There have been many NBA players who were born in the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle and Portland basketball scenes have been vastly underrated by media outlets throughout the country.
It seems to me that many experts still believe that the best players come out of New York, California and Chicago. And while this is still partially true, it is important to recognize the hoops talent that continually comes out of the PNW.
I will be the first to admit that the PNW has not provided the NBA with elite star power. Nevertheless, there are still many players who have made quite a name for themselves in the Association.
For the sake of this article I will only mention players who were BORN in either Washington State or Oregon. I am not counting players who played their college ball at PNW colleges without having been born in the area.
To begin with, who can forget Brandon Roy. In my opinion, Roy is the best NBA player to ever come out of the PNW. He was born in Seattle and played his high-school ball at Garfield. Garfield is a school located in South Seattle and has a reputation for developing elite basketball players.
He went on to play his college ball at the University of Washington, and after college he got drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the sixth pick in the 2006 NBA draft. However, he made a name for himself after a draft-day trade sending him to the Portland Trail Blazers and he quickly became their star player.
With the Trail Blazers, he was an elite shot-maker with an extremely high basketball IQ. His athleticism was never NBA material; however, he had an innate sense of making plays with the ball in his hands.
He led the Blazers to the NBA playoffs in the 2008-09 season and averaged 26.7 points per game in their first-round defeat to the Houston Rockets.
Sadly, his career was cut short due to having countless knee injuries. Nevertheless, his career stats were still impressive: He averaged 18.8 points per game, 4.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds.
The next player I will focus on also played his college ball at UW; however, he was born in Portland. Terrence Ross currently plays for the Orlando Magic and is a streaky scorer. He is the type of player who can take over a game or miss just about every shot he takes.
He is extremely athletic and has the ability to captivate a crowd with his high-flying dunking abilities. I believe that if he becomes a more consistent scorer and a better defender that he could become a household name. Nonetheless, he still has plenty of room for improvement before he can be considered an elite player.
On a good team, he would be a solid bench player. On a bad team he would be a solid starter. He has played for the Toronto Raptors and the Magic in his nine-year NBA career and has averaged 9.7 points per game.
Another Seattleite, Jamal Crawford is a once-in-a-lifetime shot-maker. His ability to create and make shots is on par with the best players in the NBA. Crawford was born in Seattle, WA and played his high-school hoops at Rainier Beach.
He is mostly known for making crazy streetball-type moves and fadeaway three-pointers on a consistent basis. He would be a star in the Association; however, he doesn’t play defense. And when I say he doesn’t play defense, I mean that he makes James Harden look like Kawhi Leonard.
Nevertheless, he has had a very successful NBA career and has played for a wide variety of different teams. He is still in the league at the young age of 38 and currently plays for the Phoenix Suns.
He has averaged 14.9 points per game throughout his career.
Another player born in Rip City is Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis played his college ball at Gonzaga University. He currently plays for the Indiana Pacers and is an upcoming talent in the pros.
He is a pesky defender, a solid rebounder, and an all-around hustle player. He is the type of player that every NBA championship team needs. Furthermore, he has an ever-improving offensive game and has shown flashes of being a consistent scorer from 15 feet and in.
On Tuesday night, he had the number three play on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays; apparently the man’s got hops and can throw down a nasty dunk.
I am personally very excited to see the development of this young player. He has the ability to change games with his defense and does not back down from anyone.
IT from TW
The next player I am going to talk about hails from Tacoma, Washington. Modern day Isaiah Thomas is a confusing basketball player.
Just two seasons ago, it seemed like Thomas was one of the best rising point guards in the NBA. He was the dynamic leader of the Boston Celtics and hit clutch shot after clutch shot. His ability to create open looks appeared to be elite and then vanished in thin air.
Granted, a hip injury did slow him down. Once he got traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was never the same player. I’m not sure if LeBron James hurt his feelings or what exactly happened, but he is a shell of the former player he used to be.
He currently plays for the Denver Nuggets and has played a combined zero minutes in the last three games. I’m not sure if he’s hurt again or if he’s just bad. Either way, that’s not a good sign.
Portland’s Own, OG Edition
Last and certainly not least is a throwback player born in the City of Roses. Mighty Mouse, Damon Stoudamire, was the starting point guard on the Jail Blazers and a very good all-around player.
He had a great handle and the ability to get to the hoop with consistency. He opened up shots for his teammates and could hit a three-pointer when needed. He was just your stereotypical solid NBA point-guard. He reminds me of a poor man’s Kemba Walker.
Stoudamire was seriously a good basketball player and should be remembered for more than his off-court issues. I think that the Jail Blazers got a bad reputation as a whole, and this has tarnished his career.
He averaged 13.4 points per game, 6.1 assists, and 3.5 rebounds throughout his NBA career.
There are many other good NBA players who were from the PNW. Due to the fact that I am trying to write an article and not an essay, I will not go into detail about every single player. The following is a long list of additional players who were born in Washington State or Oregon.
Jason Terry, Doug Christie, Terrell Brandon, Ronnie Brewer, Terrence Jones, Marvin Williams, Nate Robinson, Kyle Singler, Danny Ainge, Spencer Hawes, Rodney Stuckey, Aaron Brooks, Avery Bradley, and Martell Webster.
I am not sure exactly why the PNW has such a passion for basketball. Whatever it is, people seem to love hoops in the northwest corner of the map.
From the sold-out crowds at the Moda Center, to the pick-up games at Green Lake, the PNW has a thriving basketball culture and I’m proud to be apart of it.