Which NBA Players came from Minnesota?

Minnesota has a rich tradition when it comes to basketball. The state is represented by two college teams, with the Minnesota Golden Gophers competing in the Big Ten Conference and the St Thomas Tommies just behind in the Summit.

A number of top players have graduated from these institutions and made their name in the National Basketball Association. Others were born in the state, before making their mark elsewhere in the US and progressing to the NBA.

It’s a proud history, but which players from Minnesota have excelled in the big league of basketball?

Flying the State Flag

The state is also represented in the NBA by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The franchise was formed in 1989 but have so far won just one divisional title. That solitary success means that the Timberwolves are one of the lower ranked teams in NBA odds markets, but they will target greater success in the coming years.

Despite that record, Minnesota Timberwolves have seen some top players pass through their roster. Many came from elsewhere, but a small selection were either born in the state or played their college basketball here.

Gophers Star

Chris Engler was born in Stillwater, Minnesota and he developed his early basketball career with the state college team. Playing as a center, he spent two years with the Golden Gophers before transferring to Wyoming.

Engler made it into the NBA and was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 1982. His professional career was a modest one, but Chris Engler was a well-traveled player, appearing for four NBA franchises including the New York Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Best of the Best?

From one of the fringe NBA players, we come to one of its biggest stars. Kevin McHale was born in Hibbing, Minnesota in 1957, and he also starred for the college team. After four campaigns with the Golden Gophers, the power forward was claimed in the first round of the 1980 draft by the Boston Celtics.

McHale went on to enjoy a stellar career, at a time when the Celtics were one of the dominant forces in the NBA. They were his only franchise, and in his thirteen years on the roster, the Minnesotan won three NBA Championships and appeared in no fewer than seven All-Star teams.

Part of History

Another player from Minnesota with three NBA Championship rings is Devean George. Born in Minneapolis in 1977, he went to college at Augsburg before being drafted by the LA Lakers in 1999.

The small forward played his part in a stunning Lakers team that made history by winning the championship in three consecutive years from 2000 to 2002. Big names such as Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal took the headlines, but George played his part in the Lakers’ dominant era.

The Current Crop

Of the Minnesotans still playing in the NBA, Amir Coffey is one of the most promising players. He was born in Hopkins in 1997, and like many star players from the state, he played all of his college basketball with the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

A versatile player who can feature as a shooting guard or small forward, Coffey wasn’t picked up in the 2019 draft, but he was undeterred. The player signed a two-way contract with the LA Clippers and has been part of the set up at the Intuit Dome ever since.

After a spell on the fringes of the roster, Amir Coffey is finally getting a chance to prove his worth with the Clippers, and his best days in the NBA should be ahead of him.

In the Celebrity Spotlight

Basketball fans will think it’s a shame that Kris Humphries will mostly be remembered for an infamous period in the celebrity spotlight. The former NBA Power Forward was married to Kim Kardashian for just 72 days in 2011.

There were rumors that it was all a publicity stunt, but whatever the reasons behind the brief marriage, we should not forget this Minnesotan’s time on the court. Born in Minneapolis in 1985, Humphries had two productive seasons with the Golden Gophers, and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2004.

His huge promise was recognized when the Utah Jazz claimed him as a first round draft pick and Humphries went on to play for eight NBA franchises up until 2017.

With such a strong college set up in place, it’s certain that more players from Minnesota will graduate and make it into the big time at the NBA. Whether they play with the struggling Timberwolves is another question, and the state’s main franchise needs to improve before it can pick the cream of new talent.

Others from Minnesota can still make their mark with other teams, but it’s hoped that they can help make the Timberwolves stronger and lead them to their first NBA Pennant.

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