Some players use the overseas platform as a way to hone their skills in hopes of landing another NBA gig. We have seen this work for players such as Michael Beasley. A highly coveted scorer out of Kansas State who just didn't have the motor to compete in the NBA at the level he was once expected. Beasley spent time from 2014-2016 in the Chinese Basketball Association. In 2016, he made his NBA return to the Houston Rockets and spent 2016-2017 with the Milwaukee Bucks.
On the flip side of stories such as Beasley's, there is the story of Stephon Marbury. It is possible that Marbury could still be playing valuable NBA minutes today. Frankly, he just didn't want to anymore. A skilled point guard that could play both guard positions in today's NBA, Marbury took his talents to China at age 33. He became a legend in the CBA. As a six-time CBA All-Star, and three-time CBA Champion, why not just get comfortable and make a living over there?
So there are two ends of the spectrum. Practice against professional competition and get the mind and skills right for another push at the NBA. Or realize there is more to professional basketball than just the NBA and North America. There is a way to garner superstardom and a living in the overseas game. Here we will check out some players that we would like to see return to the NBA, and some that could use the permanent stay elsewhere.
15 Come Back - DeJuan Blair
DeJuan Blair's knees kept him from having a nice NBA career. A tough, hard-nosed workhorse down low despite his lack of height, DeJuan Blair began his career with the San Antonio Spurs. There, he bounced in and out of the starting lineup, but for the most part played valuable minutes on a championship pedigree team. Shortly after his stay with the Spurs, his NBA career floundered out after stays in Dallas and Washington. By the 2016-2017 season, he was playing overseas. Blair joined the Jiangsu Monkey Kings of the Chinese Basketball Association. Blair was considered undersized during his time in the league, but perhaps in today's NBA game, he could fit in as a small center guarding second units.
14 Stay Away - Amar'e Stoudemire
How great would it be if we somehow brought back the Amar'e Stoudemire that played for those fun Phoenix Suns teams? Well, unfortunately, that is not an option. At this point it is better for Stoudemire to stay overseas and create a new career for himself. Even if he was still serviceable to a NBA team, NBA fans will never think of him as an end of the bench player. We will think of the monster dunks on the pick and roll. So in Amar'e's case, a main stay with Hapoel Jerusalem BC could be in order. Stoudemire has managed a Israeli League Champion and All-Star appearance with the team already.
13 Come Back - Andray Blatche
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620"] via sports.inquirer.net[/caption]
It was never really about the talent for Andray Blatche. Inconsistent, unmotivated play on the court paired with questionable decisions off of it halted what once seemed to be a promising career. Blatche made almost $40 million during his time in the NBA. He put together a solid three-year span from 2008-2011 where he averaged double-digit points each season and upped his career high to 16.8 for the 2010-11 campaign.
Maybe a stay overseas has helped mature and motivate the big man. It would be interesting to see him take another shot at the NBA. There could be teams in need of Blatche, as he's still young enough at 30.
12 Stay Away - Shavlik Randolph
Undrafted out of Duke University, Shavlik Randolph did manage to play himself onto the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2005-2006 season. During his three seasons in Philly, the team did not finish over a .500 winning percentage in any of the three seasons. In 2006-07, Randolph played a career high 13.8 minutes per night.
Randolph began his overseas journey with stops from 2011-2013 before again getting shots in the NBA with the Celtics and Suns. Randolph even managed to become Chinese Basketball Association scoring champion in 2013. By 2015, he was back overseas and perhaps that is where he should stay.
11 Come Back - Steve Blake
There is always a market in the NBA for a solid backup point guard. Steve Blake fits that bill. A member of that great Maryland Terrapins national championship team, Blake bounced around the league for 13 years. During those 13 years, he had stints with 8 different teams. He began his career with the Washington Wizards, but his best seasons came as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. There, he put together a career-best of 11 points per game. He had three different stays in Portland. In his first stop, he started 57 out of 68 games, the second 175 out of 201 games, and by the third he was not starting anymore.
Blake could be serviceable to a contender, so maybe a comeback is in the 37-year-old's future.
10 Stay Away - Carlos Boozer
Aside from Amar'e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer is probably the most accomplished player on our list. That is also why we want him to go ahead and stay away. It is tough to watch All-Stars and Olympic Gold Medalists be a shell of themselves once the prime of their career has passed. The Deron Williams/Carlos Boozer-led Jazz teams were fun to watch. The pick and roll that made Karl Malone and John Stockton two of the best of all time was able to make Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer into All-Stars.
Unfortunately after a couple successful years in Chicago, Boozer never gained traction again. He played a season in Los Angeles for a terrible Lakers team before heading to China.
9 Come Back - Chase Budinger
Chase Budinger was a disappointment in the NBA, but if he can somehow come back and sport the athleticism that made him a Pac 10 Freshman of the Year and 1st Team All Pac 10 then I am all for it. Budinger was a 2nd-round pick out of Arizona but there was still more hype to him than most second rounders. He began his career playing better than 20 minutes per night for the first four seasons of his career – three with Houston and one in Minnesota. The problem was he averaged just over 50 games per season. Missing time and growing acquainted again year after year halted his career.
Maybe time to get his body right overseas could do Budinger some good. And maybe he can deal with the grueling NBA schedule if a comeback is in order.
