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Agbaji or Braun? Who’s your pick to have the better NBA career?

Kansas guard Christian Braun, center, and Kansas guard Remy Martin listen as Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) takes questions during a press conference on Thursday, March 24, 2022 at United Center in Chicago.

Kansas guard Christian Braun, center, and Kansas guard Remy Martin listen as Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) takes questions during a press conference on Thursday, March 24, 2022 at United Center in Chicago. by Nick Krug

Back in 2011, when former KU forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris were awaiting their NBA draft fate, the general consensus was that Marcus would be the higher pick of the two.

After all, it was Marcus Morris who was the Big 12 Player of the Year and Marcus Morris who was more of a household name with a starring role on a loaded team.

Markieff, many believed, was merely a role player. Don’t get me wrong: Most people knew Markieff had an important role for the Jayhawks and that he played it extremely well. But there was definitely more hype surrounding Marcus.

At the time, NBADraft.Net wrote the following: “(Marcus) Morris is one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft and should be considered a lock for the lottery.”

That’s exactly where he went, selected No. 14 overall by Houston with the last pick of the lottery that year.

One pick earlier, however, it was Markieff’s who heard his name called first by then-NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Consider this analysis from NBADraft.Net on Markieff before the 2011 draft: “Though he lacks the upside of most lottery picks, he’s one of the safest options in this year’s draft.”

The reason? Because, with an NBA body and the ability to rebound at a high level, it was easy for people to see how Markieff would make a living. And he’s done exactly that for the last 12 years, earning roughly $50 million and an NBA championship over 715 NBA games with seven different teams.

Marcus has earned closer to $60 million during his career, so it’s clear that things worked out just fine for both Morris twins.

So what’s the point or reliving draft night for the Morris twins? Because I’m starting to have that same feeling about Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji in this year’s draft.

Full disclosure: I don’t think there’s any way Braun will be drafted ahead of Agbaji tonight. Agbaji, to me, seems like he’ll fall in that 13-18 range while Braun is almost certainly in the mid-20s to early-30s range.

But as you listen to the draft analysts and read predictions about the two players’ futures, it’s clear that most think Agbaji has the higher ceiling.

Would it be crazy to think that Braun actually does, though?

I don’t think so.

I think both will have long and fruitful NBA careers, so we may be splitting hairs here just a bit. But it’s worth remembering that Braun is still a year younger than Agbaji and therefore may have more room to grow.

Think about where Agbaji was a year ago and how much of a jump he made during his senior season at Kansas. Now project that same type of jump for Braun in the year ahead and think about what that could look like.

Braun’s intangibles are already off the charts. He’s the type of player that any coach would like to have on his roster and he’s a fierce competitor with a good blend of confidence, cockiness and humility. If he can work his jumper into becoming lethal and learn a few tricks to increase his defensive presence, he could be a weapon in a number of different ways.

Agbaji is more polished today — remember, he’s a year older — and figures to bring more of a steady game to whatever team drafts him. That likely will keep him in the league for a long time, but I wonder how much breakout potential he has.

None of this matters in the big picture, of course. Both former Jayhawks appear to be well on their way to being first-round picks later tonight and we know that both will bring incredible work ethic and passion for the game to their new teams.

And the reality of the situation is that they'll probably end up having careers that look pretty similar, both in terms of production, impact and earnings. That's certainly been the case with the Morris twins, but only one of them has a ring and he might not have been the one that people expected to get it back in 2011.

Coverage of tonight’s draft is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN, and we’ll have all kinds of reaction and coverage of the landing spots for Agbaji and Braun throughout the night.

Reply 2 comments from Dirk Medema Plasticjhawk

Report: Ochai Agbaji invited to the green room for next week’s NBA draft

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) celebrates with Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) after a dunk by Lightfoot against Kansas State during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) celebrates with Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) after a dunk by Lightfoot against Kansas State during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Former Kansas All-American Ochai Agbaji has been invited to the green room for draft night next week in New York, according to NBA draft guru Jonathon Givony.

Kansas has not had anyone invited to the draft green room since Josh Jackson in 2017. Jackson was selected fourth overall in the 2017 draft by Phoenix.

In 2018, Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk were both second round picks. No one from KU was selected in 2019 or 2021. And Udoka Azubuike was the lone Jayhawk drafted in the 2020 draft, picked No. 27 overall by Utah.

