The 2015 NBA Finals begin Thursday and for the second straight year a Cougar will be gunning for a ring. Aron Baynes won the title last season with San Antonio and now Klay Thompson is playing for a championship. Thompson is nearing the end of a breakout campaign and his success begs the question of whether he is already the best NBA player that WSU has produced?
The answer is yes and on the surface it's not even close. Thompson's 17.5 points per game career average dwarfs the competition. The next closest is Don Collins at 9.8 per game. Add in a third team All-NBA honor while playing on the favorite to win the title and he is achieving a level of fame in the pro game unprecedented for cougar alumni. There is a player however, who can stake a pretty good claim that you may not have thought of.
After looking over the numbers, this name emerged from the pack. A product from George Raveling era (no not Craig Ehlo) who played fifteen years in the NBA.
The seven-foot-two center,who was originally drafted by the Sonics, had a very solid NBA career. The one-time All-Star led the entire league in field goal percentage one season and twice in the playoffs. He is eighth all time in league history at .571. He also finished as a top ten rebounder twice. Advanced metrics makes his career look even more impressive. In the 1986-87 season he led the league in offensive rating and ranked tenth in win shares. Additionally, Donaldson was a key cog on some really good Dallas Mavericks teams featuring Derek Harper and Mark Aguirre. They nearly made the finals before falling to the Showtime Lakers. Donaldson isn't a name that comes up a lot, but he is a great Coug and needs to be remembered as such. Fun Fact: Donaldson's closest comp in win shares for his career is Klay's dad Mychal according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Who do you guys think is WSU's top hoops pro? Is there any Ehlo Heads out there who would put him above either of these two? The old timers might throw in Gene Conley's name.
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