NBA season begins, Gators look to make impact

By Adam Silverstein
October 27, 2010

The 2010-11 NBA season tipped off Tuesday night with nine former Florida Gators standouts on professional rosters. Some won National Championships while wearing the Orange & Blue, others went undrafted, but all want to prove that the Florida basketball program has and can produce legitimate NBA stars.

Al Horford, F/C, Atlanta Hawks
2009-10: Averaging career highs in points (14.2), rebounds (9.9), field goal percentage (55.1), free throw percentage (78.9) and minutes (35.1), Horford also contributed 2.3 assists and 1.1 blocks per game last year. For the second-straight season he led his team to the second round of the NBA Playoffs where, like in 2008-09, they were swept.
2010-11: The Godfather was named a captain in Atlanta during the preseason and will be a restricted free agent when the year ends. The Hawks are believed to be making a concerted effort to resign the first-time NBA All-Star and No. 3 overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft to a five-year deal worth $50-60 million.

Joakim Noah, F/C, Chicago Bulls
2009-10: Averaging a double-double with career highs in points (10.7), rebounds (11.0), blocks (1.6), assists (2.1), free throw percentage (74.4) and minutes (30.1), Noah was also good for 2.1 assists per game and shot 50.4 percent from the field. He missed 28 games with a plantar fasciitis injury but regained his form before the playoffs, which saw Chicago fall in the first round.
2010-11: Noah was rewarded by the Bulls for his hard work with a five-year, $60 million extension in the offseason. His defense and shot blocking makes him an elite big man in the league and, with Chicago adding All-Star forward Carlos Boozer to the frontcourt, some of the pressure he felt to do everything for the team defensively may be relived.

David Lee, F/C, Golden State Warriors
2009-10: Averaging a double-double for the second-straight season with the New York Knicks, Lee posted career-highs in points (20.2), assists (3.6), blocks (0.5) and free throw percentage (81.2) along with 11.7 rebounds while shooting 54.5 percent. A fan favorite who was a victim of circumstance due to the blockbuster free agents available this summer, Lee was moved to the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade.
2010-11: Agreeing a six-year, $80 million contract with Golden State, Lee will once again play for an up-tempo offense in which he will be able to shine. Though he will not be relied upon as heavily with the Warriors as he was with the Knicks, Lee will have ample opportunities to showcase his talent on the left coast.

Profiles for six more former Gators basketball players…after the jump!

Udonis Haslem, PF, Miami Heat
2009-10: Averaged 9.9 points and 8.0 rebounds on 49.4 percent shooting in 27.9 minutes; did not start a single game for the first time in his NBA career. Miami fell in the first round of the playoffs.
2010-11: Haslem will continue to be a team captain while playing a reserve role this year as the Heat boosted its roster in the offseason with the additions of forwards LeBron James and Chris Bosh. He turned down significantly more financially lucrative contracts over the summer to remain with his hometown team on a new five-year, $20 million deal.

Mike Miller, G/F, Miami Heat
2009-10: Averaged 10.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists on 50.1 percent shooting in 33.4 minutes; missed 28 games with a shoulder injury.
2010-11: The former fifth overall pick and 2001 Rookie of the Year will play for his fifth team in his 11th NBA season. Having fractured his thumb and tore a ligament during the preseason, he will come off the bench as the Heat’s sixth man and a three-point shooting specialist once he returns in Jan. Miller signed a five-year, $30 million free agent contract with Miami over the summer to play with his friend James.

Corey Brewer, G/F, Minnesota Timberwolves
2009-10: Averaged career-highs in points (13.0), assists (2.4), steals (1.4), field goal percentage (43.1) and minutes (30.3) while contributing 3.4 rebounds and starting every game one season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.
2010-11: Though he is still finding his groove in the pros, Brewer hopes to become a more consistent shooter this season. His playing time may be diminished with the addition of forward Michael Beasley, but he tried to prove to coaches over the summer that he can also be effective playing shooting guard.

Marreese Speights, F/C, Philadelphia 76ers
2009-10: Averaged career-highs in points (8.6), rebounds (4.1), steals (0.5), blocks (0.5), assists (0.6) and minutes (16.4) while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 74.5 percent from the line; missed 20 games with a knee injury and played worse upon his return to the team.
2010-11: In his third year in the league, Speights is expected to see even more playing time and is competing for a starting spot in the frontcourt. He showed some promise early last season but the knee injury severely diminished his impact with Philadelphia.

Jason Williams, PG, Orlando Magic
2009-10: Averaged career-lows in points (6.0), assists (3.6), rebounds (1.6), steals (0.6) and minutes (20.8) in a back-up role. Originally agreed to a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers but retired from the NBA in Sept. before signing with the Magic in Aug. Started 18 games for the injured Jameer Nelson but participated in all 82 shooting 44.4 percent from the field, 38.0 percent from three and 75.6 percent from the line. Orlando reached the Eastern Conference Finals but fell to the Boston Celtics 4-2.
2010-11: With the Magic signing point guard Chris Duhon in the offseason to back-up Nelson, Williams’ role this year has been diminished even further after he signed a one-year, $1.35 million contract. He is the team’s third option to run the floor but hopes to see the court as he believes he can still play at a high level.

Matt Bonner, F/C, San Antonio Spurs
2009-10: Averaged 7.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.4 blocks while shooting 44.6 percent from the field, 39.0 percent from three and 72.9 percent from the free throw line in 17.9 minutes. Started eight games and played in 65 for the Spurs who were swept in the second round of the playoffs.
2010-11: Signed a four-year, $16 million contract with San Antonio in the offseason and will remain a reserve.

5 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    Haslem should not be on this list. He used to be my favorite Gator, but he made it very clear where his loyalties lie. Excommunicated from Gator Nation!

  2. Jonathan Stefanopoulos (Jstef15) says:

    Who is the player between Jwill and Bonner in the pictures? Good luck to all of the former Gators! Here is to much success in the future and that they continue on the past sucess…

    Is C-Rich currently on a team?

    Go Gators!

    JS

  3. Jonathan Stefanopoulos (Jstef15) says:

    Thanks Adam… I was confused…

    Joe:
    He can root for Miami Football.. He hasn’t forgotten about Billy D. and the bball program though, that is where his loyalties really are. Why does he have to like the football program?

  4. SaraGator says:

    This list is a testament of Coach Donovan’s coaching skills and ability to shape young kids to men.

    Thank you for this list, Adam.

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