Proven vs. Potential

Proven vs. Potential

Postby bhatta on Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:25 am

With Adam Morrison expected to put his hat into the NBA Draft today and Tyrus Thomas already doing so on Monday, the question becomes simple:

Go with the proven commodity or draft based on potential?

This writer believes GMs should play it safe and go with the players that have proven themselves in the college game.

Tyrus Thomas had a few good games in the NCAA Tournament and found himself catapulted to the top of the draft board. His agility as a big man combined with his leaping ability make him the player with the most upside in this draft class. He has great hands, as is evidenced by so many of those alley-oop catches and throw downs and played with a great amount of energy as he used those hands to rebound the ball well.

Thomas' only weakness, seemingly, is that he has yet to really prove himself on the collegiate level. Throughout the season, he averaged 12.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Sure, he had a few great games in the Tournament, but his averages actually went down - averaging just over 7 points and rebounds per game. However, his athleticism was put on center stage as his highlight blocks made Sportscenter's Top 10 list and such.

Yes, the leaping ability and athleticism are great. Thomas even has a bit of a mid-range game, although not polished. But his game is exceedingly reminiscent of another LSU Tiger to enter the NBA Draft in 2000 - Stromile Swift.

Swift made a lot of noise as an athlete in his sophomore year at LSU, just like Thomas is now (although Thomas redshirted). He averaged above 16 points a game and was lauded for his leaping ability, length, soft hands, and touch around the basket. Basically, Tyrus Thomas and Stromile Swift are the same person coming out of college.

But it doesn't seem like NBA GMs have learned anything from the Swift scenario. A career underachiever, Swift has most recently been seen siphoning Houston's salary cap of over $5 million a year.

Same school. Same type of player. Apparently, too good to pass up, though.

When looking back through the draft years, plenty of high schoolers and underclassmen have made impacts at the NBA level, but equal, if not more, amounts have had little or no impact. In 2004, Emeka Okafor had a good rookie season, but injuries haven't allowed him to play well since.

Ben Gordon is the new franchise player for the Bulls. Devin Harris is in Dallas' long term plans. Jameer Nelson seems to be the PG of the future in Orlando.

What did they all have in common? They all were leaders at the collegiate level.

Moving back to 2003. Yes, LeBron has been amazing. Carmelo only played one year of college ball, but he won a National Championship. Dwyane Wade took Marquette to the Final Four. Chris Kaman led the Central Michigan Chippewas to only their second winning season under Coach Jay Smith. Kirk Hinrich and Luke Ridnour led their teams and were their floor generals, and we're only starting to get a peek of what Nick Collison can do due to all his injuries. Josh Howard is the unsung hero on the Mavericks roster.

Again - all players that made an impact in college and showed what they can do.

Although I don't believe that leadership in college is a requisite to NBA success (see Kobe, Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Garnett), it certainly makes more sense taking a player who has proven to be a star in college, a player that led his team (Tim Duncan, Jason Terry, Rip Hamilton, Andre Miller - all just in 1999) as a more-likely-to-be successful pro. This year is no different - while players like Rudy Gay and Tyrus Thomas generate draft buzz for their athletic ability and their "upside and potential", Adam Morrison, Brandon Roy, Shelden Williams, Randy Foye, and Mardy Collins will all fall on draft boards even though they are the players who scouts know exactly what they're going to get out from them.

Am I wrong for thinking that first round picks should be used on the player that more guarantees solid play and success? The NBA Draft (like all professional sports drafts) has become a pure crapshoot with picks being made based on potential; considering all the picks that are seemingly busts, wouldn't it make more sense to take the player that is less risky? Sure, the reward isn't nearly as high as taking a chance on Rudy Gay, banking on the fact that he might become a superstar, but isn't that pick wasted if he's not anything short of extraordinary, when a role playing SF that would be able to contribute sooner (Rodney Carney) is available?

The sure-fire pick, the experienced college player, more than likely will contribute what is needed immediately, helping lottery teams make the jump out of the lottery in the next year, rather than three years down the line because of their "potential".

There's a financial aspect to all this as well - under the new CBA, rookie contracts' third and fourth years are a team option. Basically, the "potential" player has two years to prove himself, or the team can choose to not pick up his option. More than likely, though, those type of players will be kept for the full four years, as their last two years are relatively cheap salaries and no team will be willing to let their invested draft pick leave without getting something in return. Factor in the GM's ego, not willing to give up on his project player, and you know that potential player will be there all four years. By the end of that fourth year, won't that player demand more money upon free agency should he live up to such lofty potential? Won't he be leaving the team that drafted him because the dollar signs in another city are so enticing? Yes, I know Bird Rights will allow the team that drafted the player to spend money on him and keep him around, but the team may have only gotten a good year or two out of this player, when he finally reached his potential. Sign the ready college player, you get production now. All four years of that deal fill a need on your roster for cheap.

