Monday, May 21, 2007

High School Players List

Here is a list of players that were just out of high school or under 19 when they were drafted. This list of players could prove that the NBA begun to draft players too early and waste a lottery pick. It started off fairly well with 1 or 2 players each year to 8 in 2004, the NBA decided to step in with the age minimum or 19 and 1 year out of high school regulation. I believed that this is a good move for the NBA as a whole.
(btw, it is possible that I may missed some players)

The First and Successful Group
Kevin Garnett~19~1995~Minnesota (very successful with the Timber Wolves)
Kobe Bryant~17~1996~Lakers (very successful with the Lakers)
Jermaine O'Neal~17~1996~Trail Blazers(didn’t have much playing time for 2.5 years with Portland, traded for only Dale Davis to the Indiana Pacers)
Tracy McGrady~18~1997~Raptors (finally played well in the 3rd year with the Toronto Raptors, only left and signed with the Orlando Magic and the Raptors got nothing in return)

These 4 players became very successful in the NBA, but only KG was an important contributor in the rookie year. And 2 of them left the team that drafted them with almost nothing.

The Second and very average Group
Al Harrington ~18~1998~Pacers (became a decent starter)
Korleone Young~19~1998~ Philly (played summer league for the 76ers, but never made another NBA roster)
Rashard Lewis~18~1998~Supersonics (bad rookie year, but became pretty good)
Jonathan Bender~18~1999~Pacers (forced into retirement due to chronic knee pain, yet to sign retirement papers)

Leon Smith~18~1999~Supersonics (signed by them, but only played one game)
Darius Miles~18~2000~Trail Blazers (ok player but injuries slow him down already, lost the entire 06/07 season)
DeShawn Stevenson~19~2000~Jazz (playing off the bench right now, and not expecting anything more from him)

This group isn’t doing very well in the NBA.

The Third and Drafted too high Group
Kwame Brown~19~2001~Capitals (didn’t worth a 1st overall pick, lets just say, he is still not very good)
Tyson Chandler~18~2001~Clippers (solid defensive player, but offensive game never develop

Eddy Curry~18~2001~Bulls (doing good in offense mainly due to his big body, slow defender and do not rebound)
DeSagana Diop~18~2001~Cavaliers (only used to play defense with his big body)
Tony Parker~19~2001~Spurs (good choice for a 28th overall pick)
This group all get to play and will continue to play but only Parker had became a major contributor for his team, but Parker had play professional b-ball since he was 14 in Europe. Tyson Chandler still has a lot of potential, could build off his defensive ability. With Brown, Chandler, Curry and Diop being the the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 8th pick, they were picked way too early.

The Fourth (old age Amare) Group
Amare Stoudemire~19~2002~Suns (won Rookie of the Year award)
He was over 19 when he was drafted and 20 within 1st month after the 03/04 season began.

The Fifth (LeBron and the others) Group
LeBron James~18~2003~Cavaliers (he has a NBA body out of high school, became very successful)
Darko Miličić~18~2003~Pistons (didn’t have a chance to play in Detroit and still hasn’t shown his potential)
James Lang~19~2003~Hornets (sidelined by back injuries, and didn't show the potential of being put on an "active roster)

Kendrick Perkins~18~2003~Celtics (still a bench player, even with the injury problem that the Celtics had this 06/07 season)
Again only 1 player lived up to potential and James was the fist player to have a major impact to his team in the rookie season since Kevin Garnett.

The Sixth and Getting Out of Control Group
Dwight Howard~18~2004~Magic (this guy is huge, good defensively but lack offensive moves)
Al Jefferson~19~2004~Celtics (played very well this past season [06/07])
Shaun Livingston~18~2004~Clippers (may be out 8-12 months after suffering a severe knee injury)
Josh Smith~18~2004~Hawks (very good jumping abilities, also very inconsistent, has lots of potential, but still need time to develop)

J.R. Smith~18~2004~Hornets (played for 3 teams in 3 seasons, playing well with the Nuggets but again prove my point of a wasted pick for the team that draft the high school player)
Robert Swift~18~2004~Supersonics (out for this season, torn ACL)
Sebastian Telfair~19~2004~Trail Blazers (not a bad player when he plays well but getting into law trouble and the Celtics don’t plan on keeping him around)
Dorell Wright~18~2004~Heat (played well at the beginning of the 06/07 season but quickly back to the bench and lost playing time)

Ridiculous number of high school player drafted in 2004, and most of them aren’t that good and should have went to college and play in NCAA for at least a year. I believed that this draft triggered the age minimum regulation.

