Cal basketball has produced a plethora of high level talent, with many players transitioning into successful NBA careers. Let’s rank the best of the bunch.
1. Jason Kidd:
Kidd’s decision to sign with Cal changed the fate of a struggling basketball program. The Bears went 10-18 prior to his arrival. During Kidd’s freshman season, they posted a record of 21-9, ultimately reaching the Sweet 16. Kidd won the Pac-10 Player of the Year in his sophomore season, catalyzing them to another tournament berth. He averaged 14.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game for Cal, capping off an excellent two years with the Bears.
He transitioned to a successful pro career, becoming one of the NBA’s best point guards. Kidd was a 10-time All Star, six-time all NBA selection and NBA champion, finishing with career averages of 12.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game. Additionally, he has 12,091 career assists, second to only John Stockton. His playing days are defined by his strong leadership and selfless nature as a floor general. Kidd, now retired, is the head coach of a young and talented Milwaukee Bucks team.
2. Kevin Johnson:
Johnson was a four-year starter at Cal from 1984-87. He averaged 14 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game for the Bears in this span. He was also a two-time Pac-10 first team selection and the first Cal basketball player to have his jersey number retired. After a productive college career, Johnson declared for the NBA Draft and was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the seventh overall pick.
Johnson was then traded to the Suns after only one season with the Cavs. He was a three-time NBA All Star and five-time all NBA selection in Phoenix. Johnson, along with Charles Barkley, led the Suns to the 1993 NBA finals against the Chicago Bulls. Though Phoenix lost, Johnson was a key catalyst in turning the Suns’ franchise around. Throughout his career, he averaged 17.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game.
3. Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Abdur-Rahim played at Cal for only one season and was an unstoppable force. He won Pac-10 Player of the Year for the 1995-96 season, averaging 21.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1 assist per game.
Abdur-Rahim then entered the 1996 NBA Draft after this great year, where he was selected by the Vancouver Grizzlies. Abdur-Rahim put up great numbers throughout his career, playing thirteen seasons in the NBA and recorded career averages of 18.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Not to mention he averaged more than 20 points per game in six different NBA seasons. His collegiate and pro careers reflect great consistency.
4. Ryan Anderson
Anderson played for the Bears from 2006-08. His scoring prowess and strong outside shooting as a 6-foot-10-inch forward is what makes him so unique. During his two seasons at Cal, Anderson was spectacular, averaging 18.7 points, 9 rebounds and 1 assist per game. He was also named all Pac-10 first team as a sophomore, prior to declaring for the NBA Draft.
He has gone on to enjoy a great career in a changing NBA that embraces strong outside shooting. Anderson for his career has averaged 13.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. This offseason, he signed a lucrative deal with the Houston Rockets at four years and $80 million, capitalizing on the fact that sharpshooting big men come at a premium. He will look to implement himself into the Rockets’ high-scoring and uptempo offense under new head coach Mike D’Antoni.
5. Allen Crabbe
Crabbe spent three seasons at Cal. He won Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, showcasing his great talents immediately. He got steadily better each year at Cal, averaging 18.4 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game and 2.6 assists per game as a junior in 2012-13, winning Pac-12 Player of the Year after that extraordinary season. Crabbe then declared for the NBA Draft and was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers.
He has become a key piece of an upstart Blazers team. Crabbe’s scoring and versatility has enabled him to fit in seamlessly. In the 2015-16 season, he broke out and became a great role player, averaging 10.3 points, 1.2 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game. Crabbe entered into restricted free agency following that productive season, signing a four year, $75 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets. The Blazers matched this deal soon after, realizing how important Crabbe was to their team. He should see an expanded role this season on a Blazers team that is on the rise in the NBA’s Western Conference.
Contact Ryan Groves at [email protected].