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UConn in the NBA: Several former Huskies gearing up for playoff push

Andre Drummond, Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, and Rudy Gay could all be playing in the postseason later this year.

Darren Yamashita - USA TODAY Sports

The college basketball season is over, so Husky hoop heads can now shift their focus to the NBA’s stretch run. While James Bouknight prepares for his future as a pro, there are plenty of other Huskies carving out roles on teams looking to secure playoff seeding.

Andre Drummond

It was an inauspicious start for Drummond with the Lakers. Against the Bucks in a possible Finals preview, the 6’11 big scored four points on 2-of-6 shooting and pulled in only a single board. To make matters worse, he picked up a toe injury after clumsy buffoon Brook Lopez stepped on his foot. Drummond is day-to-day, but that’s a bleaker-than-usual outlook considering he has rust to shake off after being shut down for the last month.

You can’t teach Drummond’s size and athleticism though and as much as it pains a Celtics fan to type this, he’s with an organization that will utilize his talents well.

Kemba Walker

Cardiac Kemba’s had a rocky second season in Boston. The Celtics were two games from the NBA finals in the 2020 bubble and, despite the loss of Gordon Hayward, were expected to challenge in the East once again. Health issues and leaky defense have the Celtics struggling to stay above .500, however.

At the center of their inconsistency has been Walker, who is averaging 17.9 points per game to go with 4.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds. His numbers aren’t terrible but his efficiency has been called into the question as he’s shooting his lowest percentages since 2014-2015. And in today’s pace and space game, the undersized guard is often sought out and exploited in mismatches.

Many are overlooking just how important a healthy knee is for the 30-year old’s (!) cutting- and burst-centric game. The chronic knee pain that delayed his season debut is being managed by Walker sitting out the latter half of back-to-backs, but that’s likely contributed to his inconsistent shooting nights. The hope is that Brad Stevens and company can ramp up his workload so he’s pain-free and unburdened for the playoffs.

Kemba’s still Kemba though, and it would be a mistake to write him off. And while Boston sits eighth in the Eastern Conference right now, they’re merely one game away from the fourth seed. The Celtics still could be a dangerous team if they get their act together, and Cardiac will certainly be at the heart of any charge up the standings.

Jeremy Lamb

Kemba’s 2011 backcourt partner is hovering right around his career averages of 10 points and three rebounds per game while coming off the bench for the Indiana Pacers. As of now, his squad sits just outside the playoffs picture but are only two games back from the Celtics. Lamb has scored 20+ points in three outings this year but is facing playing time competition from Edmund Sumner. The lanky veteran is roughly a year removed from an ACL injury and will be a free agent in 2022.

Rudy Gay

Coming off the bench for the Spurs, Gay is averaging 11 points and five rebounds per game in just under 22 minutes. He’s scored in double figures in six straight games, including 16 points and eight rebounds in a March 31 win over the Kings. Gay is shooting just under 40% from three, his best percentage since the 2018-2019 season. The Spurs are half a game outside the eighth seed in the West, so look for Gay’s bench scoring to be a key factor in helping the rebuilding Spurs sneak into the playoffs.

Off the court, Gay recently showed his support for women’s college basketball by rocking this throwback Rebecca Lobo jersey:

Huskies in the G-League

The G-League season has already come and gone with several Huskies turning in admirable campaigns inside the bubble.

Amida Brimah

Brimah started in nine of ten games for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, averaging eight points and 8.5 rebounds per game. To the surprise of no one, he finished second in the league in blocks per game (2.9). He’s yet to get called up the Pacers, but an injury to the likes of Myles Turner or Donata Sabonis could mean NBA minutes for Kevin Ollie’s best rim protector.

Jalen Adams

It seems like it's only a matter of time before some NBA team realizes what they have in Adams. He averaged 16 points, four rebounds, and four assists for the Erie Bay Hawks while shooting 48% from the field and 40% from downtown.

The Roxbury kid has always possessed NBA-level size and athleticism and his lack of development from freshman year to senior year is possibly Kevin Ollie’s biggest black mark.

Christian Vital

Vital spent the season with the Memphis Hustle but did not appear in any games. On a side note, he’s probably a big Queens Gambit fan as he’s developed a passion for playing chess.

Shabazz Napier

Napier was not invited to the G-League bubble and remains an unsigned free agent. Buyout season has come and gone with no team taking a flyer on the Hungry Husky.