The No. 1 pick is symbolic. In the recent KBL Rookie Draft, the first-round picks all moved after becoming free agents. Among them, Lee Jong-hyun is the first No. 1 player to sign a one-year contract in his first free agency.
The 2023 free agency period is over. Free agency allows players to negotiate with any team at will, which has led to a flurry of transfers.
Among them, all the No. 1 picks who could have debuted immediately after the draft found new teams in their first free agency.안전놀이터
Until January 2012, the KBL held its draft during the All-Star break. This gave players a chance to spend the offseason after college to build their bodies before making their debut.
Starting in the mid-2000s, it was suggested that players should be able to debut immediately after being drafted. Starting with the 2012-2013 season, this was implemented. In October 2012, the draft was held before the start of the season, and the players selected were able to play professionally immediately.
Jang Jae-seok was the first player selected in the aforementioned draft, followed by Kim Jong-kyu, Lee Seung-hyun, Moon Sung-gon, and Lee Jong-hyun. Prior to that, the top picks were Kim Si-rae, Oh Se-geun, Park Chan-hee, Park Sung-jin, and Ha Seung-jin.
Coincidentally, the first five picks, Jang Jae-seok through Lee Jong-hyun, opted to move after their first free agency, unlike the previous five, who all re-signed with their original clubs. Park, of course, put his stamp on it after renegotiating.
First-round picks are recognized for their skill, and when they became free agents, they took advantage of the opportunity to choose their team, unlike the draft.
However, Lee Jong-hyun is a different story.
His salary last season was 110 million won. It was the lowest salary for a No. 1 player in the season before free agency. The previous lowest was Song Young-jin’s 130 million won. When Song Young-jin became a free agent in 2006, the salary cap was 1.5 billion won.
As a percentage of the salary cap, Song is 8.6% and Lee Jong-hyun is 4.2%. On the surface, Lee Jong-hyun’s compensation is 20 million won less than Song Young-jin’s, but if you translate his salary cap into 2006 dollars, it’s about 63.46 million won.
Lee Jong-hyun made the move to Anyang KGC because he believed that the team would give him a chance. KGC is a team without Oh, but with big men Kim Kyung-won and Kim Chul-wook.
Lee Jong-hyun was also denied opportunities at Goyang Day One and Jeonju KCC last season, both of which lacked big men. You have to work hard to get a chance and then show the fruits of your labor on the court, but he didn’t, so he didn’t have the skills to get a chance on the court and ended up signing one of the shabbiest No. 1 free agent contracts ever.
Kim Jin-yong averaged 6.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 11 games for Day One, while Lee Jong-hyun averaged 4.3 points and 2.2 rebounds in 15 games for KCC.
It’s hard to argue that Kim Jin-yong, who was given zero opportunities at KCC, did much better than his performance in Day One, and if things don’t change for him at KGC, he’ll go down in history as the earliest No. 1 to retire.
For reference, the upcoming No. 1 free agents are Heo Hoon and Park Jun-young. They are currently serving their military service at Sangmu.