Most years, green room invitations are extended only to players who are likely lottery picks or who carry a high profile. I covered five NBA drafts in a row a few years back — started with Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry in 2010 and ended with Andrew Wiggins going No. 1 in 2014 — and it was incredibly common then to have the Jayhawks, along with their families and often times KU coach Bill Self or other KU staff members, sitting at the table with them.

Scheduled for June 23 in Brooklyn, the 2022 NBA draft will have extra meaning for Kansas fans, as two starters from last season’s national title team are eligible to be drafted and projected to be picked in the first round.

Agbaji is the highest of the two in the late lottery (top 14 picks), with teammate and longtime friend Christian Braun projected by many mock drafts to be a late first-round pick.

Self said Monday that more NBA executives and general managers have called him to ask about Braun than Agbaji, but noted that that was mostly because there is a wider range of teams in position to pick Braun.

As an example, Self said he talked Monday with one GM who picks in the top three of next week’s draft and he did not ask about either Agbaji or Braun.

“Their focus is not Ochai Agbaji,” Self said. “Their focus is Chet (Holmgren), Paulo (Banchero) and Jabari (Smith). I mean, if you're picking in the top three, that's your focus.”

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Former KU guard Remy Martin works out with the Los Angeles Lakers

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That whole LeBron James needs a Jayhawk on his roster to win an NBA title is getting quite the look this offseason, as the Los Angeles Lakers have worked out former Jayhawks David McCormack and Remy Martin in the past couple of weeks.

Neither player is likely to get drafted, but Kansas coach Bill Self recently said he believed McCormack, with a good showing and the right team, could play his way into a two-way contract.

Martin, who was the most recent of the two to workout with the Lakers, according to their social media accounts, is also probably looking at a ceiling of a two-way contract.

The one-year KU guard who was instrumental in helping Kansas claim the 2022 national title was not invited to either the G League Elite Camp or the NBA combine in back-to-back years. Generally, that’s an indicator of where — or if — pro teams see players fitting in at the NBA level. The fact that Martin was not invited does not bode well for his chances.

Still, it just takes one team to like a guy in order for him to have a chance and McCormack and Martin appear to be getting their looks.

For those who aren’t familiar with LeBron’s tie to the Jayhawks (I can’t imagine it’s many of you), all four of his NBA titles have come with a former Kansas player on the roster.

After winning his first two titles in Miami with former KU star Mario Chalmers, James acknowledged the Jayhawk connection during the celebration in Cleveland in 2016, when former KU big man Sasha Kaun was on the Cavs’ roster.

“Sasha, now a good friend of mine texted me the other day by the name of Mario Chalmers, and he said you know you can't win a championship without a Jayhawk on your team," James said in 2016. "I said, ‘Damn, you’re kind of right. I won two in Miami with you and I get another one here with Sasha being the ex-Jayhawk at Kansas.’”

The legend continued a couple of years later in the bubble, when LeBron and the Lakers won with former Jayhawk Markieff Morris in purple and gold.

Whether Martin or McCormack — or any other former Jayhawks — get the chance to join them remains to be seen.

The Lakers don’t have a pick in this year’s 58-player draft, which actually could increase the chances of them being inter-ested in landing a player or two on the undrafted, two-way path, which Martin and McCormack figure to be.

Reply 1 comment from Dirk Medema

Former KU guard Chrsitian Braun busy showing NBA teams that his style, skills will translate

Christian Braun participates in the NBA basketball draft combine at the Wintrust Arena Friday, May 20, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Christian Braun participates in the NBA basketball draft combine at the Wintrust Arena Friday, May 20, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Now that he’s known for about a week that he’s staying in the 2022 NBA draft, former Kansas guard Christian Braun has been able to attack his workouts with an even different mindset.

Although each of the workouts remains an audition of sorts, Braun has been able to move through them with the knowledge that his basketball playing future rests on the results of his performance.

There is no longer a safety net or fallback plan. And that appears to be suiting the ultra-competitive Braun just fine. After a solid showing at the NBA combine in mid-May, Braun has conducted small-group workouts with the Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana Pacers.

After this week’s session with the Pacers, he sat down with a couple of folks in Indianapolis to breakdown his experience.

