Best NBA careers for former Utes

A lament on CB about the short NBA career of Michael Smith both made me chuckle and reminded me how little that fanbase seems to know about basketball. But it was a refreshing change from the usual lamenting about Jimmer.

As we know, it is really hard to get into the NBA, and being a star in college doesn’t translate to being a star in the NBA. That being said, Utah has had a few guys with pretty outstanding NBA careers. Who would you including in your top 5? Tom Chambers, Bogut, Andre Miller…

If you make an all star team of the best basketball players to play their college ball in the state of Utah in the modern era, your starting five are

Guards - Miller, Lillard
Forwards - Chambers, Van Horn
Center - Bogut

Four of the starting five are utes. I suppose BYU would have a player on the bench with Ainge.

Van Horn

Not just modern era, and also just Utes, so Lillard doesn’t count.

I understood you, I just play by my own rules.

Wat Misaka

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Kuzma, Wright, and Poeltl are all very underrated NBA players.


BYU had Danny Ainge, Greg Kite, and Fred Roberts all playing for the Celtics, BYU fans became rabid Celtics fans.

Then Michael Smith was drafted by the Celtics, coug fans thought it was a match made in heaven, a fairly high pick, but was a bust.

Shawn Bradley was drafted as the second pick in the draft signing a $46 million contract and was a bust.

Rafael Araujo…8th pick, bust


In the middle of all that the Jazz signed former coug Andy Toolson and thought he could guard Michael Jordan which offended Jordan so badly he used it as motivation in defeating the Jazz in the Finals two years in a row, robbing the Jazz of their best and only opportunity to win a championship.

Meanwhile, Chambers, Van Horn, Doleac, Mottola, Miller, Bogut, Poeltl, Wright, and Kuzma lived up to or exceeded expectstions.


I imagine he’ll overtake Chambers or VanHorn in the starting lineup of the all Utah team that I mentioned earlier.

Chambers has HOF numbers.

Don’t forget Mike Newlin.


Tom Chambers tops this list.

So in my estimation -

  1. Tom Chambers
  2. Andre Miller
  3. Mike Newlin
  4. Andrew Bogut
  5. KVH
  6. Kuzma (with Kuzma, if he stays on trajectory may eclipse some of these folks)
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Aside from Ainge, byu has never had even a decent NBA player.

Chambers’ dunk:

Andre scores 52:Throwback: Andre Miller Sets a Franchise Record With 22 Field Goals, 52 Points - YouTube

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Every time I see that Chambers dunk it almost reminds me of those stories you hear of someone suddenly receiving unworldly strength to lift a car that someone is pinned under. I doubt he could have jumped that high again if he wanted to.

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Swap Bogut and Newlin, and I think you’re there. It’s hard not to wonder how good Bogut would have been without all the injuries. He was on track to be a regular all-star, and he had a combination of offense, defense, rebounding, athleticism, and smarts. He is the greatest Australian basketball player of all time, and that’s not really a low bar.

Might as well add Wright and Poeltl at 7 and 8. They are both int he middle of good NBA careers.

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The Chambers dunk above sent me down a rabbit hole of watching some of his highlights. I remember why I loved Utah basketball so much. It actually gives me hope for Utah basketball in the future. If we get the right players and coach - and really there is no good reason not to because clearly we have the $$$ to put towards it - Utah basketball might be fun to watch again.

It depends. That style of basketball is gone, seemlingly forever. But if merely winning is enough to make it fun again, we’ve won a few in a row now.

Billy McGill was a #1 pick in the NBA but probably didn’t accomplish enough to be on the list. Would make the all Utah team though.

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A player a lot of Ute fans forget is Kelvin Upshaw. He was the first guard off the bench at the end of the Celtics’ glory days when they still had a lot of great players, Dennis Johnson, Reggie Lewis, and Brian Shaw.

I once scored 50 points with Kelvin Upshaw in EA Sports Lakers vs Celtics, the best basketball video game of all-time.

Kelvin Upshaw played alongside Manny Hendrix on Lynn Archibald’s 1885-1986 team which was his only team to gain an NCAA Tournament invite. Hendrix and Upshaw may have been the most athletic backcourt duo in the nation for two consecutive seasons. Hendrix ended up playing professional football for the Dallas Cowboys.

Lynn Archibald really squandered some top notch talent. He took a team that finished 1st in the WAC the season before he took over and finished 8th, even though Pimm had left him with NBA talent.

Here’s how to create Kelvin Upshaw on your PlayStation

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