Maybe I'm more conservative than NBA GMs and lack the patience or foresight to make an intelligent choice in the draft, but going with players that have proven their abilities in college seems like the safer, more stable route to me. Will I be missing out on the TMacs, Garnetts, and Kobes? Yes, but for every superstar I miss out on, I'll have a solid team contributor and can spend my salary cap space on hopefully getting my superstar via free agency or trades. My team wouldn't be stuck in the gutter constantly, as fielding role players around acquired stars will lead to success.

And who is to say that the collegiate star won't become a superstar? Wade and Anthony did. Gordon certainly is on his way to superstardom. Tim Duncan, Rip Hamilton, Steve Nash, and Ray Allen are all there.

The bottom line: Adam Morrison and Brandon Roy have shown their abilities all season long and throughout their collegiate careers. The NBA teams looking at them know exactly what they'll be getting out of them.

Tyrus Thomas has had a few games that display a spring in his legs. In a few years, he might be a great player.

Who would you go with if you were a team that missed the playoffs and needed to turn it around immediately?
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Postby strikemode14 on Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:30 am

If I am a GM I probaly go for Thomas.

There is something I don't care for about Morrison. He just doesnt have that special feature about him that makes him a #1 type pick.

He has some athleticism but, nothing special, has a good shot, has good size and wingspan and seems like a smart player.

However a little big soft though. I mean this guy was crying with like 2.3 secs in the NCAA tournament. I wouldnt' be confident with a guy who is suppose to lead his team in situations like that and is crying like a baby. Plus dude was at the FT line and is talking to himself and banging the ball on his head. I am not sure he is Franchise saver potential to me.

T.Thomas hasn't proven himself but, has the ability to become a great player. Yes he could be the next Swift but, at the same time he can be a great player and guys like that you don't want to pass up.
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Postby bhatta on Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:35 am

I agree that Morrison might not have the athleticism that's top grade, but if you're Portland and you already have Zach Randolph, who you've paid uber millions to start at PF, you should go with Morrison because he can score. Yes, he's not the best defender (and I think the crying is more passion than softness), but his effort makes up for his athletic shortcomings.

In any case, I just don't see how Tyrus Thomas goes #1. Even Aldridge has proven some things in the collegiate level. Thomas? Four good games?
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Postby jminges on Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:37 am

I have Portland picking Tyrus Thomas. (and trading Zach Randolph in the offseason)
Last edited by jminges on Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby strikemode14 on Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:38 am

Pbhatta542 wrote:I agree that Morrison might not have the athleticism that's top grade, but if you're Portland and you already have Zach Randolph, who you've paid uber millions to start at PF, you should go with Morrison because he can score. Yes, he's not the best defender (and I think the crying is more passion than softness), but his effort makes up for his athletic shortcomings.

In any case, I just don't see how Tyrus Thomas goes #1. Even Aldridge has proven some things in the collegiate level. Thomas? Four good games?


I thought it was between Thomas and Morrison. I have Aldredige #1 with like Thomas #2. If I was Portland I would draft Thomas becuase Miles and Randolph would be on the first thing moving becuase I would sent them to NY.

As for the crying thing one thing is to cry after the game. He was crying near the end of the game pretty much giving up when he should have been trying to win the game.
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Postby DWadeIsGod03 on Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:44 am

Personally, I would probably take Tyrus Thomas with a number one pick. He led his team to a Final Four and averaging 13 points 9 rebounds is not bad for a freshman.

However, I do agree with you about how proven players are usually better picks than players based on potential. I was a huge Jameer Nelson fan in college, and seeing Sebastain Telfair picked in front of Jameer killed me. I couldn't believe that the National Player of the Year fell to 20th in the draft.

This year, I can't stand Rudy Gay. In my mind, he is by far the most overrated player in college basketball. In the NCAA tournament, he didn't even want the ball in his hands at the end of the game. How can an NBA team want a guy who can't lead his college team expect this guy to turn their franchise around. This guy averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds. There were probably around 75-80 players in college basketball with better stats than that, and some of them could never dream of making it to the NBA. Also, if Gay was not at UConn, I would guarantee he wouldn't be getting this hype. His natural ability just is not good enough to make him even a mediocre player at the next level.
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Postby bhatta on Wed Apr 19, 2006 12:37 pm

Rudy Gay and Thomas are the ones that inspired me to write this - they have proved NOTHING in their collegiate careers. Sure, Thomas' 13 and 9 were great, but Davis is the one that led that team and Thomas was a sidekick, in my opinion.

minges - I highly doubt they're able to move Randolph. His contract is huge, and expecting Thomas to start immediately isn't a good idea.
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Postby strikemode14 on Wed Apr 19, 2006 5:48 pm

Pbhatta542 wrote:Rudy Gay and Thomas are the ones that inspired me to write this - they have proved NOTHING in their collegiate careers. Sure, Thomas' 13 and 9 were great, but Davis is the one that led that team and Thomas was a sidekick, in my opinion.

minges - I highly doubt they're able to move Randolph. His contract is huge, and expecting Thomas to start immediately isn't a good idea.


