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NBA / Sep 11, 2013 / 4:00 pm

The NBA’s 15 Best One-And-Done Players

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant (photo. Nike Basketball)

The one-and-done rule has become a popular subject of discussion in NCAA and NBA circles. For those unaware of the rule, it was instituted by NBA commissioner David Stern as a way to curtail high schoolers from going straight into the NBA. It required the 17 or 18-year-old to play at least one year of either college ball or international ball — as in the case of Brandon Jennings.

University of Kentucky coach John Calipari, who has had quite a few players leave his team after only one season, has been irked to the point of hating the rule. It’s tough to blame him, or any other coach at the NCAA level for that matter.

While it is a useful tool in making sure that 17 and 18-year-olds can hone their craft at a higher level before jumping into the NBA, it’s become an extremely unfair practice to the coaches of these schools that have to go out and find new high school stars after every draft.

Calipari, for example, has already had 11 players depart from his elite program after only a year’s play.
As a result, it’s left NCAA coaches to constantly recruit, create new gameplans, adjust to a new crop of players, and find and convince the next big star to play for their squad.

However, there are benefits to the one-and-done rule; namely for the players. While there are some with obvious talent that should warrant them a trip from high school straight to the NBA, it’s also allowed other players, such as the 15 on this list, to improve their game before making the jump to the big leagues.

For every Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett, there’s a Sebastian Telfair or Dorell Wright that proves how the one-and-rule could have possibly made something more out of their careers. That one year is a necessity to some. For others it’s superfluous and simply a short road block to a prosperous NBA career.

Whether or not these 15 players actually benefitted from this rule is something that they would have to personally answer. For now, we’ll just take a look at the 15 best NBA players who spent one year at college and made the smooth transition to the big leagues.

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15. JOHN WALL
John Wall will need to hone his jumper if he wants to live up to that lucrative deal he signed with the Washington Wizards over the summer, but one can’t deny the money matches the potential. Following a memorable year at Kentucky where he and several future NBA stars won the national championship, Wall took his chances in the NBA and was selected first in the 2010 Draft by the team that just went all-in on his talent.

Speed kills, and no player knows that better than Wall. He’s arguably the fastest player in the NBA and its showcased when he’s handling coast-to-coast and turning an inbound pass off a score into a layup in five seconds flat.

Following an injury-plagued first half of the 2012-13 season, Wall made up for half a season’s worth of scoring with performances such as the 47-point drubbing he delivered to Memphis, as well as a 37-point output against Indiana only a week later. He finished the season averaging a career-high 18.5 points, albeit in only 49 games.

14. MIKE CONLEY JR.
Mike Conley, Jr. only needed one impressive season at Ohio State, where he helped lead the team to a national championship appearance, to declare for the draft and become a lottery pick. Conley was selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with the fourth pick of the 2007 Draft following his lone year with the Buckeyes, also complete with a previous nod as a McDonald’s All-American, and was a starter by his sixth game in the Association. The up-and-down rookie season would be followed up with another tumultuous season where he actually split time with Kyle Lowry as the starting point guard.

It was in his third season, however, where Conley finally came out of his shell. Shots started to fall; he became a better facilitator and also became a stronger defender. In fact, Conley has become one of the league’s strongest defenders at his position, recently earning a spot on the All-Defensive Second Team.
He was the steals leader in the 2012-13 season, finishing with 174. He also set a career-high for points per game with 14.6, while also shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc. He is a 38 percent shooter from deep for his career.

Conley continues to integrate himself into a larger role in the offense and attempted to do so throughout Memphis’ postseason run. Despite low shooting percentages, Conley put up a respectable 17 points per while aiding the team in a run to their first conference finals in franchise history.

13. SHAREEF ABDUR-RAHIM
Somebody bring basketball back to Vancouver so we can see Shareef Abdur-Rahim before his sudden fall from grace.

Abdur-Rahim spent the first five years of his career with the Grizzlies after being drafted third once he finished a single year at the University of California. He impressed in his rookie season with averages of 18.7 points and 6.9 rebounds, good enough to finish third in Rookie of the Year voting and giving the young Vancouver franchise a player to possibly build around.

Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, the team success never came and they never won more than 23 games in six years in Vancouver. Shareef was able to at least put some fans in the seats, pouring in solid point outputs and crashing the boards well for a 6-9 forward, averaging as much as 10 boards in 2000. Shareef even earned a gold medal with Team USA in Sydney in the summer of 2000.

Abdur-Rahim averaged as much as 23 points with the Grizzlies, but the team ultimately made the right decision when he was traded to Atlanta for Pau Gasol. From there, Shareef would make his only All-Star Game in his first season with the Hawks.

That All-Star Game must have been the climax of his career because the rest of his NBA tenure is mainly a lot of falling action. He only spent another season-and-a-half with Atlanta before bouncing around from Portland to Sacramento and then retiring at the age of 31.

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