UConn in the Pros: Bouknight trending up, Walker down 

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Kemba Walker, PG, New York Knicks 

In his first season in New York, Walker has had two separate stints where he missed three weeks of game action due to a mix of losing his spot in head coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation and managing a knee injury that has plagued him in years past. He did participate in the Knicks’ last contest versus the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, scoring eight points on 50% shooting to go along with one rebound and one assist as the team’s starting point guard. Despite seeing limited time, Walker is still averaging over 13 points per game and managed his third career triple-double against the Atlanta Hawks on Christmas Day. With the Knicks playing below expectations to the tune of a 23-25 record at this point in the season, it’s possible that Walker will continue to lose playing time in favor of younger talent if New York falls further out of playoff contention. 

Andre Drummond, C, Philadelphia 76ers 

Drummond has carved out a nice bench role for the 76ers behind All-Star Joel Embiid, providing over six points and almost nine rebounds per game on an efficient 53.1 field goal percentage. In 15 minutes of action against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, Drummond recorded four points, five rebounds and one assist to help his team to a double-digit victory. He’s been critical in helping Philadelphia become amongst the league’s better defensive teams in terms of defensive rating in their first season without All-Star Ben Simmons. At 28-19, Philadelphia sits in the sixth seed of the Eastern Conference, but finds themselves only two games behind the first-seeded Miami Heat.  

James Bouknight, G/F, Charlotte Hornets 

In his first season since being selected 11th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 2021 NBA Draft, Bouknight has seen limited playing time in the NBA and has split time between Charlotte and Charlotte’s G-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm. However, after being recalled from Greensboro on Sunday, Bouknight has been seeing increased action with 17 minutes against Atlanta on Sunday and 29 minutes against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. In Tuesday’s game, Bouknight recorded 18 points, two rebounds, a steal and an assist. Both games were blowout losses for Charlotte,  which likely played a role in his minutes increase. It is possible that if Bouknight continues to play well he may force Charlotte to keep him on their active roster, and may even make head coach James Borrego consider a larger role for him. In all, the rookie is averaging 4.6 points per game in NBA action compared to an impressive 25 points, 7.5 rebounds and five assists per game for Greensboro. 

Rudy Gay, F, Utah Jazz 

Now in his 16th NBA season, the 35-year-old Gay finds himself as a solid contributor on a playoff-caliber team yet again. Now playing for the Utah Jazz, Gay is far from the player he once was. He averaged at least 17.2 points per game every season from 2007 to 2016, though he is still averaging a serviceable 10 points and five rebounds per game in a backup role. In Utah’s matchup on Monday against the Phoenix Suns, Gay earned starting duties with Utah missing multiple key players, and he played to the tune of 13 points and five assists over 36 minutes of action in a 115-109 loss. The Jazz currently sits at 30-18, good enough for the fourth seed in the Western Conference, and are a true contender for this year’s Larry O’Brien trophy when fully healthy. 

Miscellaneous 

Guard Ryan Boatright scored 15 points on a solid 4-for-6 shooting performance from the three point line in Paris Basketball’s 83-80 loss to the Nanterre 92 in the French LBA Pro A League last Sunday. After becoming the fifth highest paid cornerback in the NFL last offseason, Byron Jones started all 16 games that he played for the Miami Dolphins this season, recording 51 total tackles, 10 passes defended and one forced fumble for what was a formidable defense all season. In July, guard Shabazz Napier signed a one-year contract with BC Zenit Saint Petersburg of the Russian VTB League, though he has yet to see game time with the team. His last NBA action came with the Washington Wizards in 2021. 

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