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.
|Rnk||Best college season||NBA||Game||College||Year|
|1||Jevon Carter #2||Suns||West Virginia||2018|
|2||Mikal Bridges #25||Suns||Yes||Villanova||2018|
|3||Frank Kaminsky 44||Suns||Yes||Wisconsin||2015|
|3||Chris Paul||Suns||Yes||Wake Forest||2004|
|8||Jalen Smith #25||Suns||Yes||Maryland||2020|
|9||Sam Merrill #5||Bucks||Yes||Utah St.||2020|
|11||Deandre Ayton #13||Suns||Arizona||2018|
|13||Ty-Shon Alexander #5||Suns||Yes||Creighton||2020|
|18||Cameron Payne 1||Suns||Murray St.||2015|
|19||Bobby Portis 10||Bucks||Arkansas||2015|
|20||Langston Galloway||Suns||St. Joseph's||2014|
|23||Cameron Johnson #13||Suns||North Carolina||2019|
|34||Justin Jackson 44||Bucks||North Carolina||2017|
|41||Elijah Bryant #3||Bucks||Brigham Young||2018|
|47||Jordan Nwora #33||Bucks||Yes||Louisville||2020|
|49||Devin Booker 1||Suns||Kentucky||2015|
|73||Jeff Teague||Bucks||Wake Forest||2009|
|75||Pat Connaughton 24||Bucks||Notre Dame||2015|
|77||Mamadi Diakite #25||Bucks||Yes||Virginia||2020|
|186||Khris Middleton||Bucks||Texas A&M||2011|
|190||Torrey Craig||Suns||South Carolina Upstate||2012|
|214||Bryn Forbes 5||Bucks||Michigan St.||2016|
|711||Abdel Nader 2||Suns||Iowa St.||2016|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||Bucks||No College|
|Thanasis Antetokounmpo||Bucks||No College|
|Dario Šarić||Suns||No College|