“The process has been great up to this point,” he told James Boyd of IndyStar.com. “You just kind of have to enjoy every day, every second. It’s a lot of travel, but you’re obviously blessed to have this opportunity.”

Projected by some of the top draft analysts as a likely late-first-round pick, Braun made it clear in Indianapolis that his current focus is on showing that the type of player he was at Kansas can translate to the NBA.

“I think just my athleticism and to show I can knock down shots,” he said when asked by a Pacers’ in-house media rep what he wanted to emphasize during workouts. “I think that’s important for me. They’ve pretty much seen everything else.”

From Day 1 in Lawrence, Braun made a name for himself as a grinder and he believes that mentality can help him standout to teams that might be considering drafting him.

He said he could see himself being a solid “3 and D” guy in the NBA — defined most often as a non-star player who is able to knock down open 3-pointers and willing to sell out on defense — and noted that he believed his intangibles would continue to serve him well in the pro game.

“I think I bring a lot of things that impact winning on a lot of different levels,” Braun said during his sit-down with the Pacers. “I can dive on the ground and get a loose ball, play defense; I think I can bring a little bit of everything my first year in the league.”

While a good chunk of Braun’s attention has been on getting ready for the June 23 draft, his mind has not been too far removed from KU.

Just before 1 p.m. Wednesday, Braun posted to Twitter an update that he, like countless Kansas basketball fans, was eagerly awaiting a stay-or-go decision from Jalen Wilson, who has until 10:59 p.m. (Central) Wednesday night to decide to pull his name out of the draft or stay in it.

None by James Boyd

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KU’s Christian Braun, Jalen Wilson team up on final day of combine scrimmages as decision day draws near

Christian Braun participates in the NBA basketball draft combine at the Wintrust Arena Friday, May 20, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Christian Braun participates in the NBA basketball draft combine at the Wintrust Arena Friday, May 20, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Jayhawks Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson were on the same team for Day 2 of the NBA combine scrimmages in Chicago on Friday, and the two reigning national champions played a big role for their squad.

One day after scoring six points and filling up the stat sheet elsewhere, Braun showed he can score, too. In 29 minutes off the bench, the KU junior scored 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting, including a 3-of-8 clip from 3-point range. He added four rebounds, two steals and an assist while also picking up four fouls in his team’s 113-107 loss.

Wilson, meanwhile, was in the starting lineup for Team Weaver and he played 30 minutes, scoring nine points on 2-of-10 shooting, including a 1-of-3 showing from 3-point range.

Wilson added six rebounds, six assists and a steal while also turning it over three teams.

That ended combine week for three Jayhawks, — Braun, Wilson and Ochai Agbaji — who will now continue to workout for NBA teams leading up to this summer’s NBA draft, which is slated for June 23 in New York.

According to Rivals.com’s Krysten Peek, Wilson met with the Nuggets, Pistons, Bulls, Pelicans, Raptors, Warriors and 76ers at the combine. He still has plans to meet with Milwaukee and Minnesota, as well.

Braun, meanwhile, entered the week as a likely first-round pick and appears to have solidified that standing with his showing in the scrimmages and testing numbers in both team and individual drills.

Agbaji is staying in the draft, but both Braun and Wilson have until June 1 to pull their names from the draft pool in order to retain their college eligibility.

The guess here is that Braun will stay in the draft. If I had to put a number on it, I'd say he's sitting 90-10 toward leaving Kansas for the NBA.

Wilson is in a slightly different position. He had a solid showing this week and he no doubt helped himself in the eyes of NBA scouts and executives. However, he was starting from a little bit further down the draft board, which makes his decision much harder than Braun's.

Wilson was not on any mock drafts entering the week and he did not land on the updated two-round, 58-pick ESPN.com draft midway through the week after the NBA draft lottery was set. That would lead many to believe that Wilson will return to Kansas for his junior season, but I don't think it's by any means a lock that he'll do that.

He showed well in Chicago and did about as well as he could've hoped to do. My guess is that his performance took his status from a no-brainer to return to KU to having a real decision to make. If I had to put a number on where Wilson's at, I'd put it at 50-50, which is significantly different from the 80% he stays, 20% he goes scenario I had it at before the week began.

