Every year players put their names in the NBA draft with the hope of becoming one of 60 NBA draftees. Only 30 of them receive guaranteed contracts, however, and that's a distinction worth making.
Just 15 of the 30 second-round picks from the 2010 draft played in the NBA last year, with only Landry Fields averaging over 15 minutes per game. In fact, only 43 of the 90 second-round picks over the last three years are still in the league right now. So even if you are picked, it does not mean you will stay in the NBA. On the other hand, this is a wide-open draft and the remaining fence sitters have some thinking to do.
May 8, the deadline for college players who have not hired an agent to withdraw from the draft without harming their eligibility, will be a very interesting day. Obviously the pending lockout and expiring CBA are playing a role in what players on the fence will do, but there is so much more to consider.
For example, there are some pretty good reasons for players to stay in the draft:
1. Big-name pro prospects like Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, John Henson and Perry Jones have decided to stay in school, which means there are more first-round spots open than would normally be available.
2. The NBA Players' Association says it wants to eliminate the "one-and-done" rule which could mean players hoping to wait until next year would have to "compete" against prospects from a very deep and talented 2012 high school class when it comes to the draft.
3. While second-round picks are generally not fully guaranteed contracts, more and more of them are close to being guaranteed. Teams like keeping costs low with inexpensive young players making south of seven figures on their bench. That increases the likelihood for players selected in the second round to stick around in the league.
4. Finally, there is a perception that the longer a player stays in college, the more his stock drops.
Then there's the other side of the coin. Here are a handful of reasons to pull out of the draft:
1. A lockout seems likely, and while the idea of playing for pay sounds great, four NBA owners are NHL owners, and they believe that their season-long CBA fight saved their sport and can "save" the NBA.
2. If you don't get picked, or get cut before the season, it could be tough to find work elsewhere. If there's a lockout, some veteran NBA players will bolt overseas, which will decrease the value of American-born players, especially rookies, and cut into the number of available roster spots.
3. The NBA believes that keeping college players in school for two or three years before turning pro is a better fit for the NBA draft, and if that ruling goes through, returning players would still just be competing against players currently in college for their future draft spots.
4. More NBA draft picks have gone to the D-League the past two years than ever before, and while there may be a paycheck twice a month, playing in empty arenas and fighting for minutes is not what NBA dreams are made of.
5. Fringe prospects get a boost from the performance of their college team. The better your team finishes, the higher you will be drafted. That is a fact. So if your team had a bad year, take them deep into the Big Dance next season and improve your stock.
6. It is your last time to be a kid and just play. Take a look at what a high percentage of young NBA players do during their only break in the season, All-Star weekend. They don't go home; most go back to their college campus because the truth is they miss their friends, the atmosphere and college in general.
7. With the lockout looming and a down draft, many NBA teams will opt to spend their picks on young foreign players and keep them overseas, which is a developmental process like the D-League, but costs them little or nothing. Therefore there may not be as many available first-round spots, with guaranteed contracts, as there appear to be.
With all those factors in mind, here is how I think the players with one foot in the draft but without an agent should proceed.
Stay in the draft
To read the rest of Doug Gottlieb's analysis of prospects whether should stay in the draft or withdraw, you must be an ESPN Insider.