We are only a couple of weeks removed from the NBA Draft, and NBA free agency is in full swing. With NBA hopefuls getting a chance to showcase their skills for NBA teams during Summer League play, a couple of former Oklahoma State players are trying to hang around in the NBA as well.
There are currently three former Cowboys who are on an NBA team. Ten have played in an NBA game since 2010. None have had quite the success John Starks was able to have in the 90’s with the New York Knicks, although the Cowboys are not underrepresented in the NBA either.
Maybe they don’t have the star power Duke, North Carolina or Kentucky have been able to produce, but they’re also not considered a powerhouse like them. Either way, maybe you prefer college basketball and lose track of where players go in the NBA, or maybe you forget about them once they go overseas. Whatever the reason, here’s a look at a couple of former Cowboys, and how their basketball career has gone.
Tony Allen - Memphis Grizzlies
After transferring to Oklahoma State as a sophomore, Allen was the 25th pick in the 2004 draft by the Boston Celtics. He ended up winning a championship with the Celtics in 2008, his fourth season in the league, but didn’t have a major role off the bench. Allen was far from an end of the bench player for the Celtics, but he only saw more than 20 minutes per game once in Boston.
His defense wasn’t as smothering as it has been with the Grizzlies, and he wasn’t as effective on the glass as he was in college. Since signing with Memphis in 2010-11, he has become one of the most devastating defenders in the NBA.
Allen has made an All-Defensive Team in five of the past six seasons and is averaging 1.7 steals per game since joining Memphis. He still isn’t a great outside shooter - 26.7 three-point percentage with the Grizzlies - but has improved a little on the glass.
When it comes down to it, Allen’s career is coming to an end but he’s still one of the best defenders in the NBA. He knows his role and plays it well. With the salary cap going up again next summer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Allen cash in for one more big pay day before he retires.
James Anderson - Darussafaka
After being the 20th overall pick by San Antonio in 2010, Anderson hasn’t been able to find his footing in the NBA. The shooting guard who averaged 22.3 points per game with the Cowboys the season before declaring for the NBA Draft, has only averaged more than five points per contest once in five NBA seasons - 10.1 PPG in 2014/15 with the 76ers.
Anderson hasn’t just been bad in the NBA. He’s been terrible. You could say he hasn’t gotten much of a shot, averaging a career 17.5 minutes per game, however, it’s mostly due to his inability to produce when called upon.
This past season with the Sacramento Kings, Anderson appeared in 51 games and even started 15 of them. George Karl was a big fan of Anderson and wasn’t afraid to give him the start when Rudy Gay was out with an injury. He ended up shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from behind the arc.
That poor shooting season sums up his NBA career. Anderson actually declined his player option for 2016-17 season and will be playing overseas under David Blatt for Darussafaka.
Markel Brown - RFA (Brooklyn Nets)
Markel Brown had a very productive four-year career with the Cowboys. He averaged at least 10 points per game three times, five boards per night twice and shot above 35 percent from three in his final two seasons. He hasn’t been as productive in the NBA, though.
Brown has appeared in 109 games with the Brooklyn Nets over his first two seasons, starting 35 of them. He has really struggled with his shot - 39.4 field-goal percentage last season - and hasn’t stood out in an single area. Surprisingly, his defense has been his strong suit - 1.4 steals per 36 minutes.
Despite his poor play, Brown still brings next-level athleticism to the table. The Nets decided to extend a qualifying offer out to him, making him a restricted free agent this summer. Although, the former 44th pick in 2014 isn’t having teams run after him. As previously noted, he hasn’t been a great outside shooter and can’t create off-the-dribble. He still has potential, so maybe a team will take a chance on him this upcoming season, but his NBA career isn’t looking too bright at the moment.
Marcus Smart - Boston Celtics
Smart was drafted sixth overall in 2014 by the Boston Celtics, but hasn’t turned into the point guard they were hoping for. Isaiah Thomas has turned into their franchise point guard, pushing Smart to a bench role. It’s worked out well for Smart, though, as he hasn’t been as effective as a starter and has been able to develop into a defensive specialist for Boston.
In his first two seasons, Smart has averaged 1.5 steals per game each year. He’s one of the toughest on-ball defenders in the NBA, despite being known as a flopper around the league.
Offensively, Smart has not been as efficient. He’s coming off one of the worst three-point shooting seasons in NBA history. Yes, Smart got even worse than his 33.5 three-point percentage that he sported as a rookie. It plummeted to 25.3 percent in his second-year, but his defense has given Brad Stevens a reason to give him around 27 minutes per night.
There was a lot of hype around Smart after he stayed for his sophomore year, however he’s no longer viewed as a potential franchise point guard. Thomas has taken that role from him, but, in a way, Smart is acting as a young Tony Allen for Boston.
John Lucas III - Puerto Rico
The 5’11” guard went undrafted, but he was able to make a seven-year career in the NBA. Lucas has played for five NBA teams, in four countries overseas and even has a couple of D-League stints. At Oklahoma State, Lucas was always a solid shooter, and that was his role in the NBA.
He caught a break with the Chicago Bulls in 2011-12 when he appeared in 49 games for the team. Lucas saw a career-high 14.8 minutes per game with the Bulls that season, and his 7.5 points per night on 39.3 percent shooting from three was enough for him to land a contract with the Toronto Raptors.
He ended up sticking in the league for three more seasons, playing sparingly, before being cut from the Miami Heat before the season started. Lucas waited for a team to call while he played in the D-League, but he was waived and is now playing in Puerto Rico. He lasted a lot longer than most 5’11” guards do, but he may be best known for LeBron James jumping over him to finish an alley-oop him when he was in Chicago.
Le’Bryan Nash - Milwaukee Bucks Summer League
The former top-ten high school prospect was always an explosive scorer in college, however teams weren’t willing to take a chance on him as he went undrafted last year. He ended up playing in Japan and put together a very impressive season with the Fukushima Firebonds.
Nash set a league record with 54 points in a game, on his way to averaging a league-high 26.6 points per game. According to Tulsa World, he feels he has become a more comfortable shooter and an overall better scorer.
Nash was an extremely talented player with the Cowboys, but did struggle shooting from three. With the NBA evolving into more of a perimeter game, improving in that area is definitely a must for Nash. He now has a chance to make an NBA roster, with the Milwaukee Bucks, if he plays well this summer. He’s currently on their Summer League team in Las Vegas.
I’m not sure if Nash will get his chance, however I doubt this will be the last time we see him playing in July trying to make a team. He has potential and skill, and if he can’t make a team this season, his best bet is to keep improving overseas or join a team’s D-League team and develop in their system.