Catching Up With All 54 of Your Favorite Pac-12 Players In The NBAPosted by AMurawa on October 30th, 2012
The NBA tips off its regular season tonight, which for most college basketball fans means little more than just another sign that the season is imminent. But it is always nice to keep an eye on former college players that we grew to know and love way back when. With that in mind, we’ll take a quick spin around the Pac-12 and briefly touch on what can be expected of each of their 54 former players currently on NBA rosters. We’ll group these guys by their former schools, starting with UCLA, who has 12 alums playing in the league, down to Washington State, whose sole representative is Klay Thompson, and Oregon State, whose Jared Cunningham debuts this season. And then, once college hoops tips off in a little more than a week’s time, you can forget all about these guys again until April.
- Arron Afflalo (Orlando) – Back when Afflalo was playing for the Bruins, you saw his future NBA self pretty clearly – a professional, hard-nosed defender with the ability to score on the perimeter. With five years of experience behind him and his best NBA season directly in the rear-view mirror (15.2 PPG in 33 minutes per night with Denver), Afflalo landed in Orlando as part of the deal that sent Dwight Howard to Tinseltown.
- Trevor Ariza (Washington) – He was awful as a Bruin, but he’s made quite a career for himself in the NBA. A key factor on the Lakers’ 2009 title team, Ariza has bounced around since he left for a big free agent contract, proving himself more of a role player than a go-to scorer.
- Matt Barnes (Los Angeles Clippers) – After spending a couple years with the Lakers, Barnes heads down the hall to the Clippers locker room, where he’ll be expected to play a big part early while Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill recover from injury.
- Darren Collison (Dallas) – After striking out in their bid to sign free agent Deron Williams, the Mavericks settled on Collison as their backup plan at the point, trading their backup center Ian Mahinmi to Indiana for the former Bruin. Collison has been solid in his three years in the league, but lost the starting job with the Pacers last season.
- Jrue Holiday (Philadelphia) – After a disappointing one-year stopover in Westwood, Holiday quickly showed his ability at the NBA level, grabbing more than 35 minutes per game in his second season amidst a crowded 76er backcourt. Last year was a mini-step back, but with the trade of playmaking wing Andre Iguodala (more on him later) this offseason, it appears that Philly is betting heavy on Holiday this year.
- Ryan Hollins (Los Angeles Clippers) – Ryan Hollins. Six year NBA vet. Proof that being tall and athletic and relatively injury-free means a nice living.
- Tyler Honeycutt (Sacramento) – In his first season in the Cow Town, Honeycutt earned a grand total of 88 minutes of action in the league. This year, Honeycutt is trying to rebound from a stress fracture in his fibula that came on top of a stress fracture in his foot. If and when he recovers from that pair of injuries, plenty of time in the D-League awaits.
- Malcolm Lee (Minnesota) – After knee surgery early last season, Lee didn’t make his NBA debut until the middle of March and played sparingly in his rookie campaign. This year, a groin injury has limited his production in the preseason and once again, D-League opportunities seem to await. But, the good news for Lee is the fact that he did sign a three-year guaranteed contract.
- Kevin Love (Minnesota) – Last year Love turned into an elite NBA player, averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds per game while drilling more than 100 three-pointers on the year. Unfortunately, he broke his hand in mid-October doing “knuckle push-ups” and will miss about the first month of the season, bad news for a Minnesota team that will need their superstar available at all times to sneak into the playoffs.
- Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Milwaukee) – Rock solid consistent pro, just like you expected this guy to be. He’ll continue to give the Bucks 20-some minutes a game, six or seven hard-nosed points, a few rebounds and some great defense for the next 10 years or so, provided his knees, which may keep him on the shelf early, cooperate.
- Earl Watson (Utah) – An 11 year NBA vet, Watson is on his sixth NBA team, and he’s definitely on the downside of his career, but he’s still a solid player.
- Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City) – One of the NBA’s best guards, Westbrook is a divisive figure on one of the league’s best teams. Sure, last year’s 23.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists stand out, but question remain about how great he is creating for teammates rather than just himself.
- Jerryd Bayless (Memphis) – For the past couple of years, Bayless was seemingly on the verge of winning the starting point guard role in Toronto. But, this past offseason, he signed with Memphis (four years, $12 million) where he will back up Mike Conley and provide some instant offense off the bench for a playoff team, rather than competing for starter’s minutes on a loser.
