Lessons for Players and Coaches from the 2019 NBA Draft

Some motivating and eye-opening results from the 2019 NBA Draft that coaches and players can use to keep perspective during their basketball journey.

  • First, every college and high school player and coach probably should read two recent articles-the first from Sports Illustrated, “2019 NBA Draft Picks Who Defied Their High School Recruiting Rankings” and the second from Sporting News, “Most Regrettable NBA Draft Picks in Every First-Round Spot”.
  • We’re not advocating that every high school player should get a scholarship or get drafted or that every college player should get drafted.  What we are attempting to point out is that no player should allow themselves to be defined by others and that coaches should be careful to avoid defining players in such ways as to eliminate the possibility of growth  
  • From the SI article, we learn that 6 draftees were not ranked at all by 247Sports as high school seniors including Ja Morant (2nd Pick), Brandon Clarke (21st Pick) and Dylan Windler (26th pick) in the first round..  
  • The 4th overall pick, DeAndre Hunter, was ranked 91st.
  • 15 other draftees were ranked anywhere from 102 to 386 as high school seniors by 247Sports.  That’s a total of 22 out of the 60 players drafted who presumably “came out of nowhere”.
  • 8 players got drafted from 7 non-power conference programs, Murray St., Gonzaga, Belmont, Wyoming, Charleston, San Diego St. and Yale.  It’s not where you play but how well you play.
  • 11 3-Star ranked players got drafted.
  • Ja Morant the #2 pick had one D1 offer.
  • Jordan Poole from Michigan was taken in the first round at number 28 by the Warriors.  He wasn’t listed on many mock drafts and when he was listed, it was late in the 2nd round.  It is very probable the Warriors had him targeted all the time-the mock drafts notwithstanding.
  • It only takes one NBA staff to believe in a player.
  • It only takes one college staff to believe in a player.  
  • Any high school, college or pro ranking listing is only a snapshot in time.  Players’ values rise and fall all the time.  
  • Rankings are opinions.  Don’t treat them as facts.
  • Rankings are subjective and sometimes political.  They are unlike track and swimming rankings which are far more objective.  But even track and swimming rankings aren’t foolproof.  
  • Many folks who rank players and recruit players are copy-cats.  The best evaluators in both categories are courageous and don’t follow the herd.  
  • The person who ranks high school players from 1 to 500 likely doesn’t see all 500 players in person.  If he does, many of the viewings are brief. It is even unlikely that person sees all 500 in person or on video once, let alone multiple times.
  • Keep this quote in mind; before the draft, Michigan’s Ignas Brazdeikis was asked what he thought about ESPN projecting him very late in Round 2.  I’m paraphrasing a little but he answered, “I won’t be playing for ESPN, I’ll be playing in the NBA”.  
  • The Sporting News article tells the story from the opposite angle-players who were very highly rated and for various reasons did not reach their potential.  Players will always fall. Be in position to seize your opportunity.
  • A player who believes in himself, doesn’t listen to all the noise out there, and puts in the work can do great things.  The 2019 NBA Draft is just one example to note.

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