Chris Chase at "For the Win" wrote a post on Jalen Rose's "stupid" comments in regards to the draft. The irony, to me, is that while Jalen Rose said some stuff that wasn't conventional wisdom, I didn't find all of his comments that off. And for some of his "sillier" comments, I found them to be pretty standard.
Jalen Rose is right about Busts being a myth
Busted by a different Jason Williams.
Jalen Rose said something I agree with wholeheartedly, namely, there is no such thing as a "Draft Bust." The exact text Chris quotes is here:
I have a number: 3,988. That’s how many people have played a game in the NBA. Can we retire the term “bust and scrub?” For guys that actually make it to the NBA: If you go to college and are making millions of dollars in your post-collegiate career and you’re fortunate enough to buy you mom a house, you’re not a bust. You might be a letdown, you might be a washout, but you’re not a bust.
Chris's problems with this quote seem to be that Jalen Rose pretends to know numbers but probably just had a "poor" intern look them up instead. Rose is an on-air personality at ESPN, so using a professional fact checker to actually use numbers seems like a pretty good thing that I wish more ESPN people did.
Next, Chris points out that Jalen Rose is sitting next to Jay Williams, who I guess was a bust. He then brings up Darko Milicic, another "bust" and says that Jalen Rose using the term letdown or washout vs. bust is just semantics. Here's a quote Chris used, in fact, with some emphasis added by me:
But if you’re a seven-footer, taken with the No. 2 pick and touted to the heavens as a surefire Hall of Famer, then play for six teams from 2004-12, put up a slash line on 6.0/4.2/0.9 to retire at age 28 to become a kickboxer, only to come back to the sport to play in a minor Serbian league then, yes, Darko Milicic, you are a bust.
There are a few reasons this logic is silly. First, Jalen Rose is spot on. Playing in the NBA is impressive. Even highly touted professions at the top companies pale in comparison to the elitism required to make the NBA. Second, an important part about draft picks is they get the worst contracts in the NBA. Take Darko Milicic, notorious "draft bust", who earned roughly $4.2 million a season during his rookie contract. And don't forget, only two of those seasons were guaranteed. Years later after Darko had bounced around the league, he signed a three-year deal with the Timberwolves in 2010 for $4.8 million a year! That's right, Darko, the biggest bust since Bowie, was worth more as a letdown veteran than as a major draft prospect!
And finally, the reality is most players don't pan out in the NBA. There are 300-400 jobs in the NBA at a given time. Most players don't even pan out to be average, let alone good! Even if we restrict ourselves to the top three picks in the NBA, it's a coin-flip you'll get a decent player. And this is why the bust term is silly. If we have years and years of data on the draft that says most players don't become great. And we have people expecting a player to be great....well that's not the player's fault! Jay Williams didn't pan out because of off court injuries. Darko Milicic didn't pan out by lasting a decade in the NBA and earning over $50 million. Color me skeptical.
Jalen Rose's Bad Player Comparisons
Jalen Rose also got some flack for his silly comparisons during the NBA draft. Now, I won't debate this. But the thing is that it's silly to try and call Jalen out on this. As I mentioned above, every year people overrate incoming players. And this leads to ridiculous comparisons. Players are seldom called the next Kevin Ollie*. Instead, they're compared to Hall of Fame players are sometimes a once in a generation player. Heck, ESPN made a fun comparison regarding the Lakers draft pick:
Magic Johnson? Seriously?? That's pretty par for the course. The reality of the NBA draft is it's a bunch of cheap labor for owners with a system that makes no sense for capitalists. But a big part of keeping this charade going is convincing the viewers just how big of a deal each player is. Silly comparisons are just part of the game that everyone participates in every year. Jalen Rose got called out for being too silly, but he wasn't that far off the norm.
Jalen Rose is right about busts and bad at a dumb game that everyone else plays. But none of that takes away from the truth. Most of these players won't turn into stars. Most won't even turn into productive NBA players.Most of the bad franchises will stay bad. The franchises that stay good will likely do so because they already have stars. And I can say with some certainty we'll be having this same conversation next year.