- Chase Budinger (Minnesota) – Budinger has been a rock-solid, consistent pro in his first three seasons in the league, all in Houston, averaged a shade under 10 points per game in 20 minutes a night while rebounding well for his position and defending with the best of them. Now he’s in Minnesota, starting at the three, and with Kevin Love out for the time being, he’s one of the T-Wolves’ best offensive options. Breakout year?
- Channing Frye (Phoenix) – Scary news for the seven-year vet in September when it was announced that Frye would miss the 2012-13 season with an enlarged heart. Doctors expect that this will not be a career-ending condition, but wisely, Frye is taking no chances for the time being.
- Jordan Hill (Los Angeles Lakers) – After bouncing around in his first two-plus years in the league, Hill came on to earn minutes and provide energy off the bench for the Lakers last season. He re-signed this year and will backup Dwight Howard in the middle.
- Andre Iguodala (Denver) – Just after Iguodala wrapped up his impressive Olympic effort where he played the hustle guy to NBA legends, it was announced that the Sixers were trading Iguodala to the Nuggets. While it will take him some time to mesh with Ty Lawson and company, expect Iggy to be back playing like an all-star before too long.
- Richard Jefferson (Golden State) – Get this: Jefferson is making more than $10 million this season, and he’s got an option next year for $11 million (which I’m sure he’ll accept). Yeah, it’s been at least four years since he deserved that kind of money, but gotta give credit to a guy for pulling that type of change. He’ll be challenged for a starting role with the Warriors by rookie Harrison Barnes, and will eventually cede that position. But, along the way he’ll make enough money to fund another gym on the Arizona campus, right?
- Jason Terry (Boston) – After spending his last eight years in Dallas, the Celtics stole him away this offseason and he’ll step into Ray Allen’s vacated role in Boston. It has been 12 years since the last time Terry averaged less than 12 points a game for a year, and I wouldn’t bet against him missing that mark for a few more years.
- Luke Walton (Cleveland) – The Cavs took on Walton’s contract last year as part of the trade that sent Ramon Sessions to the Lakers, but while he’ll provide a great veteran presence on the bench, his days of being a significant player in the NBA are done.
- Derrick Williams (Minnesota) – Williams’ rookie season was underwhelming, as he bumped along to 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds a game while being repeatedly and prematurely labeled a bust. But, in his sophomore campaign, he’ll get a chance to earn some minutes early with Kevin Love out with injury.
- Will Conroy (Minnesota) – Holy crap! Will Conroy is in the NBA?!? He’s been gone from Washington for, geez, like seven years, and in the interim has seen a grand total of 88 minutes over the course of 12 NBA games. But, darned if he didn’t make the T-Wolves roster while point guard of the future Ricky Rubio recovers from last year’s knee injury. Good on Conroy.
- Spencer Hawes (Philadelphia) – Husky fans didn’t get a ton of time to get to know Spencer, but 7’1” guys with that kind of turn-around jumper seem to have good moneymaking potential in the NBA. The Sixers went out and got Andrew Bynum this summer, so Hawes is destined for a bench role, but he’ll be the first big man off the bench in Philly this year.
- Quincy Pondexter (Memphis) – Two years in the NBA, and improvement in his second year, but the ceiling for Pondexter is likely no higher than playing a bit role on a playoff team.
- Nate Robinson (Chicago) – With Derrick Rose out indefinitely, Robinson was brought into Chicago to back up Kirk Hinrich at the point. Nate Rob had to settle for a non-guaranteed contract, but he’s a proven offensive threat when he gets minutes and he’ll add some punch to the Bulls offense sans Rose.
- Terrence Ross (Toronto) – While guys like Landry Fields and DeMar DeRozan will get minutes on the wing over the rookie in the early going, I for one foresee Ross getting significant minutes down the stretch once the Raptors are eliminated from playoff contention (if not sooner), just so the front office gets a chance to see what they’ve got here. My guess? They’ve got something good.
