The NBA season starts tonight which you probably can’t believe if you don’t regularly follow the association. So to get you caught up on the action here’s the rundown on every ex-Husky currently on an NBA roster.
Isaiah Thomas- Denver Nuggets
Last season stats (per game): 15.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists; 37.3% FG, 29.3% 3pt, 89.3% FT
What a whirlwind of a two years for Isaiah Thomas. He was a legitimate MVP candidate in 2017 and made 2nd team all-NBA as the leader of an upstart Boston Celtics team. He played through both a hip injury and the death of his sister to advance Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals. But then Danny Ainge made both a logical move and also one of the most cold-hearted business decisions we’ve seen in sports in a while by shipping the beloved IT off to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving.
Thomas tried to come back a little early and never meshed with a Cleveland team that operated in a completely different manner from Boston. His outspokenness and poor play meant that the Cavs felt obligated to dump him to the Lakers before the trade deadline. IT looked better in Los Angeles but still was clearly not 100% and his efficiency stats were very poor other than his free throw shooting.
Before the injury Thomas looked poised to make $100 million on his next contract but instead signed for just over $2 million to serve as the backup point guard for Denver this season. He’s hoping for a rebound year to restore his value and return to free agency for a long-term deal next year.
Quincy Pondexter- San Antonio Spurs
Last season stats (per game): 2.0 points, 0.4 assists, 1.2 rebounds; 28.6% FG, 13.6% 3pt, 82.4% FT
You can see from the shooting percentages above that last year QP had an atrocious comeback season for the Chicago Bulls. Pondexter was coming off multiple knee injuries as well as a MRSA infection that almost killed him. And it seemed clear that he wasn’t 100% before being waived in January. Now Pondexter looks healthier than he has been in years and will try to secure a part of the regular rotation for San Antonio. He played 13 minutes in their final preseason game and scored 9 points including making both 3-point shots. The Spurs have been decimated by injury already with the aforementioned Murray injury as well as injuries to guards Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV. If Pondexter can provide reliable shooting from beyond the arc then he could see a lot of the court. However, it looks like he’ll at least start the season behind Rudy Gay and Marco Belinelli on the depth chart.
Marquese Chriss- Houston Rockets
Last season stats (per game): 7.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists; 42.3% FG, 29.5% 3pt, 60.8% FT
The Phoenix Suns traded up into the top 10 a few years ago to nab Chriss and it’s clear that they have since regretted that decision. He was incredibly raw in his single season at Washington, didn’t display a very high basketball IQ, and was constantly foul prone despite his apparent physical gifts and enormous potential ceiling. That description has carried over into his NBA career without many real signs of improvement. So the Suns shipped him off via trade to the Western Conference runner-ups.
Chriss will get to play for a winning team for the first time in his NBA career and you would think that the up-tempo dunks and 3-pointers style that the Rockets use would suit his skill set. But if Chriss can’t find any success coming off the bench in Houston then there’s a chance he could be looking at a short NBA career.
Same Face, Same Place
Markelle Fultz- Philadelphia 76ers
Last season stats (per game): 7.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists; 40.5% FG, 0% 3pt, 47.6% FT
Fultz had one of the most unusual rookie seasons possible in 2017 as he missed almost the entire year with...something. The Philly front office and Fultz’s camp argued about the cause and effect of shoulder discomfort and a completely bizarre shooting motion that robbed Fultz of his ability to make jumpers (which was one of his strengths at Washington). He returned at the end of the year and became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double. However, in the playoffs he largely sat on the bench when the 76ers were eliminated against Boston with the team turning to ex-Arizona star T.J McConnell instead.
Based on the preseason it appears that the 76ers are going to begin the season with Fultz starting the game although maybe not a part of the crunch time lineup. His per game averages in the preseason have been pretty close to what they were last year although he has at least made a 3-pointer which he never did last year. We’ll see if he can get out of his funk and show all of the promise he had on Montlake.
Justin Holiday- Chicago Bulls
Last season stats (per game): 12.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists; 37.1% FG, 35.9% 3pt, 82.3% FT
It was an interesting year for Justin Holiday last season as after two months he was on pace to have one of the lowest efficiency/high usage seasons of all time. However, he eventually stopped shooting as much and his outside shot picked up and so he settled in as the 3 and D wing that he has always been.
The Bulls signed Jabari Parker to a large free agent contract in the offseason and he will likely start at SF in place of Holiday this season. Justin will be one of the first players off of the bench and he’s likely the best defensive player on the roster which should earn him a good amount of playing time (this might be the worst defense in the NBA).
Terrence Ross- Orlando Magic
Last season stats (per game): 8.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists; 39.8% FG, 32.3% 3pt, 75% FT
Ross really struggled with injuries last season and only appeared in 24 games for the moribund Orlando Magic. It looks like he’ll come off the bench this season for Orlando and his career has definitely stagnated. Despite his obvious athleticism Ross never really developed as a defender at the NBA level which suppressed his value. He’s set to make $10.5 million in the final year of his current contract for this season and will be able to find a new home after that but is unlikely to be a starter.
Out For the Year
Dejounte Murray- San Antonio Spurs
Last season stats (per game): 8.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists; 44.3% FG, 26.5% 3pt, 70.9% FT
It was a massive blow when it was revealed that Murray tore his ACL last week and will miss the entirety of the 2018-19 season. Murray finally seized the starting PG role for good and had a breakout season last year. There are still significant issues with his development both as a passer and an outside shooter. But he made up for that with his elite rebounding numbers as well as sensational defense. Dejounte made 2nd team all-NBA defense last year and used his giant wingspan to lock down opposing PGs. Here’s to hoping that he’ll be able to return to 100% by the start of next season.
C.J Wilcox- Indiana Pacers
Wilcox experienced a major blow when it came out last month that he ruptured his achilles after having signed a two way deal with the Pacers in free agency. Wilcox hasn’t played in the NBA in several years and was attempting to make a comeback before the injury. That injury is notorious for ending players’ careers but hopefully Wilcox can rehab it to the point of at least being able to continue playing in Europe even if he can’t get back to the NBA.
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