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 6:21 pm


Agree with premise of the article but it is misleading. Kind of like reaching conclusions about causation when doing research. A plus B results in C does not mean that A plus B caused C.

So this does not lead to the conclusion that the NCAA is doing a lousy job developing players. In fact they are the foundation behind much of the NBA (shared with European pro leagues).

Here is the reason why this is misleading when you look at the 12 players mentioned:

3 of 12 playerrs went to college but were so talented they would have been foolish to risk injury so turned pro at the right time. The gained the skills they needed in the year or two of college ball.

3 of 12 players are the most extremely talented freaks of nature that college was a weak second option to making millions immediately. Without these three players no one on these teams would be in the semis no matter where they came from. Kobe, Howard and Lebron have some support but they and they alone have their teams in the semis- that ends this whole argument. It doesn't matter whether the others played NCAA or are from Europe- they just need to be competent.

3 of 12 players are European

3 of 12 players took a big risk skipping college but it paid off for those three individuals. For each of these, there are 5 Kwame Brown's who will never reach their potential due to their stupidity. And maybe these 3 would have been better/ had more accomplished careers with some college experience. They were certainly late bloomers.

For a more accurate evaluation of the impact of the NCAA, look more at the role players- the mid range guys who are playing key roles in the success of their teams. Many of these guys have spent one to four years playing NCAA ball and are better off because of it; and so are their teams.

Since: Jan 18, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 5:28 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

What about the kids like; Taj MCDavid (1996), Ellis Richardson (1998), Tony Key (2001), DeAngelo Collins (2002), Lenny Cooke (2002), Charlie Villanueva (2003), and Jackie Butler (2004). These are all high school kids who thought that they would be drafted in the NBA Draft, but were not selected. Charlie Villanueva was the exception to the rule and enrolled at Connecticut and later was drafted. 

If you look at the past history of NBA Players who have come straight out of high school, how many of the them were major impacts for their team immediately upon entering the league? Other than LeBron I don't see any (possibly Moses Malone, but that was well before my time).

There have been 48 players who have either been drafted out of high school, or who have entered without being selected. Now out of those 48 how many of the are real effective players in the NBA, or thrived so well without playing at the college level?  

Since: Feb 12, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 5:23 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

The NBA has the rule in place not for the NCAA benefit, but for their own. Its in the best interest of the league to have players come in with established games and names. Outside of Lebron James, KG and Kobe every other straight to the pros player has been a risk with major upsides. Some have worked out and some havent. But overall, isnt it easier to market a rookie from Kansas who just played in the Final Four then a HS senior from Oak Hill Academy, where most of the footage available is hand-held camera footage from the stands? (again, that is outside of Lebron James)

Since: Oct 13, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2009 5:21 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Well to be a Nuggets homer, the proof is in the pudding.  For all of the fans who have called us the Thuggets and called the team a group of hoodrats, look at that.  College education, no matter how diluted through athletics, will usually make the person going to class smarter.  Turns out the Nuggets have an educated team.  Therefore, if you call the most educated team left thugs, does that make educated, white collar America a collective gang?
Just some food for thought for people who hide behind the internet and anonymity in their bigoted, racist views.

Going to college on an athletic scholarship has never & will never guarantee that someone comes out educated.  Year after year after year stories come out about athletes not attending classes, accepting money, majoring in dancing or whatever other ludicrous subject someone can major in these days, and we all know that superstar players rarely care about a college education. 

Kenyon Martin went to college and apparently still cannot speak in complete sentences.  Please don't try to justify that the Nuggets aren't thugs because some of them went to college.  If you know your team's history you should realize that quite a few of their players obviously learned nothing while there, much less how to act like an adult.

Now, as far as this article is concerned...

One of the issues with the the NBA requiring players to attend college for one year is that the school's athletic programs put themselves at great risk.  Some coaches refuse to recruit these players because they do not think having them play for one year benefits their team at all.  Other players, OJ Mayo comes to mind, wanted to come out of high school to the NBA but instead apparently went to USC because they would pay him to play there, rather than the NBA.  These players will always find a way to get paid if that is their desire, the NCAA can do nothing to stop it.  Once a player is in the NBA do you think they care if you take scholarships away from their former university's athletic programs?  Do you think it really matters if you take away their wins?  They are making their money, they are pros, their dreams have been realized. 

