Former Gators abound in NBA playoffs
Published: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 7:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 12:15 a.m.
Florida basketball fans will have ample choices to watch their favorite former Gator players in the NBA playoffs.
Of the 10 former Gators in the NBA, eight have reached the postseason. The eight players are on the rosters of seven different playoff-bound teams (Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller both play for the Miami Heat).
Part of Florida coach Billy Donovan's impressive resume has been his ability to develop players for the next level. In 17 seasons at UF, Donovan has coached 17 players who have appeared in at least one NBA game. Of those 17, eight have played five or more seasons in the NBA. Four of those former Gators own NBA championship rings (Jason Williams, Miami Heat, 2006; Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat, 2006 and 2012; Corey Brewer, Dallas Mavericks, 2011; Mike Miller, Miami Heat, 2012).
“We're proud of the success those guys are having,” Donovan said. “It's great to watch all of the past Gators in the NBA, and it'll be fun to watch a lot of them compete in the playoffs again this year.”
Here's a breakdown of former Gators in the NBA playoffs this season:
David Lee, forward/center, Golden State Warriors: Lee finished an All-Star season with the Golden State Warriors, averaging 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds. Lee, who turns 30 at the end of April, should provide consistent scoring and rebounding inside for the Warriors. Golden State, the sixth seed in the Western Division, begins a best-of-seven series at third-seeded Denver on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN).
Joakim Noah, center, Chicago Bulls: Noah enjoyed an All-Star season with the Chicago Bulls, averaging 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game. But a plantar fasciitis issue has forced the 6-foot-11 Noah to sit out 12 of his last 15 games and could limit his minutes in the first round of the playoffs. The Bulls, the fifth seed in Eastern Division, begin their playoff series Saturday at fourth-seeded Brooklyn (8 p.m., ESPN).
Al Horford, forward/center, Atlanta Hawks: Horford finished another excellent season with the Atlanta Hawks, averaging 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds. The sixth-seeded Hawks open the playoffs at third-seeded Indiana on Saturday (1 p.m., TNT).
Corey Brewer, forward, Denver Nuggets: Brewer has found a home in Denver, stepping into a starting role after Danilo Gallinari's season-ending torn ACL injury earlier this month. The 6-foot-7 forward has averaged 15.3 points over his last seven games and 12.9 points this season. Denver, the third seed in the Western Division, hosts sixth-seeded Golden State on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN).
Chandler Parsons, forward, Houston Rockets: Parsons followed up a surprising rookie season with the Rockets with an impressive sophomore campaign, averaging 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists. On Wednesday night, Parsons hit a dramatic game-tying 3-pointer to send Houston into overtime against the Los Angeles Lakers. But the Rockets lost to the Lakers and dropped to the eighth seed in the Western Division. Houston opens the playoffs at top-seeded Oklahoma City on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. (TNT).
Matt Bonner, forward, San Antonio Spurs: Bonner continued his role as 3-point shooting specialist for the Spurs. The 6-foot-10 forward shot 44.2 percent from 3-point range during the regular season while averaging 4.2 points off the bench. San Antonio, the second seed in the Western Division, opens the NBA playoffs at home against the seventh-seeded Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. (ABC).
Mike Miller, forward, Miami Heat: Miller averaged 4.8 points and 2.7 rebounds off the bench for the Heat this season while shooting 41.7 percent from 3-point range. Miami, the top seed in the Eastern Division, opens defense of its NBA title on Sunday at 7 p.m. (TNT) against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Udonis Haslem, forward, Miami Heat: Haslem was an effective big man off the bench for the Heat again this season, averaging 3.9 points and 5.4 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 forward has spent his entire 10-year career with the Heat and owns two NBA championship rings (2006, 2012).