The Golden State Warriors won their third NBA Finals championship in the last four years when they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers to earn the 2018 league title. But Golden State didn’t just defeat Cleveland, they destroyed Cleveland. In a four game sweep, the Warriors proved just how dominant they were. But with the implications that the Warriors dynasty has had on the NBA, it is worth considering the impact that they have on the college basketball ranks as well.
In college basketball, there are players who you can just tell are lottery picks from the moment they start playing. DeAndre Ayton, the likely top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, is one of those players. But for players who don’t possess the same type of dynamic skill set and have to rely more on work ethic or creativity, the top of the draft isn’t as likely. For these players, there could be a huge benefit to not being a top pick In the draft.
If there is one thing that has become clear in the NBA in recent years, it is the fact that super teams rule the sport. From the Kevin Garnett-led Boston Celtics, to the LeBron James Heat teams, and now to the Durant and Curry Warriors. If you can amass a collection of big name players, you can dominate the NBA for an extended period of time.
For players doming the pros after playing in college, it is entirely possible that this emerging trend in the NBA has led to a shift in attitude from every player wanting to be drafted near the top of the draft to being more content with a lesser draft position.
While players tend to make more money if they get drafted in one of the top positions, there are more ways than ever for payers to make up those salary disparities. With so many endorsement opportunities out there now, there are more opportunities for players to put winning before their bank accounts. And even more important than the money is the fact that players can leave a little money on the table in exchange for the ability to win. This is what the Warriors have done, with their stars taking pay cuts to play together, and they are how being remembered as one of the best teams of all-time.
The later you are drafted in a given round of the NBA Draft, the better the team you end up going to in most cases. This is because the worst teams in the league pick first, while the playoff teams end up picking at the end of rounds. Trades can change that, of course, but players know that if they are selected at the end of a round instead of the beginning, they are more likely to end up on a team that can win right away. And if there is one thing that the Warriors have taught basketball players, it is that they should jump at the chance to win right away because another super team could pop up and take their chances for good at any time.
With talk of the one-and-done rule disappearing in the near future, there is a chance that even more talented players will be entering the draft from high school each year. And given the choice between getting help with essays to stay eligible for college hoops and getting paid in the NBA, it’s hard to blame the players who will take advantage of this change. This will push some quality college players further down the draft order in terms of when they are picked. And while their egos may not like that happening, their increased chances of joining a playoff contender certainly will heal any emotional wounds.
On a day-to-day basis, all of this does not necessarily impact the thought processes of most college basketball players. After all, no player says that their aim is to be drafted in the late-20s of the first round. Every player simply wants to be the best they can be. But in the current climate, being one of those later picks can mean a lot more success for a player than being the top overall selection.
In terms of the construction of super teams in the NBA, rookie talent is extremely important. Thanks to the salary cap, only so many star players can play for one franchise. But thanks to the affordability of rookie contracts, a team can get some immense value if they can hit their draft picks out of the park. For college players looking to go pro, filling that role can make them an important piece of a legendary team right away, which is a better outcome than being paid better to lose a ton of games in Phoenix.
What the Golden State Warriors have done to the game of basketball with their dynasty has been incredible. And thanks to their ability to stockpile talent, they have made it acceptable for players to want to be drafted later so that they can help a team compete for a championship right away.