There are certainly compelling arguments to be had in favor of these players entering the draft, with the two strongest being: 1. There is no shame in a long career in a European league as a worst-case scenario and 2. Money speaks all languages. For many of these players, a paycheck beats the hell out of going to class and making no money (legally, of course).
A couple of years ago I spoke with an NBA scout who explained to me that in the second round, teams are looking for two things:
1. A prospect needs to be above-average at one thing: Whether it be three-point shooting, rebounding, defense, etc., successful NBA teams have specialists, and this does not mean above-average for college standards, it means you must be the BEST on your potential NBA team at that one aspect of the game. When J.J. Redick came out of Duke, everyone raved about his shooting prowess, but if you are Stan Van Gundy and are down three with five seconds left, Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu is your man. This makes the FIRST-ROUND selection of Redick, a pure specialist, a useless pick.
2. Know your role: The last thing an NBA team wants to do in the second round is draft someone who is going to complain about a lack of playing time. There is a reason that these players don't go higher in the draft, and many of them don't grasp that concept. Here, teams will ask every coach that a certain player has ever had in high school, AAU, and college to learn about their practice habits, personality, and be 100 % sure that this potential player will not only be happy just to have a spot on the roster, but will be an asset in practice as well.
Now, because we traded our 2008 second-round pick to Portland for Demetris Nichols on draft night last year (I still can't believe I just wrote that, and that was the second best trade Portland made with us that night), Donnie Walsh does not have to worry about this dilemma in June. But, after reading all of the mock drafts scattered throughout the web, there is one player who is projected to slip through the cracks who is an absolutely perfect fit for this team.
The Knicks need perimeter defense, shot-blocking ability, passion, energy, and someone the crowd can get behind. Georgetown senior Patrick Ewing Jr. provides all of these qualities. At 6'8", Ewing is athletic enough to cover most NBA point guards, and his incredible wing-span also allows him to challenge shots in the paint. He may not be able to sweat like his father did, but in every Georgetown game I watched the last two seasons, he never once took a play off. He is also a phenomenal dunker.
Also, coming from the tutelage of John Thompson III and his pass-first Princeton offense, Ewing Jr. has learned how to flow in an offense and more importantly, when NOT to take bad shots. For those of you who have not seen Ewing Jr., think Renaldo Balkman with some semblance of an idea of what to do with a basketball.
If I'm running an NBA team, he is an ideal second-round selection, but I don't make these decisions. So, there is a chance that Ewing Jr. may be someone we can just invite to camp, but if I am Donnie Walsh and there is a team that is looking to pick him in the second round, I am on the phone making sure that does not happen, because we already saw how out of place a Ewing looked in Seattle and Orlando jerseys, a Ewing only belongs in orange and blue.
...Tommy Dee writes...
I can hear the naysayers now screaming "Balkman needs minutes! What about Chandler!" This isn't some "we need another kid named Ewing" plea for sentimental reasons. The idea is to bring in a guy, no matter what the position, who can fit a need, and Ewing Jr. potentially guarding the perimeter is an intriguing thought. His length, desire and athleticism could make him a standout perimeter defender in the NBA. His name just happens to be Ewing. The question becomes: would the kid even come to camp, should he not be drafted, based on how his father feels about being snubbed by the organization?
.... Andrew Smith writes....
Tommy brings up a good point. If I was a free agent coming from a winning college program, I would want to sign with a playoff contender, and not the Knicks. Perhaps trading Nate Robinson back home to Seattle for the 43rd pick would be worth it. I would make that trade, now let the angry comments begin flowing....