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High school to the NBA


[One thing I’ve never seen explained is why, after what was actually a very promising start, the NBA didn’t draft any high school players for 20 years. The three players who went straight from high school in the mid-70s included one all-time great, one guy who had a 15-year-career, and an eight-year journeyman]. Anyway from 1995 to 2006, until the one and done rule got negotiated, a total of 38 players got drafted straight out of high school. (This list omits players who declared for the draft but weren’t drafted. This is a problematic subgroup dominated by players for whom college wasn’t a realistic option, such as Lloyd Daniels). I speculated below that the batting average for these draft picks was probably quite high, and in fact it is.

The complete list is here, and it includes:


Kevin Garnett
Kobe Bryant
Amar’e Stoudemire (OK maybe a question could be asked)
LeBron James
Dwight Howard


Tracy McGrady
Tyson Chandler
Josh Smith
Andrew Bynum (potential superstar status pending)
Monta Ellis
Jermaine O’Neal

Several minor stars/solid career starters/sixth men

Al Harrington
Rashard Lewis
Kendrick Perkins
Al Jefferson
JR Smith
Louis Williams

Various role players of variable but real utility.

Dorell Wright
Deshawn Stevenson
Shaun Livingston
Kwame Brown (Hey, laugh all you want. He’s made $60 million and counting).
Travis Outlaw
Sebastian Telfair
Gerald Green
C.J. Miles
Martell Webster
Andray Blatche
Amir Johnson
Desagana Diop

Then you’ve got a couple of special cases in Darius Miles and Eddie Curry — guys who were on the way to at least minor stardom when their careers were derailed by injury.

Genuine busts — guys who didn’t have any kind of real NBA career:

Korleone Young
Leon Smith
Osamane Cisse
Ndudi Ebi
James Lang
Robert Swift

I’m not sure this is precisely the best metric, but that track record kicks the absolute living snot out of any comparably-sized randomly selected list of NBA first round draft choices, let alone a random list of drafted players, or players signed to contracts.

The one and done rule looks very much like pure protectionism for fringe NBA veterans.

Edit: This list should probably also include Brandon Jennings, who is tough to evaluate at this point but is likely to end up in at least the solid starter category.

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