Joel Przybilla fit a stereotype when he entered the NBA.
A blue-chip recruit, he’d been suspended by his coach at the University of Minnesota. Then, with athleticism on his side, he turned pro early. Painting with a broad brush, he seemed like a high-maintenance and coddled player.
In the NBA, he proved anything but.
The No. 9 pick in the 2000 NBA draft, Przybilla scored fewer than 50 points in three of his first four seasons. In the outlier, he averaged just 2.7 points per game.
Really, that was just a sign of things to come. He never averaged more than 6.4 points per game.
But the 7-foot-1 center kept finding ways to contribute. He blocked shots. He rebounded. He finished near the rim, though in extremely limited usage.
All that dirty work gave Przybilla a 13-year-career, most of it with the Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers. He didn’t play last season, and now he’s ready to hang ‘em up for good.
Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press:
Przybilla signed a five-year, $32 million contract with the Trail Blazers in 2006 – a big payday, but a deal Przybilla struggled to justify on the court. Eventually, his contract was used to facilitate the ill-fated trade of Gerald Wallace to Portland from Charlotte.
After just five games with the Bobcats, Przybilla signed for a year with the Trail Blazers and then a year with Milwaukee, where he spent his first four seasons. He didn’t play anywhere last season.
Due to his contract and quiet contributions, Przybilla frequently popped up trade rumors. So, though he found on-court comfort in only two cities, fans all around the league were drawn to him – and we noticed his ability to positively impact game after game.
Przybilla didn’t fit the perception when he entered the NBA, and even once in the league, he didn’t fit the standard profile of a successful top-10 pick. But he was one.