2014-15 NBA season begins with 12 former Florida Gators spread across 11 teams

By Adam Silverstein
October 28, 2014

The 2014-15 NBA season tips off on Tuesday night with 12 former Florida Gators on active rosters, tied with Arizona for sixth-most across the league.

Those players are spread out over 11 teams with only the Golden State Warriors employing more than one former Gators star on their roster.

Below is a primer on all 12 Florida players (five starters, seven reserves) ahead of the 2014-15 season.

STARTERS

C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls
Drafted: 2007: 1st round, No. 9 overall pick
Height: 6’11” | Weight: 232 lbs.
Year: Eighth | All-Star: Twice (2013-14)

Already a popular player and stalwart in Chicago, Noah broke through during his seventh season to capture the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and earn nominations to the All-NBA First Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team. He averaged career-highs of 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.2 steals, earning a trip to his second-straight All-Star game in the process. One year after becoming the seventh player in NBA history to record a triple-double with double-digit blocks, Noah became just the fourth center in NBA history to register four triple-doubles consisting of points, rebounds and assists in a single season. He was also the first Bulls player since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (1992-93) to record four in a single season. Noah enters the 2014-15 campaign coming off knee surgery and is expected to be limited at times during the season.

PF/C AL HORFORD, Atlanta Hawks
Drafted: 2007: 1st round, No. 3 overall pick
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 250 lbs.
Year: Eighth | All-Star: Twice (2010-11)

One of the most underrated players in the league, due in large part to his team (Atlanta) and in ability to stay on the court, Horford has become the Hawks’ unquestioned leader and go-to player. In just 29 games last season, the second in three that has been cut short early due to a torn pectoral, Horford averaged a career-high 18.6 points per game on a career-best .567 shooting. Though he has not been selected to an NBA All-Star team since 2001, Horford plans to make his way back this year with his eyes set on a 20-10 average.


PF/C DAVID LEE, Golden State Warriors
Drafted: 2005: 1st round, No. 30 overall pick (New York)
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 245 lbs.
Year: 10th | All-Star: Twice (2010, 2013)

No longer Golden State’s most high-profile player, Lee will nevertheless remain a consistent scorer and effort rebounder in his fifth season with the franchise. His season averages have begun to dip some – due in large part to spending the 2013-14 season recovering from a torn hip flexor – and Lee may miss the Warriors’ season opener with a strained hamstring. When he returns to the court, he will be a key cog in new head coach Steve Kerr’s offense.

F CHANDLER PARSONS, Dallas Mavericks
Drafted: 2011: 2nd round, No. 38 overall pick
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 227 lbs.
Year: Fourth | All-Star: None

Making the move to Dallas after a career season in Houston – highs of 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.2 steals per game – Parsons’s star remains on the rise. The Rockets let him go as a restricted free agent, and Mavericks owner Marc Cuban wasted no time in snatching him up with a three-year, $46 million contract that gives him the highest annual salary of any former Gators basketball player in history. Dallas sees Parsons as a burgeoning star, not a role player, as well as a tremendous locker room presence, which means 2014-15 could be a huge season for the former second-round draft choice.

G BRADLEY BEAL, Washington Wizards
Drafted: 2012: 1st round, No. 3 overall pick
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 207 lbs.
Year: Third | All-Star: None

Set to miss 4-6 weeks while recovering from a stress fracture in his wrist, Beal will return to the court as one of the brightest young stars in the league. Washington, which two weeks ago ensured Beal would remain with the Wizards next season by picking up the fourth year of his rookie contract, badly needs his scoring and dribble penetration as it tries to make a move to the top-tier of an up-for-grabs Eastern Conference. Beal averaged a career-high 17.1 points in 34.7 minutes per game during his second season as a professional; he shot threes at a .402 clip and added 3.7 rebounds as well as 3.3 assists per contest.

RESERVES

F COREY BREWER, Minnesota Timberwolves
Drafted: 2007: 1st round, No. 7 overall pick
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 186 lbs.
Year: Eighth | All-Star: None

In the second of a three-year, $15 million deal with Minnesota, his second stint with the franchise, Brewer is prepared to take a seat on the bench after starting all 81 games for the Timberwolves last season. With rookie Andrew Wiggins expected to start at small forward, Brewer will likely be used as Minnesota’s sixth man, the first substitution in off the bench in most games. He posted 12.3 points per game in 2013-14, the second-highest average of his career (13.0 in 2009-10) but only drained 28 percent of his threes and was neither a consistent rebounder (2.6 per game) nor distributor (1.7 assists).

