March Madness may have ended with the thrilling, buzzer-beating victory of the Villanova Wildcats over the Tar Heels of North Carolina, but the delirium of draft declaration has only begun. The most interesting athlete to declare for this year’s NBA draft is a lot closer to home and surprisingly it is not Jamaal Murray the highly touted Canadian. Murray, who has played for Kentucky and the Canadian Men’s National team, did declare and will be a lottery pick, but the kid on everyone’s mind is Orangeville Prep’s Thon Maker.
— Duane Watson (@DuaneWatson) April 4, 2016
Unless you follow high school basketball you may not have heard of him, but if he is successful in his bid to qualify for the draft, you will hear a lot about the Sudan-born, Australian raised phenom. It’s not necessarily about the skills of the seven-foot centre or about his athleticism or defence, but whether or not he is ready to play and live at that elite level. Only the NBA can answer the question of whether or not he is draft eligible, but everyone else at the moment is trying to answer the question of whether or not he should even declare.
The concern for many is that Maker just isn’t ready for the NBA and that even though he spent an extra year at high school, spending a year at college will be advantageous in many different areas. The first one is that it would give the nineteen year-old another year to add muscle mass as it is definitely needed. Secondly, it would be an extra year to further develop his basketball IQ so that he not only makes the right decisions, but makes them quicker as well. Lastly, and probably most importantly, it will give him another year to get emotionally stable for the difficulties that come with stardom. College athletes don’t have to suffer through it to the degree that NBA athletes do, but it is certainly a huge step in the right direction and a great way to start getting used to how to act with the media, with the public, and with friends and family.
— NPH (@NorthPoleHoops) April 4, 2016
The pitfalls of not being prepared for the lifestyle of an NBA player will not only hurt him on the court, but could curtail his career if he cannot control them. Taking a full year at college puts you in a better physical and mental situation so that the transition to the NBA game and lifestyle isn’t as traumatic. In the long run, this tends to be the best option as it puts the athlete in the best possible position to succeed.
So then why would Thon Maker consider entering the NBA draft? The answer is not money, but guaranteed money and this could be a deciding factor for anyone. At this moment, Thon Maker’s game isn’t ready for the NBA but with such high upside, most pundits have him being drafted in the low 20s of the first round. That means if drafted he gets a guaranteed contract. Maker will therefore earn anywhere from $2.5M to $3.1M guaranteed over his first two years and could be up to $7.3M over four years as the last two years are team options. These stats are based on projected salaries of those picked 20th to 25th in the 2015 NBA draft.
In comparison, if he goes to a college what would be the best-case scenario? After a year at college, let’s say he gets drafted as the overall number one pick. Karl-Anthony Towns was picked first in 2015 by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has a 2-year contract for $11.6M guaranteed and can make $25.7M over four years if the team picks up his options. Not to mention that very soon there is a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) that will raise these salaries even higher. So why would Maker declare now and miss out on all this extra money as that original $3.1M now seems really small?
If life always played out in the best case scenario or even the average case scenario, anyone would be a fool not to spend that year at college. But life doesn’t always play that way and in fact we know that life can be pretty cruel too. If we take a look at a worst case scenario for both, we clearly see that entering the NBA draft early is the best possible decision.
If Thon were to go to college and blow out his knee then there wouldn’t be any contract worth millions of dollars. In fact, there is a good chance he would also lose his scholarship and a chance at a degree. He will most likely find an average job with average pay which as a rough estimate can be roughly rounded for $50,000 / year.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) April 4, 2016
If Maker gets drafted this year in the low 20’s, he will get $3M guaranteed over two years. Worst case scenario then is that if he blows out his knee and is done with basketball, he will still have $3M. In comparison, Maker would have to work 60 years at $50K/year to reach that same amount. Math may not be everyone’s strong suit but doing one thing for two years seems like a better option than doing something else for sixty and getting the same results.
Even though logic tells us that going the college rout is overall the best option physically, mentally, emotionally and financially, we shouldn’t be criticizing those that don’t feel the same way. If Thon Maker is making the decision based on what’s best for him and his family then no one should care whether or not he declares for the draft. If however, his decision is being influenced by those around him that don’t have his best interest at heart, then that should be addressed in a separate manner entirely.
» Sports » Betting on Thon (Money) Maker