NBA rosters sometimes feel like they’ve been put in a blender these days. There is a constant churn of player movement so that it’s difficult to keep track of who went where. Luckily we have you covered. Here’s a run through of every UW men’s basketball alum who made an NBA roster this year as they start off the season.
Old Faces in New Places
Isaiah Thomas- Cleveland Cavaliers
2016-17 Statistics: 28.9 ppg, 5.9 apg, 2.7 rpg. All star, 2nd Team All-NBA.
Perhaps no one in the NBA had a more eventful last year than Isaiah Thomas. He surpassed literally everyone’s expectations and rose to the status of one of the best players in the NBA. His season with Boston was incredibly special and he became an unstoppable scoring force on a team that ended up winning the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Most of you are aware of the tragedy that befell the Thomas family during the playoffs as IT played through the death of his little sister. He then broke his tooth and required serious dental surgery to keep playing. Then he aggravated an unknown to the public hip injury which ended his season in the Eastern conference finals and will require him to miss a major chunk if not all of this year. Finally, he was traded by the team that embraced and made him feel appreciated for the first time since he was a Husky to the team that was his chief rival and eliminated him from the playoffs.
Thomas is understandably upset with Danny Ainge and the trade but is committed to teaming with LeBron, Kevin Love, and Dwayne Wade to make it to the NBA finals this season. We at the UWDP are wishing Isaiah the best of luck and hoping he can make a speedy recovery to get back on the court.
Justin Holiday- Chicago Bulls
2016-17 Statistics: 7.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.2 apg.
I remember being incredibly perplexed when Justin Holiday went undrafted and then didn’t make an NBA roster at the start of the next season. He was a great defender and a good shooter. The NBA is starved for that kind of player. How could he not be on a team? Well Holiday has worked hard to get noticed and that work has paid off. He was a solid rotation player for the New York Knicks last season and then signed a contract with the Chicago Bulls for $4.6 million in free agency. The Bulls are projected to be one of if not the worst team in the NBA this season but Holiday is still making the most of his opportunity. He led the Bulls in scoring in the preseason with 19 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and our SBNation Bulls sister site thinks he’s been the best player on the team so far. Holiday will likely be the starting shooting guard on a team that sucks but it’s good to see a Dawg get his shot.
Quincy Pondexter- Chicago Bulls
2014-15 Statistics: 9.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.5 apg.
The last time we saw Quincy Pondexter in an NBA game it was two and a half years ago as the starting small forward for the New Orleans Pelicans. Everyone should take the time to read this article on Quincy that explains the myriad of medical problems he has gone through and the struggle involved with his return to the court. Quincy was not able to play in the preseason with continued injury concerns and we’ll see when he ends up able to play. There’s opportunity for playing time on a depleted Bulls roster if he can get healthy. Once again, wishing QPon a speedy recovery for one of the Husky greats.
Markelle Fultz- Philadelphia 76ers
2016-17 Statistics (at the University of Washington): 23.2ppg, 5.7rpg, 5.9apg.
You might have heard that Markelle Fultz was the #1 pick in the NBA draft this year. I think someone talked about it once. Fultz will start the year coming off the bench for the Sixers as the previous #1 overall pick Ben Simmons will be the starting point guard. Fultz has had some nagging injuries this summer and fall and bizarrely changed his free throw shot supposedly in part to address shoulder pain. The Fultz era isn’t off to a great start in Philadelphia but he should have a chance to be eased in to a bigger role over time.
C.J Wilcox- Portland Trail Blazers
2016-17 Statistics: 1.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.5 apg.
My apologies to C.J for leaving him out of the initial article. Wilcox signed a two-way contract with the Portland Trail Blazers this offseason after being cut by the Orlando Magic last year. The two-way contract is a new invention starting this year. It means that C.J’s salary will not count against the salary cap for the Blazers. In return, C.J can only be on the Blazers’ roster for a maximum of 45 games and will play in the G-League (formerly the D-League) the rest of the time. It’ll be hard for Wilcox to get minutes even when he is up with the main club. They already have C.J McCollum, Evan Turner, and Mo Harkless on the wing so there isn’t a lot of room. Hoping that he will be able to pull a Justin Holiday and force his way into playing time.
Up and Coming
Marquese Chriss- Phoenix Suns
2016-17 Statistics: 9.2ppg, 4.2rpg, 0.7apg.
Marquese Chriss was one of the more intriguing players in the NBA last season. As we all knew he would, Chriss threw down some spectacular dunks. As we also knew he would, Chriss struggled with his emotions, was a terrible rebounder for his size and position, and often looked absolutely lost on defense. He led the league in fouls per minute and was the first rookie since Boogie Cousins to get double digit technicals. He’s a project and he looked like one in his first year. Luckily for Marquese, the Suns are still in rebuilding mode and so they’re perfectly content to let him work through his problems while gaining experience and making the team actively worse in the short term. He’s safe this year but it would still be nice to see him start making the needed mental adjustments before the Suns use one of their high draft picks to replace him.
Dejounte Murray- San Antonio Spurs
2016-17 Statistics: 3.4ppg, 1.1rpg, 1.3apg.
It isn’t often that you see a rookie point guard starting in the conference finals but by the end of the year that’s exactly what Baby Boy was doing. Tony Parker is still out with the injury he sustained in the playoffs and so Murray is expected to be the Spurs starting point guard to begin the year. It’s likely that Patty Mills will finish the game when the score is close but that’s still a lot of responsibility for a player who became legally allowed to drink last month. The future looks bright for Murray as he’ll get plenty of chances to play on the national stage in the next few months.
Terrence Ross- Orlando Magic
2016-17 Statistics: 12.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.8apg.
Ross was traded midseason last year from the Toronto Raptors to the Orlando Magic. That had to be tough as he went from a perennial playoff team to the NBA equivalent of the Seattle Mariners. Ross struggled after the trade as his scoring average only went up 2 points per game despite playing an additional 9 minutes and his 3-point percentage went down. He’s one of the only 3-point threats on a team bereft of shooting which can’t help things. Expect Ross to continue to be the starting small forward for the Magic and, like Holiday, to put up double digit points on a very bad team.
Spencer Hawes- Free Agent
2016-17 Statistics: 6.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.0apg.
Hawes was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks during the year last season and then was waived this summer. He is currently a free agent. Spencer has yet to announce a formal retirement so there is still a chance that he ends up on an NBA roster at some point during the year as injuries hit and teams want to bring in a veteran. Hopefully, he’ll get the chance at one last NBA pay check.
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