F MIKE MILLER, Cleveland Cavaliers
Drafted: 2000: 1st round, No. 5 overall pick (Orlando)
Height: 6’8” | Weight: 218 lbs.
Year: 15th | All-Star: None

The 2001 Rookie of the Year and 2006 Sixth Man of the Year is older and slower but still has some gas left in the tank. At least that is what Cleveland and LeBron James happen to believe. After helping Miami to back-to-back NBA titles (2012-13), Miller was released via amnesty clause and spent last season with Memphis. A free agent again in the offseason, he chose to reunite with James on the Cavaliers to the tune of $5.5 million over two seasons. Miller struggled with his three-point stroke during the preseason, and his role with Cleveland remains unsettled as the regular-season slate begins. The longest-tenured former Florida player in the NBA averaged 7.1 points in 20.8 minutes per game last year, his highest totals since 2009-10 and 2010-11, respectively.

PF/C MARREESE SPEIGHTS, Golden State Warriors
Drafted: 2008: 1st round, No. 16 overall pick (Philadelphia)
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 255 lbs.
Year: Seventh | All-Star: None

On his fourth team, Speights appears to have caught on as a permanent reserve for Golden State at the center position. He has displayed an ability to put the ball in the hoop over the course of his career – and is actually a reliable free throw shooter, too – but has only started six contests over the last three seasons. Speights averaged just 6.4 points and 3.7 rebounds and shot a career-best 82.1 percent from the charity stripe in his first with the Warriors.

PG NICK CALATHES, Memphis Grizzlies
Drafted: 2009: 2nd round, No. 45 overall pick (Dallas)
Height: 6’6” | Weight: 213 lbs.
Year: Second | All-Star: None

Entering the NBA as a 24-year-old rookie last season, Calathes finally tried his hand in the league after spending the first five seasons of his professional career overseas in Europe. In the second of a two-year, $1.3 million contract with the franchise, he tried to get out of his deal (paying him $816,482 this season) in order to sign one of many multi-million contract with teams in Europe and Asia. Instead, Memphis chose to keep him in the fold, even as he is suspended for the first 13 games of the season after violating the league’s drug policy last year.

PF/C PATRIC YOUNG, New Orleans Pelicans*
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 240 lbs.
Year: First | All-Star: None

Expected to be a player on the cusp of being a first-round selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, Young fell into the second round and then out of the process altogether as teams picked higher-upside options and stashed international players overseas. He linked up with New Orleans for an NBA Summer League tryout and was guaranteed an invitation to training camp with the franchise. The Pelicans liked what they saw from Young so much during summer league play that they inked him to a non-guaranteed rookie contract; he has since made his way onto the team’s 15-man active roster ahead of the regular season. The 2014 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Young will likely be the fourth center on New Orleans’ roster but has been told he could see significant playing time as the season progresses.

PF UDONIS HASLEM, Miami Heat
Height: 6’8” | Weight: 235 lbs.
Year: 12th | All-Star: None

The second-oldest former Gators player in the league (behind Miller), Haslem has seen his minutes and production steadily decrease over the last five seasons. Not that it matters one bit to the man known as Mr. Miami. Haslem remains in a leadership role inside the Heat locker room, and he is not in danger of going anywhere as he just agreed to take less money in order to re-sign with the franchise for a longer period of time. He may average more than his 14.2 minutes per game from last season, but he is unlikely to crack the 20-minute-per-game barrier.

F MATT BONNER, San Antonio Spurs
Drafted: 2003: 2nd round, No. 45 overall pick (Chicago)
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 235 lbs.
Year: 11th | All-Star: None

The Red Rocket, as he is affectionately known by his fans, will continue to serve as a three-point specialist for San Antonio. He hit 42.9 percent of his threes last season, the fourth-best mark of his long career.

FREE AGENTS

C Vernon Macklin, F Erik Murphy, F Casey Prather*, PG Scottie Wilbekin*

* Rookie

2 Comments

  1. Todd says:

    Matt Bonner. Definitely not the most gifted player, but through hard work and loyalty to the Spurs, he’s carved himself out a nice NBA career.

  2. uf_84 says:

    Quite a testament to Billy D with all these former players in the NBA. Not bad for a coach at a football (Lol) school.

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