The average age of the top-10 selections in last June’s draft was 19.5. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, given that some of the players chosen were Zion Williamson (18 at the time), Ja Morant (20) and RJ Barrett (19). However, when the Suns executed a trade with the Timberwolves for the No. 11 pick and a chance to draft wing Cameron Johnson — a player who was 23 (gasp!) on draft night — the move was met with a hysterical response.

This was not because of doubts about his ability. It was because he was, well, old.

SB Nation said Johnson didn't have "enough upside to warrant a pick this high." Bleacher Report called Johnson the "anti-upside prospect of this draft." Sports Illustrated wrote, "He's already 23 years old." Nearly every piece of analysis acknowledged Johnson is an elite shooter, and nearly everyone cited reasonable concerns about his potential defensive issues and lack of great strength. The most common criticism, though, was Johnson's age.

Paschall's age was a factor in being selected in the second round, though he brought a lot of qualities the NBA covets: toughness, the ability to defend multiple positions, long-range shooting, a ton of experience winning. He is one of four players to make the Rising Stars game who spent four seasons in college. (Technically, the Heat's Kendrick Nunn, who transferred from Illinois to Oakland, spent five.) Another three played three seasons, including Memphis' Brandon Clarke, who likewise spent four years in college after transferring. Of the 21 players selected for the game, 12 played multiple seasons in college.

"It's strictly the impact of analytics," an Eastern Conference personnel executive told Sporting News. "So many teams moved to having data augment their decision-making, and age always comes back as the biggest predictor of success in the NBA. So now more younger guys come in, and there's a deeper pool to draft from.

"On the surface, it's a good idea, but the majority of guys just aren't ready. So that's why you see all these guys get traded."

Is the NBA's way of drafting working for the teams following that course? It would seem not. We are into the fourth season since the 2016 draft was conducted. Of the 30 players chosen in the first round that season, 20 already are no longer with their original teams. Eighteen of them have been traded. One was released outright. One was both traded and released.

Curiously, of the 10 players still with their original teams, only one played his rookie season as a teenager — Denver's Jamal Murray — and the average rookie-year age of those players was 21.
"Anytime you come to a pick in the draft, you're always going to be faced with a choice. But forget potential vs. production. What you need to focus on first is talent," Fran Fraschilla, who analyzes the draft for ESPN, told SN. "Buddy Hield was mocked as a pick, but he's a very good NBA talent. I don't want to say he's a star, but the guy averaged 20 points on a near-playoff team. The factor that matters most is NBA talent."

Hield is another who, although he entered the league at 24, nearly doubled his scoring average in his third league season.