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.
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