Trajan Langdon has
found a niche in the NBA - as a three point shooter, surprise,
surprise. He's more or less a more athletic Steve Kerr, and since he's
shooting 47.5% from three point range, it's hard to argue with him. He's
also turning out to be a better defender than anyone expected as well.
Trajan is an excellent illustration, or perhaps contrast, of the current
state of basketball.
A tremendously skilled player, Langdon would never place himself in an elite
category athletically. Yet he is now being projected - injuries allowing - as a
10-12 year player. Why Langdon? Why not guys who are vastly more talented
like Harold Miner?
Well, as ESPN showed us recently, talent is no guarantee of NBA success.
Certainly it's a requirement, but it's not enough to give someone the edge.
There are probably 2,000 guys more talented than Langdon who can't grab a spot.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Primarily of course is that
many kids are coming out too early and lack enough fundamental skills for the
job. Guys like Ed
O' Bannon and Scotty Thurman spring to mind, not to mention Miles
Simon. And then there are guys who never even cracked it really, like
FSU's Kerry Thompson, who still thinks he can make it to the big time.
To be sure, these guys can make a living in basketball, on some level, but
it's a risky proposition, and for those who left early with no degree, their
lives can be quite precarious. There was a study about a year ago about
how fast players burn money, and the conclusion was unless you are a first round
pick, you just can't count on the money lasting for long. You are looking
at a 15 year career, and if you can't save enough for the rest of your life, you
are looking at re-entering the job market at 35 or so with no marketable skills
and at a greatly reduced income level. It baffles us that more people
aren't explaining that college is a life-changing experience.
Nate James said this, and he might have been talking about William Avery or
Corey Maggette: "I've thought about what it will be like next year and you just never
know. If I'm lucky enough to make it to the NBA I know it won't be like Duke, with all the friends and people that you've gotten to know over the years. Here (at Duke) you are truly a part of something with the students, players and coaches. Even some superstar college players who are drafted into the NBA still aren't a big factor on their NBA teams so I think you just never know."
Pretty much sums it up. It's a roller coaster for most players, and you have
to be profoundly lucky, and work incredibly hard, to stick.