Tuesday marks the official opening night of the 2023-2024 NBA season. There’s a lot to look forward to across the league, but this season, Razorback fans will have a much larger rooting interest than any previous year.
Ten former Arkansas basketball players have made NBA rosters for this season – the most the program has ever had in the league at one time.
In the words of @BPortistime…
🗣️ ARKANSAS IN THE NBA pic.twitter.com/CSNdVJUAd8
— Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s Basketball 🐗 (@RazorbackMBB) October 24, 2023
The Razorbacks are just one of ten schools with double-digit NBA players this season – joining Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas, UCLA and Villanova. In fact, the Hogs are tied with Texas for the 7th most players in the league to start this year – trailing only Kentucky (26), Duke (24), UCLA (15), Kansas (12), Michigan and Gonzaga (11 each).
Out of those ten former Hogs in the NBA, six have played for current Razorback coach Eric Musselman. That’s just the latest example of how incredible the recruiting has been since Musselman arrived in Fayetteville four years ago.
Let’s take a closer look at every former Razorback on an NBA roster for opening night.
Year: 12th season
Career Stats: 8.5 PTS, 4.2 REB, 3.4 AST, 1.1 STL, 41.3 FG%, 37.3 3P%
Outlook: 35-year old Patrick Beverley is entering his 12th season in the NBA and will play for his sixth different franchise. He signed with the Philadelphia 76ers over the offseason and provides the team with some veteran backcourt depth, while the franchise figures out what to do about star guard James Harden.
Preseason Stats: 3.5 PTS, 3.0 REB, 1.8 AST, 1.3 STL, 31.3 FG%, 17.8 MPG
Outlook: Anthony Black was selected No. 6 overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2023 NBA Draft. The Magic add Black to a somewhat deep backcourt to learn behind Cole Anthony, Gary Harris, Markelle Fultz, Joe Ingles and Jalen Suggs. Black may struggle to get significant playing time early on, but he has an insane amount of potential and figures into Orlando’s long-term plans.
Year: 6th season
Career Stats: 8.0 PTS, 4.8 REB, 1.3 BLK, 70.6 FG%, 66.5 FT%
Outlook: Daniel Gafford is is in line for a much bigger role with the Wizards this season. Following the departure of Kristaps Porzingis, Gafford is expected to not only be the starting center but take on more responsibility as well. His rim protection and pick-and-roll ability makes him an important asset for the Wizards going forward. He’s been dealing with an elbow injury to start the year, but expect him to get ample opportunity when healthy.
Year: 4th season
Career Stats: 6.2 PTS, 1.6 REB, 0.8 AST, 40.8 FG%, 38.6 3P%, 83.2 FT%
Outlook: Isaiah Joe is set to be an important role player for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. This could potentially be the final year of his contract, as the team will have the option to decline his salary next season and make him a free agent. While that is an unlikely scenario, it’s an important year for Joe to continue his impressive development and solidify his future with the Thunder.
Year: 3rd season
Career Stats: 4.6 PTS, 1.6 REB, 45.9 FG%, 36.3 3P%, 73.0 FT%, 12.4 MPG
Outlook: Moses Moody had a roller coaster sophomore campaign that ultimately ended on a very positive note. After struggling to get consistent opportunities throughout the regular season, Steve Kerr thrusted Moody into the Warriors’ main rotation for their playoff run. Moody showed he could be a reliable “3-and-D” when given opportunities. We’ll see if that continues entering this season.
Year: 10th season
Career Stats: 11.5 PTS, 7.0 REB, 1.2 AST, 47.4 FG%, 38.1 3P%, 75.4 FT%
Outlook: After inking a 4-year contract worth 49 million dollars in the summer of 2022, Bobby Portis spent the majority of last season battling injuries. Two years removed from their 2021 championship, the Bucks are gearing up for another run after acquiring star point guard Damian Lillard to pair with superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Portis will once again play a pivotal role in the Bucks’ success, as he’ll be asked to do a little bit of everything this season.
Preseason Stats: 7.8 PTS, 3.0 REB, 1.0 AST, 50.0 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 75.0 FT%
Outlook: After battling injuries for his one season at Arkansas, Nick Smith Jr.’s draft stock took a significant hit. The Charlotte Hornets ended up selecting Smith with the No. 27 overall pick and added him to a pretty deep backcourt. Smith has shown flashes of what he can be, like his 33-point outburst in the Summer League a few months ago, but needs to show more consistency. If he is able to develop quickly, look for him to carve out a major role next to the Hornets’ franchise point guard LaMelo Ball.
Year: 2nd season
Preseason Stats: 9.3 PTS, 3.0 REB, 1.8 AST, 45.5 FG%, 43.8 3P%, 17.0 MPG
Outlook: After failing to make the Pistons’ opening night roster last year, Stanley Umude made the cut this season. Following his stellar preseason performance, the Piston officially signed Umude to a two-way contract – meaning he’ll split time in the G-League and on the main roster in Detroit. He’ll likely only get limited opportunities, barring injuries, but has shown that he can do a lot when given a chance.
Preseason Stats: 2.3 PTS, 3.3 REB, 1.0 STL, 25.0 FG%, 13.5 MPG
Outlook: Jordan Walsh might have the most potential out of any former Arkansas basketball player currently in the NBA, and landed with the perfect organization to develop his skill set – the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, he’s got a lot of experience and talent ahead of him, which means that opportunities are likely going to be sparse. His ceiling and work ethic are unmatched, it’s just a question of how quickly can he develop his entire game to an NBA level.
Jaylin Williams - Oklahoma City Thunder
Year: 2nd season
Preseason Stats: 5.9 PTS, 4.9 REB, 1.6 AST, 43.6 FG%, 40.7 3P%, 70.4 FT%
Outlook: Fan-favorite and Fort Smith native, Jaylin Williams was a second round pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2022, and became a reliable rotation player for the team last season. Williams is looking to take another leap in his development during his sophomore NBA season and crack into the main rotation with fellow Arkansas alum Isaiah Joe. The Thunder are very high on Williams and see him as a core piece for the franchise moving forward.