UConn in the NBA: Hornets and Pistons making playoff moves


Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker, left, and Phoenix Suns’ T.J. Warren battle for the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

This week in the NBA brings on extreme excitement because nearly any player in the league has a chance of switching teams before Thursday Feb. 8. The approach of the trade deadline has already changed the course of one player’s team on this list. For those teams trying to take a second half swing for the fences, we could see more moves in the upcoming few days. This past week was filled with stellar performances by our beloved former Huskies, so let’s see where they stand in the league right now.

Andre Drummond:

A lot has changed for Drummond since his angry Twitter rant about not making the All-Star team. First, his Pistons shocked the world by trading him for superstar Blake Griffin, an all-in move that signals their desire to make the playoffs this year (and maybe Van Gundy’s own desire to keep his job). Second, Drummond was announced as the injury reserve in the All-Star Game for John Wall, who is out for 6-8 weeks with a left knee injury. Third, the Pistons are 3-0 since making the trade for Griffin and only half a game out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Drummond recorded another 20-point, 20-rebound game in the first game after the trade, notching 21 points and 22 rebounds against the Cavaliers, and the Pistons look like they could be righting the ship.

Kemba Walker:

Walker was in the discussion to replace Kevin Love in the All-Star Game after the latter went down with a broken hand, but ultimately that spot went to Goran Dragic, who plays for the current No. 7 Miami Heat. While the Hornets aren’t in the playoff mix at the moment, they’ve been quietly on the rise recently, moving to 23-29 on the season and sit only three games back from a playoff spot. Walker also did his best this week to petition for that injury reserve spot, putting up 38 points against the Hawks on Wednesday and following it up with 41 against the Pacers two nights later.

Jeremy Lamb:

Lamb is continuing his solid season without anything new to show for it at this point. His play has been about the same recently; the only difference is that the Hornets are starting to win games. The team has now won three in a row for just the third time this season, and may be looking to build on this momentum by making adjustments at the deadline. It’s trade season, no one knows where it’s going to take us, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Shabazz Napier:

Napier makes the jump over Rudy Gay finally because he’s actually on the court playing basketball.  Earlier this year, I said that Napier could be on his way out of the league at some point soon. Now, Napier has not only made me eat my words, but he could also be looking at a fat payday this offseason from a team that sees his play behind Damian Lillard as restricted and wants to see what he can do with more time and opportunity. Napier has quietly morphed into one of the better backup point guards in the league this season, so it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season and future play out for the alum.

Rudy Gay:

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Poor Rudy Gay went from playing some of the most efficient basketball of his career at the beginning of last season before tearing his Achilles tendon, to being a solid bench player in San Antonio before now having missed eighteen straight games. The NBA vet could potentially be out of commission until the end of February. It’s a shame the effect injuries can have on a player, especially one of Gay’s caliber, but I hope he can bounce back from this and still enjoy playing basketball for the rest of his career.

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

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