Jalen Wilson participates in the NBA basketball draft combine at the Wintrust Arena Friday, May 20, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Jalen Wilson participates in the NBA basketball draft combine at the Wintrust Arena Friday, May 20, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Reply 3 comments from Layne Pierce Blake Brown Alex Berger

KU’s Jalen Wilson seems to be staring at win-win scenario with stay-or-go draft decision

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) elevates to the bucket between Oklahoma forward Jacob Groves (34) and Oklahoma guard Jordan Goldwire (0) during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) elevates to the bucket between Oklahoma forward Jacob Groves (34) and Oklahoma guard Jordan Goldwire (0) during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

As NBA draft hopefuls make their cases in Chicago at this year’s pre-draft workouts, questions about all kinds of college basketball rosters are hanging in the balance.

At Kansas, those questions most often center around the stay-or-go status of junior guard Christian Braun and red-shirt sophomore forward Jalen Wilson.

From everything I’ve been told, Braun killed his workouts in Santa Barbara, California, this month and he heads to Chicago looking to make a serious statement about his draft status.

Already projected as a first-round pick by many analysts, Braun could cement his status with a strong showing at the pre-draft combine, today through Sunday.

I still think there’s an outside chance Braun could return, but the odds, at least in my mind, are lower today than they were a few weeks ago. The more I’ve heard and thought about his situation, the more I’ve started leaning toward him staying in the draft. Still, it remains all about the feedback he gets and that feedback will be based largely on his performance in Chicago.

Wilson’s case is a little different. Unlike Braun, he did not receive a combine invitation. Instead, he was invited to the G League Elite Camp for the second year in a row. Generally speaking, not getting invited to the combine, which has 76 participants this year, does not bode well for one’s draft prospects. The draft, in most years, has 60 picks. This year it only has 58 because of penalties taking two picks away.

I’ve always thought Wilson’s odds of returning were pretty high anyway, and him missing out on the combine invitation only furthered that belief. He did, however, show well enough at the camp to earn one of seven invitations to the combine, which is a significant development in Wilson’s testing process.

Today, more than ever, it feels like Wilson is in a heck of a win-win situation with his decision.

The forward from Denton, Texas, can do himself a lot of good by returning to KU for another year. And, thanks to the NIL opportunities out there, he can make himself some decent dough, too.

More than that, though, a decision to return would put him in fairly rare company. Only he and Dajuan Harris Jr. would be returning for the 2022-23 season with 100% certainty about what their roles would be.

Both were starters on a national championship team. So the talent’s there. But knowing their roles, being comfortable in them and having their expectations so clearly defined from the jump can only help both of them in their quest to further showcase their game for professional scouts.

Being comfortable with his role worked wonders for Ochai Agbaji a season ago. Sure, the reigning Final Four MOP improved a ton and became, in many ways, a different player than we’d seen before. But a lot of that was mindset stuff and a shift in approach, born from the feedback he received at the combine. The fact that he knew what his role was at Kansas allowed him to be comfortable enough to take those strides toward greatness and eventual first-round status.

Wilson, should he return, would be walking into a similar situation.

He’d be the clear 4. He’d be the team’s best rebounder from Day 1. He’d be the team’s most dangerous weapon in the open court yet again. And he’d be free to shoot when open and free to speak when he had something to say.

Talk about a perfect situation to thrive.

It might not mean that Wilson becomes an All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year like Agbaji did. But he’d at least have a chance. The rest would be up to him, dependent on him putting in the same kind of work and attention to detail that Agbaji did to become great.

Wilson’s driven like that, so I wouldn’t bet against him. But I’m not sure it’d be the smartest thing to expect a repeat of what we saw from Agbaji either.

Regardless, being comfortable with the role he knows he has at Kansas would pave the way for Wilson to make a big time jump. Whether he would do it or not is anybody’s guess. But you can’t ask for a much better situation than the one he has waiting for him at KU if he decides that making the move to the pro ranks is not for him just yet.

If there’s enough momentum around him staying in the draft and the feedback he gets from NBA execs in Chicago tells him that he would be selected, then that could quickly become the favored move by Wilson. And it would be awfully hard to blame him for making it.

