If you've been in the Philadelphia area over the past few months and happened to meander over to your nearby water hole/watering cooler, you have no doubt heard the name "Domonic Brown." If you are a Phillies fan, you've known about Dom since Ruben Amaro Jr. refused to involve him in trade talks with the Blue Jays in the Roy Halladay deal. But if you are a minor league addict, scavenger for all things prospects, unceasingly hungry for more scouting reports and projected 2014 lineups like I am, there's been a Domonic Brown post-it in the back of your head since he ditched football and signed for 200,000 donuts after the 2006 draft. And over the past 4 years, us 3rd-category lunatics have been keeping tabs on his every move, watching him appear on Prospect Hot Sheets and scale the prospect lists with bated breath and a seemingly endless supply of underpants.
This obsession culminated in one of the most highly anticipated prospect debuts in Phillies history last night. One that even if you aren't a baseball fan, you can appreciate. Why? It's more than just because young people are better-looking, unless you're George Clooney or Diane Lane.
And I promise there's some basketball after the jump.
Nothing gets a fan more excited than a young team with upside (aside from perhaps a championship, but let's assume they like upside better). With the youth movement direction the NBA has been steering towards the past few years, the owners feel the same way. While watching Russell Westbrook get drafted, improve over a few seasons, and become one of the league's fastest-rising point guards is both entertaining and profitable, it seems like there is more money to be made.
The story begins with Brandon Jennings, then gets climaxed by Latavious Williams. You already know the deal. Some kids don't want to go to college. For whatever reason (money, smarts, an allergy of campuses), it's just not their scene. So rather than abide by the somewhat-absurd-although-I-typically-stand-by-it one-year rule of David Stern's, these guys have skipped out on the NCAA altogether. I can assure you that there are many kids out there with the same distaste for school, with their hearts already set on basketball. Whether this is misguided or not, I can't make a sweeping generalization, but if we're speaking strictly basketball sense here (....uhhh.....), then it seems logical that the Commissioner should capitalize on it.
Without getting into the debate of whether or not a one- or two-year rule is fair (perhaps an argument for another day), I'd like to propose a way for the NBA, D-League, players, and fans to benefit. Create a separate draft just for players coming out of high school who would rather skip college and go play professional basketball in the States. It seems pressing here that each team has their own D-League affiliate (RU piece on the Suns getting theirs in April). While at first there will be a significant gap between the top 2-3 players who want to go prep to pros and the less talented ones, future prospects will see the success individual prep guys are having going from the D-League to the NBA and follow suit Think of this draft as a supplement to the traditional NBA draft, in the same way the Rule 5 is to MLB, but with higher profile guys and a system the NBA can profit from.
Imagine for a second that Perry Jones didn't want to go to Baylor. The Sixers offer X amount of money to slot themselves first in the D-League draft and select him. The money they spent to get the first pick (in a sort of silent auction based on available cap room and willingness to spend) counts against their cap, but Perry is signed that season for the miniscule D-League salary (just $26,500 but may have to be raised -- courtesy of Scott Schroeder) which would not affect your cap for that season. Assuming our D-League team is somewhere nearby like Allentown, the front office would fill the rest of the team with high-ish upside UFA's and Perry, run the same offense the big boys are running in Philly, and let the fanbase get super giddy about Perry Jones coming up next year. I've made rides to Reading, Lakewood, and Allentown to see Phils minor leaguers and I'm sure we'd do the same for a Sixers prospect.
It helps the player because he starts to get paid while readying himself for the rigors of professional basketball. It benefits the team in that they get to install a system he can get comfortable in and understand before playing against more difficult competition the following year. Monetarily, it gives the front office a smaller business model with which they could try different marketing/promotional tactics as well as hype up the impending call-up of a high upside draft pick the following season. The fan base would love it because it would give them something to root for even if the team is God-awful (see: 76ers, Philadelphia, 2009). The only ones who wouldn't be all about this are......
Look, this kills me because I bleed college basketball, and even though I have to see the doctor about it every so often, Gus Johnson and Verne Lundquist help me through the hard times. College ball is already having a tough enough time dealing with the one-and-dones, but stripping them of a few more of its superstars could seriously cause some damage to Dick Vitale's frontal lobe. Undersized point guards, overweight big men, and one-dimensional shooters would rule the day. But if there's money to be had, I'd rather the homegrown kids stay at home for a year rather than skip off to Europe and risk Brandon Jennings' so-so experience there.
This is obviously just a rough outline of a proposed system with significant flaws that I urge you all to point out in the comments. But since we're an NBA blog (we are), I plan on operating with what's best for the Sixers and the NBA in mind, and the Domonic Brown anticipatory prospect route seems like the way to go.
Latavious Williams set the table by getting drafted straight from the D-League. Now it's up to Stern and company to cook the bird. And in this case, the NCAA is the chicken.