New England is home to the most successful NBA team in league history, the Boston Celtics. In Connecticut, you have a basketball program at UConn which is constantly successful. But unlike other colleges, UConn produces one of the best teams in both men’s AND women’s basketball. This rich New England basketball culture has made a great impression on the local fans. And unsurprisingly, this has contributed to the production of some good or even great basketball players. Here are the best basketball players (minimum of 10 seasons) to come out of New England, taking into account college career.
5. Michael Adams-Connecticut
Michael Adams was born in Hartford, Connecticut in the early 1960s. As a raw prospect, he wasn’t recruited that much due to his 5′ 10″, 162-pound frame. He chose to stay in the New England area and play for the BC Eagles college basketball team from 1981-1985.
As an Eagle he didn’t make an impression until his second season where he dropped 16 points, five assists, and almost three steals per game while claiming his first of three All-Big East selections. He followed that up with a season in which he helped carry the load with Jay Murphy. His scoring and defense improved slightly, while his assists took quite a hit. In his final season with BC, he once again had a solid season and earned himself the 66th pick(sixth in the third round) in the NBA draft by the Kings.
He had a slow first two seasons, similar to his college career. He was waived by the Kings in his rookie season and signed with the Bullets in the ensuing offseason. Michael was waved again, before resigning him and then trading him to the Nuggets. Finally, with the Nuggets he was able to display his talents on the big stage. In Adams’ four years with Denver, he averaged 18 points, seven assists, and two steals. He was either first or second in three-point makes in all four seasons, while also being one of the best playmakers in the NBA.
Despite this, Denver chose to trade the New England native BACK to the Bullets. In his first year back he received his sole All-Star selection, even though it wasn’t the best season of his career. Adams started regressing shortly after, playing two more seasons in Washington before moving to Chicago for his final two years. Michael chose to become a coach shortly after his career ended.
4. Dana Barros-Massachusetts
Dana Barros did not have the same slow start as Adams did going into college. Barros was a four year player at BC as well, except Dana was far more successful. In his first collegiate season, Barros displayed potentially deadly scoring and defense en route to the title of Big East Freshman of the Year. He lived up to his potential in year two, scoring 18.7 points to make up for a weaker defensive presence. The next season he averaged an even greater 22 PPG, making an All-Big East team for the second year in a row. He finished off his Boston College career averaging 24 points and cracking the All-Big East Tournament First Team despite a meager team finish. Barros’s jersey was retired in 2017 by BC, and still remains fifth all-time in Big East scoring.
The Seattle Supersonics stole him right outside the lottery as the 16th pick in the 1989 draft. Most of Dana’s time in Seattle was as a backup to Hall of Famer Gary Payton, so Dana became the captain of the bench. His Seattle career ended after four years, as he got moved to the Hornets, who then moved him to the 76ers.
In just his second year in Philly, Dana adjusted to life as a starter and dominated. He received an All-Star selection as well as the League’s Most Improved Player award. This was thanks in part to his 20.6 point and 7.5 assist averages on the season. After that tremendous year he signed with his hometown Celtics, where he was not quite able to put up a similar production. While Boston traded him away after five seasons, he still returned to the Celtics prior to his official retirement.
3. Bill Laimbeer-Massachusetts
Bill is a Hall of Fame talent, yet not in the NBA Hall of Fame. Laimbeer went outside of New England to Notre Dame for three years of college ball. His collegiate career was not as impressive as his All-American high school career. Luckily, it was enough for him to be drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the third round.
He played overseas in Italy for a year to develop his game and returned to the Cavs in 1980. While he was pretty good in his first season, the Cavs still decided to trade him during his sophomore year. And of course, it was to the Pistons. There he remained for the rest of his 15-year career. Bill averaged 13.5 points, 10 rebounds with the Pistons while capturing two championships and four All-Star appearances. While highly popular with Pistons’ fans, Laimbeer was hated by opposing players and fans for committing countless hard fouls. Laimbeer’s reputation for physical play, unfortunately, tended to overshadow his skills. His rebounding, shooting range, durability, and ability to beat some of the best to ever play the game makes him as a true great.
Laimbeer retired early at the age of 36 after an incident in practice with close friend Isiah Thomas that led to Thomas breaking his hand. Laimbeer was upset over the fight and worried about the reaction from fans so he decided to retire. Bill had his jersey number retired by the Pistons in 1995 and remains the franchise’s all-time leader in career rebounds. He should certainly be in the Hall in the near future.
2. Marcus Camby-Connecticut
Camby has gone down as one of the best defenders in NBA history, which definitely adds to his case of being the best from New England. Camby played three seasons for the UMass Minutemen, leading arguably the top team in college basketball. He had an NCAA freshman record 105 total rejections during his first year at UMass, and was named the Atlantic 10’s Freshman of the Year. Camby had an even better sophomore year, getting named to the A-10’s First Team as UMASS reached the Elite Eight.
In his final year, Camby won the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith College Player of the Year Award. He led UMass to the 1996 NCAA Final Four, where he set a record of 43 blocked shots in 11 games. Camby was inducted into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010, celebrating the career of arguably the programs best basketball athlete.
Camby was selected second overall in the 1996 NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors. He was traded to the Knicks after a great rookie year which earned him an All-Rookie team selection. For his first two seasons in New York Camby backed up All-Star center Patrick Ewing. After Ewing went down with a season-ending Achilles injury early in the 1999 playoffs, Camby filled the void and led the Knicks to a series upset over the Pacers. This made the Knicks the first and only 8th-seeded team to make it to the NBA Finals, where they unfortunately came up short. Even when Ewing returned, Camby’s impact off the bench was Sixth Man Of The Year worthy.
While he was solid in his four seasons with the Knicks, he truly found his game after being traded to the Nuggets. He was always top of the league in blocks, and led the league in that category for three straight seasons from 2005-2008. Camby even won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in the 2006–07 season. Like most players, his prime didn’t last long. He started his decline after being traded to the Clippers, but that was expected at the age of 34. He finished his career with that one DPOY, in addition to four All-Defensive selections. While he was amazing, he is not in the Hall like the number one player on this list.
1. Calvin Murphy-Connecticut
It is nearly impossible to decide between Murphy, Camby, and Laimbeer. But the fact he is in the Hall goes a long way. Murphy’s college career was played out at Niagara University. He took no time adjusting, as he was an All-American all three years of college. He scored a total of 2,548 points with an average of 33.1 PPG, which ranks as one of the best college scoring careers ever. Calvin displayed talent worthy of a top pick, yet he ended up falling to the 18th where the Rockets snagged him.
While he was very small at 5′ 9″, this only helped to amplify Murphy’s quickness and defensive ability. In his first season, Murphy was nominated to the NBA All-Rookie team after averaging almost 16 points and four assists per game. While he would have five seasons of 20+ PPG averages, he would only get one All-Star selection. Murphy was also a top ten free-throw shooter of all time. He set multiple NBA records in that category that have since been broken.
He set many other records within the Rockets organization, including that of all-time leading scorer until it was broken by Hakeem Olajuwon. After retiring from the NBA in 1983, Calvin Murphy was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame ten years later. Murphy was criminally underrated when he played, and was pretty much the offensive equivalent of Camby. If he wasn’t stuck in such a dysfunctional organization, he would easily have had the same team success as Laimbeer as well. It is not hard to see why he is considered the best player from New England.