Ready or Not: Should Terrence Jones Come Back?

The question in Glenn's blog post is, "Are Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones NBA ready?"  Because the NBA has been shown to select on potential, I think that question of 'Ready or Not' is not as interesting to the average UK fan as the issue: "Given their projected draft positions, should they come back for another year at UK."

I agree that Knight can only damage his draft position by returning and dropping back into the 2012 draft.  The only chance he would have to improve on this year's projected #5 pick is to try and take advantage of the fact that while the 2011 draft has Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Knight (if he stays in this draft) projected to go top-5, the 2012 draft is very weak in PG's with DraftExpress projecting no point guards in the top-12.  It's possible injuries and other NBA season related factors could allow Knight to take advantage of the projected PG scarcity in the 2012 draft and be prized again as a top-5 pick.  IMO, you've got to love Las Vegas to take those odds.

Liggins is seen as a defensive specialist and such are seldom picked in the 1st-round.  If there was a way for him to develop an offensive game to go with his demonstrated defensive skill set, then he might claw his way into the bottom of the 2012 1st round by coming back.  However, because he would be battling the established mental image the NBA player personnel people already have of him from this year, that offensive eruption would have to be spectacular.  The problem with this strategy is that, although I believe he possesses an offensive game he hasn't as yet displayed, Liggins will have a very hard time getting the minutes on next year's 'Cats team to showcase such new and improved offensive prowess.  Whatever potential Liggins has in this years NBA Draft, it's unlikely, imo, to improve by coming back for another year.


On the other hand, if Jones is slotted to be picked in the eight-12 range, say 10th in this draft, then I think he has the potential to actually improve his draft status by returning to UK for another year.  Improving his right hand and demonstrating improved shooting, along with having the dominating 2011-12 season he seemed to promise early this year, could/would move him up even in the preternaturally stacked 2012 draft.


Bottom line: I think Jones COULD improve his draft position, but it's very unlikely Knight or Liggins could.


That brings us to the topical issue: "SHOULD Jones come back?"


There are a lot of factors that might enter into such a decision but, imo, all are overwhelmed by the money involved.  Therefore, I'll only deal with this on a financial basis assuming no meaningful lockout.


A rookie drafted 10th will earn $1.9 million in his first year under the NBA Rookie Salary Scale as defined in the current NBAPA CBA ($2.1 million in year two, $2.2 million in year three).  If Jones comes back to UK he's going to fore-go that $1.9 million he could have made in the first year in the Association.  That means to make it financially reasonable for him to come back he's got to believe he can - AT LEAST -  improve his draft status in the 2012 draft sufficient to earn this foregone $1.9 million back over the life of his first three year contract.  Given the time value of money, that would mean Jones would need to improve his 2012 Draft rookie contract by about $700,000 per year, i.e., $2.6 million in year one, $2.8 million in year two, $2.9 million in year three.


If the existing NBAPA Collective Bargaining Agreement were to be in effect in 2012, to get $700,000 of Rookie Salary Scale improvement from 2011 to 2012, Jones would have to raise his draft pick from 10th to at least 6th.  On the outside looking-in, I'd say that seems difficult but reasonable.  If Jones makes the credible improvement in his game I think possible, I believe he could indeed improve his draft pick to 6th.


There is a problem, however; the NBA Rookie Salary Scale under the anticipated NBAPA CBA currently under dispute, is expected to be 25% BELOW the current rookie scale.  That means if he is to earn back his foregone $1.9 million lost by coming back to UK for an additional year under the new 25% lower salary scale, Jones would have to improve his draft status to THIRD.  And, looking over the projected 2012 draft ... jumping to the 3rd pick - that's just not a reasonable expectation in my mind.


If I was advising Jones, purely on a financial basis, I'd have to tell him he shouldn't come back.


I'm a sad 'Cat fan.