Basketball

Pipeline to NBA still strong

With two former Kansas players, Miami guard Mario Chalmers and Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison, alive in the NBA conference finals, it seems like a good time to measure the impact of Jayhawks — and Kansas State Wildcats — in the NBA this season.

In all, 15 who finished their college career at Kansas or K-State suited up for an NBA team, and they're ranked in order of effectiveness and by school.

It was easy at the top and bottom, not so much in the middle:

1. Paul Pierce, Celtics (18.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg) —The window of championship opportunity may be closing in Boston, and Pierce may not get another chance to win a second ring. But he'll likely retire as a Celtic, have his No. 34 retired and wind up in the Naismith Hall of Fame. He trails only Wilt Chamberlain as the most accomplished NBA player to wear a Kansas uniform, and he averaged 18.9 points this season. He's the gold standard of former Jayhawks in the NBA.

2. Kirk Hinrich, Hawks (10.2 ppg, 2.7 apg) —The Hawks had to be happy with Hinrich's play after acquiring him from Washington in February. He averaged 8.6 points, down 2 1/2 points from his Wizards time but fit nicely on a better team. Hinrich helped Atlanta beat Orlando in the first round but a hamstring injury prevented him from playing against Chicago. He could be start at either the point or off guard next season, or play as a reserve. Whatever happens, he's part of the Hawks' plans.

3. Nick Collison, Thunder (4.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg) —When the season ends, perhaps Collison can star in an episode of "Dirty Jobs." He's the ultimate hard-hat player, and some characterize him as underappreciated. Oklahoma City doesn't think so. He's the team's highest paid player this year at $13.25 million, which reflects a bonus for a contract extension signed earlier this year.

4. Mario Chalmers, Heat (6.4 ppg, 35.9 three-point pct.) —He was dreadful in game two against the Bulls, rallied with a productive second quarter in game three, and continues to be a source of conversation in Miami. How much should he play? Chalmers is a favorite of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and his three-pointer that broke the late time in game two of the Boston series may have been the second biggest shot of his life. KU fans don't need to be reminded of the first. Some believe he shouldn't be more than a cameo player.

5. Darrell Arthur, Grizzlies (9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) —After missing 50 games with torn pectoral muscle last year, Arthur came back strong and delivered his best season, averaging 9.1 points. He helped Memphis deliver the major upset of San Antonio in the first round. Plenty of upside here.

6. Brandon Rush, Pacers (9.1 ppg, 41.7 three-point pct.) —Rush isn't heading in the right direction in Indiana, going from starter last season to reserve this year but the Pacers picked up his option for next season. Rush was praised for his perimeter defense but was called "inconsistent" by Pacers team president Larry Bird.

7. Drew Gooden, Bucks (35 games, 11.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg) —The Bucks signed Gooden to a five-year, $32 million deal, so perhaps Gooden's wayfaring days — eight teams in nine years — are over. But Gooden had a rough first year in Milwaukee, missing 43 games because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

8. Julian Wright, Raptors (52 games, 14.7 minutes) —Played in a career-low 52 games and averaged a career-low 3.6 points for a team that won 22 games. No future here for Wright.

9. Xavier Henry, Grizzlies (38 games, 4.3 ppg) —Like his season at Kansas, Henry flashed great promise and showed big holes in his game. He didn't get a chance to work on his consistency after February when he was sidelined with a knee injury.

10. Darnell Jackson, Kings (59 games, 3.2 ppg) —Kings Coach Paul Westphal likes Jackson as a defender but he averaged only 8.2 minutes.

11. Cole Aldrich, Thunder (18 games, 1.9 rpg) —He scored 18 points in 18 games as a rookie and played in more D-League games at Tulsa... but Aldrich did get a spot in a Gatorade commercial with teammate Kevin Durant.

12. Sherron Collins, Bobcats (20 games, 0.8 ppg) —Collins appeared in 20 games for the Bobcats, and he was given an opportunity to play in more, he somehow missed two flights to Charlotte. The Bobcats withdrew the offer and Collins' season was over.

Kansas State

1. Michael Beasley, Timberwolves (19.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg) —Beasley begins to build his own identity in Minnesota

2. Bill Walker, Knicks (61 games, 4.9 ppg) —Another New York year for Walker?

3. Cartier Martin, Wizards (52 games, 4.0 ppg) —Season ended with a stress facture in left foot.

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