Michigan Basketball: Ranking the Wolverines' All-Time Best NBA Players
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Whether you have been around to see it or not, the Michigan Wolverines have been one of the nation's most prominent and reputable basketball programs for quite some time, despite their struggles during the early 2000s.
The Wolverines have sent numerous players to the NBA, though many of them were not able to sustain lengthy careers at the professional level.
So, who are Michigan's best NBA players of all-time? Click ahead to find out!
10. Rickey Green, Point Guard
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NBA Career Statistics: 9.4 points per game, 5.5 assists per game
Number of Seasons in the NBA: 14
Despite turning in a successful career at the University of Michigan, which included a trip to the 1976 NCAA title game, point guard Rickey Green had to retool his game to survive in the NBA for as long as he did.
Green was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the 1977 NBA Draft, but he struggled in his first two seasons in the league. The Chicago, Illinois native only managed to dish out two assists per game and shot 38 percent from the field with the Warriors and the Detroit Pistons, so Green wound up in the CBA with the Hawaii Volcanos for the 1979-80 season.
Five games into his second year with the Volcanos, the Utah Jazz took a chance on Green, who would become the team's backup point guard for the 1980-81 season and won the starting job the following year.
The 6'0", 170-pounder averaged more than 11.7 points per game for five straight seasons after entering the starting lineup, and his assist numbers only dipped below 7.8 per game once during that time frame.
Green's success earned him a spot on the 1984 NBA All-Star team and helped lead the Jazz to five straight playoff appearances during his time in Utah.
In addition to the Warriors, Pistons and Jazz, Green spent one season with the Charlotte Hornets, Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics before retiring at the age of 37 in 1992.
9. Roy Tarpley, Power Forward
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NBA Career Statistics: 12.6 points per game, 10 rebounds per game
Number of Seasons in the NBA: 6
Roy Tarpley played for the Michigan Wolverines from 1982-86 and could have been one of the top big men in the NBA for several years had he been able to remain clean long enough to play in the professional ranks for more than six seasons.
The former No. 7 overall pick struggled during his rookie season with the Dallas Mavericks, but he began to establish himself during the 1987-88 season. Tarpley averaged 13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game during his second NBA season.
The Detroit, Michigan product started to become a liability the following year for the Mavericks, though. Tarpley only played in a combined 69 games from 1988-91 due to injuries, but there is no denying that the Cooley High School alum had talent.
Tarpley averaged 20.4 points and 11 rebounds in 1990 before being banned from the league for violating the NBA's drug-use policies.
The 1988 Sixth Man of the Year returned to the Mavericks in 1994 after a couple of professional stints in Greece, but was permanently banned from the NBA in 1995 for violating the terms and conditions he agreed to before returning to the league.
Unfortunately, we will never know how great Tarpley could have been.
8. Campy Russell, Small Forward
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NBA Career Statistics: 15.8 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, 3.0 assists per game
Number of Seasons in the NBA: 9
Campy Russell came to the University of Michigan as the nation's top recruit in 1972 and lived up to his billing as a member of the Wolverines. Russell led the Big Ten in scoring, was second in rebounding and was a consensus All-American in 1974, which prompted his jump to the NBA.
The Cleveland Cavaliers took Russell with the No. 8 pick in the 1974 NBA Draft and only played their first-rounder sparingly during his rookie campaign.
Russell's second NBA season was a success, though. The Jackson, Tennessee native scored 15 points per game and pulled down a little over four rebounds per contest for the Cavaliers, who began a run of three straight playoff appearances in 1976.
The 6'8", 215-pounder continued to raise his scoring average, which peaked at 21.9 points per game during the 1978-79 season. Russell earned a spot on the NBA All-Star team that season and scored four points on 2-of-8 shooting in the exhibition game.
Russell continued to turn in scoring averages in the high teens and spent two seasons with the New York Knicks before his production dipped. Russell retired after the 1981-82 season with the Knicks, but he returned to the NBA in 1984 with the Cavaliers.
However, Russell only managed to last three games in his return to Cleveland and finished his professional career, along with the 1984-85 season, with the Detroit Spirits in the CBA.
7. Juwan Howard, Power Forward
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NBA Career Statistics: 13.8 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game
Number of Seasons in the NBA: 18
One of the main reasons the Fab Five recruiting class came together for the Michigan Wolverines in 1991 was because of the influence Juwan Howard had on his future teammates. The 6'9", 250-pounder enjoyed great success during his time in Ann Arbor and for 18 seasons in the NBA.
Howard declared for the 1994 NBA Draft after helping Michigan reach back-to-back Final Fours and the Elite Eight in three seasons with the Wolverines. The Washington Bullets selected Howard with the fifth overall pick in the draft.
In his first season as a professional, Howard averaged 17 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, which landed him on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
The Chicago, Illinois product went on to make the 1996 NBA All-Star team by averaging a career-high 22 points per game, in addition to pulling down eight rebounds per contest. Howard finished the 1995-96 season on the All-NBA Third Team.
