Mitch McGary has not yet announced if he will enter the NBA Draft. Nobody really knows if he will at this point, as he and Michigan teammate Glenn Robinson III are both squarely on the fence, it would seem. But, if McGary is being smart about his basketball future, he will make the jump to the next level.
First off, McGary’s stock is sky high right now. After a nondescript freshman season, McGary lit it up in the postseason. He averaged about 14 points and 11 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament, after scoring just six points and grabbing under six rebounds in the regular season.
McGary used such a small sample size of excellence to catapult up mock drafts. That brings up the argument that this could be his peak. ESPN’s Chad Ford currently has him at No. 12 on his big board for the 2013 NBA Draft. If a dominant six game stretch got him all the way up to No. 12, it would seem smart for McGary to take advantage of that and strike while the iron is hot. The NBA wants him right now, why give them one whole year to pick apart his game as they see a larger sample size.
In general, returning for a sophomore year, when one is already projected to be a high draft pick, is not smart. Every year, there are examples of players overstaying their welcome in college. This gives NBA teams a better feel of how good a player really will be at the next level.
This larger sample size rarely helps already highly projected picks, just ask Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller, to name a few. McGary risks that if NBA scouts see more of him, they might not be as impressed. It is better to get drafted high and guaranteed millions of dollars, only to be ruled a bust, than to flounder in college and never get that opportunity in the NBA.
Not only could NBA scouts have lesser views of McGary next year, the rest of the draft field will be better next season as well. This is widely considered to be one of the weakest drafts in a long time. Next year, however, is already being branded as a very strong draft class, as some stellar freshmen will be hitting college campuses in the fall. There are some true potential superstars that will likely be in the 2014 NBA Draft, like Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and the Harrison twins. That means a borderline lottery pick in 2013, like McGary, would need a monster season next year to stay at that point, much less move up in the draft.
To summarize: in 2013, McGary is a hot prospect in a weak draft. However, in 2014, he will be a known commodity in a stacked draft. Which option sounds better to you?