kids, just for a little while. Their lives will be under a microscope enough as it is, especially some of the kids playing at powerhouse schools like Kansas. All of these kids will be playing under pressure, competing for playing time, maybe for the first time in their lives. Some will have to learn systems, and how to play defense. Some will not catch on right away, or they may struggle before improving later in the season. It does not take much to not live up to expectations when those expectations are always so astronomically high, like they are for all these freshmen at Kansas and Kentucky.
Let these kids have a little time to enjoy the college life. There is no reason to continually push them toward the NBA so quickly. Some, like Wiggins, are most certainly going to be gone after one year. Most probably won’t be completely ready for the rigors of the NBA. Let them be college students.
On top of everything else, lists like these will bring out the undesirables in these kids’ lives. Those looking for easy money, acting like friends but with hidden agendas. Kansas is familiar with such situations and they are a sad part of college sports. Ford, ESPN, and others are not helping things at all, just making life harder on these kids, their families, their coaches, and their schools.
If Ford ends up being correct, it will should be a great year for Kansas basketball. I am all for that; I just wish these players were allowed to enjoy the college status a while longer. It would be better for most of the players, better for their schools, and better college basketball as a whole.
Do away with these extremely early mock drafts. Since they aren’t based on hard data of college performances, they are totally worthless, except to create undue pressure on a bunch of teenagers.