If you're thinking that an awful lot of underclassmen have been declaring for the NBA Draft lately, it's because an awful lot of underclassmen have been declaring for the NBA Draft lately. In fact, "awful lot" may not even be the words for it. It's more like "a shitton."
Check out this list from CBS Sports. And remember, this list is just college underclassmen - it doesn't include seniors or international players. There are already 29 players out of the 51 on the list who have either hired an agent or who, in CBS's estimation, will probably hire one. Once they do, they're officially gone and can't return to their college teams. And that's not even counting the seven players in the bottom list, where you have to figure at least some of them will also declare. Now add the seniors and the international players. What are we up to now, 45 players? 50? Then add the group of players who haven't hired an agent, but aren't going to back out of the draft before the May 8 deadline.
There are only 60 picks in the entire NBA Draft, with only the first 30 picks receiving guaranteed money. I happen to have an economics degree from USF, so I can tell you with a fair amount of authority that the supply is much higher than the demand here. Or in layman's terms, some guys are going to take it in the shorts. Guys like Dominique Jones, who were already borderline first-round picks before this latest flurry of declarations.
Why are so many players declaring? It must be because they fear an NBA lockout in 2011, but they're obviously not students of history. The last time there was a lockout, in 1998, the players started going broke because NBA players are collectively terrible with money. David Stern knew this, waited for them to start running out of cash, then slaughtered them at the bargaining table. He totally rope-a-doped them. For some reason NBA players can't help wasting their money, and it probably isn't any better now than it was 12 years ago. If there's a lockout, you have to figure it will be short because the players will need to play again to stay solvent.
So that shouldn't worry anyone. If some of these guys were smart and not seeing sacks of money when they closed their eyes at night, wouldn't they want to pull out of this year's class and wait for 2011? With so many guys coming out this year, next year's draft pool is going to be much weaker. And of all the things the owners would like to renegotiate, the rookie pay scale is not one of them. (The big thing with the upcoming lockout is teams wanting to be saved from themselves for things like "the 76ers still owe Elton Brand $66 million worth of guaranteed contract over the next four years.") Couldn't someone like Dominique Jones make a lot more money next year, even if he doesn't improve and the only reason he gets drafted sooner is because there aren't as many good players available? Hint: YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES.
DoJo, in the very unlikely event you're reading this, think it over some more. You still have time to change your mind. It might be the best investment you could make in yourself, and believe me, no one's going to complain about having you play another season at USF. Except maybe Jawanza Poland.
Editor's Note: For further reading on this topic, check out Toro Grande's open letter to DoJo from last week. I didn't remember until after I wrote this post that he used the same line of reasoning as to why Jones shouldn't declare. But it's worth repeating.