On Friday, the Phoenix Suns announced the signing of Zoran Dragic, the 25-year-old brother of reigning Most Improved Player Goran Dragic. They are the second pair of brothers Phoenix has reunited over the last few years. The first, obviously, was Markieff and Marcus Morris, the former of which really came into his own as an NBA player last year.
In any event, while Phoenix transforms itself into the real city of brotherly love, the number of siblings in the NBA—particularly on the same team—appears to be on the rise. Tyler and Ben Hansbrough shared time in Indiana, as well, and the recent influx of Zellers and Plumlees—even though they haven’t been NBA teammates—has been a bit overwhelming over the last three or four years.
Even guys like Carlos Boozer, Kevin Durant, Jrue Holiday, J.R. Smith and others have seen their siblings brought on board their team’s Summer League squads. This is, more than it ever has been, a family business.
But a lot of that is because talent runs in families. There’s simply no questioning that. Often in high schools and colleges across the country, siblings excel together at music, theater, academics and of course sports, but only a small handful of those talented siblings will see multiple offspring from the same family make a name for themselves on an elite level. It’s not necessarily a rarity for that to happen, but it’s certainly not common, either.
In the entire history of the NBA, there have been right around 50 examples of brothers who both have played in the league, and when one considers that there are over 400 players in the NBA at any given time, that’s a pretty small sample.
Today’s top five looks at the best of those sibling pairings, though most of them never did play together at the NBA level. Here are the most talented brothers the league has ever seen:
#5 – Tom and Dick Van Arsdale – The Van Arsdale twins dominated at Indiana University back in the ’60s, and in their first professional season in 1966 both were named to the All-Rookie team. Dick was a three-time All-Star and one of the best free-throw shooters in the league, while Tom, who played for six different teams, still holds the NBA record for most regular season games without a playoff appearance.
#4 – Jon, Brent and Drew Barry – Jon was a solid role player throughout his career (and is now a solid analyst for ESPN), but Brent started almost everywhere he played and even won two NBA championships with the Spurs in 2005 and 2007. Adding an extra layer to this is brother Drew, who saw spotty action in the NBA for Golden State, Seattle and Atlanta. The fourth brother, Scooter, also played basketball but was the only one not to make the NBA. All are the sons of Hall of Famer Rick Barry.
#3 – Dominique and Gerald Wilkins – Dominique’s NBA resume is well-documented— nine All-Star selections, seven All-NBA team selections, a scoring title, and of course two dunk contest wins—but younger brother Gerald played 14 full seasons in the NBA. In what is a rarity on this list, these two brothers actually were able to play on the same team, the Orlando Magic, in 1999, putting an exclamation point on two very respectable careers.
#2 – Horace and Harvey Grant – With three championships alongside Michael Jordan and four All-Defensive team honors, Horace clearly had a more memorable career than his twin brother, but both were solid rebounders, and Harvey even had three seasons where he averaged over 18 PPG.
#1 – Pau and Marc Gasol – Pau is a two-time champion and four-time NBA All-Star with the L.A. Lakers, and at one time not too long ago would have been considered the best power forward in the game. He won Rookie of the Year in 2002 and before coming to the NBA was one of the best players in the history of Spain. Younger brother Marc also has come into his own as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, earning an All-Star selection of his own in 2012 and a Defensive Player of the Year award in 2013. A fun fact about these two: they were traded for each other in the deal that sent Pau from Memphis to L.A. At the time, nobody considered Marc a respectable NBA prospect, but that trade clearly worked out well for both teams.
Marcus and Markieff Morris – Drafted back-to-back in the middle of the 2011 Draft’s first round, these twins started off on different Western Conference teams but ultimately landed back together a short time later. Interestingly, the reunion seemed to make both of them better.
Brook and Robin Lopez – Both top-15 picks in the 2008 Draft, the Lopez twins have seen varying degrees of success in their young careers, though both look like they’ll be around for a while as long as they stay healthy. Brook has been the better NBA prospect so far, appearing in an All-Star game and showing loads of talent scoring in the post. Robin has jumped around a little early in his career but could be a starter in the right situation. He also has much cooler hair than his brother.
Jason and Jarron Collins – Stanford just has this thing for attracting talented twin big guys to play for their program, but long before there was Robin and Brook Lopez, there was Jason and Jarron Collins. Neither player really had a difficult time finding work over the course of their careers, but neither was ever anything close to All-Star quality, either.
