Fresh off a championship victory which saw many Husky greats such as Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, and Khalid El-Amin make their way to Dallas to revel in the celebration, we will take another look at the former UConn players who are making a living playing in the Association, some of which are gearing up for the playoffs. Like we did last time, players are listed from youngest to oldest.
Andre Drummond- Drummond will not reach the legal drinking age until August 10th but he is already intoxicating NBA Executives with his performance. The Pistons' Center made huge strides in his second NBA season finishing the year averaging a double-double at 13.5 points per game and 13.2 rebounds per game to go along with 1.6 blocks per game. Sure he only shot 41.8% from the line (an improvement from his 37.1% rookie year) but with his other stats (shooting 62.3% from the floor) it can easily be overlooked. Unfortunately his solid sophomore campaign has come to an end, as the Pistons were quite embarrassing this year. We’ll see if Drummond can stay out of the TMZ headlines this offseason.
Jeremy Lamb- After a solid start to the year that saw Lamb become a key bench player for the Thunder, his minutes and thus production have fluctuated as of late. He averaged just 11.3 minutes per game this month, his lowest monthly total for the year, and only played in five of eight games in April. He ends his first full professional season averaging 8.5 points per game (shooting split 43/36/80) 2.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. It will be exciting to see how Scott Brooks uses him off the bench for the second seeded Thunder. Lamb could do some damage because as Husky fans know, he has been known to step up come tournament time.
Kemba Walker- Speaking of stepping up during the post-season, basketball fans get the privilege to see Kardiac Kemba in the NBA playoffs for the first time. The 23 year old point guard averaged 17.7 points per game for the second year in a row, and improved his three point percentage (33.3%), free throw percentage (83.7%), rebounds (4.2) and assists (6.1) from last year on his way to helping the Bobcats get the seven seed. They will have their hands full taking on the second seeded Heat in the first round. Sure the Bobcats hands are full, but I will never in my life doubt Kemba Walker and I look forward to watching Big Al Jefferson absolutely dominate Chris Bosh in the low post.
Hasheem Thabeet- It is my educated guess that we will not see much of the 27-year-old third string center for Oklahoma City Thunder during the playoffs. The former second overall pick averaged 1.2 points and 1.7 rebounds per game while playing in just 23 games this year. Sure he may be one of the biggest NBA draft busts of all time but you know what? Thabeet can still be found with a giant smile on his face at the end of the Thunder bench and it seems that his teammates really like him. He just changed his twitter name to "YOU DON’T KNOW ME." So don’t pretend like you do. The UConn Blog will very much be on Thabeet watch during the playoffs keeping you updated every step of the way.
Rudy Gay- After struggling in Toronto, Gay and his massive contract got traded to the Sacramento Kings who asked him to do a little bit less than he was doing for the Raptors. This resulted in less isolations late in the shot clock and led to the 27-year-old posting his best field goal percentage of his career (48.2%). He averaged 20.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for the Kings whom did not make the playoffs. The pieces seem to be there for Sacramento with Boogie Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, and Ben McLemore, but it hasn't come together for them yet. They are 7th in the lottery and with the right draft pick they are a team that be ready to break out next year with Gay as their go-to-guy.
A.J. Price- Price was with the Minnesota Timberwolves as their third point guard off the bench earlier this year. He played a career low 3.5 minutes per game averaging 1.6 points per game, also a career low. The Timberwolves waived him on April 3rd. The 27-year-old will look to earn an invitation to a team’s training camp this coming year before trying to earn a roster spot for the sixth consecutive year.
Hilton Armstrong- Armstrong was signed to a 10 day contract at the end of March with the Golden State Warriors and has since been signed on for the rest of the season. The 29 year old has appeared in 12 games during the regular season averaging 1.3 points and 3.1 rebounds. In the season finale against Denver, he logged a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes.
Jeff Adrien- One of my favorite Huskies to never win a ring has been one of the most underrated feel-good stories in the NBA this year. After 25 games with Charlotte, he got traded at the trade deadline along with Ramon Sessions to the Milwaukee Bucks for Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour. Although Adrien was traded from a playoff team to the worst team in the league, it gave him a chance to play 25 minutes per game and he made the most of it. In 28 games with the Bucks (including 12 starts) the 6’7 power forward averaged 10.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, and got even better down the stretch averaging 14.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in April. The 28 year old has set himself up for a more extended roll next season.
Charlie Villanueva- The 29-year-old power forward for the Detroit Pistons played in just 20 games this year, averaging a career low 4.6 points per game while making a career high 8.6 million dollars. His contract expires after this year and will not be making close to that on the open market although there will certainly be room on some team for a 6’11 power forward who can shoot.
Emeka Okafor- The 31-year-old Center for the Phoenix Suns had what was probably his most frustrating season in the NBA as he played in 0 games while spending the season recovering from neck surgery. He is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will look for a bounce back season 1 year removed from averaging 9.7 points, and 8.8 rebounds per game for the Washington Wizards.
Ben Gordon- The-31 year old shooting guard had himself a rough year. He only played in 19 games for the Charlotte Bobcats averaging 5.2 points per game with a 34/28/81 shooting split before asking for his release. The Bobcats, who had an idea that they were going to make the playoffs, released him after the deadline where players can be eligible to be added to a playoff roster. Gordon will find his way onto another roster this offseason.
Caron Butler- Caron Butler is a lucky dude. He was stuck on the last place Milwaukee Bucks team that was phasing him out in order to give younger players more minutes, then released him, and then was immediately picked up by the Oklahoma City Thunder. For the Thunder, Butler has been a key rotation guy who had been both a spark, and a veteran presence off the bench. He has averaged 9.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game and has a shooting split of 40/44/84. As a player with one ring already that he received with the Mavericks, he could be the final piece of the puzzle for an Oklahoma City team that looks ready to make their push toward the title behind the MVP caliber play of Kevin Durant.
Ray Allen- Playoff time means it’s time for Ray Allen to do something special. No one needs to be reminded of what happened last year, and if you saw Paul Pierce in the game yesterday, you saw that veterans just know how to take their game to the next level once the postseason starts. This year the 38-year-old averaged 9.6 points per game with a shooting split of 44/38/91 to go along with 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He will be getting plenty of action as the Heat’s main shooter off the bench and could be on his way to his third ring.
To recap: This will be a fun NBA Playoffs to watch for Husky fans with Kemba Walker in his first playoff series against Ray Allen and the defending champion Miami Heat. Outside of that your big time UConn rooting interest will be the Oklahoma City Thunder who beat the Grizzlies last night with 6th man Caron Butler scoring 9 points and notching 5 rebounds in 31 solid minutes including this dunk, Hasheem Thabeet with 4 minutes :) and 3 fouls :( , and Jeremy Lamb recording just a minute.