Disspelling the theory that big men develop slowly

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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 12:18 pm
It's that time of year again, where upside and potential is mentioned. And one thing you hear often, specifically about athletic big men, is that they're not NBA ready but they will be a star eventually. The refrain that big men take longer to develop is mentioned ad infinitum, and I decided to check and see if that was true by looking at the rookie season of each and every all-nba first team center in the history of the game.

Amare Stoudamire - Rookie of the year his first season, 20-10 player his second season
Shaq - As a rookie averaged 23-14-3.5
Zo - As a rookie averaged 21-10-3.5
Hakeem - Averaged 21-11-3 as a rookie
David Robinson - Averaged 24-12-4-2 right off the bat
Ewing - as a rookie averaged 20-9-2 and won ROY
Kareem - Averaged 29-15 as a rookie
Moses Malone - Averaged 19-15-2 as a 19 year old rookie
Walton - 13-13-5-3, and more or less was at his peak (just playing a small amount of minutes, hence the lowered stats)
Elvin Hayes - Put up 28 points and 17 rebounds per game as a rookie
Willis Reed - Averaged 20-15 as a rookie
Wes Unseld - Peaked as a rookie, winning the MVP
Wilt Chamberlain - Averaged 38-27 as a rookie and won the MVP
Bill Russell - Won a championship as a rookie as the main man
Bob Pettit - All NBA first team as a rookie
Dolph Schayes - All-NBA as a rookie
George Mikan - the champion and league's leading scorer as a rookie.

There you have it, every single all NBA first team center of all time had a stellar promising rookie season.
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 1:38 pm
I think it's the type of environment you put a big man in. It's one thing what type of player you team up with him, it's another thing of what kind of players you bring in. I mean honestly would you expect a big man to develop rather easily with the likes of Kobe or Arenas as your teammate or would a guy like Nash or Paul surely help the man develop.

Other than that, great post. Keep 'em up, it's no wonder they voted you as best thread starter in this forum.
Last edited by xbay on Mon May 28, 2007 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 1:53 pm
xbaywarrior wrote:Other than that, great post. Keep 'em up, it's no wonder they voted you as best thread starter in this forum.


Yeah, nice idea for a thread. And that's proof enough to rename the theory. Something like "bad big men develop slowly" seems more accurate after reading that list.
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 5:12 pm
TMC wrote:
xbaywarrior wrote:Other than that, great post. Keep 'em up, it's no wonder they voted you as best thread starter in this forum.


Yeah, nice idea for a thread. And that's proof enough to rename the theory. Something like "bad big men develop slowly" seems more accurate after reading that list.

yeah, but if you're a bad big man you're not going to develop period :mrgreen:
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 5:58 pm
tHe_pEsTiLeNcE wrote:
TMC wrote:
xbaywarrior wrote:Other than that, great post. Keep 'em up, it's no wonder they voted you as best thread starter in this forum.


Yeah, nice idea for a thread. And that's proof enough to rename the theory. Something like "bad big men develop slowly" seems more accurate after reading that list.

yeah, but if you're a bad big man you're not going to develop period :mrgreen:

That's a little unfair to claim.

Nobody's ever claimed that a center with a subpar, rotten rookie season will ever become an All-NBA First Team player. But big men definately develop slower than guards.

They may not be All-NBA First Team players, but Jermaine O'Neal, Zydrunas Illgauskas, Rik Smits, Bob Lanier, Andris Biedrins, and (on a smaller scale) Yao Ming all became much better players after semi-awkward rookie seasons.

This thread seems to be an under-the-breath shot at Patrick O'Bryant and all the hype Warriors fans are generating, regarding his next season. Rather than debate on what other (more polished) players have done in the past, I'm curious to see how the Chef plays in the next few years. There's never been a system related to the NBA like the D-League (not even the CBA), so its unfair to judge O'Bryant on the few moments we've seen him in a Warriors' jersey.

