March Madness

March Madness brings back so many great memories: Tyus Edney’s heroics; Juan Dixon and Steve Blake celebrating with their families at the Atlanta hotel after the championship game; Michael Jordan hitting the wing jump shot against Georgetown.  

March 2014 symbolizes a chase for greatness: sixty four of the best college teams made up of some of the best college players competing for the title of “Best Men’s College Basketball Program in the Country.”  While college teams hope to win as teams, players, consciously and subconsciously, hope to elevate their NBA draft stock.  NBA teams invest resources scouting the tournament and weigh heavily a player’s performance over the course of these couple weeks.  Based on a review of past NBA Draft selections, there is a strong correlation between NCAA tournament performance and NBA Draft status.  I assume the rational is a player capable of excelling when “it matters” has a better chance to succeed in the League.  

I don’t necessarily agree with the premise.  The NBA season is long.  Some teams play well over one hundred games over the course of eight to nine months which includes preseason, regular season and playoffs.  I consider consistency paramount in the NBA.  It is a real measure of ability, commitment and value.  If I had the pick, a good NCAA tournament without a good season wouldn’t necessarily translate into a higher draft number while a good season without a good tournament wouldn’t necessarily translate into a lower draft number.  At some point during the season every player, even a star player, will not play well.  It’s just that great players have far fewer off-nights than everyone else.  I prefer to think of the NCAA tournament as just another factor used in the evaluation process of a player’s potential.  I wouldn’t give it more weight than it really deserves.