Over the years we’ve seen some of the most talented, “can’t miss” prospects fail, and we’ve seen second rounders blossom into core pieces on championship teams.
Ask Stromile Swift and Kwame Brown. Ask Greg Oden and Marvin Williams. Then ask Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Swift, Brown, Oden and Williams are four of the many players drafted into the NBA with superstar expectations. They had all of the tools. They were supposed to change the future of the franchise. Instead, they set their teams back years.
But then you have Parker and Ginobili, two players drafted by the Spurs to fill specific roles around Tim Duncan. Parker was drafted 28th overall and Ginobili 57th. Yet they are the ones headed to the Hall of Fame.
Context and situation are everything, and in the NBA, not everyone is put in the right situation and given the right context. Would Tony Parker be the Hall of Fame point guard he is today if he were drafted by the 2001 Vancouver Grizzlies — a team that won just 23 games and selected point guard Jamal Tinsley one pick ahead of Parker — instead of falling into Gregg Popovich’s system, Tim Duncan’s locker room and the first class foundation set in San Antonio?
This year, a new class of rookies will try to beat the odds and find their role in the NBA. Some will exceed expectations and find themselves earning a max extension in a few years, and others will be demoted to the D-League or find themselves in Europe.
It seems Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green, two former Georgetown Hoya’s, are taking bets.
— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) September 22, 2013
Hibbert is referring to Solomon Hill, drafted 23rd overall by the Pacers in the 2013 NBA Draft. Hill is an University of Arizona standout who averaged 13.4 points and 5.3 rebounds a game his junior year for the Wildcats. Hill routinely came up clutch, leading the Wildcats to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Ohio State.
Does he have what it takes to make it in the NBA?
His draft position would suggest otherwise, but his chances are certainly increased coming into a stable organization with strong veteran and coaching presence. There is a certain pedigree these days to being an Indiana Pacer, and Hill — or any rookie — would be best served to start out learning the ropes from a group consisting of Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West and Frank Vogel rather than a complete rebuild in Boston with a rookie head coach.
The foundation the Pacers have set gives Hibbert the confidence to suggest Hill will win Rookie of the Year, although, based on everything we know about Hill, makes that an unreasonable expectation.
That’s not to say Kelly Olynyk (13th overall), Colton Iverson (53rd overall) and Phil Pressey (undrafted) won’t make it, either.
In the NBA, you never know.
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Ben Baroff is a basketball journalist who blogs for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter here.