8 Stay Away - Jeremy Evans
Its possible that some have never even seen Jeremy Evans play a basketball game. It was like he showed up for the NBA Slam Dunk Contest and that was it. He only averaged better than 10 minutes per game once in six years. By age 29, he had taken his career to BC Khimki of Russia. BC Khimki competes in the EuroLeague and VTB United League.
His best season came for a 25-57 Jazz team. That year, he posted career highs of 18.3 mpg, 6.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.6 spg, and 4 starts in the season. Out of anybody on this list, a move overseas was warranted. His athletic ability can make him an attraction in other leagues.
7 Come Back - Josh Smith
The curious case of Josh Smith keeps resurfacing. An athletic, versatile power forward to begin his career, Smith helped the Atlanta Hawks, alongside Al Horford and Joe Johnson, to their best years in recent basketball memory. He always was a little frustrating to fans and coaches as he felt the need to hoist three-pointers, even though he was able to get into the lane with such ease.
By the time Smith signed with the Pistons in 2013, it seemed his motor was gone. He no longer did the things that made him a commodity. A couple more teams gave him chances. The Rockets, Clippers, then the Rockets again brought Smith in before he made his move overseas at age 31. If his head is on straight, Smith could still bring something to the table.
6 Stay Away - Robert Sacre
We have written about Robert Sacre before. He was a 60th-overall pick that was able to get some NBA playing time for the Los Angeles Lakers from 2012-2016. The Gonzaga product even appeared in two playoff games in 2013. After that season the Lakers were entering their darkest days as a franchise, and that would be where Sacre saw the majority of his NBA minutes.
Sacre competes with the Canada National Team, and is now playing club ball for the Hitachi SunRockers Tokyo Shibuya of the B-League. It is safe to say that Sacre is better off trying to find a career overseas.
5 Come Back - Jason Thompson
Jason Thompson seemed fundamentally sound enough to put together a long career in the NBA. Something close to a Nick Collison-type of career could have been in order, had he found a home on a franchise that trended upward like the Sonics/Thunder. Thompson started his career with the Sacramento Kings, and since the glory days of Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, and Mike Bibby ended, that franchise has offered little to no stability. Thompson did manage to spend seven years there before stops in Golden State and Toronto. For the 2016-2017 season Thompson headed to the Shandong Golden Stars of the CBA. Perhaps his steady play could land him a spot back in the NBA.
4 Stay Away - James Anderson
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="850"] via aroyalpain.com[/caption]
A product of the 76ers tank that lasted almost 5 years, James Anderson nabbed a starting role for the 2013-2014 season. He bounced around between the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and NBA D-League prior to the consistent playing time of that season. That season he was able to play 28.9 minutes per game while averaging better than 10 points per contest. All for a 19-63 team. Therefore, even with the consistent starting role, Anderson would not find another NBA team till the 2015-16 season when he played 51 games in Sacramento – another team on the downswing. That season he was also able to become a Lithuanian Basketball League Champion as well as an All-Star. At this point it looks like the former All-American could put together a better career overseas rather than plan a NBA return.
3 Come Back - Rudy Fernandez
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1280"] via youtube.com[/caption]
A player who traveled a little different kind of NBA road, Rudy Fernandez is a Spanish-born player who later tried his hand at the NBA. After playing professionally in his home country from 2002-2008, Fernandez joined the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers had drafted Fernandez in the 1st round of the 2007 NBA Draft. There, he put together a rookie campaign in which he averaged 10.4 ppg en route to a NBA All-Rookie Second Team. His energy allowed him to play four seasons in the NBA, three with Portland and one in Denver.
Fernandez was rumored to return for the 2015-16 season, but he decided to stay with Real Madrid who he has been with since 2012. A NBA return would be more of a choice than if he still can compete at the level.
2 Stay Away - Yi Jianlian
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="641"] via lakerpulse.com[/caption]
Yi Jianlian entered the 2007 NBA Draft with some hype. Yao Ming was in the midst of his short but successful NBA career, so teams were trying to find the next best thing to come out of China. The Milwaukee Bucks used the 6th pick overall to grab Yi. Entering the league, he was already a three-time CBA Champion, and onetime CBA Finals MVP. His NBA career did end up leaving something to be desired. It seems tough for successful foreign players to not only translate to the NBA but to the American culture in general. Upon leaving the NBA in 2012, Yi has continued his dominance in the CBA. Now a nine-time CBA All-Star, and four-time CBA Champion, it is apparent that Yi belongs to his native CBA, and although it was worth the risk for a NBA career, Yi will be just fine where he is.
1 Come Back - Stephon Marbury
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="959"] via musictimes.com[/caption]
Why not? We know the former NBA All-Star has found enormous success in the Chinese Basketball Association, but why not just finish out his professional basketball career on a NBA contender? It was never about Stephon Marbury's skills, but the willingness to compete and grind it out in the NBA schedule. He seemed happier and more willing once he made the move to play in China. A two-time NBA All-Star, a two-time All-NBA, three-time CBA Champion, CBA Finals MVP, six-time CBA All-Star, all after being an All-American at Georgia Tech, Marbury has done it all during his basketball career. He might not need it or want it, but it would be fun to see him take one last run and add perhaps an NBA Championship to his profound resume.