The Insider: Level assessment

How do OK NCAA Joes end up as top NBA pros? Maybe they're more than just OK

Originally Published: June 18, 2010
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
ESPN The Magazine photo crop via Getty ImagesRussell Westbrook went from underwhelming at UCLA to exceptional with the Thunder.

This article appears in the June 28 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Daniel Orton averaged 3.4 points as a freshman for Kentucky last season, but that hasn't stopped some GMs from thinking the 19-year-old center might be worth a lottery slot in the upcoming draft. His stats and status may seem incompatible, but a team builder's job is to project what a player will do, not grade what he has already done. Anyone can see POY candidates like Kevin Durant or John Wall will do fine in the NBA. Tabbing a guy who turns out to be a way better pro than his college career would have led you to believe is the real draft-night coup.

Chad Ford

Senior Writer, NBA Insider