Wildcat fans know that Arizona is one of the top producers of NBA talent in all of college basketball, as the program has routinely pumped out pro talent over the last few decades. Here’s a rundown of the Wildcats’ twelve active alumni and their prospects for the 2014-15 NBA season.
Jerryd Bayless, Milwaukee Bucks- Bayless has bounced around the NBA a little bit since being drafted in 2008, the Bucks being his 6th franchise. Bayless enters a situation with little roster clarity in Milwaukee, though he’ll be playing behind Brandon Knight, Kendall Marshall, and Nate Wolters at point guard. Bayless has an opportunity to get some minutes at shooting guard as well, where he will compete with young star Giannis Antetokounmpo and former USC Trojan OJ Mayo.
Chase Budinger, Minnesota Timberwolves- Hampered by injuries over the last two seasons, Budinger is now fully healthy and poised to play a big role on the wing for the Timberwolves. With All-Star Kevin Love gone from Minnesota, Budinger could be relied on more to hit perimeter shots. He will likely play a significant role backing up starters Kevin Martin and #1 NBA Draft pick Andrew Wiggins, who was acquired in the Love trade.
Channing Frye, Orlando Magic- Frye signed a lucrative four year, 32 million dollar contract in free agency, leaving Phoenix for Orlando. Just one year removed from missing the 2012 season due to heart issues, Frye is now poised to play a starting role for a young Magic team. With perimeter shooting as their biggest need, Frye should see heavy minutes for his crucial floor spacing ability.
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic- Orlando welcomed another Wildcat to their roster this offseason when they selected Gordon 4th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. While Gordon initially appeared as though he could play big minutes at both forward spots, the addition of Frye will cut down his minutes at the power forward while Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless man the small forward spot. It may take Gordon awhile before he is given a significant role in his rookie season.
Jordan Hill, Los Angeles Lakers- Entering his 6th pro season, Hill is on the verge of a major breakout. With Pau Gasol in Chicago instead of LA, Hill is now the Lakers’ best interior player and will log heavy minutes as the starting center. Hill was already coming on strong toward the end of last season, averaging 16.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in the month of April. On a Lakers team devoid of talent outside of Kobe Bryant and Carlos Boozer, Hill could be in store for a monster season.
Solomon Hill, Indiana Pacers- After being selected in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft, Solomon Hill didn’t see much action on the bench of a deep Pacers roster. Indiana was also in win-now mode last season, which didn’t allow room for Hill’s development. However things are very different this year, as star SG Paul George was lost for the season on a brutal injury in international competition. And one of last year’s breakout players, guard/forward Lance Stephenson, left in free agency. That leaves Hill as the first small forward off the bench behind CJ Miles, who does not have a secure grasp on the starting position. With Indiana looking like less of a title contender this season, management could choose to develop Hill more and use his versatility in different spots on the court.
Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors- A hamstring injury derailed much of Iguodala’s 13-14 season as a Warrior, as he never looked healthy after returning from the injury. Instead of playing with Team USA in FIBA play, Iguodala opted to rest and enter the season as healthy as possible. Golden State welcomes new coach Steve Kerr, who along with Iguodala gives the team a distinct Wildcat flair.
Richard Jefferson, Dallas Mavericks- As one of the elder statesmen among Wildcats in the NBA, Jefferson was yet another ex-Cat who changed teams this offseason. Jefferson signed a one year deal with the Mavericks, though he doesn’t figure to play a part in the rotation. Jefferson’s contract gives Dallas financial flexibility next year while also giving them a veteran player to mentor their latest big signing in Florida’s Chandler Parsons.
Grant Jerrett, Oklahoma City Thunder- After playing stints with the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the franchise chose to reward Jerrett with a multi-year contract. Though Jerrett is still likely a few years away from being able to play meaningful minutes for OKC, this is a sign that the front office may be willing to bring him along slowly.
Nick Johnson, Houston Rockets- Johnson was awesome in Summer League play, making him appear to be one of the biggest second round steals in last year’s draft. His stellar play resulted in a three year contract, and the team’s decision to trade Jeremy Lin opened up a lot of minutes at the point guard position. Patrick Beverly will be the starter, but the backup spot is unclear and Johnson’s defensive ability makes him an ideal fit next to James Harden.
Jason Terry, Houston Rockets- After vocalizing his displeasure at playing his last few years for a rebuilding franchise like Sacramento, Terry got his wish with a recent trade to Houston. Terry joins Johnson in providing backcourt depth, but his role may be more on the mentoring side than on the court. Terry could also provide an experienced guard to bolster the Rockets’ postseason run, where they lacked experience last year.
Derrick Williams, Sacramento Kings- Williams’ NBA career has been tough sledding so far, finding himself buried on the bench behind talented players in both Minnesota and Sacramento. Though he has had occasional flashes of brilliance, an inconsistent role has resulted in inconsistent production and next year appears to be more of the same unless Williams is traded. Of all the players on this list, Williams is the most likely to be linked in trade rumors.