Tucked in the upper-left corner of the continental United States, away from the glamour of Hollywood, the hustle and bustle of Times Square, and the electricity of Miami Beach, you don’t come to Seattle, Washington, on accident.
An area built on coffee, outdoorsmen, and basketball players. Basketball Players? Yes, basketball players.
Doug Christie, Michael Dickerson, Jason Terry and Jamal Crawford were drafted between 1998 and 2000. Since that time the Seattle/Western Washington area has produced 22 NBA Draft picks (tied for 7th) and our player-per-capita is the 7th highest.
For only the 18th largest state in America, that’s pretty impressive.
I’ve compiled a list of the 13 most relevant Seattle/Western Washington players in the NBA at this time. It’s a list, not a ranking per se (though I will list the most relevant players toward the top). It’s mainly for showcasing updates on your hometown heroes whom you can follow and root for week after week. I do hold the right to change things in the future.
Note: I know many of the players may not have played directly in Seattle; the namesake is just an identifier. I took players from all over the state of Washington.
This week I’ll introduce you to the list with more details starting next week.
1. Isaiah Thomas - Sacramento Kings
Tacoma, WA-bred, University of Washington graduate. Isaiah Thomas was Mr. Irrelevant, the 60th and last pick in the 2011 draft. Last week’s career-high 38 points was the culmination of an All-Star caliber run (20.9 points, 7.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.4 steals on 40 percent from 3-point land per game) since the Rudy Gay trade.
Isaiah started the season off as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, routinely outperforming starter Greivis Vasquez. A league leader in fourth-quarter scoring, he dropped a ridiculous 21 points for Sacramento in the fourth quarter of a 97-95 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder last month.
2. Nate Robinson - Denver Nuggets
Rainier Beach High School in Seattle got put on the map by Doug Christie and later grew under Jamal Crawford, but it was probably Nate Robinson who led the explosion nationally.
In Denver, the State of Nate star has stated he wants to play for all 30 teams in the NBA before he hangs up the sneakers and can stake claim to the only real-time dunk montage during a game.
Coming off a season where his performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals (23 points in the fourth quarter) was the stuff of legend, he couldn’t shake the negative stigmas that have followed him for his entire career. He landed in Denver on a fairly minimal deal.
3. Jamal Crawford - Los Angeles Clippers
The Patriarch of the current crop of NBA players from Seattle. The Rainier Beach alum, perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate, man behind the Jamal Crawford Summer Pro-Am league has had quite a year.
Injuries to Chris Paul and J.J. Redick thrust Crawford into an extended starting role for the first time in five years. 18.5 points and a Clippers 10-4 record later, Jamal is enjoying his greatest team success as a pro.
4. Spencer Hawes - Philadelphia 76ers
Seattle Prep and UW graduate, Hawes has been enjoying a career year in Philadelphia. Though he’s come down from his lofty November play (15.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks per game), his improved ability to stretch the floor to go along with his solid rebound has Hawes drawing comparisons to Minnesota All-Star Kevin Love.
With his contract set to expire this summer, his status as a veteran on a young rebuilding team is very tentative. His skills are now high in demand.
5. Avery Bradley - Boston Celtics
Though he will be out a few weeks with a right ankle injury, the defensive specialist and Tacoma product has carved out a vital role in Boston. He’s improving as a shooter, specifically in the midrange, and he has devastating potential on defense with Rajon Rondo once he is completely healthy.
6. Tony Wroten - Philadelphia 76ers
Immensely athletic, full of potential, and flawed: that’s how Wroten Jr. entered into the NBA. It took the Memphis Grizzlies just one season to send the Garfield and UW alumnus packing to Philly. His play with Philly has shown that he belongs.
The spotlight has been on rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams, but Wroten is averaging 18.4 points per game when the rookie is out of the lineup. In his first career start, he posted a triple-double (18 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists). He still has issues with his shot, but his ability to draw fouls is elite (16th in fouls drawn per 36 minutes).
7. Marvin Williams - Utah Jazz
Bremerton, WA, native Marvin Williams came into the league as a multi-faceted forward with tons of potential.
Utah discovered early this season that the big man tandem of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors has spacing issues when playing together. Thus, Marvin Williams: "Stretch" Four was born. Though his minutes have gone down in consecutive months since the season started, he has carved out a role in Utah.
8. Aaron Brooks - Houston Rockets
Franklin High School star, Aaron Brooks started his NBA career like a rocket, no pun intended. The 2007 first-round draft pick was the 2009-2010 Most Improved Player, and played in the Western Conference Finals.
After a trade to Phoenix, and a stint in China during the lockout, Brooks is currently the third guard on the Rockets. He's providing a steady hand when injuries hit Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley.
9. Luke Ridnour - Milwaukee Bucks
Ridnour is the farthest out of the Seattle city limits, but his time in Blaine and with the Sonics makes him a valuable part of this list.
He’s playing the shooting guard position for Milwaukee, on a team rife with underachievement. He’s not as good anymore but he’s contributed solid outside shooting, and buoyed the guard positions this season.
10. Jason Terry - Brooklyn Nets
Never lacking for confidence, JET is still doing what he has been doing for years: shooting the basketball and displaying supreme confidence.
Though age has caught up with one of the pioneers of Seattle basketball, Terry is still able to help the Nets in spots and will be much more valuable come playoff time. He does still have two Larry O’Brien trophies tattooed under each arm.
11. Martell Webster - Washington Wizards
One of the last Preps-to-Pros players in the NBA, Webster has found his niche as the 3-point marksman in our nation’s capital after signing a four-year, $22 million contract with the Washington Wizards this past summer.
12. Rodney Stuckey - Detroit Pistons
This is a down season for the Kentwood High School graduate combo guard. An expiring contract, trade rumors, failed expectations, and injuries have sapped his Detroit Pistons teams of much of their playoff hopes.
When healthy he’s shown that he can be his normal, scoring self.
13. Peyton Siva - Detroit Pistons
The newest addition to the Seattle NBA family, second-round draft pick Peyton Siva has only appeared in nine games this year for the Pistons. His time in the D-League, though, has given us a glimpse of what he can do on the big stage.
An explosive debut, followed by a near triple-double in his return from a wrist injury, and he was quickly called back up. Sooner or later we'll get a good look at Siva.
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