Jamaal Franklin plunged like a boulder but entering NBA Draft was still the right call

Posted: 06/28/2013 in basketball, college basketball
Tags: , , ,

There seems to be suggestions that San Diego State standout Jamaal Franklin made a mistake by entering the 2013 NBA Draft.

Those opinions hinge on the fact that Franklin fell to the 41st pick – nearly the middle of the second round – before the Memphis Grizzlies mercifully ended his plunge and selected him.

There is no guaranteed money for players who don’t get picked in the first round so it didn’t take long for people to say Franklin messed up by applying for the draft.

But simply put, the fact that Franklin fell like a boulder in the draft doesn’t mean he made the wrong decision.

There is one undeniable fact that you just can’t overlook – Thursday’s draft was one of the weakest ever.

If Franklin was ever going to be a first-round pick, this was the year. Even if he had returned to San Diego State and had a third consecutive solid season, it wouldn’t have guaranteed that he’d be anything more than a second-round pick in the 2014 draft.

His outside shooting didn’t improve between his sophomore and junior campaigns so who says it would have suddenly been stellar if he returned for a senior season?

His 6-foot-5 size makes him a shooting guard in the NBA – particularly since his ball-handling abilities aren’t good enough for him to play the point – so that porous 28 percent shooting from the shorter college 3-point line was deservedly an issue.

Then tack on his immaturity and occasional character issues and you can see why many NBA teams said “pass” when there were plenty of other choices on their draft boards.

I was a bit surprised to see there were “draft experts” – draft guessers would be more accurate – that had Franklin going as high as 15th to 20th in the draft. I thought he had a chance to be among the final selections of the 30-pick first round and would certainly be plucked early in the second.

Instead he fell to No. 41 with the Grizzlies, which isn’t a bad landing spot.

Memphis is among the top five teams in the Western Conference and Franklin’s aggressive style and in-your-face defense is a good fit for a franchise that prides itself on a grinding style of play. The fact that the Grizzlies’ home facility is now known as “The Grindhouse” speaks to that success.

So now Franklin has a lot of work to do – and undoubtedly has a pretty large chip on his shoulder. The message has been sent that the majority of NBA teams possess doubts about his shooting ability and that others had concerns about his attitude.

Franklin was the only player in college basketball to lead his team in scoring (17.0), rebounding (9.5), assists (3.3) and steals (1.6) last season and is a stellar athlete. His back-to-back solid campaigns allowed the Aztecs to continue to be a player on the national stage after the school-best 34-3 campaign of 2010-11 when budding NBA star Kawhi Leonard boosted the stature of the program.

Whether or not Franklin makes an NBA roster or ends up making a living playing overseas is all on him.

And however it turns out, know this: Franklin did not make a mistake by applying for the 2013 NBA Draft.

Plunge or not, this was his best chance to hit the guaranteed money that comes with being a first-round pick.


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