He was a player who could block a shot on the offensive end of the floor and then down the other end hit a three-pointer. Not many 6-11 centers could do that in the NBA.
Born in Hampton, Iowa, Raef LaFrentz would go to the University of Kansas for four years, and a teammate of his there was Paul Pierce. LaFrentz played the traditional center role in college, at 6-11 and 240, although in his senior year he did hit 8 of 17 three-pointers. Staying in the paint most of the time LaFrentz blocked 1.5 shots per game in his senior season, he had 11.4 rebounds per game and scored 19.8 points.
The Denver Nuggets wanted him and drafted LaFrentz with pick 3 of the 1998 draft. LaFrentz with his ability to play inside and outside was seen as the perfect player to have next to Antonio McDyess. Injuries would cut short his rookie year.
LaFrentz would block 1.4 shots per game in his rookie season and every year in Denver he increased his numbers in that stat. During his three and a half seasons in Denver LaFrentz would give the Nuggets around 13 points and 8 rebounds a game, and 2 or 3 blocks.
The Nuggets were looking to rebuild so they sent Nick Van Exel and LaFrentz to Dallas in a big trade to get Juwan Howard and his contract that didn’t have long until it expired. The entire deal was Raef LaFrentz, Nick Van Exel, Tariq Abdul-Wahad and Avery Johnson going to Dallas for Juwan Howard, Tim Hardaway, Donnell Harvey, cash and a first rounder.
When LaFrentz got to Dallas his minutes were similar to what he had in Denver but the next season, 2002-03, he played less. He did make the most of his playing time as his field goal percentage went up to 51.8% and he hit three-pointers at 40.5%.
Dallas was building an impressive team and wanted Antoine Walker so LaFrentz was traded again. LaFrentz, Chris Mills, Jiri Welsch and a 2004 first round draft pick went to the Boston Celtics for Antoine Walker and Tony Delk.
LaFrentz was on the same team again as Paul Pierce, but this time around it was Pierce who was the superstar and leader of the team. LaFrentz would overcome more knee injuries to give the Celtics solid inside and outside play. In November of 2005, LaFrentz showed how great he was from outside as he took 7 and hit all 7 of his three-pointers in the first half of a game against Houston.
That was what LaFrentz could do, when playing against a big center like Yao Ming he could make him play out on the perimeter, and if they didn’t defend out there LaFrentz would hit the outside shots.
The Celtics were looking to change their team and LaFrentz was moved to Portland.
The deal was Raef LaFrentz, point guard Dan Dickau and guard Randy Foye to the Portland Trail Blazers for center Theo Ratliff, point guard Sebastian Telfair and a 2008 second round draft pick. LaFrentz would play limited minutes with Portland but could still block shots when he was playing.