Handicaps are very important to sporting leagues around the world. The large majority of professional leagues enforce some sort of measure to ensure a somewhat even spread of talent.
The NBL has two of these tools to ensure a competitive balance. A salary cap and a player points cap.
In summary, the salary cap involves a $1 million limit on a clubs expenditure on players. This figure has to allow for player accommodation and transportation costs.
The player points cap, gives all players in the league a rating out of 10, one being the lowest and 10 being a player with significant basketball credentials. Each team has a maximum of 70 points to fill a 10-man roster.
Yesterday, the NBL published the official list of player point ratings for the upcoming 2013/14 season. Several weeks ago, the league body posted interim player ratings in which clubs and or free agents had the chance to appeal their point rankings.
Several players were given the benefit of a reduced rating. Others such as one Adrien Sturt could have their dreams of returning to the NBL in tatters.
For those unfamiliar with Sturt, you could be forgiven for your lack of knowledge about him.
Sturt was signed as a development player for the Melbourne Tigers in the 2008/2009 season where he continued in his development role for the following three years. In total, he played 93.2 minutes and averaged less than 1.5 ppg.
Following his three seasons as a development player, he took his talents to the British Basketball League where he averaged 13.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per encounter against not heavily touted opposition.
When the final list of player ratings was published on Monday, the 6-11 forward/centre from Adelaide was given a rating of nine, a rating higher than Boomer’s and Townsville Crocs guard Peter Crawford, Wollongong’s Oscar Forman and the same rating as players with the quality of Cam Tragardh, Daniel Johnson and even Boomer’s forward Mark Worthington.
While I’m all for keeping a level playing field in the league, the player point system is costing players jobs and denying them employment in the NBL.
Another player who faced a similar fate, Rhys Carter, found it extremely difficult to find an NBL club willing to take on his rating. Playing internationally in Sweden after several years in the NBL ballooned his rating. It took a mid-season injury to the Perth Wildcats and an appeal to his rating to allow him to return to the league.
If Australian players want to play in Australia or show loyalty to the club that took the time to develop them, the points system makes life difficult for all parties while it remains in place.
There has been significant opposition to the points cap in the past and rightly so. When we want to be encouraging talent to stay in the league, to build an exciting product, to produce storylines, to create household names it needs to be easier for players to stick around.
In addition, the contraction of the NBL has reduced the amount of total available points in the league. From as recently as 2008 where the league has shrunk from 10 teams to eight, it has alone reduced the total number of player points spots by 140 (70 per team x 2 teams). The same amount of players but with less positions and available cap space is detrimental to the potential employment of players in the NBL.
With the de-merger of the NBL from Basketball Australia, the significantly controversial player points system is a priority to be looked at.
It is not the bigger name players or the imports that this rule affects. It is the Adrien Sturt’s and the Rhys Carter’s that will face the consequences of this impractical and conservative ruling that needs to change.