Howard remained in Washington, continued to average over 15 points per game and was the NBA's fourth-highest paid player until he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in a deadline deal during the 2001 season that included former Michigan star Loy Vaught.
The Mavericks eventually traded Howard to the Denver Nuggets in 2002, which is where the Chicago Vocational alum remained until he signed a multi-year deal with the Orlando Magic prior to the 2003-04 NBA season.
Despite putting up numerous double-doubles and averaging 17 points per game, the Magic traded Howard to the Houston Rockets in 2004, along with Tracy McGrady and two of his other teammates.
Howard played for the Rockets until the end of the 2007 season, which is when he returned to Dallas for one season.
The former Michigan great also spent time in Denver and with the Portland Trail Blazers before signing with the Miami Heat in 2010. Howard contributed to the Heat's championship run last season and is the only member of the Fab Five to win an NBA title.
The Heat opted to move on this year without Howard, but remain open to bringing him back if they are saddled with too many injuries.
6. Jamal Crawford, Shooting Guard
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NBA Career Statistics: 15.3 points per game, 3.8 assists per game
Number of Seasons in the NBA: 12
Although Jamal Crawford only spent one season with the Michigan Wolverines, there is no one who saw the Seattle, Washington native play at the Crisler Center and didn't walk away impressed with his abilities as a scorer.
Michigan fans knew Crawford would not stay in Ann Arbor for an extended period of time after the NCAA suspended him for receiving improper benefits during his only season with the Wolverines in 1999-2000.
The Cleveland Cavaliers took Crawford with the eighth overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft, but traded him to the Chicago Bulls for Chris Mihm.
Crawford made 16 starts in his first two seasons with the Bulls and never managed to find his stroke until his final year in Chicago.
The Rainer Beach High School product took off during the 2003-04 campaign and finished with averages of 17.3 points and 5.1 assists per game.
The Bulls continued to struggle during this time, so the team decided to trade Crawford to the New York Knicks prior to the start of the 2004-05 season. Once again, Crawford averaged just over 17 points per contest and started nearly every game for the Knicks.
Crawford averaged a career-high 20.6 points per game in his fourth and final season with the Knicks before being traded to the Golden State Warriors after the first 11 games of the 2008-09 season.
The Warriors wound up shipping Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks at the end of the year, which meant the 6'5", 200-pounder would have to come off of the bench for a talented and athletic team.
Crawford embraced his new role with the Hawks and won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2010 by scoring 18 points per game off the bench.
After two seasons in Atlanta, Crawford spent a season with the Portland Trail Blazers before signing a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this year. Crawford is currently averaging 17.6 points per game for the Clippers.
5. Jalen Rose
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NBA Career Statistics: 14.3 points per game, 3.8 assists per game
Number of Seasons in the NBA: 13
Another member of the Fab Five that went on to have success at the professional level is point guard Jalen Rose, who left the Michigan Wolverines in 1994 to enter the NBA Draft with Juwan Howard.
Rose was selected with the No. 13 overall pick in the draft by the Denver Nuggets and struggled during his first two seasons in the league. The Nuggets opted to trade Rose to the Indiana Pacers in 1996.
The former Detroit Southwest High School star continued to struggle despite the change of scenery, but he finally broke out in the 1999-2000 season with the Pacers, who won the Eastern Conference. Rose averaged 18.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and four assists per game and was named the NBA's most improved player.
Rose continued to show off his much improved game the following season by averaging over 20 points per contest along with six assists.
Despite the success Rose had in back-to-back seasons, the Pacers traded the former Wolverine to the Chicago Bulls for a host of players that included Ron Artest.
In his first season with the Bulls, Rose averaged 20 points per game for the second straight year and recorded a career-high scoring average of 22.1 points per contest during the 2002-03 campaign.
Rose's scoring production dipped significantly following the best season of his career, which prompted the Bulls to trade him to the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors were able to get decent production from Rose during his time in Toronto, but in an effort to rebuild the struggling franchise the team decided to trade the former All-Rookie Second Teamer to the New York Knicks partway through the 2005-06 season.
Rose played one final season with the Phoenix Suns and only averaged 3.7 points per game in 29 games, so the 6'8", 215-pounder retired and is currently working as an NBA analyst for ESPN.
4. Cazzie Russell, Small Forward
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NBA Career Statistics: 15.1 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game
Number of Seasons in the NBA: 12
If you've ever heard the Crisler Center referred to as "The House that Cazzie Built", you know that the phrase is in reference to former two-time consensus All-American and possibly the greatest player to ever suit up for the Michigan Wolverines, Cazzie Russell.
The Chicago, Illinois native helped lead the Wolverines to three straight Big Ten Conference titles from 1964-66 and guided Michigan to back to back Final Fours in 1964 and 1965.
