Tracking Gators In The NBA

With the Warriors-Cavaliers Finals coming to an anticlimactic finish, the entry draft concluded and the regular season awards handed out you can finally put a bow on the 2017-2018 NBA season and call it done. There were 9 Florida Gators alumni to suit up for NBA squads this year and I thought I’d run through all of them and show what they were able to accomplish this season for their various squads. Enjoy remembering the Gator careers of these legends while you also see what they accomplished for their clubs this year.

Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards
82 Games Played
22.6 Points Per Game
4.4 Rebounds Per Game
4.5 Assists Per Game

Beal really starred for Washington this past season coming in at 13th in the league in points per game and leading the Wizards for most of the year as point guard John Wall missed 41 games with a knee injury. Taking on more of a role with the ball in his hands as opposed to a spot up shooter like he had mostly been in the past, Beal demonstrated his skills off the dribble and showed he could be a high-level offensive initiator. Augmenting his ability to be a heavily used offensive player he appeared in every single game this season, a testament to his durability. Only 24 years old but with 6 seasons of NBA experience under his belt expect Beal to continue to be a rising star in the league. Though he didn’t receive any All-NBA Team votes he was named his first All-Star team in February. Expect that to be the first of many.

Corey Brewer
Los Angeles Lakers/Oklahoma City Thunder
72 Games Played
5.3 Points Per Game
2.1 Rebounds Per Game
0.9 Assists Per Game

Brewer had a great change of scenery during the season when a buyout from the Lakers allowed him to reunite with Billy Donovan in Oklahoma City. The move to the Thunder bumped his points per game from 3.7 to 10.1, his rebounds per game from 1.7 to 3.4, and his steals per game from 0.8 to a whopping 2.1. Now a veteran with over 800 NBA games under his belt Brewer is a free agent who I think is likely to resign with the Thunder due to their need to have inexpensive but effective role players to fit under their salary cap dominated by the gargantuan contracts of Russell Westbrook and (gulp) Carmelo Anthony. Though Brewer may have declining athleticism at this point of his career he is still a player that can score in transition and provide stretches of solid defense.

Dorian Finney-Smith
Dallas Mavericks
21 Games Played
5.8 Points Per Game
3.6 Rebounds Per Game
1.2 Assists Per Game

Tendinitis in his knee really limited Finney-Smith’s season forcing him to sit out 57 games in the ‘17-‘18 season. When he was in the rotation he provided switchable defensive versatility, the kind that is sought after more than just about anything else in the modern NBA. Though he has provided great defensive value for the Mavericks he has had trouble finding his way offensively in the league so far to this point and his career 29.5% three-point stroke hasn’t helped him stay on the floor as much as the Maverick’s coaching staff would like. If he can improve that jumper I expect him to be utilized more often in the upcoming season.

Udonis Haslem
Miami Heat
14 Games Played
0.6 Points Per game
0.7 Rebounds Per game
0.4 Assists Per Game

Haslem just keeps on ticking. Though he hasn’t played a major role for some time (he has only played 76 games in the last 3 seasons combined) he finds a way to stick on the Miami Heat roster and provide veteran experience, usually from the bench, but sometimes from the floor as well. Undrafted from the Gators, Haslem didn’t let that deter him as he is approaching 1000 games played in the NBA and is still holding on to a valuable roster spot at 38 years old. He just came 3rd in voting for the Twyman-Stokes Teammate Award (behind Manu Ginobili and the winner Jamal Crawford) so his peers clearly love him and see the value he brings. A free agent this summer it’s unclear whether he’ll retire but I’d love to see him keep grinding away in the league for as long as he can and maybe hit that 1000 games mark.

