Thoughts on Oden
Posted by disappointmentzone on 3 April 2007
There are a number of reasons why Gred Oden should forgo college to enter the NBA draft. The best reason is that staying in college, while not retarding his game, will certainly not provide him with the competition and challenges that the NBA will. If avoiding foul trouble while guarding players half his size is a marketable NBA skill (it isn’t) then there is an argument to be made that Oden could actually expand his skills while in college. But Monday’s game proved that there is no one in college who can challenge Oden in the way NBA player can challenge Oden. Florida threw three future NBA big men at Oden and all Oden did was dominate them like they were JV lackeys. If Oden stays in college at best he’ll be treading water.
By far the most popular rationale for Oden entering the NBA draft is that he’ll likely be the #1 pick. I don’t know how to put this any more clearly but: Where Oden is projected in the NBA draft should not influence his decision to stay in college.
Look, the only way Oden would ever slip out of the top three is if he injured himself severely. He’s insured while in college for $10 million, so there is some coverage for Oden should he stay and get hurt. But he could just as easily injure himself in the NBA — and is probably more likely to do serious damage in the NBA — and his rookie contract is not going to be for much more than $10 million — probably around $13 million, should he get hurt in his first three seasons.
Unlike in the NFL — where the rookie contract salary is not set by the league; where your first contract might be the biggest contract a player will sign; where a top pick can get over $25 million guaranteed — when you play in the NBA you are playing for your free agency contract. Unless Oden’s family is totally lacking money and he feels obligated to enter the NBA so that he can support his family, the money shouldn’t be that big of an issue, nor should where he’s being projected to go in the draft order.
The NBA isn’t the NFL. Being the #1 pick in the NBA draft isn’t even close to being productive in your first few NBA seasons, and Oden’s earning potential is not going to be dictated by where he goes in the draft. Being the likely #1 pick is more pomp and circumstance than substance.