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Top 10 MAC NBA Players of All-Time

We usher in the 2018-19 NBA season by remembering some of the MAC greats.

Wally Szczerbiak #10...

Basketball is back!

The 2018-19 NBA season tips off Thursday night, starting with the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers battling it out in a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview. Then, the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors will witness their newest banner float to the rafters before taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder, minus Russell Westbrook.

Dozens of conferences and countries are represented in the NBA, and that includes the Mid-American Conference. However, only two MAC players remain in the NBA heading into the 2018-19 campaign.

Richaun Holmes, a Bowling Green alum, spent three seasons on the 76ers before being shipped to Phoenix last July.

Abdel Nader played two years with Northern Illinois before transferring to Iowa State. Nader was a member of the Celtics as a rookie but will spend his sophomore year in the league with the Thunder, as he was also moved to the Western Conference in July.

Holmes and Nader actually met in the 2018 NBA Playoffs, where Nader’s Celtics edged out Holmes’ Sixers in 4-1 fashion.

Although only two former MAC stars reside in the NBA today, there has been a litany of players from the Rust Belt who have succeeded at the highest level of basketball. Here are the top 10 Mid-American Conference players of all-time, ranked by their NBA careers:

10. Earl Boykins

Earl Boykins shoots Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Position: Point Guard

College: Eastern Michigan (1994-98)

NBA Teams: Nets (1999), Cavaliers (1999), Magic (1999), Cavaliers (2000), Clippers (2000-02), Warriors (2002-03), Nuggets (2003-07), Bucks (2007-08), Bobcats (2008), Wizards (2009-10), Bucks (2010-11), Rockets (2012)

Career averages: 8.9 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.1 BPG

Heart over height. At 5’5”, Boykins is the second-shortest player in league history, standing taller than 1990s Hornets point guard Muggsy Bogues. Still, the undersized point guard launched a career that spanned across three decades. The former Eastern Michigan standout was a gifted shooter, sinking 90% of his free throws during his glory years with the Nuggets. Boykins averaged double-digits in scoring every year of his tenure in Denver, from 2003-04 to 2006-07.

9. Grant Long

Grant Long #43

Position: Power Forward

College: Eastern Michigan (1984-88)

NBA Teams: Heat (1988-94), Hawks (1994-96), Pistons (1996-98), Hawks (1998-99), Grizzlies (1999-02), Celtics (2003)

Career averages: 9.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Another Eastern Michigan journeyman checks in on the list. Long enjoyed plenty of success as a starter with the Heat and Hawks at the tail end of the 1980s and into the beginning of the 1990s. In a 1991-92 season where he played all 82 games, the 6’8” big man averaged career bests of 14.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG. One of the most durable and reliable players of his time, Long is one of 129 players in NBA history to play in 1,000 games.

8. Bonzi Wells

Bonzi Wells dunks Photo by: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Position: Shooting Guard

College: Ball State (1994-98)

NBA Teams: Trail Blazers (1998-03), Grizzlies (2003-05), Kings (2005-06), Rockets (2006-08), Hornets (2008)

Career averages: 12.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Wells is best renowned for the integral role he played on the early 2000s “Jail Blazers” teams, averaging career highs in scoring, steals, and assists during his stint in Rip City. But many of Wells’ most notable moments occurred during the postseason. Bonzi dropped 45 in a game against the Mavericks in the 2003 Playoffs, a franchise record that stood until LaMarcus Aldridge scored 46 in the 2014 Playoffs. Also, Wells carried the Kings during a 2006 series against the Spurs, averaging a 23.2-point, 12.0-rebound double-double in six games.

7. Chris Kaman

Game 3: Los Angeles Clippers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Position: Center

College: Central Michigan (2000-03)

NBA Teams: Clippers (2003-11), Hornets (2011-12), Mavericks (2012-13), Lakers (2013-14), Trail Blazers (2014-16)

Career averages: 11.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.3 BPG

Chris Kaman is known for plenty of humorous off-the-court things, from his bizarre hair evolution to sleeping on the bench with the Lakers. The former Central Michigan center enjoyed a long and prolific 13-year professional career, culminating in an All-Star appearance with the Clippers in 2010. Long before the Lob City days, Kaman was leading the Clippers to unforeseen heights. In 2006, the team achieved their first playoff series victory since moving to Los Angeles behind Kaman’s 10.7 PPG and 8.0 RPG that postseason.