Al Horford
Boston Celtics
72 Games Played
12.9 Points Per Game
7.4 Rebounds Per Game
4.7 Assists Per Game

Named to his 5th NBA All-Star team as well as being placed on the All-NBA Defensive Second Team, it was another tremendous campaign for Al Horford and his incredibly diverse skill set. Tasked with leading his team after freak injuries to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving the Celtics kept humming along to an Eastern Conference Finals with Horford leading a group of mostly unproven first or second year players. A player who has taken a bit of criticism in the past for his lack of scoring punch or domination on the glass it seems like this is the year many fans finally realized Horford’s ability to galvanize a team and make everyone around him better, the true mark of a great player. The Celtics are going to be scary good next season and you can bet Horford will be in the middle of that success.

Joakim Noah
New York Knicks
7 Games Played
1.7 Points Per Game
2 Rebounds Per Game
0.6 Assists Per Game

The last two seasons have not been kind to Joakim Noah.

A bad rotator cuff injury, a violation of the league’s anti-drug policy and a fiery verbal altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek that left Noah benched kept him from ever playing with any regularity and his nearly $40 million owed to him over the next two years is looking like a nightmare for the Knicks’ front office. With a new coach in David Fizdale and the chance to recover from his injury he will hopefully enter next season with some effectiveness as he looks to save his career.

Chandler Parsons
Memphis Grizzlies
36 Games Played
7.9 Points Per Game
2.5 Rebounds Per Game
1.9 Assists Per Game

Parsons is another player that has been bit badly by the injury bug and has the pressure of a massive contract weighing on him. Betrayed by multiple knee injuries the athleticism and foot speed Parsons was once known for has now escaped him for the time being and it only allowed him to appear in 36 games this season and for limited minutes. If there is one thing that is encouraging about his game it’s that he still shot a fantastic 42% from deep and as long as he can shoot the ball well he should still have a role in the league, so long his knee allows him to step on the floor. He’ll be in full rehab mode this offseason to try to claw his way back into a regular role so you can watch for that this summer.

Devin Robinson
Washington Wizards
1 Game Played
2 Points
5 Rebounds

With Robinson only suiting up for one game this season, I couldn’t claim to be an expert on anything he accomplished from a developmental standpoint. So, I consulted Jake Whitacre of Bullets Forever, a Washington Wizards site. Here is what he had to say about Robinson’s year:

Devin Robinson is still a bit of a mystery for most Wizards fans. He never really got a chance to show what he could do because the team had more depth at his position than anywhere else. Between Markieff Morris, Mike Scott, and Otto Porter, there was just no room for him to get playing time on roster this season, so it made a lot of sense for him to spend time in the G-League working on his craft.

He only made one appearance last season, a 13-minute stint in the Wizards’ regular season finale against the Magic. He didn’t do anything that jumped out, but he played within himself and finished with a positive plus/minus on a night when most of the rest of the team struggled.

From what I’ve seen, it feels like he has the athletic tools to make it in the league, but his shooting and ball handling on the perimeter need to get better to earn serious consideration for a spot on the Wizards’ 15-man roster.

I suspect Robinson is still probably a year away from getting consideration for the 15-man roster. However, a better performance at Summer League would help his case. Last season, he was 4-22 from the field and 1-8 from deep.

If he isn’t ready to make the jump this season, I think another season in the G-League will help his development significantly. The Wizards will finally have their own G-League team next season, so they can develop their own plan to help his development and hopefully put him in a position where he can contribute down the road.

You can follow Jake at @jakewhitacre, and you may want updates from him as Chris Chiozza will be playing for the Wizards at the NBA Summer League.

Marreese Speights
Orlando Magic
52 Games Played
7.7 Points Per Game
2.6 Rebounds Per Game
0.8 Assists Per Game

Another league veteran who has found a way to stick in the league, Speights continues to be a bucket-getter who you can sub in at any point and know he can put up points. While many similar players to Speights have seen their roles in the league diminish due to their lack of defensive versatility he has been able to play strong enough in his positioning to make up for the fact he can’t play out on the perimeter too often or block a lot of shots. As long as he has the jump shot Speights should continue to be a rotation player in the league.