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: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2009 2:47 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

The rule benefits the college game.  Now instead of having a score of kids who think they're all that declaring for the draft when they're 18-- only to not get drafted and get stuck in europe where they're never heard from again-- they have to play one year of college ball.  That increases the talent level of the college game while giving the pros a more accurate view on how good the kids actually are.

In the end the rule is protecting idiots from themselves.

Since: Apr 20, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2009 1:58 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

How about let's throw some real insanity into the mix: let's make a rule that a player that goes pro early, but does not play more than three years, can still come back and play college ball with no penalty.

You could perhaps put a limit on how much professional playing time (500 minutes per season???) they can have, and let these kids try it. If they fail they can still come back and play college ball on scholarship, hone their skills under a good coach that will spend more time with them, and try again later. Also, it let's the kids get a little green togther so the hardship cases are less of a worry at the college level.

In addition, it will let the college and pro teams develop a mentoring relationship, not unlike what other companies do now with their internship programs for other professions, like engineering or accounting. This makes things a little more above board and transaprent as well.

Like I said, sounds like insanity, but could it work??

Since: Apr 18, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2009 1:47 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

You miss the point.  All of these players mentioned are veterans with many years in the league.  It's not that they can't succeed, it's that the NBA and their respective teams often have to play wet nurse to these kids the 1st few years with the hope that they will grow up, mature and produce.   In essence, for may of these players their 1st 3 years in the league are college, where they learn to be grown ups, JR Smith is a prime example- he didn't really blossom until his 4 th year in the league - probably would have been his 1st or second had he gone to college.  A year or two of college would have done him a world of good.  If you want to cite Lebron James, then I can't argue, but for every Lebron (1) there are many more JR Smiths.

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 1:31 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

As in the words of Kenyon Martin, "The world got to see it before the person who it was meant for got to see it. That tells you how that goes. I ain't never known nobody apology to somebody through other people.''

Well that statement certainly contradicts your point.

Since: Dec 1, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 1:26 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Great article!  I think you could take your argument one step further than college is not necessary to develop as a player to "going directly to the NBA allows an athlete to develop faster and further than if he loses years to college".  I think the names you list above from only four teams speak loudly to this point.  However, to jump to the dark side of this debate - the NBA roster has more players than the rotation.  If we waive the age limit rule, what will stop teams from signing 2-3 prospects to see if they develop?  Teams could take a few roster spots and "invest" in a potential future payout.  But that would mean loss of roster spots for deserving players and aging veterans.

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2009 1:08 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.

Since: Nov 12, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 1:08 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

for all the players that made a NBA splash that didnt attend HS, lets count the number of kids that were told by greedy "consultants" or agents that they were ready for the NBA.

The rule only holds kids in college for ONE year, get over it. Every year will have 1-3 kids that could make the NBA jump out of HS, and 10-20 more that will destroy their lives trying it.

They come to college, if theyre as good as hyped, its a one and done. If not, then maybe they make it later on as a 3-4 year college guy.

Its not ALWAYS, all about the money

Since: Mar 30, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2009 12:02 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Great piece Gary.  Please keep pounding the drum on this issue.  I have not yet seen a convincing argument as to why a kid who is talented enough to get paid well for his talents should be made to go play for free for some large institution.  
None of the arguments actually hold to up to what is going on in the real world.  We currently have an illogical system that will eventually implode, whether it be through the movement of players to Europe (Vacarro philosophy) or through the recruiting "scandals" that will eventually take down a series of BCS schools.  The system as designed today is a highly volatile situation which can't be sustained.  It just can't be managed by the NCAA, even with their shiny new NCAA Ethics committee.

Holding people back from being paid fairly for their productive capabilities is just not a capitalist concept, and in the long run all highly regulated job markets fail.  This is true for basketball players, too. 

Since: Jan 27, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2009 11:07 am

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

And if you hadn't gotten the hint from the past few Olympics, World Games, Pan American Games, etc, these NBA Playoffs are also clearly suggesting the talent, and impact, of the foreign-born player cannot be denied.

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