Nik gave an interview today on Toronto-based 590 AM's "Tim and Sid Show", talking about his upcoming decision. The relevant part of the interview to Michigan fans is:
"I've been told by many people college is the best time of your life," he said. "With the team that we could possibly have coming back, just imagine the amount of fun I could have with those guys staying in school. That weighs heavy on you. At the same time, you look at the other side of things, playing in the NBA, a dream that I've always had and you look at the lifestyle you're going to live, you look at the money you're going to make, you look at the opportunities you'll be able to provide for yourself and your family, those are all things that weigh heavy on my mind. That's why it's become such a hard decision because there's so many pros and cons to each decision."
I think we're all still in agreement even after this quote that he's at least 90% likely to leave, and maybe he should be. But I think it's kind of interesting to look at all of the different reasons why he should or should not go. I think it's more complex than people make it out to be. These are all relevant to Michigan fans over the next week or so, as many of these same scenarios are true for both Glenn and Mitch as they also make their decisions.
Why he/they should go pro:
- First and foremost, the possibility of injury. This could range anywhere from a short term injury that maybe throws his game off for a little while, to a season ending injury that would drop his draft stock quite a bit, or even an (extremely unlikely) career ending injury. This is a very real risk, as we saw firsthand with Mitch this season.
- Extra year of salary from the NBA. No matter how good you are in the NBA, there's a very limited amount of years that you're going to be able to make money off of playing basketball. You could argue that it's extremely important for kids to leave as soon as they have a good draft spot locked up to make sure that they aren't missing out on a year of salary.
- Possibility of lowering your draft stock by staying an extra year. We saw this happen with Glenn this past season. If you don't perform as well as you are expected to for most of the season, you start to slip a little in the prospect rankings. This also gives NBA scouts an extra year of tape to pick apart. I think that this reason is sort of neutralized in this particular situation however, with the thought that the 2014 draft is very deep and the 2015 draft probably not as deep.
- Possibility of experiencing immediate team success in the NBA. This is a small reason, but I guess Glenn and Mitch could be looking at their predicted draft positions (possibly end of the first round) and realizing that these are some of the best teams in the NBA and teams most likely to win championships early. However, they probably wouldn't be making much of an impact on these teams, and I seriously doubt this is a big factor at all in the decisions.
Why he/they should stay:
- The possibility of an absolutely awesome year next season, all the way around. From the probable team success, the possibilities of winning championship(s), and just having another year enjoying the college atmosphere, there's no doubt that it would be an unbelievable experience for all three of them if everything went right. Once in a lifetime type chance. I think we can all quickly imagine how crazy next year could potentially be for everyone.
- Improve your game/skills. Some people might say that you might not be able to improve your draft stock much more than it already is (especially Nik). This might be true, but all three of them definitely have PLENTY of room to improve upon in various aspects of their games, even if it doesn't necessarily translate to their draft stocks. There's always room to improve for college players... heck, there's always room to improve for even most of the best NBA players to improve. This would presumably help them be more able to hit the ground running when they eventually do get drafted and start playing.
- The possibility of improving your draft stock. This is obviously apparent for Glenn and Mitch, and would probably be a big part of the reason why they would come back if they choose to do so. But I think Nik could also easily improve his draft stock by staying, as well. It's looking like he's going to go somewhere around the 15 spot in this year's draft. If he came back, he would immediately become one of the frontrunners, if not THEE frontrunner, for National Player of the Year. I think it's unlikely that he'd ever go top 5, but I could definitely see him sliding somewhere around the 5-10 spots if he stayed, especially in a probably weaker draft than this year's. McDermott sure improved his stock this past year, based a lot upon the publicity of being probably the best offensive player in college basketball and being the Wooden Award winner.
- The possibility of actually making more money in the long run by staying. I think it's a common assumption that you will always make more money in the NBA the faster you go pro. This is definitely not always the case. Let's look at Glenn for example. Right now he's projected to go somewhere in the early 2nd round, with the possibility of making his way into the late first round with solid workouts. Let's put him at the #30 spot in this year's draft. According to the rookie pay scale (which can be found here (http://www.cbafaq.com/scale2011.htm), by the end of Glenn's 3rd year in the league, he would have made $2,857,200. Now let's imagine Glenn staying next season, and improving his draft stock. In a weaker draft, I can easily see Glenn playing his way into the 15-20 range. Let's put him at #17 in the 2015 draft. After Glenn's first TWO seasons in the league (which remember, is the same time period as if he would have came out this year and played three years in the league), his total made salary would be $2,953,400. This is even more money than he would have made with the extra year in the league. You can also make the case that if Glenn came back to school for an extra year, he would be in a better position to succeed in the NBA, potentially giving him much better contracts after his first deal is up. Let's do the same exercise with Nik. Let's put him in the #15 spot in this season's draft, and the #7 spot in next year's draft. His total salary after his first three years in the league in the first scenario would be $4,847,000. His total salary after his first TWO years in the league in the second scenario would be $5,286,700. Again, you see more money in the second scenario, and also the better chance for future success in the NBA.
As you can see, it's quite the complicated decision. I think injuries really are the biggest factor here. If you could absolutely guarantee these guys that they wouldn't get injured, then the decision probably shifts towards coming back to school. Unfortunately, you can't do that. It's going to be interesting to see what these guys decide in the coming weeks.