Is Le’Bryan Nash a spectacular athlete?

Written by Kyle Porter
Photo Attribution: US Presswire

Photo Attribution: US Presswire

Chad Ford and Jay Bilas have a seemingly weekly post where they discuss the viability of certain college basketball players making it to the next level.

Some weeks they’ll talk about guys who are underrated, some weeks they’ll do overrated, some weeks they just write.

It’s great, really. They’re both total hoops wonks and know their stuff.

This week they listed the most overrated pro prospects in the college game today. Guess who was on the list?!

Here’s Bilas,

Nash is 6-7 and a spectacular athlete with all of the physical tools to be an outstanding player.

Is he? I mean really, is Le’Bryan Nash a spectacular athlete?

When I think “spectacular athlete” I think of someone like Desmond Mason or Melvin Sanders or even Markel Brown. I do not think Le’Bryan Nash.

Does that mean he can’t be a truly great basketball player? Absolutely not. Look at DeJuan Blair — dude has like .5 ACLs and can barely dunk but he was a terrific college player and has been a┬áserviceable┬ápro.

But let’s shed this idea that Nash is some athletic freak. He’s a tall dude with a strong body who rarely blows by people and hasn’t had a single memorable high-flying dunk in his time at OSU.

Not a single one.

Just because he bodied up 5’9 dudes in South Dallas for four years and stares down the OU band down 15 on the road after a boring one-handed slam Mason Cox could have replicated doesn’t mean he’s a “spectacular athlete.”

Bilas went on,

Nash got off to a great start this season, and looked as if he had shed his inconsistency and perceived attitude and work ethic issues. But Nash has not been consistent over the past month or so in terms of his effort and production. His talent level suggests he should be among the very best players in the college game, but his play suggests he hasn’t figured it out yet.

To say the least.

Nash’s numbers are identical to last season — and just as inefficient. There is no reason that Nash cannot be as good and productive as we all want him to be.

I just…I…I think it’s time to reset our expectations for Nash.

Everyone wants him to be this Kevin Durant-type with an elite outside-in game when the reality is that he’s going to be most productive working from the inside out, especially in college.

Bilas nails it when he talks about Nash’s inefficiency.

People much smarter than I who have calculated these things say pretty much that exact thing. Let’s look at Nash’s offensive efficiency rating according to and compared with the rest of the team…

Phil Forte – 119.8
Phil Jurick – 115.2
Mike Cobbins – 112.1
Markel Brown – 106.8
Marcus Smart – 105.7
Le’Bryan Nash – 97.3
Lamari Murphy – 97.0
Kirby Gardner – 85.0

For context’s sake, Forte’s rating is the only one that ranks in the top 200 nationally and it ranks 148th. Doug McDermott, Kelly Olynyk, Nate Wolters, Isaiah Canaan, and Pierre Jackson all rank in the top 20 of this category.

To be fair, OSU uses Nash on way more possessions (25%) than it uses somebody like Jurick (12%) so this isn’t to say Jurick is overall a better player than Nash, but just to point out how inefficient Nash is.

Also, this isn’t a hatchet job on #2. I don’t dislike him — in fact, I think he really does care about the game, his teammates, and the university.

I just think it’s time we reevaluate what to expect from him, what he brings to the table, and what his future. And I hope he and Travis Ford are having the same conversation.

  • C$

    If he cannot blow by smaller college defenders, how will his game resonate at the next level.

  • Nate

    He caught a lob against Texas last year that was really nice.

    Nash has all the tools to be a great player. You don’t have to be a freak athlete to be a great player. Is Doug McDermmot a great athlete? Hell no.

    When I see Nash, I think he more or less has the body and skill set of a Joey Graham. Nightmare matchup for a lot of people inside of 17 feet.

    Here’s the difference though… FORD!! Remember when Joey wanted to play on the wing more his senior year to ready himself for the NBA? Eddie put an end to that sh** and put him back down at the 4 where he was more effective. Ford will never be able to devlop Nash the same way Eddie could have. That’s the big difference. Every coach in the country would love to have Nash on their roster, so don’t kid yourself. Ford is just too much of an idiot to know what to do with Nash.

    • That’s partly right, but to say Nash is on the same planet as Joey athletically is absurd. Worlds apart. Nash is more David Monds than he is Joey Graham.

      • Nate

        That’s a little unfair. Let’s not act like Nash is some scrub athletically. He’s no Markel, but he’s still a pretty good athlete.

        My point is, is there are a lot of coaches out there that could turn Nash into an elite college player. Don’t know if Ford can. Doubt it.

        How good would Nash be if he was playing for Self right now??

        • bigmeechy74

          It’s a misconception to say that eddie got everything he could out of every player. If you get in eddies doghouse, it’s almost impossible to get out. Stevie Graham is a perfect example. If eddie would’ve let him play and not yanked him every 5 seconds and played him more than bobik we may have won it all. Twice. Oh well. I love eddie sutton but he also had the best on ball defender in the NBA on his team and didn’t have him guard bynum at the end of that final 4 game. Unforgivable.

      • Dylan

        The answer to your question KP is “no”, he is NOT an spectacular athlete. The spectacular athlete’s don’t miss multiple dunks each season b/c they don’t have the ups and also countless layups like he does. He can not elevate like Smart, and Smart isn’t even in the same universe as Brown.

        Nate, you are smoking something if you think he is in the same building as either of the Graham brothers. I do agree with you in that Nash is not being used in the way that would best help our team, and that is absolutely a coaching decision. We seem to have a whole bunch of issues that are coaching decisions (or lack there-of) in fact…

  • Bill

    I have yet to see (even in ‘cherry-picked’ high school highlights)Nash explode past anyone, elevate for any shot/rebound, block out anyone, or stop watching moths and butterflies in the middle of games. Nice physic but, have yet to see anything produced from it beyond ‘average’. Time is ticking for him/Ford…..

  • Twatty

    Nash no doubt has the physical specimen. When he puts forth effort and drives he generally can make it to the basket and get a good shot off. Problem is he just doesn’t drive OFTEN enough. That’s half coaching and half what I believe to be the truth: Nash doesn’t have personal drive to dominate. The best players at the elite level all have the ability to take over whenever they want. Nash is capable but just doesn’t try. Unfortunately his jump shot isn’t good enough to carry him, he has bad touch around the rim (just watch how much spin he uses in close) and he quite honestly runs a little flat footed which works against you in basketball. He’s a talent and I want him to succeed, but Ford has got to coach him out of this mentality and I can’t tell if ford is trying or if LB just isn’t understanding. It’s sad, but unless we get some road wins, the conference is weak enough that we could finish 5th and miss the NCAA tourney. Fixing LB is the solution.