SECAUCUS, NJ, March 13, 2008 -- These All-Conference teams are bound by the focus of the schools involved, and while Kansas State is amidst an upswing with its young talent, the Big 12 is known for being a football conference. Were it not for the Texas and Kansas alumni littering NBA rosters, this list would reaffirm that.
The starting backcourt is a good one -- Paul Pierce (Kansas) and Chauncey Billups (Colorado). But we're already struggling by small forward, where a (very) promising rookie (Kevin Durant, Texas) edges out a third-year reserve (Linas Kleiza, Missouri). Amidst a slew of role-playing bigs, it's easy to see Drew Gooden (Kansas) has got the four on lock, which allows us to slide LaMarcus Aldridge (Texas) to the five. All told, that group should be able to hang with most of the other conference squads on offense, at least.
Starters aside, there's some surprising depth at the point, as the group includes NBA starters Kirk Hinrich (Kansas) and Jamaal Tinsley (Iowa State), half of Toronto's point guard monster (T.J. Ford, Texas) and Orlando super sub Keyon Dooling (Missouri). We'll take Hinrich for his defense and shooting, with Tinsley getting the nod over T.J. as the change-of-pace man. Daniel Gibson (Texas) would make the grade if he weren't inactive.
Looking at the swingmen, Kleiza will be flanked on the bench by a pair of Cowboys, Oklahoma State alums Tony Allen and Desmond Mason. Kleiza's scoring punch is complemented by the athleticism and defense the OSU 'boys will provide. The two backup big spots go to Nick Collison (Kansas) and Mikki Moore (Nebraska). Were Tony Battie (Texas Tech) in action, he'd likely get a nod over Mason.
Blending the scoring punch of the starters with the defensive prowess of the subs would be this team's key to victory, and C-Billz seems like the right man for the job. He'd likely dominate the minutes at the one, occasionally playing alongside Hinrich (with Pierce shifting to the three) and being spelled by Tinsley. P Squared likely wouldn't leave the lineup, and Tony Allen could spend some time at power forward, as could Durant. If KD's at the four, and Moore's subbed in off the bench (along with say ... Tinsley, Pierce and Allen), the team could take off running and hope to wear out an opponent's second squad.
Résumé: NBA Finals MVP (2004), All-NBA Second Team (2006), All-NBA Third Team (2007), Three-time NBA All-Star
After bouncing more places than a pinball early in his career, "Mr. Big Shot" settled in as the soul of Detroit's back-to-back Eastern Conference champions. Like his fellow elite PGs, Billups knows when to set 'em up, and when to knock 'em down.
Résumé: All-NBA Third Team (2002-03), All-Rookie First Team (1999), Six-time NBA All-Star
Paul Pierce is ready to provide the scoring punch for this squad, after scoring at least 20 points per game every season since his third, peaking at 26.8 in 2005-06. His slashing style should create plenty of open shots for C-Billz and K(i)D Delicious.
Résumé: Leads all rookies in scoring
After going one-and-done at Texas, this year's No. 2 pick is proving he'll someday be able to carry an offense, nearly doubling the scoring of the second-most productive rook (Al Horford, 11.5 PPG). With P Squared drawing the opposition's best defender, Kid Delicious will be able to take advantage as the second option.
Résumé: All-Rookie First Team (2003), Often among league leaders in double-doubles
While Gooden may never live up to his draft position (No. 4, 2002), he's averaged a solid 12 points and eight boards for his career. He'll slot into this lineup nicely, focusing on rebounding and shutting down opposing bigs.
Résumé: All-Rookie First Team (2007)
You can do a lot worse for third options than a player that's often been compared to Billups' do-everything Pistons' teammate, Rasheed Wallace. The rangy, versatile forward-center can swing inside or outside as need be, and should be able to solidly anchor the middle on defense playing alongside Gooden.
Résumé: 14 Years as an NBA Assistant
Since there are no coaches from the Big 12 with NBA head coaching experience, we'll give the nod to long-time assistant Larry Drew of the Atlanta Hawks, with nods to Jay Humphries, who headed a Korean team, and Bill Pope, who coached at NCAA Division II Lincoln University. Drew's in his third year with the Hawks, and has spent time with teams like the Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets and Washington Wizards. He started his coaching career with the Los Angeles Lakers, after 10 NBA seasons as a player.
The 12 (duh) schools that participate in Big 12 Basketball are: Baylor, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
There are 32 players hailing from Big 12 schools in the NBA.
There are five assistant coaches from the Big 12in the NBA. Big 12 school(s) with the most NBA players – Kansas (9) Big 12 school(s) with the least NBA players – Kansas State, Oklahoma (0) NBA team(s) with the most Big 12 players – Indiana (4), Orlando (3) NBA team(s) with the least Big 12 players – Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Golden State, Houston, L.A. Clippers, Memphis, Miami, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Utah, Washington (0) Big 12 schools ranked by number of NBA players – Kansas - 9; Texas - 7; Oklahoma State - 4; Missouri - 3; Colorado, Texas A&M - 2, Baylor, Iowa State, Nebraska, Texas Tech - 1; Kansas State, Oklahoma - 0