Answer: It is VERY hard to make the NBA.
While around a billion people play basketball worldwide, 4,511 are given a spot on one of 347 Division 1 college teams.
Out of these 4,511, 60 are drafted. In any given year, roughly 450 persons are on an NBA roster. These are almost certainly the best 450 players in the world at any given time.
Take into account the dismal odds of getting a college roster spot, much less a scholarship.
In terms of numbers, anyone pursuing a basketball career has roughly a 1 in 3333 percent chance (.03%) of getting all the way to the top of the mountain.
There are roughly 500,000 high school boys basketball players in America at any one given time. Roughly 16,000 will go on to play in college. That includes Division 1, 2, or 3. Of that number, only 110 will ever play in at least one NBA game.
Anybody who’s on that roster rightfully ranks himself as one of the best basketball players in the world. That’s an incredible feat.
Here are a few first-hand anecdotes of how difficult it is to make the NBA:
“I knew a guy that played at LSU during a time when they were perennial March Tournament teams(and he was very much a team leader and well respected, and projected to make a team somewhere.
He went on as an unrestricted FA and tried out at a few different teams like The Rockets, Pacers and Utah. He didn’t last long with any of them.
When asked after the fact, he just kept saying how FAST the game was. He received virtually no open looks, so he forced shots and made nil.
And even the free throw line after practice, he would be so gassed, the ball may have been a shot put. And this is a guy who was 6”4” and would dominate any playground in the south. Mad respect to any player not only making it in the league, but dominating!”
“It’s insanely difficult. My wife’s cousin was a great player. He was the second player the Knicks selected in the draft. (I think he was taken in the second round.)
When he showed up for camp, there were 98 guys trying out for two open spots. They had already offered a contract to the first round pick, and they were really high on another player, so he accepted a very nice offer to play for a team in Europe. He played over ten years there and had a great career.”
“I have a friend where we played everyday, including playing on the high school team together. He went to St John’s University in NY. We knew for sure he was going to the NBA because he was great and probably a the best basketball player we played against.
Unfortunately, he tried out for the Knicks and didn’t make the team. Us hometown boys knew he was a shoe in, but didn’t make the team. That was when I realized how hard it was to make the NBA.”
“Difficult is to say the least, you have to CONSTANTLY work on your GAME and live in gyms to stay in shape and maintain the muscle memory. Not to mention NOT every arena is the same and your shooting mechanics have to be on point, not to mention fundamentals, experience, clock mgt, GAME mgt, plays and a complete awareness of where players are at ALL times.
Are you coachable, your work ethic and above all what are you willing to do to keep THAT life!! Lebron James next to Lonzo Ball has the WORST release on his jumper yet Steph Curry has the perfect form.”
“Which brings up talent! Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry have TALENT. Overall talent wins out. Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron to name a few other sports. But, specific talents also are appreciated.
Earl Campbell and Hershel Walker are considered to be the only players ready to play in the NFL out of high school as running backs. Specific talents can make a difference. As the late John Facenda of NFL films once said about the late Bob Hayes; “There is speed, and then there is SPEED!”
It depends on the game. Pitchers have specific talents. Football has very specific talents by position. But, overall, going pro is a commitment and very difficult.”
Any discussion on the topic of how difficult it is to make the NBA without mentioning Brain Scalabrine.
A couple years ago during the end of his career, he challenged them all to one on one games in a local gym aka The SCALENGE!. And SCAL just COOKS ’em!
Check this video: