NBA lockout good for NCAA

The NBA lockout saga is starting to turn into a joke.

Millionaires are arguing with billionaires about how to split money that the majority do not need. Players aren’t in serious danger of medical issues after their careers end, as NFL players are. Owners are asking for money that they have no need for.

However, there is a good side to the lockout.

Currently, the NBA game is horrible. Players can’t play defense without being called for a foul, ball handlers travel almost every time they catch a pass or pull a crossover move, players stand in the corner for three-pointers and just wait for a pass, and the vast majority of players can hit a three too easily.

This is without even bringing up one of the stupidest rules in sports: the no charge circle under the basket.

Players have become too good for the game, and the rules aren’t being enforced as they need to be. Although I highly doubt the lockout will even remotely fix the NBA game, as the NHL’s lockout did for it, I have a sliver of hope that the NBA will again be watchable in the future.

Besides just the immediate effects on the NBA itself, the NBA lockout has given the college game a huge boost.

Freshman stars like North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger decided to stay in school and develop their game, instead of going for the instant money in the NBA, then riding the bench for years on end, unable to develop – such as former collegiate players Brandan Wright and Hasheem Thabeet.

Many college teams also will have more continuity, with players who had been expected to jump to the pros sticking around another season. The all-around talent level in the college game is at an all-time high, with incoming freshmen being more prepared than ever for the game.

Without the NBA lockout looming, there’s no possible way that a team like North Carolina would have returned all five starters, when three were guaranteed to be first round picks.

Being a diehard college basketball fan (and maybe the largest North Carolina fan in the entire state of Michigan), seeing so many talented players staying in college for an extra season is a huge bonus.

For teams as good as North Carolina or Ohio State to return a majority of their starters is nearly unheard of these days. North Carolina returning every player from the previous season hasn’t happened since 2009, when Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, and Wayne Ellington did the same.

That 2009 team ended the season with a championship, and I’m hoping the 2012 team does the same.

Without the NBA lockout, this upcoming college basketball season wouldn’t be anything outside the norm.

Superstar freshmen would have bolted for the draft instead of returning, and many top teams would have freshmen inserted into the starting lineup before they are ready.

The only downfall to this is there is less parity between the superstar teams and the mid-majors, which rely on team chemistry to win over talent. But having the chance to watch ridiculously talented teams with chemistry outweighs the negatives.

Come December, when North Carolina travels to Kentucky, fans will be watching NBA-level talent all over the floor – without the downfalls of the NBA game. Any basketball fan will want to watch this game, and it could be a preview of the national championship game come April.

We can all thank the NBA players and owners inability to strike a deal for that December game, and for the upcoming college season. All we need now is for the new collective bargaining agreement to up the NBA draft entry age by a year, so every season can be more like this.

Both the college game and the NBA will reap the benefits.