Nine Former Tigers On NBA Rosters As Season Tips Off
BATON ROUGE – Nine former LSU basketball stars on six different teams are on opening night rosters for National Basketball Association’s start of the 2023-24 season with all five teams to make their debut on Wednesday night.
Three players – Javonte Smart for Philadelphia and, Skylar Mays and Duop Reath for Portland, are on two-way contracts that will allow them a certain number of days with the NBA franchise while also getting playing time with the club’s respective G-League team.
Garrett Temple continues his long NBA career at age 37 has played 716 games across 10 NBA teams (Houston, Sacramento, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Washington, Memphis, Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn and the last two seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans). This year he has signed a contract with the Toronto Raptors.
Only Shaquille O’Neal, Brandon Bass and Bob Pettit have played more NBA games among LSU alums in the history of the NBA.
Temple, whose father Collis Jr., and brother Collis Temple III were both LSU basketball stars in their own right, played on the 2006 NCAA Final Four team and won his second conference championship in his senior season of 2009.
Temple and the Raptors will host another LSU alum in their Wednesday open when Toronto faces Minnesota and Naz Reid.
In June, Reid and the Timberwolves agreed to a three-year, $42 million extension with a player option on the final season according to Reid’s agents.
Reid has played 245 games for the Timberwolves and this past season averaged 11.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists a game while shooting 53.7 percent from the field and almost 35 percent from the arc.
Reed played on the 2019 SEC Championship team at LSU that advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
Tari Eason played in all 82 games as a rookie for the Houston Rockets a year ago, averaging 9.3 points and 6.0 rebounds. Eason played on the 2022 LSU team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament after transferring from Cincinnati and was the No. 17 selection in the 2022 draft.
He did not play in the final three exhibition games for the Houston Rockets with a lower leg issue. The Rockets open the 2023-24 season at Orlando.
The Brooklyn Nets have a trio of former LSU players in Ben Simmons, Cam Thomas and Trendon Watford. The Nets are at home for the opener against Cleveland.
Simmons, who only played 42 games a year ago and averaged 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists, has career numbers of 14.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists in 317 career games for Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Simmons played the 2015-16 season for the Tigers.
Cam Thomas was the 27th pick of the 2021 NBA Draft after a spectacular freshman campaign at LSU and in his two years in Brooklyn has played 124 games, averaging 9.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He has been known to go off for some impressive numbers, scoring 30 in 2022 and last year 47 in one game.
He played in 57 games a year ago and averaged 10.6 points.
Watford will be making his Brooklyn debut after two years in Portland. There he averaged 7.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 110 games played, shooting 54.7 percent from the floor.
Philadelphia hosts Milwaukee on Wednesday and Smart’s contract with the 76ers was converted from an Exhibit 10 deal to the two-way contract after impressing in the preseason according to media reports. Smart played in 17 games a season ago on two-way contracts with Milwaukee and Miami, averaging 3.0 points the last two years.
In four games in the preseason for the 76ers, Smart averaged 4.5 points and 1.5 assists in 8.3 minutes.
Mays has played 67 games for the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers who resigned him several weeks ago to a two-way deal. Mays has averaged 4.4 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists. Mays played on the 2019 SEC Championship team at LSU and was one of the rare four-year players for the Tigers.
He was named the College Sports Communicators Athlete of the Year on the men’s basketball academic squad and won the McWhorter Award as the league’s top scholar-athlete.
Reath returns to the NBA this year with the Trail Blazers after playing for Portland in the NBA Summer League. Reath, who played for LSU for two seasons in 2017 and 2018, played for Australia in the FIBA World Cup this past summer and in four games with Portland in the preseason averaged 7.8 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Portland will open at the Los Angeles Clippers.
These players listed are listed on NBA rosters as of Noon, October 24.