D.J. Augustin

While most of the attention for Longhorns in the NBA stems from the yearly accolades collected by All-Stars Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge, there are a number of less-heralded Longhorns who emerge in the league each year. Here’s how some of those Longhorns looked in week one of regular season action.

D.J. Augustin

A nine-year veteran, Augustin has played on eight different NBA teams over his career. Currently in the midst of a four-year, $29 million contract with the Orlando Magic, the constant changes of scenery have not stopped Augustin from being a productive player.

With Orlando’s starting point guard Elfrid Payton out with an injury, Augustin has now been thrust into a starting role, where he is expected to be an important contributor. In a game against the defending Eastern Conference champion, the Cleveland Cavaliers,
on Saturday night, Augustin helped lead the Magic to a stunning 114-93 win in Cleveland by dropping 12 points along with 10 assists and just one turnover. Augustin didn’t stop there, putting up an additional 19 points on Tuesday in a win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Jarrett Allen 

Fresh out of the 40 Acres, Allen was selected with the No. 22 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Brooklyn Nets. Allen had a solid NBA debut, posting nine points on 3-3 shooting in 15 minutes off the bench. He followed that performance up two nights later with four blocks against the Atlanta Hawks.

With little depth at the center position for Brooklyn, Allen is likely to earn a backup role behind veteran Timofey Mozgov. Allen’s athleticism and leaping ability makes him an ideal center in a league that has evolved to cater to more skilled and agile big men.

Cory Joseph

Joseph is coming off of his best season in the NBA, where he averaged 9.3 points, 3.3 assists and three rebounds for the Toronto Raptors. The former NBA champion was traded this past offseason to the Indiana Pacers, where he is competing with Darren Collison to earn minutes alongside starter Victor Oladipo in the backcourt.

Joseph helped his stock on Tuesday when he dropped 21 points and drained five three-pointers in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Despite trailing Collison on the depth chart, Joseph is still averaging 25 minutes per game this season. Expect for his role to increase as the season progresses.

Former guard A.J. Abrams (3) set the Big 12 record for 3-pointers by making 389 in his career at Texas.

Photo Credit: Stephen Durda | Daily Texan Staff

A.J. Abrams was one of the purest shooters Texas basketball has ever had.

He made 389 threes in his four-year career — a Big 12 record and 17th all-time — while shooting at a 40 percent clip. At the charity stripe, he drilled in over 86 percent of his shots.

But since his time at Texas, few have heard his name. 

Now, at 28, just five years removed from wearing the burnt orange jersey, Abrams is an local realtor at JBGoodwin Realtors.

The 5-foot-11 shooting guard was just that — a shooting guard. He shot 976 three-pointers in his career. He also took 647 shots underneath the arc.

“A.J. is one of the best shooters I have ever seen,” Texas teammate D.J. Augustin said back in 2007. “He’s a great player. [Opponents] have to guard him, which opens up lanes for myself and others.”

After four years of knocking down the long ball, Abrams entered the 2009 draft with an outside shot at being drafted.

“The little guy can shoot,” Chad Ford said in his analysis of Abrams for ESPN before the draft. “He’s still a second-rounder at this point, but given his lack of size and position, that’s saying something.”

The undersized guard with “questionable point guard skills” was never drafted. Abrams made his way around the NBA Summer League circuit but never signed to a team, instead finding his way to Europe for four years.

“It was an amazing experience where I got the opportunity to play the game I love, as well as travel all over the world,” Abrams said of his experience in his LinkedIn profile.

He played a season in Italy and one in Greece before finishing his playing days with ČEZ  Basketball Nymburk in the Czech Republic, where he won the 2011 and 2012 championships He returned to Austin in 2013 and finished his degree in applied learning and development.

Upon graduation, Abrams began a career in sales, which ultimately led him to real estate. He now lives in Kyle, a few miles south of Austin, with his wife, who is a teacher and coach at Lockhart Middle School.

Abrams is still active in the Austin community. He often helps with youth basketball camps and contributes to Horns247 as a basketball analyst.

The Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors are also home to former Texas Longhorns: forward Jordan Hamilton and guard D.J. Augustin, respectively. Let’s take a look at their upcoming seasons.

