Blog Entry

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Posted on: May 18, 2009 10:59 am

Anybody who reads here much knows that -- though I loved writing about Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley and Tyreke Evans -- I think the NBA's age-limit rule preventing high school players from jumping directly to the NBA is ridiculous, and that those who pretend college basketball is necessary to prepare prospects are either stupid, naive or blind to all the information suggesting otherwise.

Which brings me to these NBA Playoffs.

We are now down to the final four teams, and the leading scorer for those four teams - Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, Carmelo Anthony of the Nuggets, LeBron James of the Cavs and Dwight Howard of the Magic -- combined to play a grand total of one season of college basketball. Furthermore, none of the top three regular-season scorers from the Lakers (Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum) or Magic (Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu) played a minute of college basketball, and none of the remaining contenders' top three scorers from the regular season did more than two years of college.

Now look at it this way ...


  • Kobe Bryant: Zero years of college
  • Pau Gasol: Zero years of college
  • Andrew Bynum: Zero years of college
  • Carmelo Anthony: One year of college
  • Chauncey Billups: Two years of college
  • J.R. Smith: Zero years of college
  • LeBron James: Zero years of college
  • Mo Williams: Two years of college
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas: Zero years of college
  • Dwight Howard: Zero years of college
  • Rashard Lewis: Zero years of college
  • Hedo Turkoglu: Zero years of college
Add it up and nine of the 12 leading regular-season scorers (who are currently active) from the Lakers, Nuggets, Cavs and Magic never played college basketball. Six (Bryant, Bynum, Smith, James, Howard and Lewis) went directly from American high schools to the NBA, three (Gasol, Ilgauskas and Turkoglu) are international players, and the other three (Anthony, Billups and Williams) played in college for a combined total of five seasons.

So again, I love college basketball would like to see all the greats play four years.

I'm sure you would, too.

But let's not pretend it's always the best way or even necessary to develop as a player.

Because these NBA Playoffs are clearly suggesting otherwise.
Category: NCAAB

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2009 10:19 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Tru2Gu- good point. I can live with the restriction or without the restriction. A year or two of college will not hurt anyone. But we do have tens of thousands of kids who are getting the wrong idea about how to get ahead. They are cocky and have unrealistic views about their future in sport. So the rule serves kids well who have the ability to play D1 but may never be an NBA star. They know at 10 years old college must be part of their plan. So for those who are highly over rated in their own minds, this is a good thing.

Yet should a young adult graduating from High School be restricted from making a career decision? probably not.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2009 9:13 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Gary Parrish completely misses the main issue -- creating educational opportunities and a future for real people.  The goal is not to maximize Gary's NBA watching experience -- to see those 10 or so really great HS grads jump to the NBA, at the sacrifice of the futures of THOUSANDS of others.  Gary lives in a world where he worships basketball and the basketball experience, but he has become too engrossed to see the bigger picture.  Mandating a minimum one year pit stop in college (a) directs THOUSANDS of kids to college; and (b) keeps THOUSANDS more there for more than one year: and (c) and creates real lasting opportunity for THOUSANDS.  The issue is not whether college is "necessary" to develop a HS player into an NBA player.  In making THAT the issue, Gary really does a disservice to his fellow human beings.  If Gary had his way, thousands of students would pay a negative price. 

Since: Dec 1, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2009 9:13 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

This is the Question..............
How many did not make the NBA?
How many tried and did not make it?
How many are better off for not making it?
How many are worse off for not going to college?
Does anybody have any idea what the numbers or the percentages are?
I agree, it isn't always about money!

Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 8:29 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Tiger, I like your idea to some extent, but I don't think it could ever happen.  Good "outside-the-box" thinking, though!  How about this as an alternative: Let the kids enter the draft without an agent, and if they don't get drafted they can still retain eligibility.  But with the caveat that they cannot enter the draft again the next season at all.  In other words, they have to "sit out" one year.  Guarantees at least two years at the college level, and fewer of the sad cases of kids shooting for the moon and cratering instead.

Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 8:15 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

I'd love to see you do those same stats for college freshmen, sophomores and juniors who entered the draft early. I would bet a lot of money that the high school players are statistically better than any other group, that they have been more successful on the whole than any other group.

Since: Jan 18, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 8:08 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Here are some more stats to consider....Since 1995 45 preps have tried turning pro.

  • 38 out those 45 were actually drafted (84.4%).
  • 36 actually played at least 1 NBA Game (80%).
  • 32 Are still active in the NBA (71.1%).
  • 16 of them are averaging at least 10 points for their career (35.5%).
  • 8 Have been All-Stars (17.8%).
  • 3 have won Championships (6.7%)
  • 2 are averaging 10 or more rebounds a game (4.4%)
  • 1 is averageing 5 or more assists per game (2.2%)

Don't get me wrong there are plenty of Joseph Forte's in the world in that underclassmen are making just as bad decisions. I feel that the rule setup by the NBA is not to protect the High school players or the NBA, but to reduce the rediculous media attention some high school athletes get. For instance Greg Oden is supposedly the best big man to come out of the draft in a long time, well he sure as hell has not lived up to the bill. The guy is a cancer, who is plagued by injuries. He didn't even dominate in college, and those of you who think he did, LOOK AT THE NUMBERS WHEN IT MATTERED. Oden spent more time on the bench than the waterboy! The media is so quick to look at prospects and give their outlandish opinions that these athletes don't have any other choice but to go pro. Here are some quotes to make my point.....