Stephen and Joey Graham – Coming out of college (both Grahams attended Oklahoma State), Joey was considered the better pro prospect, and consequently he was drafted in the first round (15th overall). Stephen went undrafted, but both players have enjoyed pretty consistent careers in the league. Turns out there really wasn’t a whole lot of difference between these twins’ level of play, after all.
Mark and Brent Price – Both Mark and Brent made their money in the league by shooting from deep, but Mark was the four-time All-Star (including one All-NBA first team selection), and was able to turn his sharpshooting into two three-point contest victories in 1993 and 1994.
Bernard and Albert King – If you do an internet search for “Albert King,” you’re probably going to get more about the famous blues musician than you are the younger brother of former NBA scoring champion Bernard King, but Al wasn’t as bad a player as his relative obscurity may suggest. He even had one season in which he averaged 17 PPG. That’s nothing compared to Bernard’s impressive career scoring numbers, All-Star appearances and All-NBA team inclusions, but as NBA siblings go, they were still a pretty impressive duo.
Brandon and Kareem Rush – Both Brandon and Kareem have had respectable careers as shooting guards in the NBA, with the Brandon sticking around the league much longer than his older brother. The really sad part of this particular story is that it could have been a familial NBA trio had the oldest brother, JaRon, been able to make the Seattle SuperSonics after having signed in 2000 despite not having been drafted. Personal issues resulted in his being cut, however, so Brandon and Kareem were the only ones who got the opportunity to play at the highest level. These guys were no slouches, obviously, but three siblings would have put them in Barry territory.
Jeff and Marquis Teague – Jeff certainly has seen his fair share of success as an Atlanta Hawk. Marquis, though? Not so much. Not yet, at least.
The Plumlees – Miles and Mason already are in the NBA, and both actually have had quite a bit of success early in their careers. One more, Marshall, is coming up through the Duke system just like his big brothers. Is there room for one more?
The Zellers – Cody and Tyler look like they’ll have NBA jobs for a while, but older brother Luke had a harder time sticking. He spent a short time with Phoenix a few years ago but wasn’t quite as gifted as his younger siblings. Seems like in this case the younger they are, the better they are at basketball.
As parents, it would be hard not to feel overwhelming pride as you watched your children grow into talented young men (and, of course, multi-millionaires). Of course, while talent does often run in families, it doesn’t always run right to the NBA, and that’s what makes this list of gentlemen so impressive.
NBA Daily: Jonathan Isaac Proving to be Key Part of Orlando’s Future
Basketball Insiders spoke with Jonathan Isaac about his rookie season, injuries, areas to improve on, his faith and more.
On January 13, the Orlando Magic were eliminated from playoff contention. This date served as a formality as the team has known for quite some time that any postseason hopes had long since sailed. The Magic started the year off on a winning note and held an 8-4 record in early November. However, the team lost their next nine games and never really recovered.
Many factors play a role in a young but talented team like the Magic having another season end like this. Injuries to franchise cornerstone Aaron Gordon as well as forward Evan Fournier and forward Jonathan Isaac magnified the team’s issues.
Isaac, a rookie selected sixth overall in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, started the season off reasonably well. On November 10, in 21 minutes of action, he registered an 11-point, six-rebound, one-assist, one-steal, two-block all-around effort against the Phoenix Suns to help the Magic get to that 8-4 record. Isaac then suffered an ankle injury midway through his next game and wouldn’t play again until December 17, by which time the team was already 11-20 with athe season quickly going sideways. From November until March, Isaac would only play in three games until finally returning to consistent action in the month of March with the season all but decided.
Basketball Insiders spoke to Isaac recently to discuss how he has pushed through this season, staying healthy, his impressive skill set and more.
“I’ve had a lot of time off from being injured so, I think my body is holding up fine along with how much I’ve played. I haven’t played a full season,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders “I feel good. I feel good.”
Isaac talked about what part of his game he feels strongly about and has improved on.
“I think defensively,” Isaac said. “I didn’t expect myself to make strides defensively like I have. I’ve been able to just be able to just do different things and help this team defensively and I didn’t expect that coming in so, that would be the one thing.”
Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise of Isaac’s defense and also focused on the rookie’s great defensive potential.
“His defense is out of this world. I mean it’s really something else,” Vogel said. “Just watch him play and everybody’s getting a taste of it right now. They haven’t seen him a whole lot but he’s an elite defender right now at 20-years old and the sky’s the limit for what he can be on that end of the floor.
