Injuries are a part of the game. High school players, college players and pro players all have the same likelihood of getting hurt. Even the wannabe at the local gym can get hurt. Let’s not overreact to the injury of Nerlens Noel and use it as a reason to scream about the NBA entry rule that forces players to wait for one year before joining their league.
First, the NBA is not forcing players to go to college; the players “must be at least 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft or one year removed from graduation of his high school class.” The players have the option to do whatever they want for one year. They can go to Europe, like Brandon Jennings and others have done, or take the year to just train like a pro as Solomon Hill suggested to Shabazz Muhammad.
And before you scream that they cannot afford trainers, be honest with yourself and realize that if a college player can afford to wear a Gucci backpack, he can afford to pay someone to put out cones and tell him to put more weight on the squat machine. Agents will be footing this bill, not the players.
Second, an injury to a college player is not going to change the NBA point of view, and it shouldn’t. Noel may have been the first pick in the draft last year, but he also may not have after NBA teams put him through workouts and saw he has a worse offensive skill set then Reggie Evans.
The NBA wants players that are ready to play, for every LeBron James, there is a Korlene Young and Leon Smith. The NBA and the players union have a job to protect their product. Do not think for a second they are going to feel bad, especially when their own players, like Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo, are suffering injuries too.
Lastly, Noel will still get drafted, still make a lot of money and still play basketball. This is not the 60’s, and the doctors aren’t just going to chop up his leg and tell him to just ice it. Modern science has brought players back from what was once considered the worst possible injury and made them even stronger. Players in high school suffer this injury and still recover to have college careers, college players have suffered this injury and gone on to play in the pros. Kentucky will make sure Noel gets great medical advice and the best surgeon possible.
He will get taken care of, first by his current protectors, and later by the people protecting their organization. And if he has to come back to college for another year? I can think of worse things than having to play basketball and get an education at Kentucky.