I don't think you can make All-NBA First Team centers the bar for development. Those are some of the greatest players to ever play the game. Nobody's claiming that unpolished centers will someday rank with Shaquille O'Neal or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but that doesn't mean they never develop.
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 6:06 pm
Actually POB didn't cross my mind once when making this thread, I was thinking of people like Andrew Bynum, Andrew Bogut, Andrea Bargnani, etc who people think will be superstars.
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 9:00 pm
Ah. In that case, I'd say all three of those players you listed will become fine 2nd tier players, but none of them will likely crack an All-NBA First Team.
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 10:20 pm
Great topic Pest :D

I've always thought that the "big man is slow to develop" theory is quite bullshiit, especially when talking about Centers that ever mean much. Role playing Centers can pop up after being around for quite some years but some can argue rightfully that it is the coach and the system that makes them more effective. I thought Andrew Bogut was going to be allstar caliber but right now he looks pathetic and will be a good role player at best
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 11:16 am
I think the point is valid, but I do find a wrinkle in the argument.

With the exception of Amare and Moses Malone (who were/are physical freaks) all of those big men listed spent significant time in college which would supplement the idea that big men who come out now need more time to develop. Basically I feel the argument that they need more time is geared more towards the newer players who come into the league at age 19 versus age 21 (or around those ages).

But there is a strong sentiment in the NBA that a big man who has tools will develop with time, which is largely misguided. Not every big man is going to develop and not every big man is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of player. The balance between the two routes and the why of each bigman is something that execs are far away from perfecting, which is why we hear overly optimistic people saying "he's going to develop" about so many players. It is kind of like the opposite of the NFL draft where every GM is looking at what is wrong with a player when they draft and NBA GMs are looking at what a player could be.

But I think this can be illustrated best by the players you chose to use as an example: Bynum, Bogut, and Bargnani. I think most will agree that Bogut will be a serviceable center but far from a superstar. He spent two years in college and developed as much as he could before the NBA. Bynum is on the opposite end of the spectrum. He makes a case for why big men take longer to develop simply because by the time he would have been, say, a Junior in college he might be getting numbers that would be comprable to some of the lesser players on your list. The jury is out on Bargnani (I am on record as drinking the Bargnani Kool-Aid so I have to stick it out with him).

But perhaps the most overlooked portion of the myth of big men taking longer to develop is the notion that the vast majority of recent HS or International players have been big men, and have not had the time to develop skills at the college level. It isn't that they take longer, it is just that they are younger . . . if that makes any sense. Of course this has changed with more guards coming in from HS and overseas recently and this might usher out the big man notion altogether, as there will be a tangible comparison.

Great topic.
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 9:47 pm
Yeah, I agree. Now, onto a different question: what kind of rookie season do you think Oden will have?
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 11:21 pm
JayPat wrote:Yeah, I agree. Now, onto a different question: what kind of rookie season do you think Oden will have?

I expect Oden to have a 2nd or 3rd year Dwight Howard season... meaning, he'll rebound and block shots like a savage (on athletic ability and hype alone), but his offensive game will need refinement and he'll struggle to get anything more than dunks or free throws.

As I said in a seperate thread, I'm expecting 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks a game from Oden in his rookie season. Eventually, I believe he'll balloon himself to a 25/13/3 statline... but who knows when.
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 11:33 pm
JayPat wrote:Yeah, I agree. Now, onto a different question: what kind of rookie season do you think Oden will have?



Depends on what teammates he still has around him (never know who will get traded and acquired) and his health (especially that hand of his).

I'll say: 17pts, 9.7rebs, 2.1blks
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 4:29 am
32 wrote:
JayPat wrote:Yeah, I agree. Now, onto a different question: what kind of rookie season do you think Oden will have?

I expect Oden to have a 2nd or 3rd year Dwight Howard season... meaning, he'll rebound and block shots like a savage (on athletic ability and hype alone), but his offensive game will need refinement and he'll struggle to get anything more than dunks or free throws.

As I said in a seperate thread, I'm expecting 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks a game from Oden in his rookie season. Eventually, I believe he'll balloon himself to a 25/13/3 statline... but who knows when.


Yeah, I agree (more or less). He'll have big rebounding numbers and will be a force on defence... but will need some time to develop on offense. Something like 16/10/1.5 sounds about right for his rookie season.

Although that may change if Randolph gets traded...
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 11:14 am
I am pretty high on Oden and think a 16, 11, 2.5 and 2 assists season is around what he'll put up. His offense is raw but he knows how to ask for the ball and Roy is the kind of guy who will give it to him. Also I think his rebounding and passing are underrated.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:45 pm
His passing is definately underrated!

I'd predict Oden dishes out near 3 dimes a game next season...
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