Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gotta Love That Age Limit

Unfortunately, the Warriors missed the playoffs, which A) led to the Nuggets being embarrassed by the Lakers, and B) left Monta Ellis out of the postseason spotlight. This last part is a shame because Ellis is one of the primary examples of why the age limit is the dumbest thing about today's NBA (well, except for the flopping, the playoff seeding, the "leave the bench" rule, and Clay Bennett). I was looking forward to several games of David Stern pretending to grin while Ellis swooped all over the court.

Luckily, many others have picked up the slack. Sure, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire, and Dwight Howard (and, to a lesser extent, the star-crossed Tracy McGrady and the foul-prone Tyson Chandler) are making a killing, but proponents of the age limit are always able to sidestep such evidence by saying, "Oh, but they were the sure things. What about the high risk picks!" Fair enough, Sternites.

The problem there is that even the high risk picks do better going straight to the NBA. In fact, I examined every draft from this decade and found that the age limit can't possibly be a good thing. And logically, this makes sense. Of course a player is going to develop faster by practicing with and against NBA players every day and learning from NBA coaches. It's not rocket science. Of course, this learning comes on the NBA's dime, which is where David Stern comes in. He'd rather shuffle those costs down to the NCAA, where "student athletes" go to college for free to get a sham education and get rid of their turnover-prone ways before the corporate sponsors and front row fat cats have to be subjected to them. Let's call a spade a spade.

But I digress. This post is meant to point out yet another great night for those folks who oppose the age limit. Because on this night, prep-to-pros players were straight up killing it.

In Orlando, Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis (who is earning a mere $126 million despite being an "at-risk" second round pick in 1998 - bad move coming out early on his part) combined for 39 points and 34 rebound while lifting the Magic to a 4-1 series victory over the Raptors.

In Atlanta, the Hawks won a thrilling game and evened their series against the Celtics. And while Joe Johnson was the scoring star late, it was Josh Smith who carried Atlanta to the victory, scoring 28 points (including 12 in the fourth quarter) and blocking an insane seven shots.

In Denver, J.R. Smith proved to be unstoppable at times as he and Allen Iverson nearly carried the apathetic and disappointing Nuggets to a Game Four victory. Smith scored 26 points on a dizzying array of deep threes (like, 30 feet deep) and slashing drives, showing the full range of his development.

And, of course, Kobe was unguardable and KG was a beast.

Six guys, drafted everywhere from #1 overall to the second round, all looming large over the proceedings. In fact, among former high schoolers, only Kendrick Perkins had anything short of a monster game and even he played pretty well, going for 6 and 9 in 24 minutes for the Celtics.

But hey, go on telling everyone the age limit is great for the game, David Stern. Condescending your fan base is what you do best.

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