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DeCock: No argument with NBA decisions

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While N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie still has five days to put his name into the draft, most of the big NBA decisions in the area have been made, with North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes announcing Monday his intention to stay, joining John Henson and Tyler Zeller.

What it means for the teams involved aside, for the players involved -- the three Tar Heels and Duke’s Kyrie Irving, who will jump to the NBA -- it means that everyone (so far, counting Leslie) has made what looks to be the right decision for their future.

Henson and Zeller were easy on that score. Henson would benefit from another year to work on his offensive skills, which showed improvement during his sophomore season, while Zeller has a chance to get bigger and stronger.

Barnes is a tougher case. He would have been a lottery pick had he decided to go pro, and that kind of guaranteed money is difficult for anyone to turn down. But there’s still one giant hole in Barnes’ NBA game, and that’s his ball-handling ability.

The rest of his game is still good enough that the NBA wouldn’t have complained, but to be a pro perimeter player, he has to get better with the ball. Another year of college won’t hurt him there, and the chance to win a national title with Henson and Zeller and everybody else doesn’t hurt either.

As for Irving, while there were a few parts of his game that could have used some polishing, he has an NBA-ready offensive game and an NBA-adequate defensive game. As good as Duke might have been with Irving this year, the Blue Devils needed Irving a lot more than he needed them.

For the moment, let’s assume Leslie stays at State, where he has plenty of maturing to do on and off the court. He has enough raw talent to be a first-round pick right now, but there’s some hard work to be done before he can make the most of it.

This is unusual. All too many times, college players who aren't ready for the NBA are lured by the riches on offer and jump too soon; this area alone has a long list of players who made the wrong choice. (Although some end up OK in the end: N.C. State's undrafted Josh Powell is a great example.)

It doesn’t often happen that everyone with the option to go pro makes the right decision, whether that’s staying or going. This time, it’s hard to argue with what anyone did.


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Barnes should have gone.  Sooooo much money.

You wish!!!!

You wish!!!!

big picture

Regarding Barnes decision, as noted by Coach Williams, neither decision would have been wrong. But the one he made was right for him at this point in time. Sure, gabbing the money and going is easy. But in the grand scheme of things, he should be better off personally and professionally by extenting his time and experiences as a student athlete.

I do disagree with Luke's assessment of CJL, though. I do not see him as a first rounder. Although he does have the NBA defensive skills down pat.

barnes and leslie

The Cavaliers have two lottery picks and the second worst record in the NBA. There is a good chance they would have taken Barnes if they ended up with one of the top 3 picks. If so, he would have been paired with JJ Hickson, who has finally developed into a good NBA player with a terrific upside.

I agree with you on CJL on both points, especially the second. Despite his considerable natural talent, his laziness has got to have turned off NBA scouts and executives. His lacksadaisical attitude is epic, even by NBA standards and he would get eaten alive at the next level. If Gottfried follows through on the discipline he has talked about in early interviews and press conferences, he could be the best thing that could have happened for CJL's development. 

I've got to believe that the uncertainty surrounding the NBA CBA is influencing the decisions these guys are making. I am expecting the negotiations to be volatile and lengthy with a work stoppage almost guaranteed.

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About the blogger

Luke has worked for The N&O since 2000. He covered the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a sports columnist in August 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at (919) 829-8947, @LukeDeCock on Twitter or