NBA Where Are They Now: The 8 Players from Gunnin' for That No. 1 Spot
It's been five years since Adam Yauch (better known as MCA) of the Beastie Boys combined his love of film, basketball and the city of New York to create the documentary, Gunnin' for That #1 Spot. The film follows eight high school phenoms, aging from 15-18, as they are invited to play in the first Elite 24 Hoops Classic played at the legendary court at Rucker Park.
The game included the best high school players in the country, ranging from sophomores to seniors, all competing to earn respect and a nickname on the street court in Harlem.
That all took place in 2006, and now, in 2011, seven of the eight players featured in the movie are in the NBA, with the only other on the verge of being drafted. One of the featured players won Rookie of the Year. Fifteen of the 24 total players in the game are now in the NBA, which shows the level of competition.
Here's a look at where they are now.
Jerryd Bayless, Toronto Raptors
Bayless had already committed to the University of Arizona when the movie was shot and played there for a year before entering the draft. After being drafted 11th overall in 2008 by the Indiana Pacers, Bayless was shipped off to the Portland Trail Blazers in a draft day trade for Brandon Rush and Jarrett Jack.
Bayless spent two years on the Blazers contributing from the bench. He never really made too much of an impact, except for some pretty good play in the 2009-2010 playoffs, where he averaged 13.5 points in 27.7 minutes per game. Before the 2010-2011 season, the Blazers traded him to the New Orleans Hornets. He played for New Orleans for about a month before he was traded (again for Jarrett Jack) to the Toronto Raptors.
Bayless started 14 games for the Raptors, but was mostly a bench player. He'll probably still be the number two point guard next season.
Michael Beasley, Minnesota Timberwolves
Michael Beasley was the most hyped player in the film. He took home the No. 1 spot after his senior season and won the MVP at the McDonald's All-American game.
Everyone seemed to have just one word to describe him in the documentary: beast. That was the perfect description for him as he took his talents to Kansas State and was third in the nation in scoring and first in rebounds. He left after a year to be taken second overall by the Miami Heat, just one pick after Derrick Rose.
Beasley had an alright rookie year, but mostly came off the bench and struggled to rebound as the power forward. He was promoted to full-time starter in his second year, but still hadn't lived up to the high expectations. As free agency loomed in the summer of 2010, the Heat saw an opportunity to free enough cap room for almost three max contracts and gave Beasley to the Minnesota Timberwolves to make room for the Holy Triumvirate.
Beasley finally seemed to put it together in Minnesota, averaging 19.2 points per game alongside his fellow documentary star, Kevin Love. Beasley and Love look to make up a strong core for the Timberwolves, although they were the worst team this past year. Adding a player like Derrick Williams and getting Ricky Rubio could be a huge boost for the young team and could help Beasley continue to mature.
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
Tyreke Evans was going into his junior year when the film was shot, so he played two more years of high school before committing to join John Calipari's one-and-done point guard academy at the University of Memphis. He took them to the Sweet 16 before falling to the Missouri Tigers, so Evans quickly jumped ship and declared for the draft.
Evans was taken fourth overall in the 2009 draft by the Sacramento Kings. He averaged over 20 points, five assists and five rebounds per game in his rookie year. This incredible performance earned him the Rookie of the Year award. In his second season, Tyreke regressed a little and was forced to miss 19 games with a foot injury. He did manage to make the play of the year though, with a clutch half-court buzzer beater to take down the Memphis Grizzlies.
Donte Greene, Sacramento Kings
Like Jerryd Bayless, Donte Greene had already committed to play college ball when the film was made. Greene went to Syracuse University and became the first freshman to lead the team in scoring since Carmelo Anthony. The Orange failed to make the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament that year.
Donte Greene left for the NBA after just a year in college, but probably needed some more seasoning. He was selected 28th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies, but was quickly traded to the Houston Rockets. After dominating the summer league, the Rockets traded him to the Sacramento Kings for Ron Artest.
