The Legacy of Kwame Brown is Undone by LeBron James

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

After Kwame Brown appeared to be written off as a bust by many observers, it could be argued that fewer high school students than otherwise expected looked to turn pro, despite the fact that he had just been the first ever overall #1 selection to go straight from high school. If, for example, Brown had quickly become a powerful force in the league, that might have convinced others, including Carmelo Anthony, to skip Syracuse altogether. Now, with LeBron James's obvious and immediate superstardom, and with Anthony also only one year out of high school, a record number of high school players are projected to get chosen in the first round.

None of them will go first, unless perhaps Atlanta draws the first pick and chooses Dwight Howard, but we can certainly continue to expect a greater influx of young talent into the league. Commissioner David Stern is not happy about that, of course: he would like to institute an age limit of at least 20 years old.

There are several good reasons for an age limit. First, it would tend to enhance the level of play in the NBA. With the exception of Carmelo and LeBron, most young kids take a while to develop, and their bodies are still growing. Secondly, most young players rot on the bench. Even the second overall pick last year, Darko Milicic, has played virtually no time this year. He has called Detroit's scrimmages his games, and that's not fair to his talent level. Of course, the Pistons are doing this strategically; they never intended to play Milicic big minutes and instead are developing him for future seasons.

In fact, it is the development that is the critical issue with NBA players, and not age. The right solution, and one that the NBA appears to be heading towards, is to have a farm system of minor league teams where players could develop in real game situations until they are called up by the team that owns their rights.

Would Kwame Brown have benefitted from being able to grow his game outside of the very bright lights of the NBA? Of course. Would even older rookies or other players benefit from spending some time playing actual games rather than warming the benches? Of course.

Though LeBron and Carmelo have done a lot to increase the flow of high school students, there still needs to be a way for teams to draft prospects and develop them before playing them.

You don't just throw a seed out there into the woods and let it compete with the trees.

You need to nurture and grow it first.

Wizards rookie Jarvis Hayes has been named to the NBA's All-Rookie Second Team. The 10th pick in last summer's NBA Draft started in 42 games for Washington and averaged 9.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 29.2 minutes per game.

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Mike Kahn ofCBS SportsLine.comwrites: The Rockets never could get over being extraordinarily sloppy with the ball, turning the ball over 13 times before intermission and finishing the game with 22, which turned into 31 Lakers points. The guards consistently forced the ball too much, and Yao kept putting the ball down in traffic when he needed to either go straight up or be stronger with the ball. It's what has prevented the Rockets from joining the elite teams all season, and it was inevitable. They were second only to the Washington Wizards for most turnovers and the only team with a winning record among the bottom nine. Call it youth, but it's got to stop.

Patrick Reusse ofThe Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribunewrites inThe Boulder Daily Camera:Rivalry? For seven years, the Wolves were too inept for any team to consider them a rival. The most memorable feuds from those days were between J.R. Rider, Christian Laettner and their coaches.

David Teel ofThe Hampton Roads Daily Presswrites: Early exits to the pros hit ACC basketball in 1972, when Robert McAdoo bypassed his senior season at North Carolina en route to the Hall of Fame. Similar departures soon affected the conference's other programs, with one glaring exception. Duke dodged the trend for more than 25 years as the likes of Mike Gminski, Gene Banks, Johnny Dawkins, Danny Ferry, Christian Laettner and Grant Hill resisted the NBA.The dam finally broke in 1999, and it has been a flood since.

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