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College Shot Blockers are Overrated in the NBA

April 10, 2012

Watching the Final Four, I’m amazed on how much a dominant shot blocker can impact the game.  3 of the 4 Final Four teams had shot altering centers.  Kentucky has Anthony Davis.  Kansas has Jeff Withey.  Louisville has Gorgui Dieng.

Additionally, having watched Fab Melo of Syracuse for most of the year, I come away impressed.  This led me to a question on whether are we seeing more changing shot blockers in college or has this always existed? If this existed before, why aren’t we seeing these players more in the NBA?

This led me to look at the top 10 leaders in block shots per game in college basketball from 2000 to 2010. Here is what I found:

  • 27 players were drafted in the NBA.  Everyone on the list has graduated in 2011 or earlier, except for 2 (William Mosley of Northwestern State and David Foster of Utah).
  • 6 players were undrafted but made the NBA, nobody notable. Dwayne Jones who played in 82 games is the most significant name of the undrafted players.
  • 15 players were drafted in the first round. Only Greg Oden was drafted no. 1 overall.  Hasheem Thabeet and Emeka Okafor were drafted no. 2 overall.
  • The most successful player on the list is either Emeka Okafor or Chris Kaman.  Only Chris Kaman has made an All-Star game. However, he is more known for his offense.

Let’s think about why the shot blocking skills have not translated in the NBA.  The one major thing I see is that there is no such thing as illegal defense in college basketball.  College centers like Fab Melo are sitting in the middle of the lane waiting for people drive.  They have less steps to take in order to help out on an opposing player attacking the paint.  This makes a huge difference as it is way easier for them get to a shot blocking position.

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