So… you want to be a pro? Great! Welcome to the club.
This series of posts will aim to EDUCATE you on the process of becoming a pro. You might not agree with what I have to say. And that's okay. But wherever you are on your individual journey of wanting to become a pro, I hope I can give you a little bit of guidance. Because you are part of a club with millions of young and talented athletes around the world. All striving for the same goal. The real question is -- do you know what it takes to become a pro?
Welcome back! If you are reading this and you have not read Part One yet, I recommend you go back and do that first.
Alright, back to becoming a pro. We already crunched the numbers to understand the probability of making it from high school basketball to college basketball. Next up, making it to the pros!
The ultimate question remains the same -- do you know what it takes?
For the purpose of making the math easier, we are going to use the NBA as our numerator. Of course there are plenty of opportunities to play professional basketball in other leagues around the world, but that conversation is for another day of class. Or if I’m being more realistic, that conversation will take an entire semester…
So how can you make it to the NBA? Let’s start with the NBA Draft.
The NBA Draft is the annual event where all NBA teams have the opportunity to draft eligible players. Typically draft picks will consist of college basketball players, but there are also international players who are eligible. And every once in a while there will be an outlier who did not play college basketball, for various reasons.
If you’re curious to learn more about the eligibility rules for the draft, you can refer to the official NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. If you happen have a copy of the nearly 600 page CBA next to your desk then flip to page 278! All others (probably every person reading this) I'll make it easy for you. Just click the link below and scroll down to Article X, Section 1: Player Eligibility. You're welcome.
The NBA Draft has 60 total picks available. But let’s narrow that down a bit further. Since our denominator is based from players in the United States, let’s filter out international picks from the numerator. Since 2014, there has been an average of 18.5 players selected that we will deem international.
2019 Picks: 17
2018 Picks: 13
2017 Picks: 15
2016 Picks: 28
2015 Picks: 18
2014 Picks: 21
2013 Picks: 20
2012 Picks: 16
For a complete year by year breakdown of these players, check out my article regarding international draft picks.
Keep in mind some of these international players also happened to take the path to college before they got drafted. So before someone calls me out in the comments for this, take a chill pill. I understand that. Just trying to keep things simple here! So with that in mind, let’s drop that 18.5 number to an even 15. Fair enough? Cool.
Back to the chalk board! 60-15 = 45 NBA Draft spots on average taken by USA players. Since most of those players drafted come from Division I schools, we will use that as a baseline. Again, keeping things simple.
There are 351 Division I basketball schools in this country. Top make this super narrowed down, let’s consider the "Top 25" ranked teams. We can all agree (to some extent) that the Top 25 teams have some of the best basketball players in the country. Those teams are ranked for a reason right?
If you take the top 2 players on each of those teams, that gives us 50 players. And we can all agree (to some extent) that outside of those 50 players, we left many talented guys off the list! Right?
Okay. So we now have 50 of the arguably best players in the country.
Wait a minute… there's not even enough spots in the draft for all of those guys! Yikes.
Now to the fun part.
The percentage of Division I players to make it to the NBA = (45 / 5,510) = 0.816%
Wow! Another absurd statistic. Now close your eyes. (Just kidding, don’t do that because then you won’t be able to read anymore. I guess I’ll have to put this into audio form soon).
Keep your eyes open. Now picture yourself with 122 other Division I basketball players. That is a whole lot of talent let me tell you. I consider myself to be a pretty solid basketball player, but I had a whopping 7 career points, so I’m one of the unlucky ones in that group of 122.
The point is, out of 122 of the most talented players in the country. Playing at the highest level of basketball. Only ONE of those players is likely to get selected in the NBA Draft. That is absurd.
Can that sample size of 122 be filtered via specific stats, positions and potential indicators? Sure. But I'm trying to prove a point here. Making it to the NBA is much more difficult than you can ever imagine.
Again, I’m sensing that some feelings are going to be hurt in that room full of players. Don’t shoot the messenger!
I would continue and give you the likelihood of a player eventually getting drafted from the group of high school basketball players today, but I think you get the point.
Now if you didn’t think I was A-hole after Part One, then I imagine you do now! And I'll say it again, I’m not out here to try and kill your dreams. Trust me, I’m trying to help you.
Am I telling you to pack it in? Absolutely not.
You should reach for the stars. Absolutely. I do every single day.
But I am STLL trying to tell you a few things:
1) I’m here to tell you what you NEED to hear. Not what you WANT to hear.
2) You don’t need to go to the NBA to be successful in basketball.
3) It is hard. Very hard. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask how badly you want it.
So if you are currently a professional basketball player somewhere in the world, congrats! You are among some of the best in the world. If you are in the NBA, congrats again! You are even more elite.
But please don’t take it for granted. The moment you start thinking that the world owes you something, you’re heading down a path of destruction. In the wise words of Kendrick Lamar, please, sit down and be humble.
That concludes today’s lesson my friends! Don’t go too far…
Part III is coming soon: overseas hoops!
If this brought you any value, feel free to share it with someone!
If you disagree with something I said, let me know! Either in the comments or send me a direct message!
Check out some out some of my other posts related to basketball by clicking the picture below!