If LeBron James has his way, Oklahoma freshman Trae Young will declare for this June’s NBA draft.
Good thing James’ way just so happens to be the only way.
Reporter: Trae Young will have to make a decision to go pro—
LeBron: “What decision? That ain’t no decision. That’s like saying my waking up this morning—that ain’t no decision. Brushing my teeth—that ain’t no decision. He better go pro.”
Kudos to LeBron for looking out for the youth. Not that he had to, of course. The 19-year-old, who will turn 20 before the start of the 2018-19 NBA season, has played his way into the top five of most mock drafts. He’s most definitely going to declare.
Still, James’ sentiments should be appreciated. A lot of people want the NBA to institute a two-and-done rule for anyone who doesn’t enter the draft immediately after high school. But that line of thinking, while not completely invalid, is almost unfair to the prospects themselves.
Look at Michael Porter Jr. He was, for many of the months leading into this collegiate season, the consensus No. 1 prospect. But he’s expected to miss Mizzou’s entire season following a back injury. Think of how much money that will cost him, even if he still goes in the top five.
Young has nowhere to go but down from here when viewing his stock through that lens. Let’s say he goes fifth—which might be a conservative projection at this point. He’ll be guaranteed $15 million through his first three years—and $21.9 million over four years, assuming his baked-in team option is exercised following his third season. That’s still life-changing money, and his earning potential through those first four years won’t get much higher by returning for his sophomore go-round.
Once again, then, LeBron’s will be done—but mostly because, as he says, this choice is like deciding whether or not to brush your teeth: You don’t need to think about it; you just do it.