Colorado Buffaloes basketball has never been as successful as they are now. Since the 2010-11 season, the Buffs have achieved feats unseen in CU history — the NCAA Tournaments, the all-conference selections, the player of the years — and it’s showing right now in the NBA. There were three Buffaloes in the NBA this past year and they’re all young players who thrived in this time of prosperity. We’re here to check in on them and see how they represented CU on the grandest of stages.
Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City Thunder
Andre Roberson is doing incredibly well with the Oklahoma City Thunder right now. So well, in fact, that they just re-signed him to a brand new 3-year, $30 million contract.
After Andre Roberson was named First Team All-Pac-12, First Team All-Defense, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and helped lead the Buffs to the NCAA Tournament, he did the reasonable thing and left for the NBA. The Thunder selected him 26th overall in the first round of the 2013 draft and it will likely go down as one of the best steals of the draft. (Giannis Antetokounmpo going 15th and Rudy Gobert going 27th are biggest steals, FYI.)
Roberson just wrapped up his finest season yet. In his third year in the OKC starting lineup, he made his name synonymous with elite perimeter defense, and for his effort, he was named NBA All-Defense Second Team. In 30 minutes per game, Roberson posted career highs in points (6.6), rebounds (5.1), steals (1.2) and blocks (1.0), all while locking down the opposition’s best scorer on a nightly basis. He’s set to play a bigger role in the Thunder game plan next year, so keep an eye out for him.
Alec Burks, Utah Jazz
It wasn’t all roses for CU Buffs in the NBA, unfortunately. Alec Burks had serious injury issues and couldn’t stay on the court, and due to the lingering effects of his injuries, he wasn’t very productive when he played. It was a difficult sixth season for the former Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
I want to say Burks’ injuries were fluky and unlucky, but he’s only played 100 total games in the past three seasons. In 2014-15, he was having his best season to date, but after 27 terrific games, he tore his labrum and required season-ending surgery. In 2015-16, he was back to his efficient self and an early contender for Sixth Man of the Year, but a fractured ankle derailed his season after 31 games. Last season, he dealt all year with reoccurring ankle issues and was limited to 42 games. When he did play, he had significant struggles.
Burks still has two years left on his 4 year, $42 million deal he signed in 2014, so he’s going to be a part of the Jazz’s plan. Assuming he’s healthy — a significant assumption it now seems — Burks will have the chance to step in to replace the recently departed Gordon Hayward. He will have to fight for minutes, but he should be able to contribute to Utah’s potential playoff push.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets
Sweet, sweet Spencer Dinwiddie, darling of my eye, apple of my heart. The former-mustacchioed, currently-goateed Buffs icon worked his way into the Brooklyn Nets starting lineup last year and he’s poised for a similar role this coming year.
In 2013-14, Dinwiddie led what was arguably the best Buffaloes team ever, but an ACL tear sadly ended his Colorado career. Dinwiddie was then drafted 38th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. After recovering from his injury, Dinwiddie shuffled between Detroit and their D-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, in his two seasons. After the Pistons traded Dinwiddie to the Bulls last offseason, Dinwiddie was cut, re-signed, moved to the D-League, and then finally signed a contract with the Brooklyn Nets, where, as they say, the rest is history.
2016-17 was quite the busy year for Dinwiddie, but he’s elated to be in Brooklyn. Last year with the Nets, he started 18 of 59 games, played 23 minutes per game and averaged 7.3 points, 3.1 assists and 2.8 rebounds. He also put up a solid Player Efficiency Rating of 12.7.
Brooklyn will probably start Jeremy Lin at point guard this coming season, but Dinwiddie will likely be their primary backup. He’s a great backup to have, especially if he continues to improve as he did last year. He’s also a terrific locker room presence for a team as young as the Nets.
Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs
Derrick White just signed with the Spurs and will likely play a significant role, so the Ralphie Report will be providing coverage on him and the other Buffs in the NBA all season long.