The Seventh and Final High School Players Group
Andrew Bynum~18~2005~Lakers (show promising signs early on 06/07 season, but faded away by the end of the season)
Monta Ellis~19~2005~Warriors (played very well in his 2nd year, but wasted the 1st season, a solid pick in the second round)

Gerald Green~19~2005~Celtics (won the slam dunk title but don’t get much playing time with the Celtics)
Martell Webster~19~2005~Trail Blazers (had a solid rookie year, but with the addition of Brandon Roy, Webster’s development halted in his second season)

This group has potential but again need a couple more years to develop.

Interesting numbers
33 players
9 all stars (Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, Rashard Lewis, Tony Parker, Amare Stoudamire, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard)
2 slam dunk champs (Kobe Bryant and Gerald Green)
3 don’t get past first year (Korleone Young, Leon Smith and James Lang)
4 out of NBA already (Korleone Young, Leon Smith, Jonathan Bender and James Lang)
4 with serious injury that had lost an entire season within 4 years (Jonathan Bender, Darius Miles, Robert Swift and Shawn Livingston)
Only 3 had impact on team in rookie year (Kevin Garnett, LeBron James and Dwight Howard)
16 played for only one team (12 of them were drafted after the 2002 season, so only 4 of them stay in original team for more than 4 years at this moment)

Most of these guys do not develop in time (within 3 years rookie contract) for the team that drafted them, so why do it, the NBA had the right idea of stopping teams from drafting players that are under 19 and within 1 year out of high school.

New Age Minimum in the NBA

With more and more teams drafting players right out of high school and many of them seemed to be a wasted pick after a few years. In 2005, the NBA decided that the 2005 draft is the last that players under 19 or within 1 year out of high school are allowed to be drafted.

Tom Heinsohn on BDSSP said: ”when he was playing there were 80 players in total, now a days there are 150 starting players...Back then players were sign with teams knowing that they could play and now players are sign based on their potential.”

The Problem

LeBron was a special case on how successful he was right out of high school. KG, LeBron and Dwight Howard were the only three who played significant minutes in their rookie season. LeBron’s and Howard’s physical strength were just amazing when they were 18, but the rest of the high shoolers do not have a NBA body like these 2 had.

Most of the players that come out of high school, teams are banking on their potential only, look at Kobe, T-Mac and J O'Neal they all had limited minutes and didn't show their talents until 2nd and maybe later years. Then there are Kwame Brown Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry, who still have yet to live up to their hype and many more who are even worst then these three. Even Greg Oden right now, watching the NCAA tournaments, the analyzers said his offence is still raw and need a couple of years to develop when he goes to the NBA but without the age limit, Oden would had been1st pick last year or even the year before when he was 17.

The problem of picking players based on their potential is that most of them do not develop in time and get traded or sign with another team before they become a good player, not to mention those who don't develop, therefore most of them are a wasted pick.

T-Mac, J O'Neal, JR Smith, Telfair, Curry, Chandler were wasted picks, Rashad Lewis(I think he is leaving the Super Sonics this year and he) as well. Robert Swift had not done anything yet, the Celtics had Jefferson, Green and Perkins and only Jefferson is playing well. None of these players had a good rookie year. And did you see what happened to Shawn Livingston?

Why do teams draft them?
Most of these players were not ready yet but NBA teams were willing to pick them hoping for a big paid off in the future. Because they still make money when their team do not make the playoff next year and get another high draft pick, they don't want to see a potentially good player go to another team.

So if you look at the NBA as a whole, one year in college is a good decision, since almost all the prospects out of high school are players who have potentials only, they are not necessarily better player then those who are drafted behind them at the time. NBA teams are only picking these players because if they don’t, someone else will. Therefore, the age minimum is good for the league as a whole but not necessarily good for any individual team. The NBA is just forcing teams to pick the more NBA ready players.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

International Basketball – Part 2 – The Greatness of the Original Dream Team and the not so great recent Dream Teams

In the 1988 the USSR basketball team, lead by Arvydas Sabonis, beat the US team in the Olympics final, this would mark as the last time that the US send out their best college players to play in the Olympics. Due to the lack of success in the Olympics, United States began to use players from the NBA to represent the country in 1992, also known as the dream team. The first few Dream Teams had great success and winning with a dominant fashion. The recent Dream Teams however are not so great and were not able to come out with the gold in recent Olympics and World Championship play.

Why are the recent Dream Teams losing?
There are several reasons why the recent Dream Teams are losing in the world stage. With the lack of commitment of the players being the most important factor, which trigger a domino effect that lead to the other factors such as lack of team chemistry and the players are more focus on individual play instead of playing as a team. Another factor is the lack of focus or being overconfident.

