What if the NBA lockout, everybody’s nightmare, might be a blessing in disguise for a handful of players who haven’t played up to their hype.
Pressure is a double edged sword – it can motivate a player to great heights or it can cause players to choke under the spotlight. Could overhyped players have a second chance playing overseas where the pressure isn’t as intense and the players not as talented?
Take Darko Milicic for example.
Getting drafted 2nd behind Lebron James in a draft full of future stars put a lot of pressure on his shoulders. His inexperience and lack of maturity didn’t help him deal with the situation either. His game has shown no improvement since 2003, only averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds in 8 years. His mentality is soft, his post moves are weak and his jump shot and rebounding are inconsistent. He is the perfect example of an overhyped player who didn’t live up to his expectation. Playing overseas could definitely give him a second chance at becoming the star he was supposed to be. If he went overseas he would be taking 8 years of invaluable NBA experience and a height of 7 feet. One of the problems with his entrance to the was his inexperience, he could recreate his entrance to professional basketball overseas and make an immediate impact to a league where the players are less talented and the pressure less intense.
Another example is Marvin Williams.
He was drafted second in 2005 by the Hawks. Once Deron Williams and Chris Paul made immediate impacts with their teams more pressure was put on Marvin, to prove he deserved the number 2 pick. For 6 years Marvin Williams has averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds solid numbers for a role player. Not an all-star which is what Marvin was supposed to be. Playing in Europe could mean a second chance to be a star. In European leagues players like Williams are rare. Europe is known for their crafty big men and quick, true point guards. We don’t often hear about 6’8 athletic shooters on sportcenter in Europe. Playing overseas could be the perfect fit for a player like Marvin Williams.
Jordan Hill also fits this group of disappointing players.
In college he was an extremely hard working player, he was determined and that showed when he raised his points per game from 4 in his first year at Arizona to 13 in his second year and 18 in his third year. At 6’10 he showed off his aggression around the hoop but also his midrange and three point shot that he proved so effective for someone his height. He averaged 11 rebounds in his third year in college showing that he could not only score but rebound effectively. The Knicks selected him at 8 in the first round of the 2009 NBA draft. The Knicks were in the middle of the Isiah era and were hoping Jordan Hill was going to be their saviour. We all know how the New York media is and that proved to be too much pressure for him to deal with, he was traded in the middle of the season to Houston. Since his impressive years at Arizona he has yet to show his worth in the NBA. He has averaged just under 4 rebounds and just under 5 points in 2 seasons in the NBA. He hasn’t demonstrated his confidence in the NBA. He hasn’t been getting to the rim as effectively and hasn’t been grabbing boards. This disappointing play has caused him to come off the bench. It’s very disappointing considering the kind of dominant college performance. Europe, Turkey or China could be the thing he needs. The level in college in my opinion is closer to the leagues in Europe, Turkey or China then the NBA. This was proven when Duke and Georgetown beat Chinese teams this summer.
Although the absence of the 2011-2012 NBA season is a tragedy, it doesn’t mean some players can take advantage of this opportunity to play overseas.