The best mock draft out there — Jonathon Givony’s at ESPN.com — still does not have Wilson on the 58-pick prediction. So he may still have work to do to prove that he’s worthy of being selected. But he now has an even better opportunity to do just that, given that he gets to stick around Chicago for the remainder of the week.

Both Wilson and Braun have until June 1 to make their decisions on whether to stay in the draft or withdraw and return to school. While that date looms large, the rest of this week and what those two find out is even bigger.

Reply 2 comments from Dirk Medema

Former Jayhawk Joel Embiid’s runner-up finish in 2022 MVP voting no snub nor an indication of his place in the game

Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic and Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid meet after an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 14, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic and Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid meet after an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 14, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The most valuable player discussion has once again become a hot topic with Kansas basketball fans, a little more than a month after debating which Jayhawk should’ve won the NCAA Tournament MOP honors during this year’s run to the national title.

This time, however, it’s at the NBA level, where reports have indicated that former Jayhawk Joel Embiid is headed toward finishing as the league’s runner-up to Denver big man Nikola Jokic in the MVP voting for a second consecutive season.

Embiid was spectacular this season. There’s no arguing that.

In addition to playing a career-high 68 games during the regular season — no small feat given his injury history — the 7-foot center from Cameroon led the league in scoring at 30.6 points per game and ranked third in rebounds per game at 11.7.

Jokic, meanwhile, finished sixth in scoring (27.1 ppg) and led the league with 13.8 rebounds per game.

Those numbers are close enough to be a toss-up. So, too, are many of the others. From 3-point makes (97-93 in favor of Jokic) to free throw percentage (Embiid took that one 81.4% to 81.0%) and more, the stats recorded by the two superstars were equally as impressive all season.

Here’s the thing, though. Jokic, who led the Nuggets to the No. 6 seed in the west while playing most of the season without starters and borderline stars Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., did something that no player in NBA history had ever done by eclipsing 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season.

No player. Ever. Not Jordan. Not LeBron. Not Wilt. Not Kareem. No one. You can’t just throw that away. It’s even more meaningful in this context when you look at both basic and advanced statistics for the 2021-22 season.

Jokic out-performed Embiid in the following categories – rebounds per game, assists per game, steals per game, field goal percentage, 2-point percentage, 3-point percentage, 3-point makes, effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, rebound percentage, assist percentage, steal percentage, assist-to-turnover ratio, offensive rating and defensive rating.

Of the 20 other advanced+ and miscellaneous statistics used by @statmuse to breakdown to the MVP race (which included Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo), Jokic was the leader in 15 of them.

Add to that the fact that the 7-foot Serbian’s 32.85 Player Efficiency Rating was the highest mark in NBA history, and it’s really a pretty open and shut case when you talk about the overall picture of the race.

It’s awesome that KU fans have almost universally thrown their support behind Embiid. And while not surprising, given how much pride he brings to the program for dominating the way he has on the biggest stage in basketball, it is pretty impressive that KU fans still feel so strongly about him given the fact that he was in Lawrence for just one season and did not play in a single NCAA Tournament game with the Jayhawks.

Again, no surprise, but still cool to see and merely the latest indicator of just how passionate Kansas fans about their Jayhawks.

The biggest thing the Embiid supporters have working in their favor in the argument is the fact that Philadelphia won more games than Denver (51-48) during the regular season and that the Sixers are still playing in the playoffs.

After knocking off Toronto in six games in Round 1, Phily and Miami are tied at 2 games apiece in the second round entering Tuesday night’s pivotal Game 5. The Nuggest, meanwhile, were outsted by third-seeded Golden State in five games in Round 1.

This isn’t a postseason award, though. The NBA’s MVP honor is handed out to the regular season MVP, so who goes deeper in the playoffs does not and should not play a role in the decision.

They could (but won’t and shouldn’t) elect to change the format and turn the NBA’s annual MVP award into a full-season award. But doing that would totally negate what players do during the 82-game regular season and basically would make the whole thing come down to the best player on the team that wins it all receiving the award.

Sound familiar? It should. That’s how KU senior Ochai Agbaji won the MOP honor at the Final Four in New Orleans, even though strong cases could be made that both David McCormack and Remy Martin — if not Jalen Wilson, too — actually delivered better numbers during the Jayhawks’ NCAA Tournament run.

