The shortened 2011-12 NBA season is set to tip-off on Sunday with 10 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
– 2010-11: Averaging career highs in points (15.3), field goal percentage (.557), assists (3.5) and minutes (35.1), Horford also contributed 9.3 rebounds and 1.0 block per game last year. He led his team to the second round of the playoffs for the third-straight season; nlike the previous two years, the Hawks were not swept but rather fell 4-2.
– 2011-12: The Godfather was named a captain in Atlanta one year ago and wound up earning his second-straight NBA All-Star nod as a reserve. The Hawks resigned him to a five-year, $60 million extension in Nov. 2010, and he enters this season as one of the team’s two best and most popular players.
Joakim Noah, C, Chicago Bulls
– 2010-11: Averaging a double-double with career highs in points (11.7), field goal percentage (.525), assists (2.2) and minutes (32.8), Noah was also good for 10.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steal per game. He only played in 48 games due to having two surgeries for ligament damage in his hand and a right thumb injury but helped lead Chicago to the conference finals where the Bulls lost 4-1 in five games.
– 2011-12: Noah was rewarded by Chicago for his hard work with a five-year, $60 million extension last offseason. His defense and shot blocking makes him an elite big man in the league and he will be a key piece for the Bulls this season as they hope to earn a spot in the NBA Finals.
David Lee, F/C, Golden State Warriors
– 2010-11: Falling just short of a double-double average aver accomplishing that feat in consecutive seasons with the New York Knicks, Lee contributed 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.0 steal per game in 36.1 minutes on average last season. He shot 50.7 percent from the floor and 78.7 percent from the line in 73 games after missing nine due to an elbow injury that got infected.
– 2011-12: Lee agreed to a six-year, $80 million contract with Golden State after being traded from New York before last season and shined as a efficient big man in an up-tempo offense. His numbers fell because he was not relied upon as heavily with the Warriors, but he should have ample opportunities to showcase his talent.
Read the rest of OGGOA’s 2011-12 NBA Preview…after the break!
Udonis Haslem, PF, Miami Heat
– 2010-11: Averaged 8.0 points and 8.2 rebounds on 51.2 percent shooting in 26.5 minutes; did not start a single game for the second-straight year and only participated in 13 regular season contests before suffering a Lisfranc fracture in his foot. Haslem was named a team captain for being a veteran leader in Miami who accepted a reserve role and turned down significantly more financially lucrative contracts to remain with his hometown team. He was able to return for the playoffs and played 24.2 minutes per game averaging 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds.
– 2011-12: Haslem returns in a reserve role and is expected to be named a team captain once again. The Heat are looking to return to the NBA Finals and capture their first title since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the team.
Mike Miller, G/F, Miami Heat
– 2010-11: Averaged 5.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while shooting the worst he has in his career (40.1 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from downtown, 67.6 percent from the free throw line). Started two contests in 41 games played, missing 41 contests throughout the season with a nagging thumb injury that was fractured and torn during the preseason.
– 2011-12: Fully healthy over the summer and hoping to be a big-time contributor for Miami this year, Miller had hernia surgery just as the NBA lockout was ending and is expected to miss the first few weeks. He will join the team in a reserve role, serving as a three-point specialist who the Heat hopes will help spread the floor.
Corey Brewer, G/F, Denver Nuggets
– 2010-11: Averaged 8.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.6 steals in 56 games (22 starts) while playing 24.3 minutes per contest with Minnesota before being traded to New York as part of the deal for Carmelo Anthony. Brewer was then waved and signed by the Dallas Mavericks, where he played in 13 games (two starts) and averaged just 5.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 0.8 steals in 11.4 minutes per game.
– 2011-12: Brewer was traded to Denver in the offseason and is still trying to find his groove in the pros. He has continued to work on his consistency both from the field and downtown while playing solid defense and being an effective player when he gets on the court. Brewer won a NBA title with the Mavs last year and joins a Nuggets team that lost 4-1 in five games in the first round of the playoffs.
Marreese Speights, C, Philadelphia 76ers
– 2010-11: Averaged career-lows in points (5.4), rebounds (3.3) and blocks (0.3) while playing five fewer minutes per game (11.5) than he did in 2009-10. Speights shot 49.5 percent from the field and 75.3 percent from the line and only played in 64 of 82 games being deactivated often on coach’s decisions.
– 2011-12: There was talk that Speights might be traded in his fourth year with Philadelphia, but the 76ers wound up retaining him with hopes that he continues to develop. Speights was showing some promise early in the 2009 season before a knee injury slowed him down and diminished his contribution level with Philly.
Matt Bonner, F/C, San Antonio Spurs
– 2010-11: Averaged 7.3 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 46.4 percent from the field, 45.7 percent from three and 74.4 percent from the line in 21.7 minutes – all numbers improved from the previous season.
– 2011-12: Bonner signed a four-year, $16 million contract with San Antonio prior to the 2009-10 campaign and continues to serve as a reserve for the Spurs, which fell 4-2 in the first round of the playoffs last year.
Chandler Parsons, F, Houston Rockets
– 2011-12: The No. 38 overall pick in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft, Parsons spent some of his offseason in France playing for Cholet Bakset before returning to the United States to join his team. He signed a four-year, $3.7 million contract with Houston with the first two years of the deal guaranteed and additional conditional guarantees available in the final two seasons. The 2011 SEC Player of the Year, Parsons averaged 11.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 34.1 minutes per game with the Gators while shooting 48.0 percent from the floor and 36.8 percent from downtown. He will have to work hard for time at forward with the Rockets seeing as there are currently five players in front of him for playing time.
Vernon Macklin, PF, Detroit Pistons
– 2011-12: The No. 52 overall pick in the second round of the draft, Macklin signed a standard rookie contract with Denver and was able to spend the entire shortened offseason practicing with the Pistons. He averaged 11.6 points and 5.4 boards in 24.5 minutes per game with Florida while shooting 59.3 percent from the field and a paltry 45.1 percent from the line. Macklin will be at the end of the bench for Detroit, which features a deep frontcourt, and may not see much playing time in his rookie campaign.