UConn in the Pros: Napier steps up, Walker comes back

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Washington Wizards guard Shabazz Napier shoots as Utah Jazz's Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic defend in the first half during an NBA basketball game Friday, in Salt Lake City.  Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP

Washington Wizards guard Shabazz Napier shoots as Utah Jazz’s Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic defend in the first half during an NBA basketball game Friday, in Salt Lake City. Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP

Shabazz Napier, PG, Washington Wizards 

After the Timberwolves lost 13 consecutive games, they sent Shabazz Napier to Denver and then to D.C. in a very confusing four-team trade. This put Napier back to where he started at the beginning of the season: the bench. After seven games coming off the bench for the Wizards, he was able to re-earn a starting spot, filling in for the injured Ish Smith. In the seven games since, he has averaged 11.7 ppg, 4.3 apg and 2.7 rpg. His last performance was stellar, as he scored 27 points along with seven assists and four rebounds in the Wizards’ loss to the Heat. The Wizards, at 23-40, are ninth in the East and are five games back from a playoff spot. In order to make a playoff push, Napier and the rest of the team will have to step in up in the home stretch of the season. 

Kemba Walker, PG, Boston Celtics 

After a large stretch of games where Walker missed five straight and six of seven, he finally played in two consecutive contests this past week. With a sore left knee, the Celtics have been very precautious in his recovery, keeping him on a minutes restriction. It has been costly, as the formerly 38-16 C’s have gone 4-5 with Walker not getting his usual minutes. In his last game, he got the start and shot 4-of-14, totaling 14 points in 30 minutes played. He also dished out five assists and grabbed six rebounds in the home loss to the Thunder. The All-Star is hoping his health returns along with his play as the team hits a crucial point in the season to grab a top seed in the East. 

Andre Drummond, C, Cleveland Cavaliers 

Another player recovering from the injury bug, Drummond returned to play on Sunday against the Spurs. Coming off a calf injury, he had a monster game in the team’s win. Drummond finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks and an assist. In the three-point victory, he had an impressive plus/minus of +18. The combination of Drummond and teammate Kevin Love were a force to be reckoned with, as they became the first Cavs duo since 2008 to each have 17 rebounds in a game. If he stays healthy, Drummond looks like an excellent trade acquisition for the Cavaliers. 

Rudy Gay, SF, San Antonio Spurs 

Rudy Gay continues to be a positive factor for the Spurs despite his age. Having only started four games this season, he is getting quality minutes off the bench, with 58 total minutes over the last two games. In that span, he has scored 17 ppg, 7.5 rpg, and 1.0 bpg. In his last game, Gay scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds while blocking two shots in the Spurs’ loss to the Cavaliers. Gay and the Spurs, 12th in the West, have some work to do if they want to continue their NBA record of 22- consecutive postseason appearances. 

Andre Blake, GK, Philadelphia Union 

Our Husky MLS representative had a strong day on Sunday, holding off a tough LAFC offense. Despite LAFC taking 21 shots (11 on goal), having 12 corner kick opportunities and possessing the ball 63% of the time, Blake managed to snag eight saves and only allowed three goals in the Union’s 3-3 draw at home. The Union get to 0-1-1 to start the season, and look to improve upon that next week in San Jose. 

UConn MLB Alumni, Various Teams 

As we approach the middle of spring training, let’s check in on how our alumni have fared recently. Starting pitcher Anthony Kay got the win for Toronto in their 3-1 rout of the Pirates on Monday, racking up four strikeouts and zero earned runs over three innings pitched. Shortstop Nick Ahmed went 1-for-3 with a single in the Diamondbacks’ 4-4 draw with the Royals. In his most recent appearance, Red Sox relief pitcher Matt Barnes gave up one hit and three walks with one strikeout over 1.1 innings. Notably, his ERA for spring training remains at zero. Astros outfielder George Springer went 1-for-3 with a walk in a 3-2 victory over the Mets in last Friday’s game.


Jonathan Synott is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at jonathan.synott@uconn.edu.

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