Denver Nuggets

Last season: 57-25, third seed in Western Conference, lost in first round to Golden State Warriors 4-2

According to Zach Lowe’s season preview on Grantland, Denver is one of the western teams on the fringe of the playoffs.  

“The Nuggets are firmly in the mix for one of the last two playoff spots, but they’re in that mix — not above it,” Lowe said. “It’s going to be very tough again this season, though it’s unclear how many wins it will take to slide into the No. 7 or No. 8 spots.” 

The Nuggets are in flux heading into this season. The team lost versatile forward Andre Iguodala to the Warriors in the off-season. To help counter this loss, it signed journeymen guards Randy Foye and Nate Robinson, as well as interior scoring threat J.J. Hickson. These two guards contribute to an already strong backcourt featuring Ty Lawson and Andre Miller. Hickson will boost Denver’s offensive attack on the block.  

The Nuggets are dealing with the loss of longtime coach George Karl. Lowe said that new coach Brian Shaw, although quite an experienced NBA coach, is already beginning to tinker with long-entrenched philosophies on both sides of the ball. Denver’s defense ranked 23rd in the league last season, so maybe a base defensive change is a healthy option. Regardless, this team needs to improve its on-the-ball defense and rely less on forcing turnovers.  

The Nuggets’ second-best player, Danilo Gallinari, will also miss the first portion of the season as he works his way back from knee surgery. Former Longhorn Hamilton will be one of the players replacing Gallinari. He is slowly coming into his own in the league. Last season he averaged 5.2 points per game in just under 9.9 minutes. He provides an instant scoring punch off the bench from all areas of the court. He’ll get important minutes and has quite an opportunity to prove himself early this season.

Bottom line: There are a few moving parts here. The Nuggets added some nice pieces in the free agency, but still haven’t addressed their glaring defensive needs. They’ll score in bunches, but will also allow points in bunches.  Denver will win 45 games and miss the playoffs — getting edged out by the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trailblazers.

Toronto Raptors

Last season: 34-48, missed playoffs

Toronto is an intriguing squad. The Raptors generally possess a nice stockpile of talent, yet have a reputation of underperforming. Things haven’t changed much this year. Offseason acquisitions Steve Novak, Austin Daye and Aaron Gray will provide some much-needed depth. Novak is always among the league’s leaders in three-point percentages. Add those pieces to the core of forwards Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields and explosive guard Terrence Ross, and that’s a nice offensive group. The only offensive setback is the lack of three-point shooting outside of Novak and Gay.

The bench should be fantastic this season. Kyle Lowry, Novak, Tyler Hansbrough, Daye, Gray and former Longhorn D.J. Augustin will make up a complete and competitive second unit. Depth is no longer an issue with this club.

But rebounding and defense remain two glaring issues in Toronto. The Raptors ranked third to last in the league in rebounding last season. Defensively, they allowed 98.7 points per game, good for 17th in the NBA. Length and athleticism aren’t the problem — the problem is that those athletes aren’t particularly good defenders. The offense will hide these problems to an extent, but it has to rebound and defend better to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Bottom line: Toronto will miss the playoffs again — barely. It will win a few more games but its division is still difficult with the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets miles ahead of the team. I’ll give the Raptors 39 wins this season — a steady improvement, but they’ll miss the playoffs by a game or two.

Texas men’s basketball has been a model of inconsistency the past couple of seasons. The Longhorns will show flashes of brilliance, only to follow them up by disappointment come season’s end. While the Longhorns have managed to make their way to the NCAA Tournament the past 14 seasons, Texas hasn’t been a relevant force since 2010-11.

This season has started out rough. The team has dropped a pair of early season games, one at the hands of Division II Chaminade at the Maui Invitational — a team that has a (7-76) record in the annual preseason tournament. There are multiple factors plaguing the Longhorns including extreme youth, the entire roster comprises of freshmen and sophomores, with the exception of two senior walk-ons. But possibly the most detrimental is that second-year point guard Myck Kabongo has yet to be cleared by the NCAA to return to the court. Kabongo’s replacement, freshman Javan Felix, hasn’t wowed the Texas faithful yet, but has proved an admirable fill-in for Kabongo.

