The 2019-20 NBA season starts tonight when the New Orleans Pelicans take on the defending champions Toronto Raptors. Apropos of that, we need to take a look around the league and see where all the forever Colorado Buffaloes are playing.
Over the offseason, Spencer Dinwiddie signed an extension with the Brooklyn Nets. Dinwiddie attempted to convert his contract into digital currency that fans could invest in, but the NBA told him no. Regardless, the goateed savant will be the sixth man on the playoff-contending Nets. Last season he backed up D’Angelo Russell and averaged 16.8 points on in 28.1 minutes per game. This season he will have an indentical role, just behind Kyrie Irving instead of D’Lo; just like last year, he’s going to play heavy minutes alongside his All-Star teammate. Dinwiddie figures to be a perennial Sixth Man of the Year contender.
Derrick White is entering his third season with the San Antonio Spurs. He broke out in the playoffs when he was the Spurs’ best player in their first round loss to the Denver Nuggets. In that series, White played excellent defense as always, but he changed the series when he got hot and forced the Nuggets to shift their defensive focus onto him. Entering the 2019-20 season, White will likely move to a sixth man role because point guard Dejounte Murray returns after tearing his ACL in the 2018 offseason. Murray is a poor shooter and needs maximum spacing, so the Spurs will start Bryn Forbes, a shooting specialist. White is still going to play upwards of 25 minutes per game and may even see an increased offensive role off the bench.
Alec Burks will also be a sixth man, health permitting. Burks had a wild 2018-19 as he was traded from the Utah Jazz to the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Sacramento Kings. During the offseason, Burks signed with the Golden State Warriors on the veteran’s minimum. Although he struggled to crack the regular rotation in both Utah and Sacramento, his signing is crucial to the Warriors, who are dangerously thin. They will be starting D’Angelo Russell at shooting guard and Glenn Robinson III at small forward. Burks will be the first wing off the bench, which will require heavy minutes as Robinson is unproven and Russell will play lead guard when Stephen Curry is sitting. Behind Burks, the Warriors only have Jacob Evans and Jordan Poole, two young players who are question marks to say the least.
Andre Roberson hasn’t played since February of 2018. Roberson suffered a brutal injury as he ruptured his left patellar tendon on an attempted alley-oop. It’s a rare sports injury that has ruined careers in the past, most notably Victor Cruz of the New York Giants. Roberson was originally supposed to return in December 2018, but he suffered numerous set-backs and ended up missing the entire season. He’s still suffering complications as the Oklahoma City Thunder have held him out of the preseason. Roberson will likely return soon, but there’s no telling if he will be the same player that made Second-Team All-Defense in 2017.
There’s only one former Buff in the G League and I’ll venmo you $20 if you knew it was Tre’Shaun Fletcher. In three seasons at Colorado, Fletcher only started 31 games and averaged around 17 minutes per game. He was a top-100 recruit out of Tacoma, Washington (after a rough growing up in Arkansas) and was a fan-favorite because his wet lefty jumper. For whatever reason, he struggled with inconsistency and never put it all together. He ultimately transferred to Toledo, where he averaged over 18 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists per game en route to winning MAC Player of the Year. He debuted in the G League last season and earned another year with the Salt Lake City Stars. Time will tell if Fletcher can impress enough to appear in the NBA. We’re certainly rooting for him.
The last Buff in the NBA is Chauncey Billups. The retired point guard spent the last several years as an analyst on ESPN, but he has moved on to a broadcasting career. He will now be the color commentator for the LA Clippers, where he will be able to dive into in-depth analysis on a nightly basis. Billups will immediately be a great commentator and he’s covering the favorite to win the Finals. It should be a fun year for him as he moves on to the next step of his post-playing career.
The Buffs have a bunch of players elsewhere in the world, so we can look there too with something of a speed round.
George King played in the G League and appeared in the NBA last season, but he’s moved on to Europe. He will play in Italy with the Dolomiti Energia Trento. King will be a featured player on a Serie A squad — his athleticism and defensive ability will stand out against European competition.
Cory Higgins has moved on to FC Barcelona in Spain after an illustrious career at CSKA Moscow in Russia. In four years in Moscow, Higgins won two EuroLeague titles (the grand European tournament) and four Russian league wins. After establishing himself as one of the very best players in Europe — he was ranked the 7th best player in Europe by EuroHoops — Higgins signed a three-year deal with powerhouse Barcelona. There he teams up with recent NBA players Nikola Mirotic, Malcolm Delaney and Brandon Davies. Barcelona is probably the best team in Europe and Higgins is their current leader in minutes played.
Askia Booker is also playing in Spain. He signed on with UCAM Murcia of the Liga ACB, the highest competition in the country. Ski spent most of his professional career bouncing around the NBA G League, but in 2018 moved on to Real Betis of the Spanish league. (I would move from Delaware to Seville in a heartbeat, too.) Booker is the starting point guard for a team that has produced NBA talent in Goran Dragic, Raul Neto and Bojan Bogdanovic, among others. Eurobasket also says Booker picked up Swiss nationality, which, damn, good for him.
Josh Scott had NBA aspirations, but he never signed on with the G League. He opted instead to play in Macedonia before moving on to the Ryukyu Golden Eagles of Okinawa, Japan. He has remained in Japan ever since, as it appears he’s really enjoying life there. (It’s funny that Scott, an Air Force kid from the Colorado Springs area, is now in Okinawa, another major U.S. military city.) Scott hurt his knee last year, but he’s recovered and will go back to being one of the best players in the Japanese league.
Namon Wright signed on with the Leicester Riders in the British Basketball League. Wright is backup wing but should move up as he adjusts to the different playing style of European competition. He’s a good shooter and ball-handler so he should have a solid professional career if he stays healthy.
Wesley Gordon has quietly had a productive career in eastern Europe. Since graduating from CU, Gordon has moved around from Austria to Hungary and now to Greece. He’s currently the starting center for the Rethymno Cretan Kings, which are on the famous island of Crete. With Gordon and former NBA guard Malcolm Lee, Rethymno is playing in the top competition in Greece and will attempt to quality for next season’s EuroLeague competiton
Lazar Nikolic, if you remember him, moved on from the Buffaloes after his freshman season. He’s a unique player who is a great playmaker as a big-bodied wing — the type of player that thrives in Europe. The Serbian is a reserve wing on the Roseto Sharks in central eastern Italy. (These players make me want to become an ex-pat in Europe, my goodness these are great places to live.) He’s still just 20 years old, so Nikolic is still developing on a second-division Italian squad.
Last thing: I cannot for the life in me find anything about Xavier Johnson. If you know anything about XJ’s whereabouts, let us know in the comments.