Mitchell Robinson's Rookie Season With Knicks Calls Into Doubt The Value Of NCAA Coaching

Detroit Pistons v New York Knicks

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: Mitchell Robinson #26 of the New York Knicks dunks the ball against the Detroit Pistons on April 10, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by

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New York Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson is coming off one of the best Aprils of any NBA rookie. Over the final six games of the 2018-19 season, Robinson averaged 11.3 points per game, 9.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game—numbers that would make some NBA veterans blush.

But what makes the 21-year-old Robinson's performance even more impressive is that he never played college basketball. Instead, he spent the NBA's collectively bargained one-year waiting period at home, training independently.

Because he excelled as an NBA rookie without playing college basketball, Robinson's success leads one to reasonably question whether his performance is an aberration, or if, perhaps, college basketball coaches do not offer the kind of value for young athletes they have typically stated to justify of their seven-figure salaries.

Indeed, Robinson's success without playing any NCAA ball reminds us of the immediate stardom of other NBA players who entered the league directly from high school, for example, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James and Dwight Howard—all before the NBA in 2005 collectively bargained to implement its one-year gap rule.

While the NBA's collectively bargained one-year gap rule may have made us forget about the previous generations of NBA players who successfully skipped college, Robinson's immediate NBA success helps to reconnect to dots, not only for fans but also for top basketball prospects.

Indeed, this coming year, recent high school graduates R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball will spend their NBA gap year instead playing for pay in a commercial Australian basketball league, rather than playing college ball.

Legends are built over time, and they are often based on anecdotes—some true, some not. Robinson has indeed called into doubt the longstanding legend that playing college basketball makes a prospective NBA player more ready to enter the league. 

And as players such as Robinson begin to elucidate potential falsities with the legend of the value of playing college basketball, so too will fall any lingering justification for the NBA's required one-year waiting period, as well as for the seven-figure salaries that so many "elite" college basketball coaches currently enjoy without any question as to their value added.

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Marc Edelman ([email protected]) is a Professor of Law at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business and the founder of Edelman Law, where he consults extensively on sports and gaming issues. He has authored seminal law review articles on collegiate sports and athletes rights including:"A Short Treatise of Amateurism and Antitrust Law" and "The Future of College Athlete Players Unions." Nothing in this article shall be construed as legal advice.

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New York Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson is coming off one of the best Aprils of any NBA rookie. Over the final six games of the 2018-19 season, Robinson averaged 11.3 points per game, 9.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game—numbers that would make some NBA veterans blush.

But what makes the 21-year-old Robinson's performance even more impressive is that he never played college basketball. Instead, he spent the NBA's collectively bargained one-year waiting period at home, training independently.

Because he excelled as an NBA rookie without playing college basketball, Robinson's success leads one to reasonably question whether his performance is an aberration, or if, perhaps, college basketball coaches do not offer the kind of value for young athletes they have typically stated to justify of their seven-figure salaries.

Indeed, Robinson's success without playing any NCAA ball reminds us of the immediate stardom of other NBA players who entered the league directly from high school, for example, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James and Dwight Howard—all before the NBA in 2005 collectively bargained to implement its one-year gap rule.

While the NBA's collectively bargained one-year gap rule may have made us forget about the previous generations of NBA players who successfully skipped college, Robinson's immediate NBA success helps to reconnect to dots, not only for fans but also for top basketball prospects.

Indeed, this coming year, recent high school graduates R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball will spend their NBA gap year instead playing for pay in a commercial Australian basketball league, rather than playing college ball.

Legends are built over time, and they are often based on anecdotes—some true, some not. Robinson has indeed called into doubt the longstanding legend that playing college basketball makes a prospective NBA player more ready to enter the league. 

And as players such as Robinson begin to elucidate potential falsities with the legend of the value of playing college basketball, so too will fall any lingering justification for the NBA's required one-year waiting period, as well as for the seven-figure salaries that so many "elite" college basketball coaches currently enjoy without any question as to their value added.

________________

Marc Edelman ([email protected]) is a Professor of Law at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business and the founder of Edelman Law, where he consults extensively on sports and gaming issues. He has authored seminal law review articles on collegiate sports and athletes rights including:"A Short Treatise of Amateurism and Antitrust Law" and "The Future of College Athlete Players Unions." Nothing in this article shall be construed as legal advice.

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I am a Professor of Law at the Zicklin School of Business (City University of New York), where I focus on sports, antitrust, gaming, and intellectual property law. I al...