As far as I can tell, I'm one of only a handful of NBA fans here on RCT. Still, even if you aren't big on the NBA, I know most KU fans like to have some idea of how our former players fare at the next level.
Currently, KU has 12 players in the NBA, and another two in the D-League. At first that number felt a little low to me, but for a frame of reference, as of the beginning of this season, only five schools had more players in the league: Arizona, UConn, UNC, Duke, and UCLA. Not bad.
After the jump, your Jayhawks in the NBA, and their performance so far this seasonJulian Wright - We'll start with the two D-Leaguers first. There are no stats to report for Wright, because he hasn't been playing this year. He was just signed by the Austin Toros (Spurs' D League squad) this week, and has yet to play a game. Wright's athleticism earned him a lot of money and a big draft night, but he's never developed the basketball skills to succeed at the next level. Over the course of his four year NBA career, he averages just 3.9 PPG and 2.3 RPG in about 13 minutes per game, and has never started more than 19 times in a season.
Brady Morningstar - Morningstar has been a bit of a surprise this season. He has yet to crack an NBA roster, but no one really expected him to play as well as he has even in the D League. Brady has started 20 games for the Tulsa 66ers, averaging over 11 points per contest, shooting 40% from three, and generating over a steal per game. He also posts a respectable 1.65:1 assist:TO ratio. Not huge numbers, but definitely solid. I wouldn't say it's out of the questions that he earns a spot on the back end of an NBA roster at some point.
Cole Aldrich (7.8 MPG, 2.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG) - Oklahoma City Thunder - I've been a bit surprised by Cole's struggle to adapt to the NBA game. Post men generally take a big longer to develop at the next level, but I felt like Aldrich might be able to contribute immediately on defense while his offensive game came around. As it turns out, he has a hard time finding the court at all. True, he plays on arguably the best team in the NBA, so it's not an easy lineup to crack, but all he sees as of right now is mop-up duty.
Darrell Arthur - Memphis Grizzlies - Sadly, Arthur has missed the entire season due to an achilles tendon injury, and likely won't return until next season. Last year, Arthur had developed into a reliable post man for the up-and-coming Grizzlies as their first big off the bench. Hopefully he'll return to form quickly once he returns.
Mario Chalmers (11.1 PPG, 3.6 APG, 1.3 SPG, 46% 3P%, 65% eFG%) - Miami Heat - Chalmers has started every game for the Heat as a kind of modified point guard (Wade and LeBron are frequently the ones setting the offense). Chalmers made his first appearance in the NBA 3 Point Competition this year, and with good reason. Mario's 46% mark from behind the arc and 65% eFG are both good for 6th in the NBA (that eFG for a guard is incredible). At one time, people wondered how and even if Mario would make it in the league without a true position, but he found a team and system that work perfectly for him. He'll likely never be an All-Star, but he's turned into an efficient scorer who plays fantastic defense.
Nick Collison (4.5 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.3 APG, 20.5 MPG) - OKC Thunder - Collison continues to be what he has been throughout his career in the league - a good role player. On any given night he could score 15 or grab 12 boards, but for the most part he's a durable big who gives the team solid defensive minutes.
Drew Gooden (12.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 24.3 MPG) - Milwaukee Bucks - Gooden's stint with the Bucks started midway through last season, and marked his 11th new destination in just 8 years in the league. Despite the frequent trades, Gooden is a solid big man and his numbers this year are pretty representative of what he's been throughout his career. He's not a Hall-of-Famer by any means, but a physical guy who knows how to score from the post and will fight for rebounds.
Xavier Henry (4.3 PPG, 13.1 MPG) - New Orleans Hornets - It's hard to get a good read on what Henry will be in the NBA because he's been unable to remain healthy. After playing in just 38 games last year, Memphis traded him to New Orleans, where he has only appeared in 16, mostly after games are out of reach (which is almost every game for the Hornets this year). Hopefully he'll stay well long enough at some point to really show the league what he's capable of.
Kirk Hinrich (4.9 PPG, 2.6 APG, 19.9 MPG) - Atlanta Hawks - Hinrich is another Jayhawk who's been bitten by the injury bug this year. With the NBA lockout and shortened offseason workouts, injuries have been a pretty big issue throughout the league. Now that he's healthy, Hinrich has already begun seeing some more minutes and increased production. Kirk has been in the league long enough that everyone knows what he brings to the table: great hustle, good defense, good shooting and excellent basketball IQ.
Markieff Morris (7.9 PPG, 5 RPG, .7 BPG, .8 SPG, 40% 3P, 20.5 MPG) - Phoenix Suns - Markieff is having a solid rookie season and even had the opportunity to play in the annual Rising Stars game over the All-Star Break. Kieff was drafted by the right team, as Phoenix runs a system that allows their bigs to get out and shoot. Kieff has put up 77 3 point attempts and hit a very respectable 40% of them. He's also grabbing some rebounds and playing good defense. Big men tend to make the biggest strides in their first 3 or 4 years in the league, so Markieff has the potential to end up an outstanding player.
Marcus Morris (3 games, 17 minutes played) - Houston Rockets - How Marcus and Markieff's rookie seasons have gone in such wildly different directions is a bit of a mystery. Marcus has been shuffled back and forth from the bottom of the Rockets' NBA roster to the the D League numerous times, and has only found the court in three NBA games. Part of the problem is likely fit with the team. For Houston, the players listed on their roster as power forwards or centers have combined to attempt 9 threes this season (4 of those coming from Marcus himself). Given Marcus' tendency to be more of a post/perimeter type of player, Houston is likely just not running a system he can excel in at this point in his development. It's disheartening, but given his brother's early success, there's no reason to believe Marcus won't find his way to playing meaningful minutes.
Paul Pierce (17.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.2 SPG) - Boston Celtics - After a slow start due to injury, the likely Hall of Fame-bound Pierce is returning to form. At 34 years old, Pierce is on the downward slope of his career in terms of quickness and athleticism, but is adapting his game nicely. Pierce is on pace to set a career high for assists per game as he steps back just a bit from the playmaker role he's held for years. Earlier this season, Pierce passed Larry Bird for 2nd on the Celtics' all-time scoring leaders list.
Brandon Rush (8.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 52% 3P%, 24.4 MPG) - Golden State Warriors - Rush was strangely snubbed from the NBA's 3 point competition this year, despite leading the league in the category, and being one of only two players shooting over 50%. Rush was traded from Indiana this offseason, and though he's started just one game, he's found a nice niche as a 6th man who can knock down some shots and provide good defense.
Josh Selby (2.9 PPG, 1.4 APG, 10.3 MPG) - Memphis Grizzlies - Though many Jayhawk fans still maintain Selby had no business leaving after last year, he's already surpassed my expectations in some ways by averaging 10 minutes per game across 18 contests. After Selby fell to the 49th pick in the draft, I assumed he would be a D League writeoff this season. While he has spent some time there, he's also filled in at guard as the Grizzlies have worked their way through a number of injury problems. He hasn't dazzled the statsheet by any means, but the fact that he has already been put in a position to contribute so early speaks to the untapped talent Selby possesses.