I was looking over the Rockets roster the other day and couldn't help but notice how many Pac-10 players are on the squad.
Aaron Brooks - Oregon
Trevor Ariza - UCLA
Chase Budinger - Arizona
Jordan Hill - Arizona
Will Conroy - Washington*
The next highest teams are Portland, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and OKC with 3 each. What's interesting is where these guys fell in the draft - only Hill is a Top 10 pick, a Top 10 pick whose team essentially discarded him in his rookie year. Ariza is a 2nd rounder, along with Budinger. Brooks was late 1st round. Conroy wasn't drafted. Yet it's clear these guys are NBA caliber talents at some level.
Is the Pac-10 a source of undervalued performance for Morey and the front office? It certainly looks as if it might be. As of the start of this season, the four colleges with the most players picked were Duke and UNC, no surprise there, right? In a virtual tie with those two NCAA superpowers? Arizona and UCLA.
I'm not sure what it all means, and I haven't dug into the numbers, but amongst Western Conference teams with a lot of bright young talent, the PAC-10 features prominently:
Portland: Brandon Roy, Jeryd Bayless, Pendergraph
OKC: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Weaver
The East teams have fewer star players, but Philly still has JaRue Holiday hailing from the PAC-10.
I'm going to investigate this more, in terms of draft positions, salary and production. An article in the invaluable 82games.com suggests that Wakeforest has produced the most value in the NBA in the last 10 years. A healthy dose of Tim Duncan and Chris Paul will do that for a school.
*Granted, Conroy is a 10 day contract, but the Washington pedigree and his ongoing destruction of the D-League should make some people consider him in a new light. He was the high school and college backcourt partner for Rocket-Killer-Roy.