‘Gaktuktu’ 19-year-old commoner player, 4th overall ‘lotto pick’, the current state of Korean basketball
What it means to be drafted fourth overall.
The headliner of the 2023-2024 KBL Rookie Draft on Nov. 21 wasn’t Moon Jung-hyun, the No. 1 overall pick, or Lee Doo-ho, the last player called. It was Jo Jun-hee, who was selected by the Seoul Samsung, who had the misfortune of receiving the fourth pick in the first round.
Samsung’s pick was a surprise. Jo didn’t come from an “elite” background. He didn’t even play basketball in South Korea. He studied abroad in Canada as a child and played basketball there. He went to a basketball academy and tried to make it to the NCAA, but that didn’t work out.
So he turned to the KBL, where a mysterious 19-year-old with a tremendous jump shot and a certain level of individual skill was selected fourth overall in the KBL draft, a league that attracts some of the best basketball players in Korea. After finishing last last season, Samsung was devastated to receive the fourth overall pick and not be able to select one of the “big three” in the draft, but this upset pick made them the stars of the draft.
It’s a refreshing card to look at in a positive light. What we saw at the tryout was that his outside shot was more accurate than he was known for, his personal skills were clearly superior, whether it was the strength of learning to play basketball in a free environment, or his athleticism, including his jumping ability, which could make him a “lotto” pick if it worked out.
However, the limitations are obvious. Korean basketball is a very organized game, both offensively and defensively. It’s difficult for even elite players who have played in the U.S., and it’s unlikely that a young player who hasn’t learned to play as a team will be able to adapt to the fast-paced game. You can have a lot of flashy plays on offense, but if you’re an “automatic” on defense, you’re useless as a team. It’s not just a matter of having a high defensive stance, it’s a matter of adapting to a zone defense, a modified defense, and so on, which can take at least a couple of years, if not forever.
So why did Samsung and coach Eun Hee-seok take on the challenge of scratching this lottery ticket? A first-round pick is a crucial opportunity to add strength, and they took it too easy.
This is the reality of Korean basketball right now. There are no players to draft. There are fewer and fewer visible resources in amateur basketball, which is supposed to be the foundation of the professional game from elementary, middle, high school, and college. This is the result of years of avoiding sports and avoiding the unpopular game of basketball.
Outside of the top three picks, Moon Jung-hyun, Park Mubin, and Yoo Yoo-sang, the draft did not attract much attention. As one club coach put it bluntly, “This draft is just there, no matter who you pick, except for those three guys.” And the top three players don’t stand out as much as previous big-time rookies. With the projected order of the top three picks set in stone, interest in the draft has plummeted.
If you look at the rookie drafts of recent years, you’ll see a lot of hype, but few players who actually make a big impact. The rookies are not as good as their seniors. Starting with Park Jun-young, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, there is no player who can be called a starter for their respective teams, including Park Jung-hyun, Cha Min-seok, Lee Won-seok, and Yang Jun-seok. Among the top picks, Byun Jun-hyung, Ha Yoon-ki, Lee Jung-hyun (Sono), Lee Woo-seok, and Son Seong-jin have established themselves as team mainstays.
As a result, teams have low expectations for the rookie draft. They only care about the first and early second rounds, and use the rest of the rounds for complaints. They don’t know who they’re going to pick, so they’re going to pick based on academics, delays, etc. One coach has been taking players from specific schools in the second and third rounds every year. In 2020, 10 teams didn’t draft a single player from a particular school, as if they were colluding. There were unbelievable and vicious rumors.카지노사이트
It’s our right, we can use it however we want, but when a player who scored better on objective evaluations doesn’t get drafted, the player and his family are in tears. It gives parents even less reason to send their kids to play basketball.
Still, every year, there’s always a last-minute surprise pick in the third or fourth round that provides some entertainment. But this year, 10 teams only had two picks in the second round. It’s sad to realize that we don’t have the resources to even explore the possibilities.