UConn in the NBA: Drummond’s Pistons top Celtics, Walker hurt


Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker (15) is helped off the court after being injured during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017. Walker returned later in the game. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Another week down means another update on how our former UConn studs are looking this season against the best competition in the world. The NBA season is now over a quarter of the way through, so it’s not outlandish to think the level of performance we’ve seen will continue. Let’s see where each player is sitting now, and also envision what they may look like at the end of the season.

Andre Drummond: Drummond’s Pistons had a middling week where they went 2-2, losing to two Eastern Conference rivals, but they also smacked the conference-leading Celtics since we last checked in. The Big Cheese in the Motor City continues to put up very solid stats, but none are more surprising than his assist numbers. He led the Pistons in assists in three of four games last week, and his season average now rests at four assists per game. Drummond continues to diversify his game in his sixth season and he is being utilized in different ways on the court now instead of just posting up. Now the big man is getting the ball at the top of the key and being asked to make a play with it, which allows more spacing for the team and more creativity from the center. Drummond will definitely be an All-Star this season, and if he continues to play this way without any holes in his game outside of a jump shot, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the league’s leading rebounder bounce back and make an All-Nba team.

Kemba Walker: Where we left off with Walker last week is where he remains, and the reason for it isn’t his fault. Walker missed both games for the Hornets this week, and in turn, the team went 0-2. The Hornets rely on Walker for the bulk of their scoring and playmaking, and those two games without him really showed his value to the team. The team now sits at 8-13 and in the bottom five of the East, a far cry from where they thought they would be coming into the season. Still, they have had injuries to account for and with the resurgence of Dwight Howard, this team looks like it is playoff caliber. Walker also looks to be All-Star caliber yet again, and I would bet on him playing in that game once it rolls around.

Jeremy Lamb: Lamb continues to do his thing this season, averaging career-highs in just about every major stat while being a solid role player for the Hornets. It’s impossible to knock Lamb for anything that he has done, as he has played his role beautifully and accepted his return to the bench when Nicolas Batum came back like a true pro. It’s just unfortunate that this hot play from him has not translated to more wins, but there is still plenty of time left in this long, 82-game season.

Rudy Gay: Gay’s points per game average is still above his rookie year (his lowest) but not by much as he is averaging 12 points per game this season compared to 10.8 his rookie season. His 3 point percentage has now dropped to its lowest ever and his rebounds and assists per game are also the least since his rookie season. While he is playing the least minutes of his career, it seems as if his Achilles injury last season really did take its toll on the 31-year old. For the help that Gay gives them though, San Antonio is still third in the Western Conference at 15-8, and are still without Kawhi Leonard. Maybe Gay’s numbers will rise a little once Leonard returns, but it seems as if now is finally the time that Rudy Gay’s career will permanently shift to low-usage bench role.

Shabazz Napier: Napier’s percentages have finally dipped off from the otherworldy levels (over 50 percent from the field and 3 point line) that they were at to start the season, and now sit at 46.6 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from three. Napier is being trusted more now by the Trail Blazers so it is not very surprising to see his efficiency drop off with more minutes. At the moment, it looks like the backup guard spot is a perfect role for Napier, and he has even gotten a little burn next to Portland’s two starting guards in some lineups. It’s fantastic to see Napier look like an actual serviceable NBA player, so kudos to him for his improvement.

Zac Lane is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at zachary.d.lane@uconn.edu.

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