FTF Wake Forest: Ready for life or ready for the league?
So, I'm back. The black eye is gone- if only the black mark on my soul could heal so easily as well. After marinating on the status of Wake basketball for a few weeks, I figured I would write about (who else) Chris Paul.
First, let me be clear on 1 issue- Chris Paul made the correct decision in leaving Wake to enter the NBA draft. At any point in time, if you can leave school and give your family and you the ability to establish wealth- not just some money, but actual wealth, you are crazy not to do so. Chris Paul's stock may never be higher- the guy is a legit top 5 (probably top 3) pick- and there is no way to criticize him making a move that will insure him with at least $4-5 million over the next couple of years. As an aside, if Eric Williams gets a team to guarantee him a first round selection (I don't see it, but stranger things have happened), then he better stay in the draft as well. Again- we are talking about the opportunity to receive enormous amounts of money for playing a sport- there is a shelf-life of how long you can do that, and there are plenty of guys (Terrance Morris being the one I'll always remember) who stayed in school too long, and lost a lot of money because of it.
But as I stated in an earlier FTF column- Chris Paul is not ready for pro ball. Now lets be clear- I am not criticizing his decision to go- you have to do it for that amount of money. And without a doubt, the NBA decided many moons ago that they would rather draft players based on what they could do in 3-4 years instead of what they could do today. Today, it is a surprise when the first pick ends up making much of a contribution in his first year. Therefore, whether Chris Paul is ready has nothing to do with whether he was smart to enter the draft.
There's more below the fold.
But who watched the last few games of Chris Paul's collegiate career and thought wow, this guy is clearly mature enough to play basketball with grown men?? What I saw was whining in the papers about rough treatment, hitting Da Jewels in Da Nuts, and fouling himself out of an NCAA Tourney game because he was pissed off about a call on the other end of the court. Not to mention that he still hasn?t shown he can handle physical play from other guards. And for a 6'0 170lb guard, you better be able to handle physical play. Outside of Iverson, Brevin Knight, Tony Parker, Earl Boykins and TJ Ford (assuming he ever makes it back from his neck injury) there aren?t any other guards Paul?s size in the NBA. If you think Jarrett Jack made it tough for Paul, wait until Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Dwayne Wade, and the rest of the 6'3 and above NBA pgs get a hold of him. If he thought that people getting in his face was bad in the ACC, wait until Touche? McIinnis goes after him for losing $50 Gs in a dice game. Wait until Malik Rose decides to send a message with a foul when Paul enters the lane. And wait until Rueben Patterson wants to see just how quick he can get a reaction out of Paul by pushing and trash talking him.
I'm not trying to criticize Chris Paul. I truly hope he goes out and becomes the best PG in the NBA. He tries to play the game the "right" way (getting his teammates involved first) with the ability to get his own shot when the flow of the game dictates. As the rules exist now, he is crazy not to turn pro. I just hope that he can continue to develop his maturity level (and his individual skills) to the point where he can maximize his considerable ability in the NBA.
Oh, and by the way, I'm tired of all these Wake and UNC fans #$%^ing and moaning about players turning pro. I had a blast in college (and in law school, for that matter), but I would have left the minute I was offered a 3 year guaranteed contract worth 4-7 million. Education will always be there. The NBA will not.
Ben is an attorney in Charlotte, moments from flowers, pottery, book clubs, and pastels.....forever!