While Isaac hasn’t logged a huge number of minutes on the floor this season, he has impressed in his limited action. As Coach Vogel stated, anyone who has taken the time to watch Isaac play this season has noticed his ability to guard other big men and his overall defensive impact.
“I think I’ve been able to do a good job on most of the people that I’ve had to guard,” Isaac said.
Missing Isaac’s defense impact and overall contributions partially explains why the Magic cooled off after their hot start. However, with the playoffs no longer an option, younger players like Isaac now have the opportunity to play with less attention and pressure. While it can be argued that the Magic aren’t really playing for anything, the truth is these late-season games can be an opportunity to develop these younger players and determine what to work on during the offseason.
There is more to Isaac than just basketball, however. Isaac discussed other parts of his life that are important to him, including religion and his faith.
“[M]y faith in Jesus is something that I put a lot of emphasis on,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a part of me.”
Isaac did not hesitate to credit his faith when asked if it helped him push through his injuries.
“I would say definitely,” Isaac said. “Especially with getting injured so early in the season and being out for 40 games. That’s a lot on somebody’s mental capacity and then just staying positive, staying joyful in times where joy doesn’t seem like it’s the right emotion to have. And I definitely [attribute] that to my faith.”
Looking forward, both Vogel and Isaac discussed the future and what the young big man can improve on.
“Offensively, he’s grown in confidence, he’s gained so he’s going to give us a big lift and our future’s bright with him,” Vogel stated.
Isaac gave a hint of his offseason training plans when asked what he looks forward to working on.
“I would say consistency with my jump shot. Really working on my three-ball and I would say ball-handling,” Isaac stated.
When asked if there was anything more he wanted to add, Isaac simply smiled and said, “Oh no, I think I got to get to church right now,” as the team prepared to play later that evening.
Tyronn Lue’s Health Concerns Latest Bump In The Road For Cavaliers
Spencer Davies outlines Tyronn Lue’s decision to take a leave of absence to deal with health issues and covers the reaction around the NBA.
The win-loss record is not where they want it to be.
The performances have not been up to par with what they expect.
With that said, one thing is for certain: There is no other team that will have been more battle tested going into the playoffs than the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Day after day and week after week, there’s always something going on with the team. Between in-house arguments, on-court miscommunication, roster turnover, and more, it has been one giant roller coaster of a season.
Monday morning, another twist was added to the ride. In a statement released by the Cavaliers organization, Tyronn Lue and general manager Koby Altman announced that the head coach would be taking a leave of absence to address his health:
“After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.
“I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is. While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team.
“I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards. I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization’s support throughout.”
There were multiple instances where Lue either missed part of a half or an entire game this season. The symptoms are definitely not to be taken lightly. According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Lue attempted to return to the bench Saturday night in Chicago but the team didn’t allow him to. Evidently, Lue was “coughing up blood” some nights.
Seeing it first hand after postgame press conferences, Lue was visibly exhausted and stress could likely be playing a part. He’s been fighting through the tough times the team has been going through and avoided stepping away twice this season.
Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford had his own battle with health problems earlier this season and temporarily left the team for those reasons. He has attempted to reach out to Lue, a friend and former player of his.
Other head coaches around the league—Joe Prunty, Steve Kerr, and Luke Walton—have all gone to bat for Lue when discussing the rigors of an NBA schedule and the toll it takes.
Altman supports the decision for Lue to get to the bottom of what’s going on.
“We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues,” he said.
LeBron James is glad that Lue is going to take some time to get better.
“Obviously, health is the most important with everything in life,” James said Monday after shootaround. “Not surprised by it at all. I knew he was struggling, but he was never not himself. He was just dealing with it the best way he could, but he was never not himself when he was around.
“It doesn’t matter what’s going on here. We play a great sport, our coaches get to coach a great sport, and you guys get to cover a great sports. But health is most important right now and that’s what our coach is doing right now and we’re all in favor for it.”
The latest piece of news is a blow to the already injury-ridden Cleveland group. Assistant coach Larry Drew will take over duties until Lue returns.
The good news for the Cavaliers is that Kevin Love can potentially return to the mix as soon as Monday night against Milwaukee.
NBA Daily: Calderón’s Late NBA Start
Jose Calderón might be the only player in the league who didn’t grow up dreaming of playing in the NBA.
