Sunday, July 11, 2021

NBA Finals Stocked with Players from Value Add Basketball Game All-Time Great Teams

Great NBA players did not always have great college careers. Among the players suited up for the NBA Finals, 2-time Bucks MVP Giannis Anteokounmpo, as well as a couple of guys on the bench – his big brother Thanasis Anteokounmpo and the Suns Dario Saric – did not play college.

However, this year's NBA Finals includes some of the highest rated college players in the history of the Value Add Basketball ratings, as well as eight players who also played on one of the all-time great basketball teams included in the popular Value Add Basketball Game. (50,800 visitors have now pulled up the game, which includes these free player cards.)

I happened to just return from Wyoming, whose 1943 team is the earliest in the game due to Kenny Sailor leading the Cowboys to the National Title after inventing the jump shot.

At the bottom of this blog we show the college rating of each NBA Finals player, including five players who ranked as one of the top three players in all of college basketball when they played.

Two of those elite Value Add Basketball 1st Team All-Americans do not have cards in the game:

The Suns' reserve Jevon Carter was the top ranked player in the 2012 season with West Virginia, which is represented in the game by Jerry West's 1959 team and Kevin Jones' 2010 team.

The Suns' Jae Crowder was ranked as the second best player in the country behind Anthony Davis in 2012 when he beat out Jones as Big East Player of the Year while playing for Marquette, across the street from the Buck's home court where he drilled 6 of 7 three-pointers Sunday night for the visitors. Marquette is represented in the game by Al McGuire's National Championship team of 1977, and Dwyane Wade's 2003 Final Four team.

The first three player cards below from the Value Add Basketball Game also finished in the top three - Chris Paul ranked as the third best player of the 4,000+ players in 2005 when he played for Wake Forest, Mikal Bridges ranked as the 2nd best player when on the 2018 Villanova National Champs, and Frank Kaminsky ranked as the third best player in the country in 2015, when we shocked many readers by declaring the Wisconsin Badger the 1st team All-American more than a month before he shocked the undefeated Kentucky team in the Final Four. 

Mamadi Diakite's was rated higher in the 2020 season, but we show his 2019 card below when he was part of the national championship team at the University of Virginia.

(Note: thanks to this great blog for showing how to insert these photos side-by-side in blogger)
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If we seeded the eight teams of these NBA Finals Players based on the ratings at, we would end up with this tournament bracket:

While the eight players shown above were great players on great teams included in the game, many Suns' players and some Bucks' players were also great college players. The following is a table indicating the highest ranked college players now at least suited up for the NBA Finals for either the Suns or Bucks.

We consider any player that finishes in the top 41 players out of 4,000 college players an elite player, since they rate in the top 1 percent of all college players. I suspect this is the first time an NBA Finals has had 15 players who were in the top 1 percent of college players.

RnkBest college seasonNBAGameCollegeYear
1Jevon Carter #2Suns West Virginia2018
2Mikal Bridges #25SunsYesVillanova2018
2Jae CrowderSuns Marquette2012
3Frank Kaminsky 44SunsYesWisconsin2015
3Chris PaulSunsYesWake Forest2004
8Jalen Smith #25SunsYesMaryland2020
9Sam Merrill #5BucksYesUtah St.2020
11Deandre Ayton #13Suns Arizona2018
13Ty-Shon Alexander #5SunsYesCreighton2020
18Cameron Payne 1Suns Murray St.2015
19Bobby Portis 10Bucks Arkansas2015
20Langston GallowaySuns St. Joseph's2014
23Cameron Johnson #13Suns North Carolina2019
34Justin Jackson 44Bucks North Carolina2017
41Elijah Bryant #3Bucks Brigham Young2018
44PJ TuckerBucks Texas2006
47Jordan Nwora #33BucksYesLouisville2020
49Devin Booker 1Suns Kentucky2015
63E'Twaun MooreSuns Purdue2011
73Jeff TeagueBucks Wake Forest2009
75Pat Connaughton 24Bucks Notre Dame2015
77Mamadi Diakite #25BucksYesVirginia2020
101Brook LopezBucks Stanford2008
186Khris MiddletonBucks Texas A&M2011
190Torrey CraigSuns South Carolina Upstate2012
214Bryn Forbes 5Bucks Michigan St.2016
311Jrue HolidayBucks UCLA2009
711Abdel Nader 2Suns Iowa St.2016
Giannis AntetokounmpoBucks No College 
Thanasis AntetokounmpoBucks No College 
Dario ŠarićSuns No College

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