Felix happens to hail from the same high school (St. Augustine, New Orleans, LA) as former Texas star and current Charlotte Bobcat D.J. Augustin. Both Felix and Kabongo have the potential to be the next great point guard on the 40 Acres, like Augustin proved to be. Let’s take a look at the stats comparing the three point guards through their first five games as Longhorns.

In 2006, during Augustin’s freshman campaign, the Longhorns started the season 4-1 with the loss coming to Michigan State. Augustin averaged 9.6 points and 7.4 assists, shooting 47 percent from the field while averaging 32 minutes a game. The Longhorns went on to have a fairly successful season going 25-10, upsetting Oklahoma State and Texas A&M while giving Kansas a couple of scares, one of them coming in the Big 12 Championship game. Augustin spent most of the season in the shadow of fellow freshman superstar Kevin Durant.

Kabongo was one of the highest rated high school players coming into the 2011 season. During his freshman campaign, the Longhorns -- similar to 2012 -- started 3-2, dropping contests to more formidable opponents, Oregon State and North Carolina State. Kabongo averaged 8.4 points and 5.2 assists, shot 25 percent from the field and averaged 27 minutes a game.

This season, Felix has averaged eight points and six assists per game, while shooting 29 percent from the field in 37 minutes a contest. One of the biggest plagues of this year’s team has been turnovers. Against Coppin State the Longhorns turned the ball over 26 times, the most ever under head coach Rick Barnes, eight of which came via Felix. The freshman has averaged 3.6 turnovers a game, which is almost identical to the marks Augustin and Kabongo set, they averaged 3.2 and 3.4 respectively.

It’s fair to say that all three of these point guards have had extremely similar starts to their careers as Longhorns. If Kabongo remains disallowed from participation, Felix will have the opportunity to make a name for himself thanks to the brutality Texas’ schedule offers, come December.

Freshman point guard Myck Kabongo (12) lifts a shot over a defender in a recent game. Kabongo is the latest in a long line of successful point guards to attend Texas under head coach Rick Barnes. Through six games Kabongo has averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 assists per game.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Freshman Myck Kabongo appears to be next in a long line of point guards Texas has produced in the Rick Barnes era.

The timeline begins with T.J. Ford, who played two years — the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. Ford made an immediate impact in his rookie year, becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to ever lead the nation in assists, with 8.2 per game, and earning Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors by consensus. The following season, Ford led the Longhorns to their first Final Four appearance since 1947, was named the Naismith College Player of the Year and received the John Wooden Award.

Ford decided to forgo his junior year and enter the NBA Draft, but the era of star Longhorn point guards had just begun.

In 2006, freshman D.J. Augustin started 35 games with an average of 14.4 points and 6.7 assists per game, earning him All-Big 12 Second Team and Big 12 All-Rookie honors. The following year (2007-2008), after losing Kevin Durant, Augustin had a large hand in what was one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history — a 31-7 regular season record and an Elite Eight appearance.

Augustin would also go on to win the Bob Cousy Award, which honors the best men’s college point guard in the country. Then, like Ford, he declared for the draft after his sophomore season.

Avery Bradley and Cory Joseph were the next highly-recruited point guards that Texas wooed. Bradley (2009-2010) started 34 games for the Longhorns, averaging 11.6 points per game, and Joseph (2010-2011) started 36 games, averaging 10.3 points per game. Both left after their freshman seasons: Bradley was selected by the Celtics with the No. 19 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and Joseph was chosen at No. 29 by the Spurs. While both were very productive in each of the seasons they played for Texas, it has been believed that they left before they could develop their game enough for the pros, leaving many to say that they should have stayed for another year or more.

Many have compared both Kabongo’s approach, quickness and cerebralism to Ford. Thus far, the freshman averages 9.7 points and 5.5 assists per game. If he can deliver on the expectations — he was, after all, a five-star recruit — it seems that this year’s team and the Longhorns’ point guard lineage will be in good hands. 

Printed on December 2, 2011 as: Point guard lineage continues to expand, Kabongo next in line