6. Wally Szczerbiak

Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic, Game 4 Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Position: Shooting Guard

College: Miami-OH (1995-99)

NBA Teams: Timberwolves (1999-06), Celtics (2006-07), SuperSonics (2007-08), Cavaliers (2008-09)

Career averages: 14.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Szczerbiak’s career at Miami (OH) landed him a spot as a consensus All-American and got his jersey hanging into the rafters in Oxford. The sharpshooter kept draining shots after the Timberwolves selected him 6th overall in 1999. In 2001-02, Szczerbiak averaged 18.7 PPG behind a personal best 45.5% shooting beyond the arc. The Spaniard-born shooting guard was one of Kevin Garnett’s premier sidekicks on those early 2000s Timberwolves squads. Szczerbiak also adapted into major bench roles in Boston, Seattle, and Cleveland before concluding his career.

5. Dan Roundfield

‘New School vs. Old School’ Poker Tournament Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Position: Power Forward

College: Central Michigan (1972-75)

NBA Teams: Pacers (1976-78), Hawks (1978-84), Pistons (1984-85), Bullets (1985-87)

Career averages: 15.2 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.5 BPG

The second Central Michigan big man to appear on this list, Roundfield’s professional career began in the defunct ABA with the Pacers. Indiana transitioned to the NBA one season later, and Roundfield’s dominance on the glass commenced. With the Pacers and Hawks, Roundfield averaged a double-double for six-straight seasons and reached the All-Star Game three times during this span. The former Chippewa was also noteworthy for his post defense, where he garnered All-Defensive Team selections every year from 1980 to 1984.

4. Dan Majerle

Dan Majerle free throw Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images

Position: Shooting Guard

College: Central Michigan (1984-88)

NBA Teams: Suns (1988-95), Cavaliers (1995-96), Heat (1996-01), Suns (2001-02)

Career averages: 11.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Majerle was a man before his time. Long before the 3-point shot controlled NBA coaches’ offensive styles and gameplans, Majerle served as one of the league’s premier threats beyond the arc. The three-time Suns All-Star set an NBA record during the 1993 NBA Finals with 17 made 3-pointers during the series. Majerle finished his career with 1,360 threes, currently ranking 37th in the category. A two-way player as exhibited by his two selections to the All-Defensive Team, Majerle’s #9 jersey is retired by Phoenix and his #44 by Central Michigan.

3. Ron Harper

Ron Harper

Position: Point Guard

College: Miami-OH (1982-86)

NBA Teams: Cavaliers (1986-89), Clippers (1989-94), Bulls (1994-99), Lakers (1999-01)

Career averages: 13.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG

As a starter on the three-peating Bulls from 1996-98 and a member of the 2000-01 Lakers, Harper retired with an impressive five NBA championship rings. One of the best players in league history to never reach the All-Star game, Harper scored at least 20 PPG in four seasons when with the Cavaliers and Clippers. The Miami alum’s legacy will carry on for generations, serving as the starting point guard on Michael Jordan’s 72-win Bulls team in 1995-96. Harper contributed 158 points and 67 rebounds during that unforgettable playoff run that season.

2. Nate Thurmond

Golden State Warriors Announce Plan To Move To San Francisco Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Position: Power Forward

College: Bowling Green (1960-63)

NBA Teams: Warriors (1963-74), Bulls (1974-76), Cavaliers (1976-77)

Career averages: 15.0 PPG, 15.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.5 SPG*, 2.1 BPG*

* - Not official statistics until 1973-74

One of the best rebounders of the NBA’s early days, Thurmond had no issue putting up astronomical numbers on the boards. The Warriors power forward averaged over 20 rebounds per game twice in his career, becoming a double-double machine throughout his 14 seasons in the NBA. Thurmond registered seven All-Star appearances and five All-Defensive Team selections, earning a spot on the NBA’s 50th Anniversary team (top 50 players in history) in 1996. A three-time All-MAC selection in college, Thurmond is a member of both the College Basketball Hall of Fame and the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA.

1. George Gervin

Haier Shooting Stars Competition Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Position: Shooting Guard

College: Eastern Michigan (1970-72)

NBA Teams: Spurs (1976-85), Bulls (1985-86)

Career averages: 26.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.8 BPG

The best MAC player in NBA history? It’s the Iceman, the master of the finger roll, the four-time scoring champion. Gervin, a nine-time NBA All-Star, shined in the ABA before his Spurs joined the NBA in the 1976 merger. The Hall of Famer averaged more than 25 points per contest seven times in his dominant offensive career. The former Eastern Michigan standout had his #44 is retired by the Spurs and also drew a selection to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team in 1996.

Gervin is the only MAC player to ever win a scoring title, and he won four during his storied career.