There are two kinds of players that get drafted into the NBA; those who play themselves into position and those who play themselves out of position. It’s rare that a player is drafted into the perfect situation for them to excel in. Even when they are, the results don’t always go as they planned. Ultimately, it’s the players themselves that can decide their own destiny by playing to their potential.
Here are two players that fit both sides of the coin.
Gibson was the first freshman to lead the University of Texas in scoring in school history and an All-American honorable mention as a sophomore. Besides that, he was a member of the national honor society in high school. Sounds like a good guy to have on your team.
The Houston native was taken with the 42 pick in the second round of the 2006 draft, behind Sergio Rodriguez and Mardy Collins. Before the draft, he knew the Cavs were high on him and decided not to work out with anyone else. They picked him and he joined a backcourt that had been last in the league in scoring the previous season. Even with the team struggling at his position, Gibson still needed time to adapt to the NBA game. He averaged just below 9 points in 16 stars but played less than twenty minutes per game over the entire season.
Gibson seized the opportunity to claim his reputation in Game 6 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals and scored the most points (31) by a rookie in a series-deciding win since Magic Johnson dropped 42 in the 1980 NBA Finals.
In 2007-2008, “Boobie” showed steady signs of improvement and raised his stats in every category. Though he played in two less games, he started in ten more. As a member of the Sophomore Squad, he was named MVP of the Rookie Challenge at All-Star Weekend. He missed the last two games of the Eastern Conference Fianls and said he felt like he “let my guys down.”
This all might have something to do with why the Cavs signed the 6-2 guard to a five-year $20.8 million in mid-July. He’s played himself into position to where he’s important to his club’s future success.
At UConn, Marcus Williams was the prototypical point guard. He averaged 20 points and over eight assists in the 2006 NCCA tournament. He led the Big East in assists in 2004-2005. He was also arrested and temporarily banned from campus for his role in a series of laptop thefts. He lost an entire semester due to academic ineligibility. Williams, who often struggled with conditioning problems, needed a fresh start.
The Nets took him with the 22-pick in the first round of the 2006 draft. Williams’ strong point guard skills were just what the Nets needed as the prepared to replace Jason Kidd. His solid ball-handling and court vision made him arguably the best point guard in the draft. Despite questions about his character and work ethic, Williams had landed in the perfect position for a young point-guard to learn from an old pro.
Things didn’t go so smoothly. Williams was often injured and questions about his conditioning always lingered. He seemed to lack a scoring punch at the NBA level and showed an inconsistent effort. Besides that, Williams didn’t improve upon any of his season or career highs. In fact, all of his numbers went down.
The Nets eventually decided to go in another direction. They went out and got Devin Harris from Dallas, they basically acquiring the long-term starting pg they were looking for when they drafted Williams. Although Williams started during Harris’ early injury absence he quickly returned to a reserve role once Harris was healthy.
Williams has played himself out of position once again. This time, the Nets aquired Keyon Dooling to back up Harris and sent Williams to the Warriors for future considerations.
In Golden State, he’ll be returning to his home state and may have a chance to start. He’ll have the advantage of playing an open style and getting a fresh start at earning an important role on a new team. The most important things for Williams in 2008-2009 will be staying healthy, being in condition and resisting the temptation to steal laptops.