Chicago Illinois has produced superb talent in their incredibly successful hometown basketball heroes. With local legends like Mark Aguirre, Tim Hardaway, Doc Rivers, and of course Isiah Thomas, basketball talent has always been on the map in Chicago. Similar to what these legends did, NBA’s current Chicago natives are making the city proud. Here is a list of the top 10 current players from The Windy City:
10. Alfonzo McKinnie
As the rookie Alfonzo McKinnie looks to prove himself on a top Eastern Conference team, his playing time has been minimal. Recently called up from the Raptors 905 G-League team, Mckinnie patiently awaits to showcase the skills he displayed at Curie and Marshall Metropolitan High School and also, Eastern Illinois and Green Bay college.
McKinnie’s G-League average of 17 points per night (49% from the field), could be an indicator for his future. After paying to try out for Chicago’s G-League The Windy City Bulls, Alfonzo McKinnie became a G-League All-Star. Now playing in his first NBA season for the Toronto Raptors, Chicago fans will be waiting to see what this walk on can do.
9. DeAndre Liggins
Entering his fifth season on his fifth NBA team, DeAndre Liggins looks to find his way as a Milwaukee Buck. Playing only 141 total NBA games, the former Kentucky Wildcat is humble and grateful of his hometown Chicago. “Coming from a tough background in Chicago, I always had that edge, that grittiness in me. Every team needs that because that’s something you can’t teach. There’s a lot of scorers in this league and there are a lot of guys who don’t want to do what I do” Liggins said.
Being named an All American High School player, Liggins is now entering a ‘vet’ related role in the NBA. This year, Liggins’ presence will be vital to motivating a young inexperienced Milwaukee group.
8. Tony Allen
After signing with the Pelicans, Tony Allen joins a Chicago native Anthony Davis in New Orleans. Allen’s statistics have never been jaw-dropping, but his veteran presence and elite defense will serve the Pelicans well in their serge to make the playoffs. Playing six years as a Celtic, and seven years as a Grizzly, Allen’s defense-first mentality will complement Cousins’ and Davis’s star power advantageously.
The Chicago native committed to Oklahoma State where he caught the attention of Boston. Allen was drafted as a Celtic in 2004 and later become a World Champion. He raised the Larry O'Brien trophy with the Celtics in the summer of 2008.
Tony Allen’s role as a defensive leader will be essential to the future success of an improving New Orleans squad.
7. Evan Turner
Evan Turner has excelled at performing the role player on all of the teams he’s been apart of (76ers, Pacers, Celtics, Trail Blazers). Turner attended St. Joseph High School where he dominated as a scoring guard who eventually committed to The Ohio State University. As a Buckeye, he thrived for three years, until being drafted in 2010 by Philly. Turner went on to become a starter in his third season averaging (13, 6, and 4).
After being traded to Indiana, Turner's numbers decreased to an all-time low. Larry Bird and Turner discussed his struggles as a Pacer. Turner said “Sometimes I wake up and am like, this stuff is hard, but I’m really blessed. Larry Bird said life always balances itself out. I always felt like I had a rough few years when I first got into the league, but I feel like it just can’t end like that because I’ve overcome so much.”
This season, he's averaging 7.6 points, 2.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds for the Trail Blazers.
6. Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley’s story is filled with grit and determination shaping the exact player he is today. On October 19th, Beverley played remarkable defending hyped rookie; Lonzo Ball. Ths performance signified the toughness Beverley’s always played with. After being raised by only his mother, Beverly earned his way to the NBA with outstanding commitment playing D1 at Arkansas and overseas in China.
In 2009, after being drafted by the Lakers, he would be traded to Houston to become a valuable asset to James Harden and the developing Rockets. Beverley serves as an important veteran for a team struggling from injury (Blake Griffin) and departure in free agency (Chris Paul).
Patrick Beverley supplies major defensive value and efficiency to every minute he’s been on the court. He remains a player whose work ethic and confidence can benefit all team members. The toughness and pride Beverley developed in Chicago growing up have been crucial to the valuable player he’s been in this league today.
5. Jahlil Okafor
Jahlil Okafor was recently traded to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Trevor Booker. Okafor’s intent to leave Philly was very well-know, and the trading process had begun long prior to the deal. The talented big man has played only two games this year due to beginning the “backups backup” (- Brett Brown referring to Joel Embiid and Richaun Holmes) in Philly, and while dealing with injury placing him on the Nets Day-to-Day status. Expecting to be the number one overall draft pick in 2015, Jahlil was picked 3rd by the 76ers which seem to preview the bumpy unexpected career start for Jahlil.
With a new team, once healthy, Okafor’s minutes will increase massively. Questions as to if his former dominance at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School (Chicago Illinois) and Duke University will be reborn will soon be answered.
4. Jabari Parker
Likewise to Derrick Rose, injuries have already impacted the young star from Duke University. Currently recovering from a second ACL tear (same ACL), Parker must rebuild his strength and confidence to bounce back as an asset to his Milwaukee Bucks. “I want to wait as long as I can just so I know where I am and I don't have to rush nothing,” Parker said. He claimed that in his return following his first ACL tear, he felt rushed and pressure to prove himself.
The young Buck remains optimistic and sees these obstacles as beneficial to his future when saying: “This type of rehab, this type of journey that I'm living through right now is necessary for my development. “It's trying to teach me that it can all be taken in an instant.”
3. Derrick Rose
Prior to building the catalog of injuries he faced, Derrick Rose was one of the youngest players to emerge into a superstar in the NBA. Winning the Most Valuable Player Award in his third NBA season is one of Rose’s greatest accomplishments. Rose’s tragic list of injuries(23 total) include; Torn ACL, Torn Meniscus, Orbital Fracture, Right Hamstring Tendinitis, and 5 total ankle sprained injuries, and many others of which have diminished his legacy tremendously.
Playing a total of 61 games throughout three NBA seasons (2012-2015) Rose’s career has faced tremendous adversity. Following a pause to questionable retirement, the 29-year-old plans to return to Cavaliers when cleared to play. The Chicago Native has had a remarkable journey and his future impact on the Cavaliers will be on display soon.
2. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis’s mentality is special in the sense that his winning vision doesn’t involve recruiting or teaming up with stars. In past interviews, Davis touched on his plan to stay in New Orleans and eventually bring a championship to the city. He referred to this loyal mindset as “old-schooled.” Anthony Davis’s impact in irreplaceable with advanced skills in shooting, post work, dribbling (for a guard), shot-blocking and rebounding.
However, entering his sixth year with one playoff appearance deeply harms Davis’s legacy. The Kentucky alum will look to make a strong playoff run alongside big man Boogie Cousins.
1. Dwyane Wade
Chicago’s own three-time NBA champion Dwayne Wade is one of NBA’s smartest and most successful players. Wisely preparing for the return of Isaiah Thomas, Wade placed himself on the bench to become accustomed to ‘6th man minutes’. This type of unselfishness is incredibly rare for an NBA Hall of Famer. Dwayne has successfully recruited three NBA greats (Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh) to help him win rings. Wade’s basketball IQ separates him from the majority of the league.
Joining forces with LeBron James, where chemistry is pure and title opportunity is high, was an incredibly smart decision for a 35-year-old Hall of Famer.