Professional basketball does not only reside in the National Basketball Association. Some players want to continue their professional careers overseas. Whether they are past their prime or their skill set just did not fit the NBA mold, players are able to make a living playing the game they loved in leagues across the world.
Stephon Marbury left the NBA despite the fact that he could have still been a serviceable point guard to a NBA team. It was his decision to step away from the limelight at home and make a name for himself elsewhere. In China, he was able to help the Beijing Dunks to three Chinese Basketball Association Championships and even has a statue in his honor.
Unlike Marbury, we lose track of some players' careers. Some just faded away from the NBA and into another phase in their professional basketball lives. Some see it as an avenue to get back onto a NBA roster, as Michael Beasley was able to, and some see it as a new phase en route to leaving the NBA behind.
We can take a look at some players we may have forgotten, and where they were able to continue their hoops journey.
15 Amar'e Stoudemire
The most accomplished NBA career on our list is a six-time NBA All-Star, five-time All NBA performer, and NBA Rookie of the Year. In his prime Amar'e Stoudemire was as explosive a finisher as you would find in the NBA. Playing beside Steve Nash, the duo combined for one of the most potent offenses in the NBA. Nash and Amar'e were one of the better pick and rolls we have seen since Stockton and Malone.
Unfortunately, injuries did slow Stoudemire down. After a successful first season in New York in 2010-11, the decline became apparent, and by the 2013-14 season he was averaging a career low in almost every category. Today Amar'e plays professionally for Hapoel Jerusalem of the Israeli Basketball Premier League where he gained an All-Star nod in 2017.
14 Jason Thompson
A native of Mount Laurel, NJ, Jason Thompson was drafted 12th-overall in the 2008 NBA Draft out of Rider University. The power forward/center appeared in all 82 games his rookie season, putting together averages of 11.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He would follow up with better numbers his second season in the league and would continue to be a contributor for the Kings up until the 2015-16 season. Then he began to see his minutes completely diminish at stops in Golden State and Toronto. He did experience his first playoff action as a member of the Raptors, but averaged just 5 minutes per contest.
Today, Thompson is a member of the Shandong Golden Stars of the Chinese Basketball Association. Though he just began his overseas journey this past season, it still seems a long way away from the promising start to his NBA career.
13 Robert Sacre
Robert Sacre saw his first NBA action as a member for the Los Angeles Lakers team that looked to be the next Laker powerhouse when they added Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. As we know, that was a failure, but Sacre was able to gain some NBA experience as a result. During the 2012-13 season, the team did make the playoffs, where Sacre saw just 4 minutes of action. The former Gonzaga center would go on to play parts of three more seasons during the Lakers' darkest years.
Today Sacre has found a home in the Japanese B. League with the Hitachi SunRockers Tokyo-Shibuva. He is also a member of the Canadian National Team. With them he was able to add a Bronze Medal in the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship.
12 DeJuan Blair
A rugged big bodied rebounder out of Pitt, DeJuan Blair was selected by the perennial contending San Antonio Spurs with the 37th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Blair bounced from bench contributor to starter during his time with the Spurs. Eventually his playing time diminished due to Tiago Splitter's presence, and after four years, he moved on to the Dallas Mavericks. He remained there for just a year before playing only 58 games across two years for the Washington Wizards. That stint included zero starts.
For the 2016-2017 season, Blair signed with the Jiangsu Tongxi for the Chinese Basketball Association. Blair did bounce back to the D-League during his first Chinese season, but after failing to make a NBA roster, it looks like he could be heading back.
11 JJ Hickson
JJ Hickson played one year at North Carolina State where he started all 31 games and averaged 14.8 points and 8.5 rebounds. It was good enough to see the freshman drafted 19th-overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008. After a three-year stint where he averaged a career-high of 13.8 points for the Cavaliers team that was left by LeBron James, Hickson already started making overseas stays, first in Israel. He did return and became a starter and contributor for the Blazers in 2012-13, starting 80 games and posting better than 10 rebounds per game for the only time in his career.
Hickson spent this past season as a member of the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Association. In 27 games and 10 starts, Hickson averaged 24.5 points and 13.4 rebounds.
10 Andray Blatche
Straight out of high school, Andray Blatche was drafted 49th overall by the Washington Wizards. Although he played sparingly in his first two NBA seasons, Blatche began to become a contributor by year 4 when he averaged double digits for the first time as well as a block per game. In 2010, the Wizards gave him a $35 million contract. Off-court issues began to derail the relationship and Blatche moved on to Brooklyn in 2012. There he again became a reliable big man off the bench for a playoff team but by 2014, he was out of the NBA, and playing for Gilas, the Philippine national basketball team, as a naturalized player.
Blatche is now a two-time CBA All-Star and CBA Champion as a member of the Xinjiang Flying Tigers.
9 Jeremy Evans
Jeremy Evans opened eyes while participating in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. He would go on to win the 2012 All-Star Weekend contest as a representative of the Utah Jazz. But that athletic ability never really translated to the NBA game. A 2nd-round pick, Evans never averaged better than 6.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.6 steals, or 18.3 minutes per game. His second best MPG was 9.4 his rookie campaign.