I don't want to take the topic off-topic but, I think Randolph can be move. There are many desperate teams that could use his size. Minny is one of them. Maybe do something like a Blount for Randolph deal. Atlanta could go after him. They need a big time PF badly. NY could be interested if they can't get KG. Philly may look to move Webber or Iverson and they could exchange big contracts.

Now to get back on topic. In the draft there is always risk which Thomas and Rudy can be. Howver Thomas is a big with nice athletic ability and Rudy has nice athletic ability and has a sweet jumper. I don't like Rudy's mindset sometimes as he can disappear for stretches which would put him behind Morrison.

I think one proven player who isn't getting IMO not enough love is Sheldon Williams. A 6'9 250 PF from Duke. In his last season average 19 and 11reb. In his 4 seasons his blocks averaged were 1.6, 3.0, 3.7, and 3.8 and that is only in 33-37MPG :man4:

If you wanted to look at guys who were proven for a #1 pick I would probaly go after Williams.
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Postby JSM on Wed Apr 19, 2006 6:54 pm

If I'm a GM I take Thomas over Morrison. Here's why...yes Morrison will contribute sooner, but he will cap off in a couple years, maybe 3. And that's what you'll get for the next 10+ years from him. Solid shooting and 15 or so points a game (given that he's on a team where he is given the opportunity to get his touches and has some spacing thanks to teammates). But that's it...not that that's a bad thing.

TT on the other hand offers athleticism, the first thing that makes GMs drool. He gave the world a glimpse of what he's capable of during the one 10 second stretch in the tourney. He's an energy guy. He feeds off of the crowd and he feeds them with excitement and energy. Unless it's a game winner, you couldn't say the same about AM.

Thomas is a big man to boot, the league is dying to get as many of those as possible. If they can snatch one who has a shoe full of potential and can be the next _____, they will take a chance on him. I mean look at Bynum, a very raw big who had played very few games got taken by the Lakers in the lotto for one reason...POTENTIAL. You can't teach size. When you find a PF who can leap out of the gym, you hope...you pray that he can be something consistent for the rebuilding of your team. Hope he can be a corner stone for your franchise. Hope he can give your team 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game.

Thomas is an exciting player, he will fill some seats and sell some tickets. People will want to come and see if he will have a spectacular dunk or block in a game during his rookie season. Morrison can't do that. I'd be willing to bet that ticket sales go up more for TT's team than they do for Adam's.
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Postby Warriors&Lakers on Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:17 pm

i dont kno i mean atheleticism isnt everything i would pick morrison even though he has a funny shot he makes them and he's got the heart
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Postby In The Key on Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:35 pm

I like what Portland's doing with their team, but honestly, there have been some players that they passed up that would have quite frankly been far more impactful and effective for their team. That's why I have them picking either Tyrus Thomas, LaMarcus Aldridge or Rudy Gay. Both young talents who will enter early, but with star-type potential. But potential vs. proven has been an issue for years, so don't expect any team in the NBA to change anytime soon.

Personally, I enjoy watching Thomas play. His energy, athletism and excitement is unrivaled, but my main concern with him is how his body will turn out. Sure, he's a great shot blocker, dunker and rebounder, but without the strength to hold his own, he'll never become a dominant post player in the league. Scary because it's the situation that Stromile Swift is in right now. If Tyrus was 20 pounds heavier and had shown legitimate power in college, then he'd be worthy. But for as of right now, I still lean toward Aldridge for the No.1 pick. A guy who has an NBA ready frame (or at least almost there) and has shown the ability to play true power forward or center and has solid moves down low.

Now the issue of Adam Morrison and his "athletism" or lack thereof. Will it be a problem? Hard to tell at this vantage-point, however he's shown that he can still be the top scorer in the country at the collegiate level. But then again, so has JJ Redick. The NBA hasn't had much luck in the past with non-athletic players, but there's not doubt that Morrison could be a Mike Dunleavey Jr. re-birth with better overall skills and leadership traits. That type of player would be key to a young team with a poor record, so that's not a bad choice 1st overall. But if you're looking for a player who will dominate, obviously you want to look at an Aldridge or Rudy Gay. I think that's the misconception for every team out there. They think that every draft, they have to get someone who will be a superstar in the future, and although that is logical way of going, the NBA has lost their value for snagging players for the sake that they fit in their system or fit their needs. I think Milwaukee last year was a good example for what the NBA should be doing.
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