These things are never going to be easy or clean. There are always going to be debates, snubs and frustrations. There’s nothing wrong with that and, in some ways, it even adds to the fun.

Embiid will win one someday. Jokic is a worthy MVP today. And people on both sides of the coin can debate their stance until their heart’s content.

Nothing wrong with that.

None by StatMuse

A side-by-side statistical comparison of 2021-22 NBA MVP candidates Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid put together by fantasypros.com.

A side-by-side statistical comparison of 2021-22 NBA MVP candidates Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid put together by fantasypros.com. by Matt Tait

Reply 5 comments from Brian Mellor Ralph Huge West_virginia_hawk Andy Godwin Creg Bohrer

Kansas great Mario Chalmers set to rejoin the Miami Heat

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) drives around Orlando Magic's Jameer Nelson, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) drives around Orlando Magic's Jameer Nelson, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

As a wave of positive COVID-19 test results takes it toll on the NBA, the predicament has opened the door for one former Jayhawk to jump back into the league.

According to a repot from The Associated Press, the Miami Heat have used 15 players this season and right now, no more than five of those are available to play.

As a result, the Heat signed three replacement players on Thursday and were closing in on other deals, including one with former Kansas point guard Mario Chalmers — who started on the Heat's NBA championship teams in 2012 and 2013.

Chalmers last played for Miami in November of 2015. His last game in the NBA at all came with Memphis in April of 2018.

Injuries and age in recent years caught up with the hero of KU's national-title-game victory over Memphis at the 2008 Final Four. That drove him out of the league and left him looking for other places to keep playing. Between rehab stints and opportunities overseas, Chalmers kept working and always kept hope alive that he would return to the NBA for at least a small stint before calling it a career.

On Christmas day, Chalmers tweeted that he was "playing for a call up," adding, "That's all I want, Santa lol."

Nobody could've foreseen the pandemic as the event that would lead to him reaching that goal, but now that it has, Chalmers is excited about the opportunity.

“I'm ready," he told The Associated Press. “I think this is more emotion than anything, showing that I've been really working behind the scenes and not just talking about it. I definitely feel good enough to help the team win."

Chalmers' contract is believed to be of the 10-day variety, like many of the players the Heat recently signed. At least temporarily, he will join former KU guard Marcus Garrett on Miami's NBA roster.

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13 Jayhawks open 2021-22 season on NBA rosters

New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham (4) passes around Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The 76ers won 117-97.

New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham (4) passes around Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The 76ers won 117-97. by AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Thirteen former Kansas basketball players tipped off the NBA’s 2021-22 season this week, tying for the third most among NCAA Division I schools.

Kansas coach Bill Self recently took time out to film a quick good luck video for KU’s social media accounts.

“We hope you all kill it,” Self said. “You’ve always represented us in a first-class manner and everybody that supports Kansas University and our basketball program are all so proud of you.”

Two of those 13 former Jayhawks — Devon Dotson with the Chicago Bulls and Marcus Garrett with the Miami Heat — opened the season on two-way contracts, meaning they’ll likely split their time this season between the NBA clubs and their G League affiliates.

Former national player of the year, Frank Mason III, also is still battling for a roster spot in the league, following his recent Exhibit 10 contract with the Los Angeles Lakers that lasted all of 19 hours.

Self singled out that trio with a special message during the recent video.

“You know you’re built for this,” he said.

All 30 NBA teams have the ability to carry 17 players on their active rosters — 15 on an NBA bench and two two-way players per franchise.

The 13 Jayhawks scattered throughout the league cover everything from bona fide stars and regular starters to reserves and rotation players.

Here’s a quick look at the status of the former KU standouts who recently opened their quests for a world championship.

Golden State wing Andrew Wiggins, who played at KU in 2013-14 and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, is in his eighth season in the league and his third with the Warriors.

Former Wiggins teammate, Joel Embiid, is a four-time NBA All-Star who is in his eighth season with the Philadelphia 76ers. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft played at KU during the 2013-14 season.

