With the NBA Draft looming June 27, a pair of former Wolverines - Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. - made positive impressions at the pre-draft camp, positioning themselves to go in the first round.
Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway thrive at Camp
Attending the camp May 16-17 preceding the May 21 Draft Lottery, Burke did nothing to diminish talk that he would be a top-10 pick, and perhaps go somewhere between the second and sixth selections, he told reporters. Hardaway, meanwhile, went from a second-round choice to a late first-round option according to scouts in attendance.
What They're Saying
In an ESPN Insider article, draft guru Chad Ford has the Orlando Magic selecting Burke with the No. 2 overall pick: "The Magic need a point guard but might have been reluctant to take Burke at No. 1. What about at No. 2? I think there's a good chance. He's a bit small for his position, but Orlando needs a leader, someone with moxie, and Burke seems like the best fit. Ben McLemore is a possibility here, too."
Meanwhile, Ford predicts Hardaway will be Denver's choice at No. 27: "Hardaway had one of the best performances of anyone at the combine. Not only did he shoot the ball well, but he brought an intensity with him that few players could match. While the Nuggets have both Andre Iguodala and Evan Fournier at the position, the team needs as much shooting as it can get."
SI.com's Chris Mannix, on the other hand, thinks the New Orleans Pelicans will grab Burke with the sixth pick: "There could be a temptation here to take Maryland's Alex Len, a physical center whose style of play has made several scouts believe he will be a better pro than college player. But Austin Rivers did little last season to suggest he is the long-term solution at point guard, and Burke is the kind of dynamic playmaker/scorer the Pelicans need to boost an offense without a lot of weapons."
Burke won't fall past the Pelicans almost every analyst believes, and really does have a great shot to go No. 2 overall, according to scoop from Pro Basketball Draft: "With the NBA Draft order set as of Tuesday night, the rumor mill will certainly grind along until the Cleveland Cavaliers make the first pick on June 27th. One rumor regarding the Orlando Magic surfaced Wednesday from Pro Basketball Draft, which reported that the Magic's decision with the second overall pick will likely come down to Kansas Jayhawks shooting guard Ben McLemore and Michigan Wolverines point guard Trey Burke."
My Take: Speculation is always intriguing, but it doesn't really matter if Burke goes No. 2 or No. 4 or No. 6. He will land on the door of a franchise badly in need of a difference-maker. The good news is he will have every opportunity to be that. The bad news is there will be pressure. However, Burke has always embraced the expectations, leading Michigan to greater heights this past season than anyone thought possible.
Hardaway could land on a better team but will likely face stiffer competition. He could carve out a nice niche in the NBA if he can continue to hit an outside shot, averaging 10-12 points per game. And those types of players seemingly stick around for a decade or so.
The best part of all of this for U-M fans is the excitement that comes with sending Wolverines to the NBA, increasing the program's reputation and encouraging more great recruits to go to Michigan.
Outside of Jamal Crawford (who only played at U-M for a semester) and Juwan Howard, the Maize and Blue haven't had a visible NBA presence, but Burke and Hardaway will change that (Darius Morris hasn't exactly distinguished himself yet), and more are on the way in the form of Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary.
If ever one needed a reason to pay attention to the NBA (and for me it would take a darn good reason), there will be two very shortly.
Greg Mattison is Big Ten's highest-paid assistant
Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is the highest-paid assistant coach in the Big Ten according to a report first published in the Detroit Free Press. Mattison makes $750,000 or $50 grand more than Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck. U-M's offensive coordinator Al Borges ranks third overall with a salary of $600,000. In total, U-M's nine assistants will make $2,805,000 in 2013.
What They're Saying
BTN.com's Tom Dienhart offers some thoughts on the breakdown of coaching salaries: "No shocker to see Ohio State ($3.416 million) on top. But I am a bit surprised that Michigan's staff is over $600,000 behind the Buckeyes' staff at $2.805 million. Michigan, Nebraska and Michigan State are the only staffs where every member makes at least $200,000."
While head-coaching salaries have been escalating significantly over the past decade, to a point where Alabama's Nick Saban made $5.3 million in 2012, assistant coaches are starting to command far greater compensation, Mlive.com's Kyle Meinke notes: "You get what you pay for. College football programs realized that with head coaches long ago, and now the best pay the best. But assistant pay has lagged behind in the Big Ten.
"It's a dirty little secret the SEC figured out long ago. It began paying top dollar for staffs, which has helped head coaches secure better assistants -- and led to increased stability, both among staffs and the head coaches they help prop up. The Big Ten, meantime, has trailed in assistant play -- and in turn, has had trouble retaining assistants.
"Even one of the league's top head coaches, Wisconsin's Bret Bielema, left for Arkansas this offseason in part due to the Badgers' reluctance to pay top dollar for assistants. But the climate appears to be gradually shifting, perhaps in part due to the successes of the league's basketball teams. The Big Ten now has several longtime coaches such as Tom Izzo, Thad Matta, Bo Ryan and John Beilein -- and have invested in their staffs."
My Take: Deadspin.com had an interesting graph earlier this month on coaches' salaries, showing that in 40 of 50 states, the highest-paid state employee is a football or basketball coach. In Michigan, it's a basketball coach (likely MSU's Tom Izzo).
Coaching salaries are out of control but considering the pressure fans, the media and athletic departments now place on the shoulders of these men, perhaps they're deservedly compensated.
Football programs have to succeed in an effort to carry the budget for entire athletic departments and the hundreds of student-athletes, coaches and support staff that rely on the funds football brings in.
The fans and media demand coaches win or call for their dismissal while dissecting every decision they make. There may be no job, other than politician, so scrutinized. So again, maybe the high figures are deserved.
In regards to keeping up with the joneses - it has to be done. Michigan lost an assistant this year, Jerry Montgomery, to Oklahoma for a bigger pay raise (thought it is believed for other reasons too), and to keep competitive, keep a great staff together, U-M has to meet market demand.
To what degree is for David Brandon to decide, but the Maize and Blue can no longer expect a steep discount because of a long-held belief that employees would be willing to do whatever it took to be part of this program. That may have flown at one time, but in today's marketplace, it will have an undesirable effect - migration.