We’re now less than two weeks away from the May 24 deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft and Purdue’s three underclassmen are still in the draft as of right now. Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards have been interviewing with teams, but were not invited to the combine in Chicago. It is generally regarded that they will return to school. The real question is Caleb Swanigan, however. He is at the combine, but will not participate in 5-on-5 scrimmages. Once again, he will go right up to the deadline before announcing his final decision.
Yesterday was measurable day at the combine and here is where Caleb checked in:
Body Fat: not given
Hand Length: 9.5 inches
Hand Width: 10.25 inches
Height (without shoes): 6’7.5”
Height (with shoes): 6’8.5”
Standing Reach: 9 feet
Lange Agility Time: not given
Shuttle Run: not given
Three Quarter Sprint: not given
Standing Vertical Leap: not given
Max Vertical Leap: not given
There is not a lot we can tell from this. He had one of the best standing reaches of anyone in the combine. He did not have anything listed in the spot-up charts for shooting. He didn’t run any of the drills, either. It seems mostly like he is letting his 2016-17 season speak for itself.
And that is where it gets interesting. I still think Caleb is gone, but this is a deep draft with a lot of bigs. There is no guarantee he will go in the first round, and that might just be enough to send him back to Purdue, where he may not be able to prove much more, but if he waits a year he would probably be higher in a draft next season that is not as deep. Here are some examples of where mock drafts have him going:
Draft Xpress: 32nd (2nd round) to Phoenix
NBADraft.net: 31st (2nd Round) to Atlanta
Tankathon: 31st (2nd Round) to Atlanta
CBS Sports: 27th (1st round) to Brooklyn
NBC Sports: Not First Round
SB Nation: 30th (1st Round) to Utah
A late first round/early second round selection seems to be the consensus, with a couple of differences. A first round selection means a guaranteed contract for two years according to the rookie wage scale. That’s $1,162,100 in year one and $1,379,300 in year two, so roughly $2.5 million guaranteed right off the bat if he is the 30th pick. Second round picks do not get guaranteed contracts unless the team agrees on one, but that is becoming more common.
What if he comes back? The general consensus is that he has nothing left to prove in college, but next year’s draft is not as deep as this year’s if everything is to be believed. Let’s say, for fun, that he decides to return and it mean he goes 20th next year instead of 30th this year. According to the rookie wage scale for 2018-19 that means $1,769,200 in year one and $2,071,900 in year two. Is another year of school, where he likely finishes his degree according to reports, worth another $1.3 million in guaranteed money?
The downside of playing another year in college is being another year away from the first free agent contract, which is where these guys really earn their money. The rookie contracts come with a third year option ($1,611,800 if he is the 30th pick in 2017 and $2,170,500 if he is the 20th pick in 2018) that most teams exercise after year one. They can then exercise a 4th year after the second year (80.5% increase from the year 3 salary if he is the 30th pick in 2017 and a 54.2% increase if he is the 20th pick in 2018).
So there is a small financial benefit to waiting. He would likely have his degree already in hand for any post-basketball life, and he gets a little more money up front in exchange for waiting a little longer for the first free agent contract. And here is another example of how that first big free agent contract can work. As a late second round pick in 2011 E’Twaun Moore made only $473,604 in his first year in Boston. His next four years as he worked to prove himself rose only to a high of $1,015,421 in 2015-16 with the Bulls. After that season he cashed in with a 4-year/$34 million deal in New Orleans, giving himself an 8x raise. This past season he earned more money than he did in his first five years combined.
Swanigan’s first big deal, as a first rounder, could easily be in the neighborhood of 4 years/$50 million if he keeps up with his work ethic and becomes a valuable member of a team. That is also why where he goes could be critical. If he goes to a Brooklyn or an Atlanta it could be bad because he would be on a team that has no idea what it is doing. If he goes somewhere like San Antonio or Boston at No. 36 he would step into a situation where he can prove himself on a contending team, thus raising his value later on.
So that is where we stand. Caleb has some thinking to do. I still think he is gone, but I would put his chances at returning around 5% after they were well below 1% when the season ended. He might want to return simply to be in a better position next year, which is not unheard of.