Evans joined BC Khimki of Russia who participates in the EuroLeague and VTB United League. Evans viewed the move as a chance to play again. Before being cut by the Pacers, Evans said he hadn't played in about eight months.
8 Steve Blake
A member of that great Maryland NCAA Championship team with Juan Dixon, Chris Wilcox, Lonny Baxter and others, Steve Blake played with eight NBA teams in 13 seasons. The Wizards drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2003 NBA Draft, and during his rookie season he appeared in 75 games playing 18.6 minutes per night. His best NBA play came in Portland where he averaged 7.8 ppg, 4.5 apg, and 26.6 mpg in parts of five seasons.
The former Terrapin has since moved to the National Basketball League of Australia and New Zealand. He's a member of the Sydney Kings when playing Down Under.
7 Lou Amundson
A hustle-first player that went undrafted out of UNLV, Lou Amundson still put together a 10-year NBA career. Amundson posted career numbers of 3.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.0 personal fouls per game in 12.9 minutes of action. He spent time with the Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, Cleveland Cavaliers, and New York Knicks.
For the 2016-2017 season, Amundson moved on to the TNT KaTropa of the Philippine Basketball Association. In his first game, he posted 19 points and 18 rebounds. The former D-League Rookie of the Year lasted just two games in the PBA, but showed some potential to be re-signed if he's given another chance in the Philippines.
6 Carlos Boozer
Boozer was another accomplished NBA player that had his career fizzle out towards the end, and in many ways fell off the radar. He was a two-time NBA All-Star, an All-NBA performer, and an Olympic Gold Medalist in 2008. Boozer began his career in Cleveland following a NCAA Championship in 2001. Boozer would leave Cleveland after just one season of playing alongside LeBron James. Perhaps both their careers would have led a different path growing into All-Stars together, but Boozer went on to have his best years in Utah alongside point guard Deron Williams and coach Jerry Sloan.
After years in Chicago and a stop in Los Angeles, Boozer moved overseas with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. There, he put together a stat line of 18.1 points and 10.6 boards in 50 games.
5 Shavlik Randolph
Another undrafted player who was able to play his way into about $5 million worth of NBA contracts, Shavlik Randolph was a member of a Duke University Final Four team before entering the league. His professional journey began with stints in Philadelphia, Portland, and Miami before overseas stays from 2011-2013. He came back with stops in Boston and Phoenix before again heading overseas and currently being a part of the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association. Randolph has found success overseas, even earning a CBA scoring title in 2013. This past season he put together a stat line of 18.4 points and 9.8 rebounds in 45 games on court.
4 Chase Budinger
After winning California Mr. Basketball in 2006, as well as the McDonald's All American Game MVP award, Budinger starred as an athletic wing at Arizona. In three years there, he put together a career average of 17.0 points and 5.8 rebounds while starting 100 out of 100 games he appeared in. Budinger was selected by the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft, then traded to the Houston Rockets. He spent three seasons in Houston and put together the best numbers of his seven-year career. Unfortunately Budinger peaked in Houston and faltered after leaving, finishing with career averages of 7.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, and 19.7 mpg.
Budinger is spending his time with Baskonia, a team that competes in the Liga ACB and EuroLeague.
3 Josh Smith
As a basketball fan, it was tough to watch Josh Smith's career just nose dive after some great years in Atlanta. Although they could never get by the likes of LeBron James or the Boston Celtics' Big Three, the trio of Al Horford, Joe Johnson, and Josh Smith offered some great basketball for fans. Smith earned Second Team All Rookie and later a NBA All Defensive Second Team. His athletic ability finishing on the offensive side and protecting the rim on the defensive side seemed like a combination that would keep him around the league for a long time. Upon leaving the Hawks, Smith bounced between the Pistons, Rockets, and Clippers even being waived and cut at some stops.
Finally for the 2016-2017 season, Smith took his game to the Chinese Basketball Association as a member of the Sichaun Blue Whales. There he averaged 18.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and finished 4th in the league in blocks with 2.0 per game.
2 MarShon Brooks
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Although it didn't translate completely to the NBA, it was always apparent that MarShon Brooks could score. In his rookie season, Brooks put up 12.6 points per game en route to a Second Team All-Rookie spot. Unfortunately, he saw his minutes per game get drastically cut from 29.4 to 12.5 in his sophomore season, and never regained momentum again. His NBA career flamed out after stops in Boston, Golden State, and Los Angeles, but his overseas career has taken off.
In 2015, Brooks signed with the Jiangsu Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association. This past season he posted 36.2 ppg (good for 3rd in the league), 7.5 rebounds, and 4.4 assists, while going to his first CBA All-Star Game.
1 Samuel Dalembert
If you are a Philadelphia 76ers fan, this one just sort of makes you giggle. I can still remember the whole Wells Fargo Arena's "NOOOOOOOOO" as Samuel Dalembert continuously pulled for three-point shots. But "Sammy D" was a solid defensive presence for years. He spent the first eight years of his career in Philly, starting 491 out of 582 games played. He averaged 8.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.9 in a Sixers uniform. Dalembert finished his career playing for 5 more teams in his last 5 NBA seasons, but his best days were in Philadelphia.
Slammin' Sammy now plays in the Chinese Basketball Association as a member of the Shanxi Zhongyu.
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