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A Quick Memo For The Westbrooks: The Blake Griffin Analysis

We have already expressed our appreciation for RW (and DC) no matter what he decides to do this off season. As I mentioned I will probably throw up a similar post for KL sometime in the near future. I think it is all but a done deal that KL and DC are gone. However, among these three kids if there is one who might be realistically thinking about coming back in terms of upping his NBA stocks by returning for another year (translating into millions of extra dollars) it is RW. Thayer Evans of the New York Times last week posted a great article zeroing on RW and made a case on why someone like him could benefit from not jumping into the NBA draft this season:

The 6-foot-3, 189-pound Westbrook's season has been highlighted by his gliding dunks over defenders that are etched in YouTube lore, his crafty offensive rebounding and his defensive prowess, which earned him defensive player of the year honors in the Pacific-10 Conference.

Despite being a potential lottery pick in the N.B.A. draft on June 26, he could be the prime example of a legitimate N.B.A. prospect returning to college next season. That is because the top of this year's draft is likely to be dominated by one of college basketball's finest freshman classes in recent years and the current high school senior class, which would be eligible for the 2009 draft, is considered to lack the skilled elite big men who are often top choices.

Two freshmen -- Kansas State forward Michael Beasley and Memphis point guard Derrick Rose -- are expected to be the first two players selected in this year's draft.

At least seven other freshmen could also be selected in the lottery, which consists of the first 14 picks. Underclassmen have until April 27 to declare for the draft and until June 16 to withdraw.

"It's deep," Chad Ford, a draft analyst for, said of this year's draft class in a telephone interview. "I don't think it's the deepest, but it's deep."

That hurts the value of Westbrook and others who could be selected higher if they return to college and enter the 2009 draft.

"There's a little more room to move up in next year's draft," U.C.L.A. Coach Ben Howland said. "The exceptional freshmen in this year's class take away from a couple of guys leaving."
The article quoting Ford went on to point out why it could be especially beneficial to RW to come back for another season:
It could be to Westbrook's advantage if he returned to U.C.L.A. next season and the junior point guard Darren Collison turned pro this year, as some draft experts have speculated. That situation would give Westbrook a better opportunity to show that he can play point guard, his likely position in the N.B.A.

"It probably would benefit his stock some," Ford said of Westbrook. "He could be a guy that's projected high this year, but he'll go later in the draft in part because teams still aren't 100 percent sure whether he'll be a point guard or not."
There is something else RW needs to carefully consider and it is the parameters of the NBA K he will be looking at. If RW finds himself in a situation in which he is projected as a top-20 pick, I will totally understand if he decides to leave UCLA for financial considerations.

However, he will need to also weigh the consideration that even if he is taken as a top-20 pick, he will probably viewed as a "project" in the NBA where he will be on the bench for at least 2-3 seasons. RW's future in the NBA will come at the pg position, and since he doesn't have a full season worth of experience at that position, he will probably be developed at that position from the bench. And because of that if RW goes in now although he will get the rookie K within the NBA salary guidelines, he may not have a lot of leverage when time is up in his first K and negotiations come up for his second K. That's where the big money comes from in the NBA.

And it's a factor that let Oklahoma's Blake Griffin, who was projected as a first round pick in this year's draft to come back for another season. Jenni Carlson from the Oklahoman reported on the thoughts/analysis Griffin went through before reaching his decision to come back for another season despite being projected as a top first round pick in this year's draft:
Griffin understood the opportunity that awaited him. He would've lived a dream. He would've been a lottery pick. He would've had a million-dollar payday.

And yet, he walked away.

How is that possible?

"It was definitely tough," Griffin said. "Most college basketball players, their dream their whole lives is to play in the NBA. That is something that's hard to turn down.

"But at the same time, I know I wouldn't be content with just going to the NBA."

Griffin wants to play.

Right away, too. No sitting the pine. No biding his time. Griffin wants to go to the league and make it impossible for teams to leave him on the bench.

He's seen the cautionary tales, guys like Gerald Green, who passed on an opportunity to play at Oklahoma State and jumped right from high school to the NBA. Green played for three teams in three seasons before being waived by Houston early last month.
See right there Grifin was already thinking ahead of the second NBA K and he made his decision on the calculation that if he goes to the league as a high draft pick, NBA teams will have no choice to give him a lot of playing time and get the most out of their investment. More from that same article:
A lottery pick is a lottery pick," he said, "but there's a huge difference between going No. 10 or 8 or 7 and going No. 1, 2 or 3."

The difference is in the dollars.

Those top few picks receive such big contracts that their teams want to play them to get the most out of their investment.

FYI: The mock draft on already has Griffin as the No. 1 overall pick next year.
I imagine those are the kind of calculations and analysis RW and their folks will be going through in the coming days. At the end of the day if they conclude that RW needs to go now and take the guaranteed K because of the financial situation, then I will totally understand. However, at the same time, I think we can assume that Coach Howland and other savvy basketball personnel who will be advising them through this process, will present the Blake Griffin argument to them, and have them consider what coming back another season with a roster featuring the Fab-4 and with RW running the show (along with hopefully a veteran core of LRMAM, JK and AA2) could have the potential of putting together another fun Ben Ball season, that would potentially rocket RW to a top-5 lottery pick.

So even though we have already said our public goodbye and appreciation for RW, we just want to make sure these considerations are out there in public. We are going to be behind him one way or another. We just want to make sure he has the facts in front of him before making an informed decision. Just something to chew on for the Westbrooks in the comings days. Carry on.