Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Alabama in the NBA: The best, least best and everyone in between

CW / David Gray
Former Alabama basketball player Brandon Miller (#24) makes a run towards the goal during the Sweet Sixteen game against San Diego State.

The NBA regular season has finally arrived. The Crimson Tide currently has 11 representatives in the league, 10 of whom are actively rostered and one of whom remains in the free agent pool. 

Ahead lies a thorough sorting of all 11 former Crimson Tide basketball players in the NBA. 

11) Charles Bediako (Alabama C, 2021-22) 

Charles Bediako was an always-lovable presence in his two seasons with the Crimson Tide.  

He had a team-leading 1.8 blocks; no one else averaged one. 

What pushes Bediako so far down this list, aside from his being an unproven rookie, is his lack of dimensionality. His role was highly valuable on a college team that needed him to essentially clog the paint and do nothing else, but in the NBA, greater versatility is required. 

This isn’t to say that Bediako will never grow into a more multifaceted player, but as he stands now, his role will be narrow. 

10) JD Davison (Alabama PG, 2021) 

The one-year JD Davison experience at Alabama was something of a roller coaster. Playing right at 26 minutes a game, he chipped in 8.5 points with a decent 46.3% field goal percentage, and as a point guard, he averaged a respectable 4.3 assists.  

Davison has a solid amount of athleticism and can put some pressure on the rim, but he hasn’t shown himself to be a shooting threat, a must for his position. Until he can develop a long-range jumper, he remains difficult to play. 

9) Keon Ellis (Alabama 2021-22) 

Keon Ellis has gotten limited run in his time in the NBA. In 16 games with the Sacramento Kings last season playing less than five minutes a night, he put up negligible averages of 1.5 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.4 assists. 

In his career at Alabama, he averaged 8.8 points per game — 12.1 in his final year — while shooting 37% from 3 and earning an SEC All-Defense nomination. The talent is clearly there, and at 6 feet, 6 inches, he appears to fit the 3-and-D mold well; only time will tell what he grows into. 

8) Braxton Key (Alabama F, 2016-17) 

Braxton Key, who played two years at Alabama and then two years at Virginia, didn’t make his NBA debut until 2022. Since then, he has played a grand total of 14 games. 

Key is a taller wing who hasn’t posed much of a scoring threat either inside or outside. He has put up a few solid showings across the G-League and Summer League, but it hasn’t amounted to any sort of consistency. It isn’t impossible, but finding a long-term spot on an NBA roster is currently an uphill battle. 

7) Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama 2018-19) 

Kira Lewis’s tenure with the Pelicans has been fairly unremarkable, with career averages of 5.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists on lackluster efficiency. He has split time between the official Pelicans NBA team and its G-League affiliate, the Birmingham Squadron. 

His numbers are underwhelming, and his role seems to progressively be decreasing. That the Pelicans are moving in the direction of contention and have fewer spots for experimentation with youth only exacerbates this. Barring a drastic jump in productivity, he might just get left behind. 

6) Josh Primo (Alabama G, 2020) 

Matters outside of basketball have been unfortunate as of late for Josh Primo. 

Those off-the-court issues caused him to be released from San Antonio, where he had 5.9 points on underwhelming shooting splits in just over 50 games. 

What puts Primo ahead of others are his youth and college performance; he was an SEC All-Freshman in his lone season, and at 20 years old, there is still more than enough time to get some momentum going. 

5) Noah Clowney (Alabama F-C, 2022) 

A 28.3% percentage from 3 isn’t flooring, but Noah Clowney nonetheless showcased the potential to space the floor. If he can develop that into a reliable skill, he might find himself a hot commodity. At 6 feet, 10 inches and 210 pounds, he has the spidery build that’s conducive to defensive versatility. 

Though he has yet to play a regular-season NBA game, his physique and skills mark him as having a sky-high ceiling. 

4) Brandon Miller (Alabama G-F, 2022) 

One could make the argument that  Brandon Miller is the best player in Alabama basketball history. At the very least, he’s among the elite who have come through the program. 

In his one-and-done freshman season, he scored just short of 19 points a game and did so shooting 43% from the field and 38.4% from 3 — rock-solid efficiency for a star player. Moreover, he grabbed over eight rebounds, which was good enough to lead the team. 

He earned his place as the second overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, the highest selection for an Alabama player since Antonio McDyess in 1995. It might only be his rookie season, but Miller seems primed to become an All-Star-level contributor, and to do so quickly. 

3) JaMychal Green (Alabama F 2008-11) 

Being a star has never been and likely never will be in the cards for JaMychal Green. Wherever he has gone, however, he has given his team solid minutes, peaking in the mid-to-late 2010s with the Memphis Grizzlies. In 2016 and 2017, he played almost 30 minutes, scored right at or just below 10 points, and grabbed 7.8 rebounds. 

 Green is a nine-year-tenured player who has made the most of limited roles. Staying power is nothing to sneeze at. 

2) Herb Jones (Alabama F-C, 2017-20) 

After playing four years in college, Herb Jones came into the league  more experienced than the average rookie and became an integral piece in the New Orleans Pelicans’ recent success. His counting stats are nothing special, but where he makes his money is on defense; he’s long, wiry and quick, which allows him to guard positions 1-5. 

Jones is the consummate image of a modern NBA defender. All that lies between him and true All-Stardom is a reliable jump shot.  

1) Collin Sexton (Alabama G, 2017) 

“Underappreciated” might not be the right term to describe Collin Sexton, but he has nonetheless quietly carved out quite the successful career. 

Across five seasons, Sexton has averaged nearly 20 points, three rebounds, and just over three assists on splits of 46.4% from the field and 38% from 3. He got as high as 24.3 points per game in the 2020 season while also logging a career high average in assists.  

The first game of the 2023-24 NBA season between the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers will tipoff at 6:30 p.m. CT and will broadcast on TNT.  

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