Lack of commitment
There are many reasons, the players want to rest over the summer, let lingering injuries heal or do not want to risk injury. But the bottom line is although the US still has the most elite players in the world, not all of them want to play on the Dream Team every year. This lead to a change in team roster virtually every year and many times, the team is mostly made up of second tier players. Also due to the change is in roster every year, the players are not familiar with each other’s and the coach’s playing style and cause a lack of chemistry. When playing the game the players do not know their teammates tendency, where the teammates would go and how they would react in different events of the game, thus force a shot up instead of making the extra pass, because they do not want to force the issue and end up turning the ball over. Whereas the international teams, their players really take pride in representing their county and commit to the team. Another thing is that the other countries do not have as many elite players so the top group could join or at least practice with the national team at a young age and learn how to play with each other.

Lack of Focus and being Overconfident
The Dream Team is always label as the team to beat and gets the most attention out of all the teams that are involve in the tournament, and it is just easy for the players to lose their focus, thinking that they are the best, they will just roll by and get the gold medal. Because the Dream Team usually are so confident about themselves, they don’t play hard from the beginning of each game, if the game is close, they always felt that they can tighten things up in the final minutes of the game and win the game. Unlike the original Dream Team, which compose with the most stars and the best of all Dream Teams in my opinion, they are very competitive, they know that they are the best and wan to show that they are the best, a win would not do it for them, every win need to be a blow out and just had an absolutely amazing performance in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The Dream Teams – the results of each tournament for Dream Team I – VII (1 – 7)
In 1992, the original Dream Team were formed, this team included 10 of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time, selected in 1996. The dream team dominated the tournament and had trailed only once in the whole tournament, happened early in the gold medal game. This team cruise by their opponents and easily won the 1992 Barcelona Olympic gold medal. Even though they won every game by blowing out the other team, none of the players take a single second off, they play tough defense every procession. This is simply the best basketball team that had ever been put together, and I doubt that we could ever match the talent, skills, intensity and competitiveness of that team ever again.

Since then the US had continue to send out top NBA stars to represent the country in 1994 World Championship in Toronto and 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, winning both events easily. But each time the team was consisted with a different group of players.

In 1998, due to the labour dispute in the NBA, no current NBA player were used in the 1998 Athens World Championship, and the US team finished 3rd in the tournament.

In 2000, there are now more players from around the world joined the NBA, this Dream Team face more pressure to proved that the US team is the best, although they won the gold medal in the Sydney Olympics but this dream team do not dominate their opponent like the previous teams do, including three games in which the margin of victory is 10 points or less.

In 2002, many of the top NBA players decline to participate in the Indianapolis World Championship, because many felt that they had a long season in the NBA and require some rest, as well as not to risk a major injury that could damage their season’s play. With mainly second tier players, this Dream Team finished 6th at home in Indianapolis, losing the final 5 games of the tournament. This marks the first time that the US had failed to capture the gold medal, or simply loss a game, with NBA players’ participation.

The US team was seemingly back on track in 2003, after they finished easily in first place in the Tournament of Americas to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics. However, in 2004, 10 of the 12 players on the 2003 team decided not to participate in the Olympics and force USA Basketball to scramble for players and form the Dream Team VI filled with young and un-established stars. At times this team was labeled as the “Nightmare Team” instead of the Dream Team, and once again, they fail to win gold, finishing 3rd after losing to Argentina in the semi-finals.

Due to the lack of success of the Dream Team, USA Basketball felt that their failure is due to changes in players of each team, this causes a lack of chemistry in the team and players showed that they were not comfortable to play with each other and essentially caused players to play a more individual style of basketball instead of team basketball. After pinpointing out this issue, to correct it, players were asked for a three-year commitment, which include the 2006 Worlds and the 2008 Summer Olympics.

In 2006, this new group appeared to have new attitude and played great at the beginning, averaged a margin of victory of 25 points going into the semi-finals in Japan. However, they fall to the hands of the European Championship winner, Greece in the semi-finals and went to only a 3rd place finish.

Although the Dream Team VII didn’t win the gold medal in Japan but year one of the three-year had already shown a promising start, but could the players really follow up on their words and commit to the team, we will have to wait and see. On the other hand, the other teams around the world are improving in a rapid rate, the future Dream Teams, if they don’t drop the name, need to show more respect to all other teams and be ready to play hard start to finish each game in the tournament. Because in World Championship and Olympics, when you get to the knockout rounds, it is just one game, win or lose, unlike a seven games, first to four wins series in the NBA playoffs. With the US still has the most elite players, the individuals that are and will be selected for the Dream Team should still be the best of all national teams around the world, the US team should still be the favourite entering the Olympics in 2008, but the players must find a way to play together as a team to win.

This link give the roster and result of each Dream Team.