Greene struggled in his first season with the Kings and looked like a bust. He was sent down to the D-League at one point, but only stayed for a week.
Greene has developed a little since then and has turned into a pretty good bench player for the Kings.
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
Brandon Jennings made history in his post high school basketball career when he decided to play in Europe for a year instead of playing college basketball. This decision allowed Jennings to make money on the contract and through endorsements, which would have violated NCAA policies.
Jennings didn't get much playing time in Italy, so his numbers didn't look that great when he came back to America. This caused him to slip to the Milwaukee Bucks, who took him 10th in the 2009 draft.
Jennings stepped in right away to make an impact for the Bucks with his incredible, creative passing. He had his best game of his career as a rookie when he scored 55 against Golden State. That was the second most points scored in a single game by a player under 21.
Like Evans, Jennings suffered a foot injury that limited him this past season. He did, however, improve in his scoring. Jennings has emerged as the face of the franchise for Milwaukee.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
Kevin Love was already locked in at UCLA when the film was made and he was at the top of ESPN's ratings. It looks like they got this one right.
Love and Russell Westbrook led the Bruins to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, where they lost to the Derrick Rose and the University of Memphis in the Final Four (Memphis's wins that season were vacated).
After the tournament, the Bruins teammates went into the draft and were drafted back to back with the fourth and fifth picks, Westbrook to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Love to the Memphis Grizzlies. Later that day, Love was traded with Mike Miller and some others to the Minnesota Timberwolves for third overall pick O.J. Mayo, one of his Rucker Park teammates.
Love has been very good in the NBA. He led all rookies in double-doubles in 2008-2009. He was also ninth in the NBA in rebounding that year. His second season started with a hand injury that kept him out for the first 18 games of the year, but came back strong and finished the year leading the NBA in rebounds per 48 minutes.
The trade of Al Jefferson and acquisition of Michael Beasley only helped Love. He showed that he is a true star of the league when he had a 31-point 31-rebound game that was the first 30-30 game since 1982. He averaged a league leading 15.2 rebounds per game and scored over 20 per game. His rare combination of height and outside shooting ability made him a coverage nightmare. He was named to his first All-Star team and won Most Improved Player at the end of the year.
Kevin Love has emerged as one of the best big men in the NBA and is clearly the most accomplished of the players in featured in Gunnin' for That #1 Spot.
Kyle Singler, Duke Blue Devils
Kyle Singler is an interesting case among his peers in the film. Singler was one of the oldest players in the film, a rising senior like Beasley and Love. That said, he is the only one that is not in the NBA because all of the other players were one and done before entering the draft.
Singler graduated from Duke this year and is preparing to enter the draft. He will likely be drafted in the early second round, but could get lucky and creep into the end of the first round. Singler is the only of the player featured to win a National Championship in college. Sigler was named Most Outstanding Player in Duke's 2010 victory.
Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers
Lance Stephenson had a very bright future when the movie was filmed. He was the youngest player in the Elite 24 at just 15. He was the only sophomore in the game.
Stephenson's college recruitment was tumultuous. He had a few off-the-court issues including a sexual assault charge. He looked like he would be going to Kansas or Maryland, but waited too receive a scholarship from Kansas and ran into recruiting issues with Maryland. He eventually signed with the University of Cincinnati.
Stephenson left after a year, but was taken in the second round by the Indiana Pacers. He was the lowest selected player of those featured. Later that year, Stephenson was arrested for assault.
His rookie season was pretty poor. He only played in 12 games and never made an impact. He was put on the inactive list because he violated team rules and was immature. Stephenson's career is in jeopardy until he can discipline himself and act like an adult.
Other Players in the Elite 24 Hoops Classic
O.J. Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies
Bill Walker, New York Knicks
J.J. Hickson, Cleveland Cavaliers
Samardo Samuels, Cleveland Cavaliers
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
Devin Ebanks, Los Angeles Lakers
Cole Aldrich, Oklahoma City Thunder
Anthony Randolph, Minnesota Timberwolves