Gerald Green could one day be one of the better wing players in the NBA.  You know that was almost spot on....Oh wait all this kid has done is averaged 7.5ppg, 2.0rpg, and .8apg. He has also been subjected to getting in the game during junk time, and really has not had a significant role in any teams success. He was selected 18th overall in 2005.

There's no doubt Martell Webster can play and has the frame and shooting ability to be a standout. By averaging 8.1, 3.0, and .8 a game he is definately living up to the hype of a #6 pick in the NBA Draft.

The bottom line is that there is too much media coverage and hype on athletes that fit the bill for upside, but toooooo many of them never pan out. In 2001 4 High school students went in the top 10. NONE of them have really paned out, and Kwame Brown (though he may be making millions) has been one of the biggest flops in draft history. Until the NBA can get a reliable grading system that sets the Kobe, Garnett, Howard, and LeBron level players apart from the rest there is no need to allow the high school athletes to make the jump to the NBA right away. Personally I have not seen any college player (other than maybe Durrant and Rose) that will have the same impact on the NBA as the 4 mentioned prep to pro stars above!

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2009 8:00 pm

Foreign players do skew the list a bit

The amateur basketball system is totally different from ours, so including Pau, Z, and Hedo in the list of "players who didn't attend college" is a bit misleading, despite the late ackowledgement of the fact.

Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 7:06 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

I'll never understand the logic behind trying to protect people like Lenny Cooke and DeAngelo Collins from themselves. They are high school players who made bad decisions by trying to turn pro -- no different than the countless of college freshmen, sophomores and juniors who have tried to turn pro early and failed.

So I ask: Why are we trying to protect high school graduates but not college freshmen or sophomores?

Bottom line, protecting adults -- and high school graduates are by definition adults -- from making bad decisions is not something we routinely do. But for some reason folks think we should do it with high school graduates who play basketball, which makes about as much sense as trying to prevent John Mayer from starting a band straight out of high school because there is some other high school graduate who might also try to start a band even though he has no reason to be skipping college for a music career.

For the millionth time, that premise is silly.

Denying a Kobe Bryant the opportunity to make the jump because a Lenny Cooke might try it too is ridiculous. And to the guy who said the high school players typically took years to mature, ask any NBA GM if he'd be willing to spend a high draft pick on a Chris Bosh or Dwight Howard or Tracy McGrady, even if it might take them three years to develop into an All-Star. I suspect every GM would be OK with that scenario, particularly if the alternative was drafting a ready-made college player with questionable upside.

And Kwame Brown has made like $50 million as a pro.

He's doing just fine, I think.

The truth is that the reason this rule is in place is because -- as some have pointed out -- it allows the NBA to draft players who are marketable immediately. For instance, Kevin Durant was a much sexier pick after that year at Texas; same goes for Kevin Love at UCLA. That's why it makes sense for the NBA. But that doesn't mean the rule make sense for the high school players who are ready to jump, or that it benefits them in any way.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2009 6:50 pm

Parrish = slacker

Once again laziness reign supreme and takes the place of real journalism.

First The rule is they should play one year in college. So therefore Billups, Anthony and Mo Williams can't be included as evidence for your case since they all went to school at least one year.

Secondly three more players, Gasol (21), Ilgauskas (23) and Turkoglu (22) were much older than a typical high school graduate trying to jump to the NBA.

Given those two points alone the case study falls apart since that leaves Bryant, Bynum, Smith, James, Howard and Lewis as your resounding evidence.

Regarding those 6 players (out of 48 players still playing, by the way) 
   - Lewis' first year he played in twenty games, shot 36% from the field and 16% from 3 for an average of 2.4ppg - Surely he would have done better as a freshman in college?
   - Bynum played in 46 games his first year and averaged 1.6 ppg and 1.7 rebs per game. He wouldn't have benefitted from college either?

So that leaves you the truly gifted Bryant, James and Howard...and Smith (who is the exception to every rule). Each of whom would have utterly dominated the game for one year and then jumped (a-la Rose) to the NBA under the current restrictions. But none of whom would have been playing for thier current teams (except maybe Smith) since they would have been in different draft years and thier draft stock would have been as high (James and Howard) or higher (Bryant and Smith) than it was when they were drafted as HS graduates.

So basically you make a point, which doesn't have any basis, and use it to what? Say that older kids wouldn't generally make better choices than younger ones?

not sure of your point after all...I guess it was bad journalism... Huh, and I thought it was just laziness.

Since: Apr 18, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2009 6:40 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Just the weirdness of modern day society. Call it what you will. For whatever reason. Age dilineations is being stretched in both directions for a myriad of reasons, better technology, better nutrition, better living conditions. Man is evolving before our own eyes. The average size and intelligence levels is constantly increasing, as well as the average life expectancy. Something that usually takes millions of years to change we are making happen in decades. Nowhere do you see this as pronounced as in the microcosm of the NBA, where kids out of high school make the average NBA player look Some of these 18 year olds are built like spartan warriors only a foot, to a foot and a half taller. On the other end of the scale, athletes push the boundaries of time and compete at a high level until they are well into there 30s and even 40s. 50 is just around the corner people. Can Lebron have a career that goes 25 or 30 years? Imagine.

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