Five thoughts on Isaiah Livers and the NBA Draft

It is older, yes. Kaleb Wesson, for example, is also a junior and his birthday is a year earlier than Isaiah’s. Xavier Tillman is ~6 months younger than Isaiah. But Eli Brooks is only a 3 months younger, for example.

I agree with a lot of EOG’s point about a player coming out early and getting paid in the NBA not necessarily always being the correct decision. Poole and Iggy are in a completely different world than Livers right now though. It would have taken them 2-3 more years to get their degree and a lot can happen to basketball career in that time. For Livers, if he stays one more year, his draft stock may go up, it may go down (and to your point will likely never be in the lottery), but I truly believe that the NBA will still be there next year. If he does go next year though he at least has the security of a degree from Michigan - something that wasnt really a consideration for the other two guys.

Does anybody believe that Pool would have been a first rounder without making that miracle 3 against Houston?

If Livers returns and Michigan makes a deep push in the NCAA tournament, wins the big10, with him showing up big time, who is to tell he cannot be a lottery player? Stauskas is a living proof of that.


I think it would be awfully tough for him to be a lottery player if he came back for his senior year considering that he’d be 23 years old in November of his first NBA season. There’s a lot more upside with younger players.


It’s really not hard to go back and get a degree if that’s what someone wants. Plus many of these guys plan on using basketball as their source of living possibly for the remainder of their life. Meaning when their playing career is over they will look to get into coaching, training, scouting, etc.


He doesn’t lose all opportunity to get his degree by leaving early, and I think his coach is a good example of that.


His coach is the rare example of that.

I disagree with Dylan that Iggy, in particular, couldn’t have risen significantly up the draft board this year. Especially with this being such a weak draft.

But I think the conversation is at least valuable. In the 90s kids were criticized all the time for coming out early, which was stupid and unfair. But the opposite is happening now. It seems like every sportswriter I follow acts like its blasphemy to question a kid’s decision.

There are plenty of players who declare early, stay in the draft and don’t get picked or don’t get any sort of guaranteed deal. Those players are the decisions worth criticizing.

Brazdeikis is a case of it all working out, even if he could have jumped up 5-10 spots with another year.

The big difference is that the NBA is much better set up to support the development of second round picks.

I’m not really sure where Livers would end up. I think there’s a chance he’s picked in that 30-45 range, but I also think there’s a real chance he goes undrafted. His decision is much more difficult than Poole/Iggy’s last year.


It’s hard to make a career in coaching without a degree. Juwan is a perfect coach to give advice to players in Livers position.

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I’m on your side on Iggy making the right decision, particularly because he was pretty transparent from the get go that he wanted to be one and done, and he was old for his age.

But I bet even Iggy himself would admit playing only 53 total minutes in the NBA this season was not what he envisioned as “all working out”

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Do you think he wishes he was back in college? I’d be pretty surprised.


The good news about getting a degree is you can always go back… you can’t go back to play pro basketball


I don’t, but I think the Beilein/Cleveland saga answered that for him. But as you said, a guaranteed contract is always a win. I just don’t think Iggy himself is going to be celebrating that if that’s all he ends up getting. I think he sees himself as a guy that belongs in NBA rotations. I’m not sure if he could have done anything to change that by coming back, but a lot of times I feel like the big “win” for nba players is getting a second contract, meaning a sustained career and financial security long-term. It definitely doesn’t feel like Iggy is on pace for that.

Is it that hard to imagine someone would miss winning games, being on ESPN and enjoying the college life at Michigan more than playing road games in Sioux Falls?

I won’t say that’s true for everybody, and I certainly don’t know Iggy’s personality, but the guy wasn’t exactly digging ditches last year.

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Iggy was about to turn the corner though and is very very highly thought of in the Knicks organization.

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Is it that hard to imagine someone would miss playing for free and having to go to class more than playing basketball for a salary of close to $1 million?

Kind of.


Yep, there were some stories that said as much. He’s obviously not in a great organization but I think he’ll still have a chance to make his mark.

Tough timing w/ COVID-19 for players like him because the last couple weeks of the year is usually where NBA teams (that are tanking) give a lot of guys a look.

This is an interesting article about the new NBA agent process. Of note that very few agents are actually certified, which means you can’t actually sign with most agents and retain eligibility.

Would lead me to a blind guess that Livers is probably working with an agent informally to get advice but has not signed the agent, perhaps because of this certification.

I’m sure this is coincidental but I found it interesting as I was reading the Iggy discussion. All Michigan players that left for the NBA got a nice pay day and made the right decision for them, but the ones that are experiencing the most sustained success also are the ones that stayed longer in school, which surprises me quite a bit. Career earnings and minutes per game listed.

Stayed 4 years:
Levert - $67M, 25.6 MPG
Duncan - $3M, 26.4 MPG (likely to get a huge contract after 2020-2021)

Stayed 3 years:
THJ - $80M, 26.5 MPG
Wagner - $6M, 14.4 MPG ($4M more in team option after next season)

Stayed 2 years:
Burke - $15M, 22.9 MPG (currently not on NBA roster)
Stauskas - $14M, 19.9 MPG (currently not on NBA roster)
GRIII - $10M, 17.5 MPG
McGary - $4M, 10.7 MPG (currently not on NBA roster)
DJ Wilson - $10M, 12.2 MPG
Poole - $4M ($5M more in team options after next season), 22.4 MPG
Darius Morris - $3M, 11.1 MPG

Stayed 1 year:
Iggy - $2M ($2M more in team option after next season), 5.9 MPG


The only scenario in which Livers doesn’t have the security of a UM degree is if he succeeds as a professional basketball player and doesn’t need it. If he fails he can come back and finish the last year of his degree for free within the next 10 years.