Are you a fan of the NBA?
Me neither, except perhaps, for the last few games of the NBA playoffs that seemingly last until around July 4th. But I am a fan of athletes from Arkansas who’ve reached the highest level of their profession. So, let’s take a peek at some Arkansans on NBA rosters for 2021-2022.
Newark, Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers love the hustle and court savvy of Reaves, who made the team as an undrafted free agent.
After remaining on the bench in the Lakers’ season-opener against Golden State, Reaves made his NBA debut Friday in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss to Phoenix. While the TV announcers rambled on about an argument on the Lakers’ bench between Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard, Reaves showed LA fans why he made the team.
The former Cedar Ridge High school star swished his first three shots and scored eight points on a short jumper and two 3-pointers. Back in Arkansas, late at night and in the dim of the light from a TV screen, I’m sure someone in Newark (pop. 1,200) stood and cheered a small-town hero who realized a big-time dream.
Welcome to the NBA, Mr. Reaves.
Lepanto, Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers love the scoring ability of Malik Monk, who erupted for 36 points against Miami last year while playing for the Charlotte Hornets. But Monk will be hard-pressed to get many shots off for the Lakers with LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony taking turns jacking up 3s from the perimeter. Monk played nearly 20 minutes and managed only five shots in the season-opener against Golden State.
Little Rock, Milwaukee Bucks
Bobby Portis was rewarded with a two-year, $9 million dollar contract after helping Milwaukee win an NBA championship last season.
It appears Portis, 26, has found a home with Milwaukee after previously playing in Chicago, Washington, and New York. He’s become a fan favorite because of his hustle and energy.
El Dorado, Washington Wizards
Washington may not be wizards on the court but they can spot young talent on occasion. That’s why they locked up the 23-year-old Gafford on a 3-year, $40 million dollar contact.
That’ll keep the third-year pro in Washington until the 2025-2026 season with plenty of opportunity to reach his potential as a pro.
Fort Smith Northside, Philadelphia 76ers
Fans of the Philadelphia 76ers may soon learn what Fort Smith Northside and University of Arkansas fans have know for awhile.
Isaiah Joe is a shooter with unlimited range.
Joe averaged 3.6 points per game while playing sparingly as a rookie last year for the 76ers. But he is expected to see the court more often after scoring in double figures during four preseason games.
Joe was primed to be one of college basketball’s biggest stars after averaging 13.9 points as a freshman and 16.9 points as a sophomore for the Razorbacks. After initially saying he’d be back for his year at Arkansas, Joe changed his mind and cited concerns about Covid-19 for declaring for the NBA draft.
Philadelphia selected Joe with the 49th pick in the 2020 NBA draft, a move that will likely benefit the 76ers for years with the young sharp-shooter from Arkansas.
Little Rock, Golden State Warriors
Folks who watched Moses Moody in high school knew he wouldn’t stay long in college and he left Arkansas after making First-Team All-SEC and SEC Freshman of the Year for the Razorbacks.
Moody, 19, brings tons of energy and potential to an aging roster. Andre Iguodala, 37, is one of his teammates. Iguodala signed a letter-of-intent to play for the Razorbacks in 2002, but was then granted a release after the UA fired Nolan Richardson.
Hot Springs, Portland Trail Blazers
That was my thought exactly before doing some research on Blevins, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward for the Trail Blazers.
Blevins grew up in Hot Springs and last played as a junior at Lakeside High School before he transferred to a prep school in Virginia. Blevins began his college career at Southern Miss before finishing at Montana State.
His claim to fame so far is in being the best player from Montana State to play in the NBA.
Check that: The ONLY player from Montana State to play in the NBA.