This is the second of five weekly posts that rank the NBA careers of former Jayhawks. Last week had a decidedly 1990’s feel to it when we ranked the 21st through 25th best KU players to grace the NBA hardwood, and today we’ll discuss the players ranked #16-20. As the rankings are unveiled, there are sure to be some controversies, so please have at it in the comments section if you disagree. Here’s the list that we started last week:
25. Jacque Vaughn
24. Bud Stallworth
23. Scot Pollard
22. Greg Ostertag
21T. Brandon Rush
21T. Darrell Arthur
20. Marcus Morris
Marcus Morris just finished his fourth season in the NBA and will likely move up this list if he continues at his current pace. Marcus was drafted with the 14th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets, but his stint in Houston was short lived. After playing just 17 total games with the Rockets, Marcus was traded to the Phoenix Suns and was reunited with his brother Markieff (see below). His career has taken off since joining the Suns, and Marcus had his best season statistically in 2014-15. He averaged 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds last year. Over his career, he currently stands at 8.9 points and 3.9 boards per game.
19. Ronald Franz
Who? I didn’t know who he was either, but this 1967 KU graduate makes the list not for his NBA career, but rather his ABA career (and if you’re mad about him being included, I sneakily ranked two players at #21, so you can adjust the list accordingly). It can be argued that the ABA was the NBA equivalent for a portion of its history, and since Franz’s career overlaps the most famous ABA alum Julius Erving by a few years, I’m counting him. Over his six-year career with the Oakland Oaks, New Orleans Buccaneers, (Miami) Floridians, Memphis Tams, and Dallas Chaparrals, Franz averaged 11.7 points and 5.3 rebounds.
18. Ben McLemore
Ben McLemore is a name that will certainly shoot up this list once he gets a few more seasons in the NBA under his belt. Ben has only played two seasons in the association, but they have been productive. Since being drafted by the Sacramento Kings with the seventh pick of the 2013 NBA draft, McLemore has dropped an average of 12.7 points and grabbed 3.5 rebounds per game. He’s got one more year left on his three-year rookie contract, and after that, it will be quite interesting to see the path that McLemore’s career takes. He has the tools to be a top NBA performer and is one of the best on this list if he reaches his potential.
17. Markieff Morris
Markieff Morris was taken with the 13th pick of the 2011 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns and has played his entire career in the desert. He was picked one spot ahead of his brother in the draft but is three places ahead of Marcus in these rankings. Solid from the start, Markieff has really come on in the past two seasons. In 2013-14, he averaged 13.8, and this past NBA season, he saw his points per game average balloon to 15.3. He started all 82 games for Phoenix last year and his star is clearly on the rise. There is little doubt that Markieff will be one of the ten best KU players in NBA history if he keeps this up.
16. Walt Wesley
Walt Wesley makes it to this spot in the rankings because of longevity. At least three of the players ranked below him will likely move past him as time rolls on, but right now, he’s a solid #16. Through ten years with the Cincinnati Royals, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, Capital Bullets, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Lakers, he averaged 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in 590 career games. He was the sixth overall pick in the 1966 draft by the Royals, but his best season didn’t come until 1970-71 with Cleveland when he averaged 17.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest.
Next week, we reveal numbers 11-15.