Russell took his talents to the NBA in 1966, when he was selected No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft by the New York Knicks.
It did not take Russell long at all to find success at the NBA level, and the 6'5", 218-pounder made the NBA All-Rookie First Team by averaging 11.3 points per game in his first season as a professional basketball player.
Russell scored in the high teens during his second and third seasons before his points per game average dipped to 11.5 in 1970. The Knicks did manage to win the NBA title that season, though, which likely meant more to Russell than his individual numbers.
The Golden State Warriors acquired Russell in 1971 and helped the former Michigan great make his only NBA All-Star Game appearance. Russell averaged a career high 21.7 points per game in the 1971-72 campaign to earn the nomination.
Russell continued to be a standout scorer for the Warriors over the following two seasons before he left town to join the Los Angeles Lakers in 1974.
Although Russell played well for the Lakers over the course of three seasons, his prime had passed, and he played his final year in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls.
3. Rudy Tomjanovich, Small Forward
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NBA Career Statistics: 17.4 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game
Number of Seasons in the NBA: 11
One of the retired jersey numbers hanging in the rafters of the Crisler Center belongs to Rudy Tomjanovich, who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 1969 and 1970 to go along with an All-American nomination in the latter season for the Michigan Wolverines.
Tomjanovich was selected by the San Diego Rockets with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft.
After struggling through his rookie season, Tomjanovich and the Rockets were relocated to Houston, which is where the franchise is playing today.
Rudy T began to take the league by storm in the 1971-72 season. Tomjanovich scored 15 points and hauled in 11.8 rebounds per contest. While his rebounding numbers continued to decrease during his time with the Rockets, his scoring constantly increased.
The Hamtramck, Michigan native averaged over 20 points per game in four out of five seasons between 1973 and 1978, which earned him four All-Star nominations during that time frame.
Tomjanovich's career took a turn for the worst after being struck with a punch from Kermit Washington during an on-court brawl. Tomjanovich suffered a shattered jaw along with other head injuries. Although he made a return to the NBA for the 1978-79 season, he was never the same again.
The Rockets retired Tomjanovich's number shortly after he retired in 1981, and the five-time All-Star continued his career in the NBA as a head coach.
Tomjanovich won back to back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995 as the head coach of the Houston Rockets.
2. Glen Rice
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NBA Career Statistics: 18.3 points per game, 40 percent three-point shooter
Number of Seasons in the NBA: 15
After leading the Michigan Wolverines to an NCAA title in 1989, Glen Rice declared for the NBA Draft and was taken by the Miami Heat with the No. 4 pick in the first round.
Rice got off to a fast start with the Heat and averaged 15 points per game over the course of his first two seasons in Miami, though the real staple of the Flint, Michigan native's game had not been fully developed yet.
During his third season with the Heat, Rice became one of the premiere three-point shooters in the NBA and went on to knock down at least 130 shots from behind the arc in six consecutive seasons in Miami and with the Charlotte Hornets.
Rice's three-point shooting also helped boost his scoring average significantly, and the three-time NBA All-Star averaged over 20 points per game in six of seven campaigns from 1991-1998.
After his successful tenures in Miami and Charlotte, Rice was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1998. Rice spent two seasons with the Lakers before being traded to the New York Knicks.
The 6'7", 215-pounder eventually spent two seasons with the Houston Rockets from 2001-03 and retired as a result of an injured knee.
Rice finished his NBA career with over 18,000 points, an NBA All-Star Game MVP trophy from the 1997 exhibition contest and an NBA Championship ring from the Lakers title run in 2000.
1. Chris Webber
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NBA Career Statistics: 20.7 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game
Number of Seasons in the NBA: 15
The most prominent and successful member of the Fab Five is none other than Chris Webber, who is primarily remembered by college basketball fans for calling a timeout the Michigan Wolverines did not have in the final seconds of the NCAA title game in 1993.
Webber went on to stardom in the NBA after being selected by the Orlando Magic with the top pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. The Magic did not hold on to Webber, though, shipping him to the Golden State Warriors immediately after making their pick.
After winning the NBA's Rookie of the Year award in 1994, Weber opted out of his contract, and the Warriors were forced to trade him to the Washington Bullets.
Webber's career skyrocketed with the Bullets, as the former Michigan star scored more than 20 points per game in his only four seasons in Washington and in his first five campaigns with the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings won a franchise-best 61 games in 2001, and Webber made his fourth NBA All-Star team.
Sacramento shipped Webber to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2005, which is where the Detroit Country Day product remained until 2007, when he returned to play for his hometown team, the Detroit Pistons.
Webber went back for one last round with the Warriors during the 2007-08 season, but only played in nine games due to issues with his surgically repaired knee.
The 6'10", 245-pounder retired as a five-time All-Star, the league's rebounding champion in 1999 and a one-time All-NBA First Team selection.