UConn in the NBA: Season in Conclusion


Portland Trail Blazers point guard Shabazz Napier, left, tries to make a save as San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) watches during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 116-105. (AP Photo/Ronald Cortes)

Well folks, it looks like this will be the last UConn in the NBA update of the season with the regular season concluding Wednesday night. As exciting as this regular season was, the playoffs should be even better, even though only two former Huskies will be playing. Time to check one more time what UConn alum did against the best basketball competition in the world this year.

Andre Drummond:

It was a sad end to the season for the Detroit Pistons. They acquired Blake Griffin at the trade deadline in hopes of making the playoffs, but unfortunately, they fell short. Still, the season proved to be a success for Drummond as he drastically improved his game in multiple areas. If his stats hold through Wednesday, Drummond will be the first player to average at least 15 points and 16 rebounds in a season since Moses Malone in the 1978-1979 season. He is the first player to average 16 or more rebounds per game since Dennis Rodman in the 1993-1994 season. Simply put, Drummond’s rebounding is unheard of in the current era of basketball. He is also averaging a career high in assists (3.0) and free-throw percentage (60.5). Drummond has become a more all-around player this season while still building on his strengths. At 24 years old, he isn’t even in his prime yet either. Drummond’s best could still be to come, but he just had the best season of his career so far.

Kemba Walker:

Walker entered this season coming off a career year in which he averaged personal bests in points, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and free-throw percentage. Walker did not build upon that this year, but was still wildly effective and still ranks as an elite NBA point guard. He managed to set a new career high for free-throw percentage this season, averaged more assists per game than last year and set a Hornets franchise record in the meantime. On March 28, Walker hit a late lay-up against the Cleveland Cavaliers to set the Hornets all-time scoring record with 9,841 points. He also set the franchise’s made free throw record in the same game at 1,999 free throws. Walker’s team may not have made the playoffs, but he still had a solid season and became a Hornets legend.

Jeremy Lamb:

Lamb had a weird season. For one, it was a career year, as he averaged career-highs in points per game (13.0), assists (2.3) and three-point percentage (37.2). Secondly, he was performing much better at the beginning of the year when he had a greater opportunity, but began to drop off when his role was diminished by the return of Nicolas Batum. Hopefully Lamb can use this season as a launching pad and thrive a little more on a team that gives him a larger role. In the meantime though, Lamb can find solace knowing he still made drastic improvements to his game.

Shabazz Napier:

Napier has successfully become one of the best backup point guards in the league this season. Napier is averaging career-highs in points per game (8.8), rebounds (2.3), steals (1.1), blocks (0.2), minutes (20.9) field-goal percentage (42.4), three-point percentage (37.7) and free-throw percentage (83.8). Napier may also play a decent role in the Trail Blazers’ playoff games this season, as he is the backup point guard behind Damian Lillard and plays third guard sometimes with Lillard and C.J. McCollum. After looking like he may flame out of the league, Napier now looks like he belongs.

Rudy Gay:

In his first year with the San Antonio Spurs, Gay looked like a solid bench option. Although his three-point percentage plummeted, he still shot a solid mark from the field (47.3 percent) and showed that he can play a smaller role for a very good team. The Spurs have not yet clinched a playoff spot, but if they hold on, Gay will get to perform in the playoffs for just the second time in his career. While his playing days look like they will not remain much longer, Gay was an adequate bench player this season. Coming off an Achilles tear last year, that’s not the worst thing in the world.

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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