- Brandon Roy (Minnesota) – The silky smooth wing retired back in 2011 due to the relatively minor fact that his knees have no cartilage between the bones, a condition so unenjoyable it hurt me to write. But, Roy is attempting to make a comeback with the T-Wolves and has mixed some strong games in with continued injuries. There’s not a chance in hell he’ll play 82 games this year (I put the over/under at like 46), but the crafty vet could produce when he’s out there.
- Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento) – Who didn’t love watching Thomas with the Huskies, aside from, you know, all the other coaches in the conference? But when Thomas left U-Dub a year early for the NBA, there were plenty that thought we’d heard the last of the 5’9” (in platform shoes) point guard. Instead, Thomas had won the Kings’ point guard spot by mid-season last year on the way to double-digit scoring. Heading into camp this year, he’s the guy for the young Kings.
- Tony Wroten Jr. (Memphis) – Last year’s most controversial Pac-12 player has suffered through nagging injuries early in his rookie year, dooming any chances he had to crack the rotation. The good news, however, is that he might get plenty of time in the D-League, give him some desperately needed on-the-job training.
- DeMar DeRozan (Toronto) – He’s still a work in progress, but apparently that’s good enough to get 30-some minutes a game in Toronto, which is exactly what DeRozan got the last two seasons, enough time to earn him around 17 points per game. But, the guy still can’t shoot the ball from deep worth a lick, and he’s not a whole lot better with the midrange game. We’ll see if Terrence Ross makes a run for DeRozan’s minutes, or at least his shots.
- Taj Gibson (Chicago) – Just a good solid NBA pro with three years behind him and many more to come. He’s happy getting 20-some minutes a night and doing the dirty work while guys like Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah get the big minutes.
- O.J. Mayo (Dallas) – Maybe not the most beloved figure around Heritage Hall, Mayo spent four seasons in Memphis before signing with the Mavs as part of their remake of their roster. Mayo’s shooting percentages, scoring averages and minutes played dipped in each his last two years, but Dallas is intent on remaking the shooter as a combo guard, capable of creating for others. Stay tuned for results of that project.
- Nikola Vucevic (Orlando) – Vucevic did enough with the 15 minutes per game he earned as a rookie to take over the starting center role in Orlando. Of course, it helped that the Magic traded their previous starting center. You may have heard of that guy.
- Nick Young (Philadelphia) – In five seasons in the NBA, mostly with Washington, Young has averaged double figures three times. If you knew that, you are certainly more of an NBA follower than I am. This year, however, Young finds himself looking up at Evan Turner and Jason Richardson in the same backcourt.
- Josh Childress (Brooklyn) – After spending a couple of years overseas, Childress spent the last couple seasons getting middling time in Phoenix. His role in Brooklyn is not expected to be significantly bigger.
- Jason Collins (Boston) – While brother Jarron is now out of the league, Jason caught on with the Celts this offseason where he’ll help mentor young bigs like Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Oh, and he’ll probably wave a towel on the bench during playoff games.
- Landry Fields (Toronto) – He was no superstar, but given where he was drafted coming out of Stanford, his first two NBA seasons in New York were, well, decent. He’s not much shooting the ball, but he’s a versatile wing who’ll start for the Raptors.
- Brook Lopez (Brooklyn) – After playing in all 82 games (and playing very effectively, to the tune of 19 points and nine boards in his second NBA season in 2009-10) in his first three seasons, last year was a lost effort for Lopez, as he was limited to just five games by a broken foot. That didn’t stop the Nets from inking him to a four year, $61 million contract in July. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a scoring big man for the franchise, but man, you’d like to see a seven-footer like him rebound the ball better.
- Robin Lopez (New Orleans) – Sideshow Rob is a limited offensive player, but man does he get after it on the defensive end. He’s made a solid career out of working hard (oh, and being seven-feet tall doesn’t hurt). But the Hornets drafted this kid from Kentucky this past offseason, Anthony Davis. He’s good. And while he may not be a true center, he’ll likely get time there. If somehow the Hornets decide to play Davis strictly at the four, Lopez may have a career high in minutes awaiting him.
- Chauncey Billups (Los Angeles Clippers) – After tearing his Achilles’ tendon last February, the 15-year NBA vet has worked tirelessly to get back. And, amazingly enough, his rehabilitation is ahead of schedule and he could be back in action sometime this month. He’ll probably be eased back along in the hopes of bigger returns come playoff time, where he should be a key factor in the Clippers’ push for relevance.
