UConn in the NBA: Drummond and Walker off to strong starts early in the season.


Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond reacts to a call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The NBA is finally back in action in what should be an incredibly exciting season after this past summer’s massive turnaround. LAbron is showing out so far despite the Lakers struggles, the Bucks and Raptors are the only remaining undefeated teams and the Rockets are 1-4 after their addition of Melo (coincidence? I think not). But now for what we’re all here for: to see how our UConn alum are performing so far in the NBA. 

Andre Drummond: 

The powerhouse frontcourt of Blake Griffin and Drummond has proved to be lethal early in the season, as the Pistons are sitting at third in the Eastern Conference right now with a 4-1 record. Drummond picked up right where he left off last season. He is currently leading the league in rebounds per game with 15.8, including an impressive 26-point and 22-rebound game against Cleveland last week. Along with this, Drummond is averaging a career-high 18.4 points per game. He has been vital to the Pistons’ strong start, and entering his seventh season with the team. Drummond is hopeful that the combo of him and Griffin is going to be enough to take them to their second playoff appearance in Drummond’s career. 

Kemba Walker: 

While the Hornets sit at 3-4, Walker has had the best start to his career this season, without a doubt. He is averaging a career-high 31.7 points per game, placing him third in the league, while shooting almost 47 percent from the field, also a career best. Walker has been a complete nightmare for opponents on the offensive end, nearly doubling his 3-pointers made per game from last year. He’s now hitting 4.6 threes per game, placing him second in the league behind Steph Curry. Walker is making these 3-point shots at a 40 percent clip, making that the best of his career too. Walker seems ready to break out this season and prove himself as a top point guard in the league. The Hornets have made it to the playoffs on two occasions with Kemba, but have never made it past the first round, something that seems very possible in the weakened Eastern Conference if Walker can keep up his strong play. 

Rudy Gay: 

Gay is quietly having a solid season so far for the Spurs. His last two seasons have been hampered by injury, but when he is healthy he can easily get 15 points and six rebounds a game. He is as consistent as they come in the game, which is something the Spurs are really lacking, especially since they lost the last member of their big three this offseason when Tony Parker joined the Hornets. Regardless, the Spurs still sit at 3-2 so far, including two wins against the LeBron-led Lakers, and as long as they are under the leadership of Gregg Popovich, the Spurs should make the playoffs for an absurd 23rd consecutive season, and Gay could continue to put up solid numbers in what is hopefully a rebound season for him.

Jeremy Lamb: 

Lamb plays the same role for the Hornets that he did for UConn: a scorer. He will never put up amazing numbers, but Lamb is the guy that can step onto the court and give you 15 points in a hurry. So far in the season he has scored in double digits every game en route to averaging 11.4 points per game. Lamb has struggled with his shot thus far, hitting only 39 percent, but with his old friend Walker averaging 31 a game, he may start to get more open looks and put up some better numbers. Lamb is one of the best at the role he is assigned, and I would not be surprised if he ended the season with a new career-high in scoring, his previous high being the 12.9 he put up last season, especially with him locked into the starting lineup. 

Shabazz Napier: 

Coming off a strong season with the Trailblazers, Napier decided to sign with the Brooklyn Nets this offseason. Napier sits third on the Nets depth chart behind D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie at point guard, leading him to a low 14.7 minutes per game. He has been effective in that limited time though, averaging nearly ten points and two assists per game. We saw what he could do when given minutes last season—he averaged 16 points, four rebounds and four assists when he started for the Trailblazers after Lillard got hurt—so if either D-Lo or Dinwiddie falls to injury or end up underperforming, Napier will easily step up the ranks and put up some solid numbers on a consistently poor Nets team.

Conner Gilson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at conner.gilson@uconn.edu.  

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