The NBA season tips off Tuesday with a distinct Big 12 feel, as the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks host the Brooklyn Nets, followed by the Lakers hosting Golden State.
The Bucks defeated the Nets on their way to their first world title since 1970. Even though former Texas forward P.J. Tucker is no longer with the Bucks (he’s in Miami now), the Nets have four former Big 12 players, led by forward Kevin Durant.
Durant, who played at Texas and was the league’s No. 1 overall pick after earning all-America honors his freshman season, should be a most valuable player candidate this season after a great comeback season in 2020-21, a year removed from an Achilles injury in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Two seasoned veterans are with the Nets. Former Oklahoma All-American Blake Griffin joined the Nets in mid-season and took on a bench role. Meanwhile, former Texas forward LaMarcus Aldridge came out of retirement to re-join the Nets. Aldridge retired two weeks after joining the Nets last spring after he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. He now has medical clearance to play.
The last Big 12 Net is former West Virginia guard Jevon Carter. Carter, a former second-round pick, has his own grudge with the Bucks. He played for the Phoenix Suns last season, which won the Western Conference playoffs but lost to the Bucks in the NBA Finals.
In the late game on Tuesday night, the Lakers feature former Iowa State guard Talen Horton-Tucker. Former Oklahoma guard Austin Reaves is on the roster, and after signing a two-way contract with the Lakers in the summer, he impressed them enough in training camp to be signed to a standard NBA contract.
The Warriors have just one former Big 12 players, former Kansas star Andrew Wiggins.
In other NBA transactions, TCU rookie R.J. Nembhard signed a two-way contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, meaning he can go back and forth between the Cavaliers’ active roster and the Cavs’ G League affiliate this season.
Final roster cuts in the last week included Charlotte’s Wes Iwundu (Kansas State) and Cam McGriff (Oklahoma State), Indiana’s Derek Culver (West Virginia), the Los Angeles Lakers’ Frank Mason (Kansas) and Mac McClung (Texas Tech), Utah’s MaCio Teague (Baylor), Toronto’s Freddie Gillespie (Baylor) and Sacramento’s Matt Coleman III (Texas).
It’s possible that many of these released players could end up on G League teams as those rosters are put together in the next month.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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Big 12 Players on NBA Rosters as of Oct. 18
(Note: Rosters are subject to change; two-way contracts where noted)
Boston: G Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State).
Brooklyn: G Jevon Carter (West Virginia), F Blake Griffin (Oklahoma), F Kevin Durant (Texas), F LaMarcus Aldridge (Texas).
New York Knicks: G Miles McBride (West Virginia), G Wayne Selden (Kansas), C Jericho Sims (Texas).
Philadelphia: C Joel Embiid (Kansas), F Georges Niang (Iowa State).
Toronto: F Svi Mykhailiuk (Kansas).
Cleveland: G Devon Dotson (Kansas), G Matt Thomas (Iowa State).
Cleveland: G R.J. Nembhard (TCU, two-way contract), C Jarrett Allen (Texas), F Dean Wade (Kansas State).
Detroit: G Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State), G Rodney McGruder (Kansas State), G Cory Joseph (Texas), G-F Josh Jackson (Kansas).
Indiana: C-F Myles Turner (Texas).
Atlanta: G Trae Young (Oklahoma).
Charlotte: Kai Jones (Texas), F-G Kelly Oubre Jr. (Kansas).
Miami: G Marcus Garret (Kansas), F Markieff Morris (Kansas), F P.J. Tucker (Texas).
Orlando: F Mo Bamba (Texas).
Denver: G Monte Morris (Iowa State).
Minnesota: F Taurean Prince (Baylor).
Oklahoma City: G Kenrich Williams (TCU).
Portland: F Greg Brown III (Texas), G Ben McLemore (Kansas).
Utah: G Jared Butler (Baylor), C-F Udoka Azubuike (Kansas), F Royce O’Neale (Baylor).
Golden State: F Andrew Wiggins (Kansas).
Los Angeles Clippers: F Marcus Morris Sr. (Kansas).
Los Angeles Lakers: G Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), G Austin Reaves (Oklahoma).
Phoenix: F Abdel Nader (Iowa State).
Sacramento: G Davion Mitchell (Baylor), G Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State), G Jahmi’us Ramsey (Texas Tech), C-F Tristan Thompson (Texas), G Buddy Hield (Oklahoma).
Houston: G D.J. Augustin (Texas).
Memphis: G Desmond Bane (TCU), G-F Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech).
New Orleans: Devonte’ Graham (Kansas), C-F Jaxson Hayes (Texas).