Baylor has put a satisfactory number of players into the NBA, but none have met with particular success just yet. Some have struggled to find roster spots, while those who have made rosters have struggled to play meaningful minutes. The NBA is a tough league. An average NBA career is something like three years, a very high turnover rate for any profession. Each season there are only a handful of stars, and minutes are tough to come by as coaches search out players who can contribute to winning despite playing just 8-15 minutes a game.
This summer has been particularly tough for former Baylor Bears. They have been traded, cut, and picked up on the cheap by teams who have no real intentions of winning basketball games. If you're not in the thick of the NBA news cycle, it is almost impossible to keep track of where all our favorite former players are and how they're doing.
To help you out, I'll break down which Bears are on the rise, which are moving sideways, and which can be expected to find employ outside the NBA in the near future.
After tearing his achilles in the Orlando Summer League last year, Jackson made his return to the Philadelphia 76ers summer roster in Vegas. In the games I caught, he had a little rust to knock off, but looked fine overall. He still has a quick shooting motion on his outside shot, an uncanny ability to score at the rim, despite his 5' 10' stature, by getting into the body of much taller defenders, and isn't a total liability on defense. His best skill, though, might have been his lob passing, whether in the half court to big guys or tossing the ball ahead in transition. Jackson laid out some really pretty passes to teammates that led to easy points. Jackson's size will always be an issue, but he has incredible athleticism and enough knack for the game that he might find a regular rotation spot despite his short comings.
Sam Hinkie, general manager of the 76ers, agrees, signing Jackson to a 4-year partially guaranteed deal that guarantees $750,000 in the first season, a good indication that he will make the final roster cuts for the regular season team. Now, the 76ers aren't much more than a glorified D-League team at this point, but they are beginning to accrue real talent, and this will be Jackson's opportunity to show what he can do against NBA players after lighting up the D-League the year before.
At 23, Jackson still has time to grow into a regular NBA player. In my opinion, he has the best shot of any former Bear at making a real impact in the NBA.
It's been a torrid career for Acy so far. In just three seasons, Acy has played on three different teams, this summer rejoining the Sacramento Kings after New York declined to return him as a free agent. In the 2013-14 season, Acy was part of the packaging in the Rudy Gay trade from the Toronto Raptors to the Kings, and then was traded the following offseason from the Kings to the New York Knicks in one of the least consequential moves of that summer.
Last season, Acy earned nearly 19 minutes a game for the Knicks, which was perhaps the worst team in the league (yes, worse than Philly). He was okay in those minutes (5.9 points and 4.4 rebounds), but nothing really special. He was fortunate to get picked up at all this summer, even if it was by the team that has recently attempted to steal the title of "Train Wreck Franchise" away from the Knicks. He signed to a minimum contract, a low-risk move by the Kings. Sacramento, generally speaking, is familiar with Acy's game, even if the franchise has seen enormous turnover in its coaching staff and front office. Head coach George Karl has been known to favor springy, undersized power forwards, such as Kenneth Faried in Denver, so perhaps this will be Acy's best chance to stick somewhere.
Most importantly, Acy elicited this tweet from franchise player DeMarcus Cousins:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Franchise back!!!! <a href="https://twitter.com/QuincyAcy">@QuincyAcy</a> welcome home! </p>— DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) <a href="https://twitter.com/boogiecousins/status/623335515790520320">July 21, 2015</a></blockquote>
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What more endorsement can one earn, really?
Perry Jones III
Jones has a smattering of believers still left on the internet, and last season looked like it would vindicate their patient faith. For a three-game run at the end of October/beginning of November, Jones averaged 22.6 points in grand style when both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were out with injury for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Against the Los Angeles Clippers, Jones scored 32 points in 41 minutes, joined by Serge Ibaka and Sebastian Telfair (??) as the only Thunder players to reach double digits in an exciting 3 point loss. It looked as though things had finally clicked for Jones, a tantalizing talent who seems to have trouble understanding how to play basketball. But then he suffered his own injury and tallied 13 straight DNPs. Once the Thunder returned their talent, Jones never saw his role return.
This offseason, the Thunder included Jones as part of a salary dump to the Boston Celtics, an intriguing landing spot for an enigma like Jones. Head Coach Brad Stevens is lauded as one of the most creative coaches in the league, and their wide-open offensive system would seem to be a much better fit for a young athlete than the stodgy offense of Oklahoma City. However, such a system will also require Jones to understand how to move within that space, something he has struggled to do throughout his career. This is likely the make-or-break moment for him in the NBA. If it doesn't work out in Boston, it likely won't work out anywhere.
Jones has 1 year remaining on his contract, a $2M team option. There is the chance that he is cut before the season even starts, but he's the type of player Boston GM Danny Ainge likes to take a flyer on. I like his chances to make the regular season roster.
For that brief, glimmering moment when DeAndre Jordan was committed to the Dallas Mavericks, the Clippers were left to choose between Udoh and Glenn Davis as the only starting center options on the roster, and quite a few prominent NBA analysts were calling it a disaster for the Clips. Plenty were also suggesting that Davis would be the better option over Udoh. Not great.
Udoh appeared in just 33 games for the Clippers last season, totaling a mere 128 total minutes. He failed to average more than 1 in any of the major statistical categories. Not great.
A free agent this summer, Udoh has yet to find a new home. Time yet remains, but there is little buzz surrounding him, and he is likely to sign for the minimum, if he signs at all. Not great.
But hey, he'll always have his incredible social media book club. Now that's great.
Drafted in 2012 by the Denver Nuggets, Miller struggled to get minutes on their NBA roster, spending most of his time playing for the Iowa Energy in the D-League. Last October, he was cut just before the start of the season. After a couple of 10-day contracts, Miller eventually signed on for the remainder of the season with the Detroit Pistons in March, appearing in just 4 games and again seeing time in the D-League with the Grand Rapids Drive.
This summer, Miller was traded by the Pistons to the Brooklyn Nets, who appear likely to keep him at least through training camp, which will net Miller something like $50k for his troubles. If he makes it past training camp (doubtful), it seems unlikely he would ever play many minutes in the regular season.
Miller has some talent, but he just hasn't been able to put it together. Known curmudgeon Lionel Hollins doesn't have a great deal of patience with young players, which would suggest this is the end of the line for Miller in the NBA.
If I said it once, I've said it a thousand times (no really I probably have): Shoulda stayed.
Jefferson, drafted by the Nets in the 2nd round last year, appeared in 50 games and was resoundingly below average. While his per 36 numbers look okay (12 points and 10 rebounds), his actual per game numbers of 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds were less than stellar, even if he only played in 10 minutes a game. He still has great leaping ability, but his touch around the basket (just 48% on two-point attempts) and his relatively light frame for an NBA big man will make it difficult for him to stick.
Jefferson was cut by the Nets earlier this month just before the deadline that would have made his contract partially guaranteed for the season. He is already 24, old for a player with just 1 year of NBA experience, and he did not play particularly well in this summer's Orlando Summer League, where second year players should show their value.
He still has a fair bit of upside. The athleticism is real, and at the least he is a decent practice body. We'll see if a team looking to fill out the end of their roster takes a waiver on him, but I'm not holding my breath.
From the looks of things, Baylor is likely to have three players in the NBA next season, with a potential for all six to snag a roster spot somewhere, even if they never see the floor. Let's hope for the best.