Friday April 18, 2014 Nine Gators in NBA playoffs tied for most of any program
Updated: 10:56am, April 19
Updated: 10:56am, April 19
UPDATE: Several hours after this story was posted, reports surfaced Friday night that Memphis Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes, an All-Southeastern Conference player at Florida during the 2008 and '09 seasons, had been suspended by 20 games for violating the league's substance policy. According to a Yahoo! story Saturday, the NBA Players Association will appeal the ruling. In the interim, Calathes will not play for Grizzlies when their series against Oklahoma City opens Saturday, which reduces the Gators in the playoffs to eight (one less than former North Carolina players).
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The NBA playoffs tip off this weekend and guess what college will have the most players suiting up in the postseason?
Well, since you’re reading GatorZone.com ...
That’s right. Out of the 12 former Billy Donovan pupils that played in the NBA this season, nine of them are on teams still playing and competing for the world championship. Only Atlanta’s Al Horford, who will miss the Hawks playoff series against Indiana with a pectoral tear, Minnesota’s Corey Brewer and Erik Murphy, who was waived by Chicago two weeks ago, are sitting the postseason out.
[Note: We’ll say Brewer’s consolation prize was that career night Monday when he blew up for 51 points in a win over Houston]
UF tied the alums-in-postseason count with North Carolina. Duke is next with eight, followed by Kansas, Kentucky and Texas at seven, and Connecticut with six.
Heading into the 2013-14 NBA season, Florida’s 12 players on NBA rosters tied with UConn for the fourth-most of any college program. Kentucky led the way with 22, followed by UNC with 14, then Duke with 13.
Here’s a quick look at the Gators in the playoffs, along with a video at bottom, courtesy of our colleagues at GatorVision, profiling the Donovan and his staff’s impressive track record for sending players to NBA.
* Bradley Beal, forward, Washington Wizards
One of just two Donovan players who took the “one-and-done” route, Beal (pictured above) helped guide the Wizards to their first playoff berth since 2008 in just his second season since being taken No. 3 overall in the 2012 draft. Beal, still only 20 years old, averaged 17.1 points, 3.7 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists and shot 40.2 percent from 3-point range. Beal and point guard John Wall, the former No. 1 overall pick in 2010 out of Kentucky, make up one of the top young backcourts in the league. The Wizards, the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, open their series with the Chicago (and another former Gator) Sunday night.
* Matt Bonner, forward, San Antonio
Now in his ninth season, Bonner still gets some minutes here and there for the Spurs, who finished with the league’s best record and have the top seed in the Western Conference. He averaged 3.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 11.3 minutes in his 61 games this season. San Antonio opens its series with Dallas on Sunday.
* Nick Calathes, guard, Memphis
The rookie who played four seasons in Greece before jumping to the NBA this season came on strong late in the year. Calathes finished the year averaging 4.9 points and nearly three assists per game while shooting nearly 46 percent from the floor. Calathes' first taste of the NBA playoffs comes Saturday at Oklahoma City.
* Udonis Haslem, forward, Miami
He’s certainly not the player he was in his prime -- remember his contributions with Dwayne Wade during the run to the 2006 crown? -- but now 33 and in his 10th season, Haslem has a chance to win a third straight NBA title alongside LeBron James. He only played 14 minutes per game and averaged 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds, but the Heat know they can count on him to do his job. The Heat and Charlotte, making the first playoff appearance in franchise history, are first-round opponents. That series starts Sunday.
* David Lee, forward, Golden State
The loss of center Andrew Bogut to a broken rib makes Lee all the more important to the Warriors in their series against the Los Angeles Clippers. Bogut’s loss takes 7.3 points and 10 rebounds from the Golden State lineup. Lee, the two-time all-star, has better numbers than that (19.2 ppg, 9.3 ppg), but he’ll probably need more than his usual 33 minutes in the playoffs to help offset the missing Bogut.
* Mike Miller, forward, Memphis
In addition to being a Grizzly, he’s the most grizzled of all the Gators’ NBA vets -- with 913 career games (not including the playoffs) over 13 seasons and those back-to-back titles in Miami alongside Haslem, his buddy and former UF teammate. You know what Miller does. He’s just solid and steady: 7.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists in nearly 21 minutes in all 82 games for Memphis (only four starts).
* Joakim Noah, center, Chicago
If there were a second tier of MVP conversations (the one after James and Kevin Durant), Noah would be in them. His second straight all-star season shows 12.6 points per game, 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. Noah (pictured left) likely is headed for a second straight naming to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team. He’s definitely headed for a first-round playoff matchup against Beal. No, the two didn’t play with one another, but their Gator bonds will make for something of a series storyline -- and a lot of interested viewership in the UF coaches offices.
* Chandler Parsons, forward, Houston
The guy’s on the brink of being a superstar -- and a very wealthy one, also. Parsons, the 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year for the Gators, averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals while nailing 37 percent of his 3-point shots. Oh, and he's doing freaking underwear ads now. The Rockets tip their series against Portland at home Sunday night.
* Marreese Speights, forward, Golden State
He’s a key sub off the bench for the Warriors and the aforementioned Bogut situation likely impacts him, too. Speights only started three games this season, averaging 6.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and just over 12 minutes. But the way Golden State and the LA Clippers get up and down the floor, he could be in the middle of some high-scoring action in that series.