- General ( 4 )
The Retardation that is HS Basketball
When it comes to high school basketball in general, I approach it with the indifferent attitude of "oh well, it's better than nothing". For the most part, it's coaches thinking they're a whole lot smarter than they really are and players thinking they're a whole lot better than they really are. There are also teams that embrace the "system" too much and fail to get the most out of the best players. Rarely is there a middle ground, where the best players are utilized the way they should be while everyone else plays within the system and capitalizes on the chances the best players create. Anyway, I'm fine with all that. This right here I'm not fine with.
The Missing Element
I thought I’d just throw out a few names whose games and respective teams would benefit if they added a component (or two) to their game. All of these are realistic goals obviously so I’m not going to talk about how much better Dwight Howard would be if he had a 3-point shot.
Top 10 Biggest Underachievers (among active players)
Potential. There isn’t any league in the world where that word gets thrown around more than in the NBA, thanks in no small part to the extensive scouting of promising players that takes place. Here are the main reasons the word gets brought up so often:
-High school players get scouted based on an estimation of how well they would play in a real team. A high school team isn’t a real team most of the time. It's a collection of individuals who are getting acquainted with team spirit, much like toddlers being taught in kindergardens what's acceptable behavior.
-Most college players have the same coach and team through their college career. This means that scouts only see these players in one specific system. Scouts have to use their imagination to picture what the player would be like in another system, where he’d have a bigger or smaller role, or just a different type of role (being more of a distributor than a scorer for example).
-Athleticism. It goes a long way but it doesn’t guarantee success. If you wow people with your athleticism and put it to good use in high school or more importantly, in college, it gets the scouts’ attention. If you don’t have technical skills but are still able to consistently apply your athleticism with acrobatic finishes, hustle plays and putback dunks, you can be labeled a “top prospect” despite not being a very good basketball player (eg. Joey Graham).
But what I just talked about has more to do with scouting than how the players choose to develop themselves. This brings me to the question of who are the most underachieving players in the NBA? Not guys who were poorly scouted or crippled by injuries but players who themselves failed to do what’s necessary to maximize their abilities.
Players like JR Smith and Tyrus Thomas are frustrating to watch at times because you know the potential is there and you see it in every game but their questionable decision-making keeps them from fulfilling their maximum capabilities. However, the jury is still out on those players. I will only list active players who had the chance to be significantly better but missed out on it.
Lakers, Nuggets, Mavericks, Celtics, Spurs, Cavaliers, Magic. Heading into the season, each of those 7 teams is a legit contender in my opinion. Then you have the Jazz and Blazers just a notch below as the sleeper teams, their success depending heavily on Andre Miller’s assimilation and Carlos Boozer’s health and willingness to be a team player. You could even throw in the Hornets as the ultimate dark horse but I don’t think their wing players will be able to produce enough for them to get past the first round. I know people have been raving about the league’s newfound competitiveness ever since the ’06-07 season when every Western playoff team had at least 50 wins but for this season I think it’s truly safe to say that the top of the league hasn’t been this competitive since the mid 90’s.