When Will Kwame Brown Get Sick of the Comparisons?

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

With a potentially ridiculous number of high school students going straight to the NBA this year, the worry on every scout and GM's mind is: will this kid be the next Amare or the next Kwame? Will he take a few years to develop into one of the best players in the league, a la Kobe or KG, or will he always fall short of his potential, a la Kwame? The ones in the lottery have to decide between college graduate Emeka Okafor and high schooler Josh Howard for the top pick. Those guys have it the worst. "Man," they shake their head, "I hope Josh Howard's not another Kwame." When will Kwame Brown get sick of all the comparisons and go out and prove everyone wrong?

He's had three years to live up to the hype of being the first high-schooler drafted first overall. In that time, he has improved every year, but mainly because he has been playing more minutes. He went from 4.5 points per game in 14.3 minutes per game in his rookie year, to 10.9 points per game in 30.3 minutes this last year. His rebounding also doubled from 3.5 boards per game to 7.4. His assists, steals, and blocks saw similar improvement.

But the greatest improvement that Kwame has shown so far is actually a failure to change one statistic: his fouls per game. He averaged just under two fouls per game each year, regardless of the number of minutes he's played.

That shows maturity.

Wilt Chamberlain said his greatest accomplishment was never having fouled out of a game. When asked how he was able to do that, he replied that he just didn't think he would do the team any good sitting on the bench.

Kwame does not have stellar numbers. Even at the rate he has been improving and even with more minutes, he seems to be at best a double-double man. Of course, he has flashes of brilliance, such as his March 17 game against Sacramento when he scored his career high 30 points and grabbed a career high 19 rebounds. Those are All-Star calibre numbers.

So he's by no means a lost cause. Perhaps he just needs a fresh start on a new team. Perhaps. It's not likely to happen. Everyone sees just too much potential in him to give up on him.

He's going to have to create his own fresh start right here in Washington. He'll have to train in the offseason, come into the preseason like a man on a mission, and flat out dominate every night. He can bring the game. He just needs the little chip on his shoulder that makes him want to prove all those naysayers wrong.

Does he have that chip? Or has he resigned himself to being the biggest high-school bust of all time? We'll see next year.

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Earnest Winston ofThe Charlotte Observer writes: It must be the Chicago curse.First Michael Jordan retires from the Chicago Bulls, then un-retires and suits up for the Washington Wizards. Then the Chicago Cubs come oh-so-close to reaching the World Series last year. And now America has given my cousin and Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson her walking papers from "American Idol."

Steven Higashide ofThe Washington Square Newswrites: Gary Payton, Karl Malone and Shaquille O'Neal, meanwhile, are all slower, more prone to injury and generally less effective than they were last year.The Michael Jordan who played for the Washington Wizards was a future Hall of Famer, and the Michael Jordan who's playing golf right now is also a future Hall of Famer.That doesn't mean I would take him over Minnesota's Sam Cassell or Houston's Steve Francis right now.

Ben Wharton ofThe Phoenixwrites: Basketball is somewhere between baseball and the hypothetical football situation. More and more players are coming out after high school or only one year of college, with wildly varying degrees of success. Most of the better ones (LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant) are physically developed enough to maximize their talents within a few years. Sure, they endure growing pains, but most of them are due to problems of endurance (the NBA season is at least four times longer than an average high school season) and a lack of fundamentals and game sense.Even some players that never amount to much more than a league average starter (Kwame Brown, Darius Miles) can’t blame their troubles on their own physical development.And most of the total washouts can blame their fate on injury or emotional breakdown.