Monday, November 23, 2009

Bruins in the NBA

Most of any school in history, UCLA has had 102 players drafted into the NBA and 74 players play in the NBA.

Currently, UCLA has more players in the NBA than any other school (tied with Duke) so I thought I'd list who they are in chronological order of when they went to the draft.

Baron Davis - 1999, 1st round, #3 - I can't believe he's the oldest Bruin in the NBA.  He's probably still the most talented and most successful player of the group.  I will never forget the dunk from just inside the free throw line on the UDubb center, then turning and jogging past me as I practically had a seizure in the 1st row.

Earl Watson - 2001, 2nd round, #40 - Though he's the same year as Baron, he stayed and started every game for 4 years to become a UCLA legend in his own right.  He's been a reliable role player in the NBA.

Dan Gadzuric 2002, 2nd round, #34 - The 7 foot "Flying Dutchman" was rumored to be among the fastest players end to end on the court.  Maybe not the quickest learner, he's figured out how to rebound and block shots.

Matt Barnes 2002, 2nd round, #46 - Self-proclaimed "Sactown's finest", this versatile forward blossomed his senior season into a good jump shooter and used it to springboard into a productive NBA career as a journeyman.

Jason Kapono 2003, 2nd round, #31 - Perhaps the best pure shooter in the NBA, he won back to back 3 point shootout contests.

Trevor Ariza 2004, 2nd round, #44 - Everyone, including new UCLA coach Howland, thought that Ariza was making the wrong decision when he declared after his freshman year.  He lucked out since NY didn't have a 1st round pick and made him their rookie project.  One of 2 players on this list to win a ring.

Jordan Farmar 2006, 1st round, #26 - The first 1st rounder from UCLA since Baron Davis in 99 (a shocking fact for a tradition rich college powerhouse like UCLA), Farmar won a ring as a backup.  This marks the beginning of a series of 1st round picks.

Ryan Hollins 2006, 2nd round, #50 - Under Howland's tutelage, this lanky 7 footer emerged in the tourney, helped UCLA to get to the championship game and now has a good career as a backup center.

Arron Afflalo 2007, 1st round, #27 - A 3 year starter at UCLA, he was picked 1st round for his defensive mentality and tremendous work ethic.

Russell Westbrook 2008, 1st round, #4 - An athletic revelation his sophomore year, Westbrook was selected higher than any Bruin since Baron Davis and given the reigns to a rebuilding Thunder squad.

Kevin Love 2008, 1st round, #5 - The best big man UCLA has had in over a decade left UCLA after 1 season.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute 2008, 2nd round, #37 - A hardworking, versatile, defensive-minded glue guy, he definitely earned his place into the NBA.

Jrue Holiday 2009, 1st round, #17 - The 2nd consecutive top ranked prep player to leave UCLA after just 1 year.  He could've been drafted in the lottery had he stayed 1 more year.

Darren Collison 2009, 1st round, #21 - Continuing the great recent tradition of UCLA point guards, Collison surprised many by staying for his senior season and then again surprised many by being drafted in the 1st round.  He has shown his ability to produce at the NBA level in Chris Paul's absence.  Having taken us to 2 Final Fours, he will always be a legend to me.

Other players who were drafted or played in the NBA during my time there include:

Jelani McCoy 1998, 2nd round, #33 - he only had a skill: shot blocking, but he did it really well.

Toby Bailey 1998, 2nd round, #45 - he was good at all things, great at none.

JR Henderson 1998, 2nd round, #56 - a PF with the body of a SF.

Jerome Moiso 2000, 1st round, #11 - tall, lanky, skilled PF who likely didn't have the mental toughness to make it.

Dijon Thompson 2005, 2nd round, #54 - a supremely talented scorer who never looked like he wanted to play defense.

Ray Young 2005, Free Agent - Looked and played more like a linebacker than a guard, he had raw  athleticism but never any skills to make it.

Cedric Bozeman 2006, Free Agent - a highly touted PG coming out of HS, he never fulfilled the promise he showed.  Like Hollins, he did emerge as a productive college player his senior year but his lack of scoring ability hindered his dreams of NBA stardom.

While there are 14 current players in the NBA, there are really only perhaps 3 bonafide starters (Baron, Westbrook and Love).

Its also interesting to note that out of Lavin's 11 recruits that have played or are playing in the NBA, only 2 were drafted in the 1st round (Baron and Moiso).  7 of those 11 are still in in the NBA (Baron, Watson, Gadzuric, Barnes, Kapono, Ariza, Hollins).  You could argue that 3 - Ariza, Hollins and Bozeman developed under Howland's coaching.

In contrast, Howland has 7 first rounders and 1 second rounder in just 6 years of recruiting and coaching (not including the aforementioned Ariza, Hollins and Bozeman).  The last 2 years, UCLA has lost 5 players to the NBA while only Darren Collison left as a senior.  This accounts for the down year UCLA is currently experiencing.  Can you imagine a lineup right now with Love, Westbrook and Holiday (plus Michael Roll and Drew Gordon)?

Jim Harrick, who won our 1995 championship, recruited the 3 players who all played as seniors during my freshman year - McCoy, Bailey and Henderson.

Just for fun lineups:

Lavin's best 5 (still in the NBA, sorry Moiso):
Baron, Ariza, Kapono, Barnes, Gadzuric

Howland's best 5:
Collison, Farmar, Westbrook, Moute, Love

Best Five:
Baron, Westbrook, Kapono, Moute, Love

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