UConn in the NBA: Walker staying hot in the playoff race


Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker (15) responds to referee Tony Brothers (25) after being called for a technical foul during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, March 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

When the calendar turns to March, a few things come to my mind: We’ve nearly survived another long, cold New England winter, March Madness is right around the corner and the race to the NBA playoffs is starting to heat up. Every former Husky in the league is in the thick of the playoff hunt. Let’s check in on how they’ve been doing since the All-Star break.

Kemba Walker: Walker has been on fire since the break, putting up 26.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game since earning his third All-Star nomination. He’s shouldering a heavy workload for the Hornets, playing over 38 minutes and taking 23 shots per game as he attempts to drag them into the postseason for the first time since 2016. Charlotte is currently tied with Miami for the eighth seed in the East with a 29-34 record.

Andre Drummond: Drummond continues to do what he does best; churning out double-doubles like a machine. In six games since the All-Star break, Drummond is averaging 17 points and nearly 16 rebounds a game, putting up a double-double in each contest. His inside production has been a large part to why Detroit is 5-1 since the break and stand at 31-31 in the seventh seed in the East, 2.5 games ahead of Charlotte.

Rudy Gay: Gay, the only Husky in the Western Conference, continues to be a steady veteran contributor for a solid San Antonio squad. He’s averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game in six games since the break, highlighted by dropping 22 points in a win against OKC last Saturday. At 36-29, San Antonio sits in the eighth spot in the West, but has a three-game cushion on ninth-place Sacramento.

Jeremy Lamb: The Robin to Kemba’s Batman, Lamb has maintained the production of his breakout season since the layoff. Lamb is averaging 16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists over the six games since the break. He’s had a bit of a hot hand recently, shooting a solid 46.5 percent from the field. Charlotte is going to need him to maintain that clip if they want to shake their current skid and clinch a playoff berth.

Shabazz Napier: Napier’s production has taken a hit ever since Spencer Dinwiddie came back from injury and relegated the former Husky star to the bench. After a long run of big minutes and solid production, Napier has crashed down since the All-Star break. In Brooklyn’s last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points, 0.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in just under 15 minutes per game. As the third point guard on the roster he won’t figure to get many long looks barring another injury to Dinwiddie or D’Angelo Russell. Brooklyn is currently the sixth seed in the East with a 33-33 record, holding the tiebreaker over Drummond’s Pistons.

Neil Simmons is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at neil.simmons@uconn.edu.

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