To assume that any university would want to take on this responsibility is irresponsible by the NBA.  They want colleges to take the risk of recruiting one of these players to play for them so that they can act as an unofficial developmental league for the NBA.  The NBA could care less if these universities have to put themselves at risk by this act, they are just happy they aren't having to pay these players while they develop. 

The best way to combat it would be for schools to just refuse to recruit these players.  Odds are they would end up in Europe earning money while playing overseas.  Then in order for the NBA to draft them, most would have to be bought out of their current contracts which hits the NBA where it counts - their wallets.  As long as these players bring in revenue though, sadly you will still see them playing 1 year for a school they could care less about because it is required.  Thank you NBA, that certainly makes college basketball much more enjoyable!

Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 5:20 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

The whole argument that NBA players who started too early to be good is b.s., but on the other hand and the most important hand and what David Stern knows and is the reason he made that rule, is the last thing the NBA wants to do is make their basketball less competitive because we have too many kids in there who are 2-3 years away from being ready....and unfortunately for every Lebron (who easily was the most ready of 'em all, even Kobe took 2-3 years to really get great...) there's a lot of Eddy Curry's, Tyson Chandler's, Tyrus Thomas (1 year out); Marvin Williams, Mike Conley, Kendrick Perkins, etc etc etc, guys that took 3-4-more years to get going some of which never panned out. 

I think it should be at least 2 years removed from high school before someone's allowed in the NBA.  Let's not water down this talent.

I'm fine with guys who played professionally overseas for 2 years though.....

Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 5:14 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

F-ing ridiculous post.

Hedo and Rashard are what 10th year players.  JR Smith took what 5 years to become what he is today....Ilgauskas is what a 10th year player too, Billups struggled for 6 years before finding a home in Detroit and has been good the last 6 years, also hardly a young player.

Ask the Chicago Bulls fans what they think about drafting folks out of high school.  For the very few select few (Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett) there are plenty that take several years to get going and those franchises bank on paying 4-5 years of development for those guys to learn the game and then learn the NBA game....

Having 10 pro years to learn the game and get to be pretty good (Rashard Lewis, Hidayet Turkoglu, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, JR Smith--4 or 5 years for him, Chauncey Billups is a lot of time)...

The problem is there are very few young guys that can come in as a collegiate freshman and really help their team.  Hell Andrew Bynum took 2.5 years to get going and has had knee issues the last two years because of it.  The Lakers without Pau Gasol would be home a month ago.....fair and simple.  Bynum just is the guy that shows them the future as Pau and Kobe shut down.....he's a nice to have, but is hardly carrying that team to the degree the media would ever have you indicate. 

Since: Jan 4, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 4:37 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Add in the fact that now we have "College" players that go to school for only 1 semester never attending class and then they just drop out when the season is over. It's a total joke, next to the NCAA the mafia looks like kids play. To me it's nothing short of making these kids indentured servants for a few months while the schools and NCAA make billions off of their labors.

If I was a kid in that situation I'd say "FU, I'll go play overseas for 2-3 years and come back to the NBA with $3-8 million in my pocket!!" Besides a kid would learn a lot more about basketball and life by going overseas for a couple of years then by spending 4 months in college not going to classes.

Since: Mar 30, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2009 4:31 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

"In the end the rule is protecting idiots from themselves."  This is actually one of the harder points to argue against.  However, I think TigerDogger made some good points that could result in common ground here.  If somebody really does make a stupid choice, then they should have the opportunity to reverse that choice.  The NCAA currently lets professional baseball players (albeit minor league players) actively play in a different sport such as football or basketball.  If the athlete has a demonstrated lack of professional competence at the professional level, why not let them play the sport at an amateur level?  

Bump to TigerDogger.  Creative and logical at the same time.

Since: Mar 30, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2009 4:23 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

"Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley...haven't developed their game yet."  It is not realistic to believe that these two would have developed their games more during another year of college playing against lesser talent, having fewer practices, with a lower quality training staff, and 50 fewer games.  Plus, in the NBA, they got paid very, very well to develop themselves for another year. 

Since: Mar 30, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2009 4:20 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

"One year of college is not that bad - and what happens when they want to be able to take 16 year olds next?  Do we let our kids drop out of high school to go to the NBA?"  This is an example of the "I'm going to argue against a point that doesn't exist approach."  This discussion is about whether or not you should have to go to college, not about whether it is ok for someone to drop out of high school.  Because this arguments intentionally avoids the specific topic at hand and takes it to an extreme that doesn't exist, it just doesn't isn't a convincing argument as to why it is better for a marketable athlete to go to one year of college.

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