There are a lot of different ways to get to the NBA, but most of them involve lifelong scouting and an unceasing dream to play in the world’s premier basketball league.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard José Calderón didn’t really have either of those things.
“I never even thought of the NBA when I was a kid,” Calderón told Basketball Insiders. “I grew up in a small town in Spain, and I played basketball because my dad played and I loved it. I was having fun, always playing with the older guys because I was good at that age, but I never really even thought about playing any sort of professional basketball.”
Having grown up in Villanueva de la Serena, Spain, Calderón watched his father play for Doncel La Serena, which was his hometown team as a child. He was something of a prodigy, having attended practices and games with his father from a young age, and as burgeoning teenager he left home to play professionally for the lower-level Vitoria-Gasteiz team.
“They wanted to sign me at 13 years old, and we didn’t even know that they could sign people that young,” Calderón remembers. “So I did that, and I tried to get better. I tried to advance into the older clubs, but I never really did think about the NBA at all, honestly.”
That changed as he got older, though, especially after Spain finished 5th in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and Calderón started to get some stateside recognition.
“After that summer, [my agent and I] got a call from Milwaukee asking about my situation, and asked would I think about coming to play over here. It was sort of a let’s-see-what-happens sort of situation, but I couldn’t at that time because I was under contract. That was the first time I was really approached.”
As his teammates from the Spanish National Team made their way to the NBA, Calderón grew increasingly intrigued.
“Pau Gasol obviously opened a lot of doors for us,” he said. “Raul Lopez came, too. I was just playing basketball, though. I didn’t know anything about scouts. Later, when we started to get the calls from Toronto, I started to realize how possible it really was. That’s when I thought, ‘Hey, why not?’”
Despite being eligible for a few drafts in a row, Calderón never did get drafted, which was fine by him. Growing up the way he did, Calderón never had any dreams of his hearing his name called by Commissioner Stern, so playing his way through most of his deal with TAU Vitoria was no big deal for him. He could take or leave the NBA.
“Not getting drafted was the perfect situation for me,” he said. “In my satiation, coming from Europe, I was already playing professionally for a good team and making some good money. That was perfect for me at the time, and I was happy to be a free agent at 23, choosing where I was going to sign instead of going in the second round and having to play for one team.”
He signed with the Raptors in 2005 since they were the most aggressive in recruiting him to the NBA. As a 23-year-old rookie, he wasn’t overwhelmed physically the way a lot of rookies are, but he did find his new league challenging in other ways.
“The hardest part was just having to start over,” he said. “You start over from zero. It doesn’t matter if the other players know you or don’t, you have to prove yourself all over again. You could be the MVP of Europe, but to get respect in the NBA you have to gain it on the court.”
The talent differential was immediately noticeable, as well.
“There are so many guys out there that are better than you. It’s not just like a guy or two; there are six, seven guys on the floor any given time that are better than you.”
That meant making some changes in the way that Calderón played. He was asked to do a lot more offensively for his EuroLeague team. Playing with so many talented scorers completely changed his approach.
“I went from taking 20 shots a game to doing something else, and as a point guard in the NBA I had to approach that point guard role even more, to make those guys respect my game, to make them want to play with me. I had to be able to pass the ball, to do something different from all the other players, so I became a fast-first point guard to make sure we always played as a team. That’s how I get to where I am as a professional.”
Now 36 years old, Calderón is one of the league’s oldest players, making it easy for him to look back at where he came from to transform into the player he is today.
“I’ve grown so much, but I was lucky to be given the opportunity,” he said. “When you arrive from Europe, whether you’re good or bad, it doesn’t always matter if you don’t have the opportunity. Toronto gave me the opportunity to play 20 minutes a night, and that’s a lot. I made a lot of mistakes, but they let me play through those mistakes. All those little things added up for me, and I learned a lot.”
He owns two silver medals and a bronze in the three Olympics he’s participated in over the course of his career, as well as gold medals in FIBA World Cup and EuroBasket, but he’s never won an NBA championship. Joining up with LeBron James improves those odds, but that’s the thing that would really put an exclamation point on an excellent career.
Calderón could have stayed in Spain and been fine. He jokes that while the NBA has been very good to him, he and his family could have stayed in Europe and he could have made good money playing basketball there. He’s been happy with his career, though, however unorthodox his journey here, and he hopes his most prestigious accolades are yet to come.