What are the most famous NBA players from Arizona State?
Arizona State has produced several NBA players who have led successful NBA careers, including James Harden, Joe Caldwell, and Lafayette Lever.
Arizona State fans, join us as we dive into the top 5 NBA players from Arizona State.
For readers with less Arizona familiarity, the Sun Devils, Arizona State’s basketball team, are part of the NCAA Division I playing in the Pac-12 conference.
There have been 43 players selected out of Arizona State in NBA draft history, nine in the first round (1 during the last 10 years), 12 in the second round and one among the top 3 picks. Last season was the most recent time a player was selected in the NBA draft out of Arizona State.
NBA teams with the most players out of Arizona State are the Phoenix Suns (10 times), Chicago Bulls (3), Sacramento Kings (3).
Here’s a list of the top five NBA players out of Arizona State, in my opinion:
Arizona State best NBA players of all-time
James Harden- current
Known as the best shooting guard in the NBA, Harden was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunders in 2009, and have most recently joined the Philadelphia 76ers in 2022.The 32-year-old averages 34.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. One of the top overall players in the league, Harden was ASU's first consensus All-American and the third overall pick in 2009.
He also played for the Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets.
Joe Caldwell- 1964
One of the few All-Star players in both the NBA and ABA (American Basketball Association), Joe Caldwell was a two-time NBA All-Star and a two-time ABA All-Star.
In the early 1960s, Caldwell was a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic team that won gold and the No. 2 overall pick by the Detroit Pistons. The 6-foot-5 Arizona State graduate was a beast on the court.
Lafayette "Fat" Lever- 1982
A two-time All-Star, Lafayette Lever was considered one of the league’s best point guards during the late 1980s, playing for the Denver Nuggets. Lever averaged 16.3 points per game, 5.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, considered one of the best defensive players in the Pac-10.
And because he played alongside Byron Scott, Lever was not given as much credit as his career deserves. As of the end of the 2021 regular season, Lever ranks 11th on the all-time list of ‘most triple-doubles’ in the regular season, ahead of players like Michael Jordan (28), Clyde Drexler (25) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (21), with 43 over 11 seasons.
Lionel Hollins - 1956
Helming the guard position at the Portland Trail Blazers, Lionel Hollins won an NBA championship in 1977 and was named an NBA All-Star in 1978.
After leading the Sun Devils to an Elite Eight appearance in the '75 NCAA Tournament, he was the sixth overall pick by Portland in 1975, averaging 11.6 points per game, 2.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
Byron Scott - 1983
Byron Scott was both a head coach and a player in the NBA, who won three NBA championships with the Lakers in the 1980s.
The L.A. guard averaged 14.1 points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game and 2.5 assists per game. And while he was never an All-Star player, he’s one of only seven coaches in the NBA to earn the honor in both the Eastern and Western conference.
Former Arizona State players Currently in the NBA
There are currently three players in the NBA drafted out of Arizona State. The latest one is John Christopher, drafted by the Houston Rockets in 2021.
In 2019, Luguentz Dort was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
And finally, one of the league’s best, James Harden, has been playing in the NBA for 12 seasons: for Oklahoma (2009-2012), Houston Rockets (2012-2021), Brooklyn Nets (2021-2022), and currently with the Philadelphia 76ers.