Marcus and Markieff Morris currently own the title of longest tenured Jayhawks in the NBA. The twins played three seasons at Kansas, from 2008-09 to 2010-11, and enter their 11th seasons in the NBA. In 2020, Markieff became the 13th Jayhawk to win an NBA title with the Lakers and he currently is in his first season with the Miami Heat. Marcus, who had his No. 22 KU jersey retired in 2020, is in his third season with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Sharp-shooter Ben McLemore is in his first season with the Portland Trailblazers and his ninth season overall. McLemore spent two seasons at KU, as a redshirt in 2011-12 and a freshman in 2012-13, and was the seventh overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Kelly Oubre Jr. begins his first season with the Charlotte Hornets and is in his seventh season in the NBA. He played at Kansas in 2014-15 and was the No. 15 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Wayne Selden Jr., who played at KU from 2014-16, enters his fourth season in the NBA and his first with the New York Knicks. Following KU, Selden played 2016-17 with New Orleans and Memphis, 2017-18 with the Grizzlies and 2018-19 with Memphis and Chicago. Since 2019, Selden has played in the NBA G League and with Ironi Nes Ziona in Israel, where his team won the 2021 FIBA Europe Cup and he was named the Final Four MVP.

Josh Jackson, the fourth overall selection of the 2017 NBA Draft, begins his fourth year in the NBA and his second with the Detroit Pistons.

Devonte’ Graham, who made a strong push for the NBA’s Most Improved Player honor last season, begins his first season with the New Orleans Pelicans after a successful three-year stint in Charlotte.

Svi Mykhailiuk, a former Lakers draft pick who played at KU from 2014-18, is entering his fourth NBA season and his first with the Toronto Raptors.

Udoka Azubuike, who teamed with Graham and Mykhailiuk to help lead Kansas to the 2018 Final Four, is in his second season with the Utah Jazz after being the No. 27 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

Jayhawks on 2021-22 NBA Opening Day Rosters

Udoka Azubuike – Utah Jazz

Devon Dotson – Chicago Bulls

Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers

Marcus Garrett – Miami Heat

Devonte’ Graham – New Orleans Pelicans

Josh Jackson – Detroit Pistons

Ben McLemore – Portland Trail Blazers

Marcus Morris – Los Angeles Clippers

Markieff Morris – Miami Heat

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk – Toronto Raptors

Kelly Oubre Jr. – Charlotte Hornets

Wayne Selden Jr. – New York Knicks

Andrew Wiggins – Golden State Warriors

None by Kansas Basketball

Reply 2 comments from Buddhadude Dirk Medema

Frank Mason’s next NBA opportunity comes in Los Angeles

Orlando Magic guard Frank Mason III moves the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Orlando Magic guard Frank Mason III moves the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Former Kansas standout Frank Mason is getting another shot in the NBA.

This time it comes with a veritable all-star team of legends in Los Angeles.

According to a tweet from NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Mason has signed a training camp deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now in his fifth season as a pro, Mason, if he sticks, will be playing with his fourth team in that time. After being drafted by Sacramento and spending two seasons in the California capital, Mason spent the 2019-20 season splitting his time between the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee’s G League team. He followed that up with a short stint in Orlando in 2020-21.

The former college national player of the year appeared in 103 games during those four seasons, making three starts and averaging 6.7 points in 15.7 minutes per game.

In 2020, Mason was named the G League MVP after a stellar stint with the Wisconsin Herd.

He played for the Philadelphia 76ers Summer League squad this summer before being released. Upon his release, Mason tweeted: “I want to give a big thanks to the @sixers organization for giving me an opportunity to join their summer league team. What a great staff and first-class organization. Thank you guys.”

It remains to be seen if there’s an opportunity for Mason on the Lakers’ NBA bench. But if one presents itself, he would be joining a roster that not only features LeBron James and Anthony Davis — two of the top 10 players in the game today — but also includes Laker newcomers Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook.

Also on this year’s Lakers roster are former NBA all-stars Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan.

While Westbrook and Rondo are clearly pencilled in as the Lakers' top two options at the point, the only other player on the current Lakers roster listed as a point guard is Joel Ayayi, a rookie from Gonzaga who is signed a two-way deal with the franchise after going undrafted.

Former Oklahoma standout Austin Reaves, along with former Texas Tech gunner Mac McClung also are on the Lakers' revamped roster heading into the season. Both are candidates for roster spots with the Lakers' G League club, the South Bay Lakers.

None by Adrian Wojnarowski

Reply 3 comments from Matt Tait Glen Armen Kurdian

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