Last week Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban voiced his opinions on college basketball and the D-League, stating that the best young prospects would be better-served to play in the D-League instead of going to college. Cuban opined that players would make greater strides in regards to skill development playing in the NBA’s developmental league instead of attending college for a year.
And then there’s the whole “student-athlete” angle.
“A major college has to pretend that they’re treating them like a student-athlete,” Cuban said according to the Associated Press. “It’s a big lie and we all know it’s a big lie. We can do all kinds of things that the NCAA doesn’t allow schools to do that would really put the individual first.”
While this is also to be considered, it doesn’t have a great impact on the argument of which route would be better for young players when it comes to making sure they’re prepared to play at the next level. And on Wednesday SMU head coach Larry Brown voiced his thoughts on the matter to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas, disagreeing with Cuban’s statement.
“They don’t teach guys how to play, in my mind,” Brown said of the D-League. “The head coaches in the NBA and a lot of the assistants do, but [college basketball] is the greatest minor league system in the world. If you didn’t go to one class and just live in a college environment, then you’re way ahead. And I think most coaches are responsible enough to make them go to class, make them go to study hall, give them life lessons.
“How about being around [SMU assistants] Eric Snow and George Lynch? Those two guys played 13, 14 years in the league, have families, are successful. In all honesty, I love Mark, but [college basketball] is pretty good.
“Now, it’s our job to make [players] realize getting an education is something that’s important, because here’s the deal: Life after basketball is a real long time.”
One thing to keep in mind with regards to the D-League is that there are only 17 franchises for 30 NBA teams, 14 of which have direct “one-to-one” relationships with a parent organization. In the case of those 14 teams maybe there is better instruction going on, as there’s a direct pipeline to the next level. But without every NBA franchise having a “one-to-one relationship with a D-League franchise, doesn’t that limit the amount of teaching going on?
Of course there are skills that can be honed at the D-League level, regardless of the relationship between that particular team and the NBA. But a better argument for the D-League route being better for elite young players than college basketball if every NBA franchise had its own D-League franchise to use in developing young players.
Both routes have their positives, but ultimately this comes down to the player and his family and what route they feel is the best to take.