"2015-2016 NBA preview: Alabama has a few, big stars of their own"
In the State of Alabama, football is the most dominant sport. Most male high school athletes go to play collegiate football. Once in a while, a player will come from no where and achieve a high level of success where he will play for a top basketball collegiate program. Then he will proceed to the NBA where he will considered one of the best in the world. There are three players from of Alabama that have done so and are hoping to make a name for themselves for the upcoming 2015-2016 NBA season. Those players are starting Sacramento Kings Center DeMarcus Cousins, starting Toronto Raptors Power Forward DeMarre Carroll, and starting Phoenix Suns Point Guard Eric Bledsoe.
DeMarcus Cousins is a former LeFlore Rattler from Mobile, Alabama who played for the SEC championship Kentucky Wildcats for the 2009-2010 season. It is only fitting one of the best centers in the NBA today came from one of the best college basketball team in the country. DeMarcus was coached by John Calipari in his first two years as head coach for the Wildcats. DeMarcus Cousins was named All-Star Center for the 2014-2015 NBA season. DeMarcus started all 59 of the games he played for the Sacramento Kings last season while averaging 12.7 rebounds per game and 24.1 points per game playing an average of 31.3 minutes per game. He plays for a team that finished last in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference for the majority of the past couple of seasons. With a new head coach in George Karl he is hoping to make the Kings a relevant and efficient team in the Pacific Division and hopefully the Western Conference.
For the past two seasons, former John Carroll Cavalier, DeMarre Carroll has played consistently with the Atlanta Hawks that gave him a 5th chance with his 5th different team. He found himself in the starting lineup for all 72 regular season games he played for the 2013-2014 NBA season. The past two seasons for the Atlanta Hawks, Carroll averaged more than 30 minutes per game, more than 5 rebounds per game, and more than 11 points per game. Last season, Carroll helped the Hawks get to the Eastern conference semi- finals. Carroll does find himself with a new team in the Toronto Raptors where they have star Point Guard Kyle Lowery. Having Lowry at the point guard position balances out team output from size perspective to scoring, rebounding, and playing on defense. Carroll has proved to be good starting small forward for the Hawks, but now he must learn to do so for another team.
Starting Phoenix Suns point guard, Eric Bledsoe is another star high school player from Alabama who went to the 2009-2010 Kentucky Wildcats the same year with DeMarcus Cousins. Bledsoe is from Birmingham (Parker Thundering Herd), but unlike Carroll, Bledsoe has played with only two teams in his young five year career. The Suns have been a sub par .500 percent winning team with Bledsoe at the starting point guard position the last two seasons. Bledsoe had his career high numbers last season in minutes per game with 34.6 minutes, free throw percentage with .800% for the season, rebounds with 5.2 per game, assists with 1.6 per game, and steals with 1.6 per game. Team captain Bledsoe, plays for a Suns team that has multiple contributing players like Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler that will help make the Suns contend against a tough Pacific Division of the Western Conference.
Cousins, Carroll, and Bledsoe are still primary young and will have plenty of years left in the NBA. The Toronto Raptors led by point guard, Kyle Lowry and newly acquired small forward, DeMarre Carroll will continue to push for a deeper playoff spot where they lost in the first round last season. Both the Suns and the Kings are in a playoff drought and hope their captains in Bledsoe and Cousins will lead them back in the hunt. Outside the three previous players, there are three other players in the NBA from the state of Alabama, They are Houston Rockets shooting guard K.J. McDaniels (Central Park High School), Memphis Grizzlies power forward, JaMychal Green (St. Judes High School) and free agent small forward, Gerald Wallace (Childsburg High School). These players are not key contributing performers but there is time to go from underachiever to team contributor. Former Alabama Crimson Tide Gerald Wallace is 33 years old but is also a 2010 All-Star, so he has the talent to come back and be a key player for a team this season. The NBA has a lot of talent in each of their teams but sadly there is no NBA team in the state of Alabama. It should be fitting that sport fans from Alabama cheer for players like DeMarcus Cousins for the Kings, Carroll for the Raptors, or Bledsoe for the Suns as they try to make their name in the immortal list of NB greats.