- Alec Burks (Utah) – Burks didn’t exactly blow up as a rookie, but there is hope that he’ll earner a larger role this season in a Jazz backcourt without any settled questions.
- Chris Copeland (New York) – Remember 2006 Colorado grad Chris Copeland? No? Neither do I, but he’s on an NBA roster. After spending the last several years bouncing around Europe, he’s an NBA rookie at 28 years old and an offensive scoring threat.
- Cory Higgins (Charlotte) – The son of the Bobcats’ president of basketball operations, Rod Higgins, Cory played 38 games for the team last year, averaging just over ten minutes per game. But stuck behind guys like Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions, he doesn’t have much of a future.
Arizona State (2)
- James Harden (Houston) – After three successful seasons in Oklahoma City, Harden’s upside and impending free agency was too good to last. As it became increasingly clear that the Thunder wouldn’t have enough money to give the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year the maximum contract he would deserve, the team sent Harden to Houston this past weekend in a major trade. With Jeremy Lin as his backcourt mate, Harden immediately makes the Rockets a team worth keeping an eye on.
- Jeff Pendergraph (Indiana) – After two exceedingly quiet seasons, Pendergraph had a great camp this season and was reported to be pushing Tyler Hansbrough for minutes backing up the four. While it remains to be seen whether or not that was Pacer head coach Frank Vogel trying to light a fire under Hansbrough (doesn’t he seem like a guy that already has a fire lit under him), Pendergraph could be in for his busiest season.
- Aaron Brooks (Sacramento) – A four-year NBA vet, Brooks has had some significant success in the NBA, especially in 2009-10 when he averaged nearly 20 points per night for Houston. But after spending last season in China, Brooks is back, likely just providing offense off the bench in place of starter Isaiah Thomas.
- Luke Ridnour (Minnesota) – With Ricky Rubio still recovering from knee surgery, Ridnour is the point guard for the present for the T-Wolves. He’ll never knock your socks off, but he’s made a solid NBA career (nine years now) out of being a borderline starter for bad pro teams.
- Andrew Bogut (Golden State) – Bogut’s been in the league seven years now and has twice played more than 70 games in a season. Last year, it was just 12 games after an ankle injury ended his season early. But, when he does play, he’s one of the best defensive centers in the game. If the Warriors can get 65 games out of his this year, I’m sure they’ll take that.
- Andre Miller (Denver) – After twelve highly effective seasons in the league, last year was the first time Miller did not average double figures for a season in the NBA, coming up just shy with 9.7 points per game. And, yes, the writing is on the wall that the savvy vet is closer to the end than the beginning, and he’s no threat to Ty Lawson for the point guard role, but still, is there another backup point in the NBA you’d rather have?
- Ryan Anderson (New Orleans) – After three solid years in the league, last year was Anderson’s breakout year as a pick-and-pop threat. He caught fire from deep early and often, hitting 166 threes at a 39.3% clip, while pulling down almost eight rebounds a night (amazingly, split almost evenly between the offensive glass and defensive glass). That kind of year earned Anderson a demotion, as Orlando shipped him out right quick, destination New Orleans. Nevermind though, just watch Anderson continue to be one of the league’s most valuable big men.
- Jason Kidd (New York) – After 18 years in the league and more assists than anyone except John Stockton, Kidd’s career is winding down. He’ll back up Raymond Felton with the Knicks, collect $10 million more and likely have a quiet retirement at the end of the year prior to his induction into the basketball hall of fame a few years down the line.
Oregon State (1)
- Jared Cunningham (Dallas) – While Cunningham is only going to get slightly more minutes with Dallas than he will with the Beavers this season (read: he ain’t going to play a lot), at least the rookie is earning more than $1 million this year. And, once he gets designated to the D-League, he’ll get to enjoy places like Sioux Falls, Fort Wayne, and Canton.
Washington State (1)
- Klay Thompson (Golden State) – With Kyle Weaver recently cut, Thompson is the sole representative for the Cougs in the NBA. And he’ll likely be around for a while. After averaging better than 12 points a game last year, he’s expected to start at the two for the Warriors this season. He’s a great shooter, a solid defender and will get plenty of opportunities in Golden State.