[ed-S: bumped to diary]
Every year we see the "talent-drain" occur in college basketball where the best players make themselves eligible for the NBA draft. With the <grimace> thought that there is the possibility of losing Burke, Hardaway, Robinson, and McGary I did a search (albeit a quick one) of the data regarding entering the NBA after 1 or 2 seasons. Is it worth the risk? Well here's what I've come up with.
* The majority of this information comes from "Weakside Awareness" and "Basketball-Reference.com"
How many players are in the NBA? ~360-450 (max).
30 teams in the NBA. Each roster can have a maximum of 15 players with a usual minimum of 12 (teams are allowed to have as few as 8 players). So, at any given time there are between 360-450 players in the NBA.
How many players retire/go unsigned/or otherwise leave the NBA yearly?
Very difficult to identify, but math tells us it should be roughly equal to the number of draftees that are signed.
How many players enter the draft?
Roughly 60 players. Of course, a draft only gives a team the OPTION of signing that particular player. However, they still tryout for the team and may go UNsigned prior to the season starting if they don't make the grade. I could not find data to show me the average number of draftees who were NOT signed by their drafting franchise.
What is the average length of career for an NBA player? (Weakside did a great eval on this at http://weaksideawareness.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/average-nba-career-length-for-players-details/)
If averaged from the start - 1947, it comes out to 4.86 seasons per player. However, in the last decade, this has increased (due in part to more positions due to expansion). Either way, it's not a long-term career.
Interestingly, Weakside broke this down by number of minutes played and height. Obviously, the more minutes you play, the longer you are kept around. The taller you are, the longer your career.
Minutes - < 12min a game: 2 seasons, > 30min a game: 10.88 seasons.
Height - > 7 feet: 5.78 season, < 6'2": 4.12 seasons.
What financial impact do we see?
(Good article from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/aliciajessop/2012/06/28/the-structure-of-nba-rookie-contracts/)
The initial term of an NBA rookie contract is 2 years with a 3rd year option. Agents don't have much leverage in negotiating a rookie's contract as the NBA has a "rookie salary scale." For players from the 2012 Draft, this scales from the #1 pick to the #30 pick as follows (Col 1:Draft pick, Col 2: 2012-13 Season, Col 3: 2013-14, Col 4: 2014-15):
The collective bargaining agreement states that a player may make between 80%-120% of this scaled salary amount based on their lottery pick. This variable is where the agent is important, particularly for the mid-range draft picks to get closer to the 120% rather than the 80%.
Despite this large up front amount, the data post-career is alarming. According to a report in 2008 from the NBA Player's Association, 60% of players are broke by 5 years post-retirement. This usually stems from having to pay for things you bought/made while you were still making the dough (ie houses, kids, divorces).
So, is it worth it? Does a college degree prevent the financial collapse? Is the upfront signing guarantee worth it? Does the answer even exist? Tim Duncan stuck around for 4 years, but would he have had the same longevity if he left after year 2?
I think a diary by the Mathlete is in order. Let's discuss!