The UCLA Bruins are one of the most represented basketball programs in the NBA in 2020. During the NBA’s 2019-20 season, there were a total of 128 NCAA schools with at least one player in the NBA. However, only eight colleges had at least 10 players on the NBA’s 2019-20 season opening-day rosters.
The University of Kentucky Wildcats and the Duke University Blue Devils lead all schools with 28 and 24, respectively. The University of North Carolina Tar Heels have 14, and UCLA came in 4th with 13.
Of course, we know that UCLA has produced some of the NBA’s all-time greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Marques Johnson, Gail Goodrich, and Reggie Miller among others. But the Bruins also have a powerful 2020 cast led by former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.
Let’ take a look at the best UCLA Bruins in the NBA in 2020:
The man on top of the list is the 2017 NBA MVP. Russell Westbrook played for the Bruins from 2007-08 as the backup of Darren Collison. When Collison got hurt, Westbrook got to start in his sophomore year and he was named as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. UCLA made the Final Four in Westbrook’s two seasons with the team.
Russ was picked 4th overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2008. He played his first years alongside Kevin Durant but after KD left for Golden State Westbrook took over and has become a statistically dominant player. He averaged in a triple-double from 2017-2019. Westbrook also led the NBA in scoring in 2017 and assists in 2018 and 2019. He was traded to the Houston Rockets last summer.
Zach LaVine played one season for the Bruins in 2013-14. He was the sixth man of the team and he reminded scouts of Russell Westbrook’s role when Russ was a freshman. Although he didn’t post great numbers, his potential was seen and after he was named to the Pac-12 Freshman team, he declared eligibility for the NBA draft.
LaVine was picked 13th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2014. He quickly made an impact as a scorer and an exciting in-game dunker. LaVine won the Slam Dunk Contest in 2015 and 2016. He was traded to the Chicago Bulls for Jimmy Butler and is now Chicago’s main man.
Jrue Holiday played alongside Darren Collison in the UCLA backcourt. He averaged 8.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game and was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. He decided to forego his final three years of eligibility to join the NBA draft in 2009.
Holiday was drafted 17th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers whom he played for until 2013. Holiday was named to the All-Star team in 2013 and was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans after the season. He has blossomed into a two-way star with the Pelicans, earning All-NBA Defensive First team honors in 2018 and Second-team honors in 2019.
Kevin Love is the son of former NBA player Stan Love and he played for UCLA in 2008. Love had 23 double-doubles for the Bruins and averaged 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds. He led the team to the Final Four and he was a consensus First Team All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year.
Love was drafted 5th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008 but was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night. After two decent seasons, he broke out in his third year and was named as the 2011 NBA Most Improved Player. Love became one of the NBA’s top rebounders and an All-Star player. He was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 and he helped LeBron James and Kyrie Irving win the title in 2016.
Norman Powell played four seasons for the Bruins and he was named to the All Pac-12 First team during his senior season. Powell played alongside high profile underclassmen like Zach LaVine and Kyle Anderson but once they turned pro, Powell shone for the Bruins during his final year with the team.
Powell was drafted 46th overall in 2015 by the Milwaukee Bucks. He was traded to the Toronto Raptors before playing his first NBA game and he worked his way in Toronto’s roster. Powell was part of the Raptors’ 2019 title team and in 2020, he had his best year ever for Toronto.
One of the most controversial draft picks ever, Lonzo Ball was a star at UCLA before he became one of the most over-hyped draft picks in the history of the NBA. Ball averaged 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists during his rookie year. He was the first player in the Pac-12 to post those stats since Jason Kidd. He won the Wayman Tisdale Award for Best Freshman in the NCAA in 2017.
Ball was drafted second overall in the 2017 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers but after a couple of mediocre seasons with the team, he was part of the trade package for Anthony Davis. Ball currently plays for the New Orleans Pelicans and is coming off one of the best years of his NBA career.
Aaron Holiday is the younger brother of NBA stars Jrue and Justin Holiday. Like his brother Jrue, he played for the Bruins and earned a reputation as one of the best defenders in college basketball. Holiday was a Third Team All-American Selection in 2018 and he skipped his senior season to go pro.
Holiday was picked 23rd overall by the Indiana Pacers in 2018 and he has been with the team ever since. He earned valuable minutes on the floor with Victor Oladipo sidelined but since Dipo’s return last January, Holiday has been relegated to a bench role. His brother Justin also joined the team in 2019.
Trevor Ariza was a five-star recruit who played for the UCLA Bruins during the 2003-04 season. As a freshman, Ariza averaged 11.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and a team-high 1.7 steals per game. He earned All-Pac 10 Freshman team honors then decided to enter the NBA draft after just one season.
Ariza was the 43rd pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks. He played with New York until 2007 and was traded to the Orlando Magic. The following season, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers where he played on the 2009 Lakers title team. Ariza also played for the Rockets, Suns, Kings, Wizards, and now the Portland Trail Blazers.
Kyle Anderson played two seasons for the Bruins and after he was named to the All-Pac 12 second team during his freshman year, he had intentions to turn pro right away. He ended up returning for his sophomore year where he earned All-American Third Team honors and was a member of the All Pac-12 First Team.
Anderson was drafted 30th overall by the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 and he played for the Spurs until 2018. After he became a free agent, he signed with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2018. He’s had an injury-plagued career in Memphis but he came back in 2019-20 to average 5.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game.
Kevon Looney led the nation in double-doubles as a freshman at UCLA. Looney had double-digit points and rebounds in a total of 15 games during the 2014-15 NCAA season while averaging 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. He was voted second-team All-Pac 12 and named to the Pac-12 Freshman team.
Looney was drafted 30th overall by the Golden State Warriors in 2015. He played for the Warriors’ back to back title teams in 2017 and 2018, playing off the bench and providing help in scoring and rebounding. He missed the start of the 2019-20 season with nerve issues.