The NBA Draft has turned into a potential pageant, with the trend being teams near the top of the lottery opting to choose younger players with more perceived upside.
That has led to a devaluing, as it were, of the more experienced players who are available in the draft pools.
The NBA has allowed the drafting of underclassmen since 1971, after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Spencer Haywood, who had sued the NBA after the league threatened to void a contract he had signed with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1969.
Haywood was pro basketball’s first so-called “hardship” case. He signed with the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association after his sophomore year at the University of Detroit and earned the league’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors.
After claiming the Rockets defrauded him in his contract, Haywood signed with the Sonics, defying an NBA rule that stated a player could not be drafted until four years after his high school graduation.
With the draft pool no longer limited to seniors beginning with the 1972 draft, the landscape gradually shifted, reaching a point in the 1990s and early 21st century where many of the top lottery picks were players coming directly out of high school.
After that loophole was closed after the 2006 draft, the age of the so-called “one-and-done” player dawned; players who attended college for a year because they were ineligible for the NBA draft, then bolted for the pros at the first available opportunity.
So what value do incoming college seniors still hold? We’ll explore that question as well as look at the top eight seniors on the board for Thursday night’s 2014 NBA Draft, while wondering how much it would have to suck to be considered all but washed up in terms of potential at age 22 or 23.