5 College Hoops Studs Destined to Flop in the NBA
Call it the curse of Mateen Cleaves, or maybe Juan Dixon, but some guys just don't translate to the NBA.
College production is a good piece of empirical data when assessing how a player will make the transition to the professional ranks, but it is far from a sure science. Even an All-American season in which you win the national title isn't enough to guarantee success at the next level.
There are so many specific things that are needed to succeed in the modern-day league. Length and size are sexier than ever, while passing and fundamentals are out.
By looking at some of the players who haven't succeeded in the past, we can gain better insight into who might be destined to fail in the future.
Here are five guys who had awesome college careers but who are destined to flop in the NBA.
SG Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers
Waiters was tabbed as one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft, drawing some comparisons to Dwyane Wade with his ability to get to the basket.
But really, his career trajectory more closely resembles another Syracuse guard who rode the strength of a big final year into becoming a top-six pick: Jonny Flynn.
It's tough to project how players will make the transition to the NBA after playing in Jim Boeheim's unique system during college––particularly on the defensive side of the ball, where they'll be asked to play man-to-man.
Offensively, Jonny Flynn was able to get into the lane at will in college, but he has found no such success in the NBA. Waiters could be on track to end up the same way.
PF John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks
Henson has a Freddy Kruger-like wingspan and great timing when blocking shots, but that's about it.
The list of over-drafted big men the past few years is extensive, and in almost all cases, the reason they were over-drafted is because they enamored people with their length and shot-blocking potential.
The most famous one, of course, is Hasheem Thabeet, who went second overall and allowed the Thunder to secure James Harden for their future. But really, Henson more closely resembles a man who will be his teammate in Milwaukee: Larry Sanders.
Sanders had a huge final year at VCU, and his length convinced the Bucks to draft him 15th overall.
How's his career gone thus far? Ask yourself this: Why would Milwaukee take Henson if they were 100-percent sold on Sanders?
SF Maurice Harkless, Philadelphia 76ers
Harkless' one and only season at St. Johns, which saw him average 15 points and eight rebounds, could very well be an albatross.
Sure, those numbers are impressive for a freshman, but he was also he's team's only option.
In addition to those numbers, he also showed a disturbing lack of range––and more importantly, a lack of self-awareness concerning his range.
He shot a putrid 20 percent on three-pointers last season, but he still launched up 84 attempts during the season, good for 2.5 per game.
Harkless showed some passive deference in the Orlando Summer League and looked more like a high-upside second-rounder than a top-15 overall selection.
SG/SF Jae Crowder, Dallas Mavericks
The reigning Big East Player of the Year had a wondrous career at Marquette under Buzz Williams, but sadly, he's far too limited to succeed in the NBA.
Unlike the highly undersized forwards who have had success in the league, Crowder plays an undersized wing position.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Crowder compounds this alarming lack of height with an additional lack of quickness.
Quickness is the best way to neutralize a lack of size at the guard position, as exemplified by Kings' star rookie Isaiah Thomas last season.
But if Crowder has to guard someone like James Harden (which he will), he'll be at a disadvantage in both size and quickness. Harden would be able to pick Crowder's poison: he could drive by him, he could shoot over him or he could post him up.
He'll make money playing somewhere—it just won't be in the NBA.
SF Robbie Hummel, Minnesota Timberwolves
It's hard not to root for Robbie Hummel.
The longtime heart and soul of Purdue basketball tore two ACLs during his college career, before coming back and becoming one of the best stories of 2012.
But even assuming health in his knees (which is a big stretch), Hummel is a limited athlete who doesn't have an NBA position.
He's a classic tweener––too slow to play small forward, too small to play power forward––without the requisite athleticism to compensate for his lack of a role.
I'll be rooting for Robbie, but he's probably best cut out for high-level European basketball and not the NBA.