One and done. But what have they done?
So how much did one year of college really help the top freshmen and how many of these players should stay in another year? The one thing another year of college would help insure is instant success in the pros but how many of these kids really need to play for free for another year as opposed to learning on the job? 1) Greg Oden broke is hand and basically spent the whole season listening to people question how good he really is. People expected him to be a senior year version of Tim Duncan (and ignored the fact that Oden's numbers were better than Duncan's first year, about even with his second year, and he helped get his team further in the tournament that Duncan ever did). 2) Kevin Durant got to show the world just how good he was but did he get any better? It's not like his major weaknesses, creating for teammates and defense really got any better over the year. In the last month of the season, Durant had a 4 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Since he's probably just going to run wild over college teams, the best way for him to harness his game and improve his skills is to take them to the next level. 3) Brandan Wright has the toughest decision. Personally, I think he could really benefit from another year but can you really turn down an almost guarenteed top 5 selection? The key is confidence. If Wright has the attitude that can handle getting beat up in the pros (and possibly having teammates admonishing you and keeping on you to work harder), then he might as well leave and take his lumps like (and while being paid like) a man. If he doesn't have that type of personality, then there's the risk of getting beaten down like Kwame Brown. People forget how skilled Brown was coming out of school but he was a child off-the-court. Making matter worse was Michael Jordan who didn't come back out of retirement to coddle a youngster. Brown went into a shell from which he and his skills have never emerged. 4) Thad Young struggled in the beginning of the season, improved, but all of the same questions remain. The biggest issue for Young is one that really can't be answered until he gets into the pros: What position does he play? It terms of immediate impact, another year would help so he could fill out and work improve his jumper but it's not like those aren't things that he could accomplish under the guidance of a professional coaching staff. (Also, there's no guarentee that those things happen in college either) 5) Young's teammate Javaris Crittenton has a tough decision. He most certainly needs another year but what happens if he doesn't show enough improvement? There is always the threat of being the next Chris Duhon (supposed lotto player after his sophomore year who fell to the second round in his senior year) or even Chris Thomas (Lotto candidate who stayed in and went undrafted). Possibly a deciding factor for Crittenton was Young's decision to leave. Without Thaddeus as a running mate Crittenton could face stiffer defenses which could help stifle his game and his draft stock. Something similar happened to Rodney Stuckey. At the beginning of the year he was the nation's best kept secret but once the secret was out, defenses keyed on him and now he might fall out of the first round. Also, Stuckey stayed in despite 2006 being a horrific draft and now he's coming out in a loaded one. Crittenton has to keep an eye out for this as well. 2007 is a very weak draft in terms of PG's while next year looks like it could be loaded with Derrick Rose and OJ Mayo as well as fellow to-be-sophomores Ty Lawson, Darren Collison, and Scottie Reynolds. While he might not be ready on day one, how many PG's are? Going later in the draft means he'll likely get a chance to understudy for a couple of years before getting the reins. The only reason to stay in college is if you have to learn to lead a team. This was Shaun Livingston's achilles heel and one that he might have been able to work on in college (as opposed to dealing with NBA-sized egos). This isn't a problem for Crittenton so he might as well learn on the job as opposed to staying in school. 6) Spencer Hawes' problem is that he's not that athletic. Staying in school isn't going to change that. And playing well won't make people overlook that, just ask Aaron Gray or Glen Davis. Hawes needs to strike while the iron is hot and enter this draft now. 7) Daequan Cook, on the other hand, should only come out this season if he thinks that a) he is overhyped and is just going to get exposed in college or b) thinks he made a mistake by going to Ohio St. and will never get a fair shake from Thad Motta. While he can always improve in the pros, he might be better off being the man for one or two years at Ohio State and working on his complete game. Unless he feels that he's the next Josh McRoberts, school should be back in session for Cook. As for the guys that stayed in, the only two who might want to come out now is Hasheem Thabeet and Chase Buddinger. If Thabeet is truly a hardship case and won't likely stay past his second year, you might wonder why bother staying another year. He's still going to be a project so why not make some money? The one thing going for him next season is that Greg Oden, Greg Hibbert, and Spencer Hawes won't be in the draft. Maybe Brook Lopez and Kosta Koufos jump over him in the rankings but odds are he'll still be a lotto pick. With Buddinger, he only needs to look at teammate Marcus Williams, a guy who was a top player coming into the year and now could possibly fall to the second round. And, as with Hawes, one of his issues is foot speed. Buddinger has to be realistic and take a look at his defensive skills. If he thinks he can improve them, then he should stay in. If he thinks his problem is foot speed, then he should leave immediately. After his freshman year, Jason Kapono was the belle of the ball and a likely mid-first round pick. The longer he stayed, the longer people realized that he lacked foot-speed and was fairly one-dimensional and he fell in the draft. Ty Lawson might want to take advantage of the poor PG crop but he could use another year of leading a team and learning how to use his skills.