A lot of folks across the country don’t tune into basketball until after football season is officially over. And yesterday was the first Sunday without the NFL so I’m sure many of you are also going through withdrawals. Plus, your average Seattleite is much less prone to keeping tabs on the NBA than sports fans in other parts of the country. Add it all up and there’s a good chance you’re not sure exactly how all of your favorite ex-Huskies are doing or even where they play. If that’s the case, here’s a quick update for you.
Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic
2018-19 stats: 19 games, 8.2 pts, 3.7 rbd, 3.1 ast, 41.9% FG, 28.6% 3pt, 56.8% FT
Fultz was the centerpiece of a trade made just before the NBA trade deadline in which the former #1 overall pick was shipped from Philadelphia to Orlando for Jonathan Simmons and draft picks. He hadn’t played since November 19th as his neck/shoulder problems continued to bother him and Fultz was eventually diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. He is currently rehabbing and there isn’t a clear timeline on his return but the Magic are certainly hoping he can recover to become their PG of the future since they have absolutely nothing else at that position.
It has to be difficult for Fultz who has become the butt of many a joke and is already being labeled as one of the worst busts in NBA history not even 2 years since getting drafted. If it turns out that he does in fact have thoracic outlet syndrome and is able to recover from it then he may still have a good career. Fultz displayed everything but his shooting with the 76ers that made him a top pick and playing for a new team with about 10% of the media attention lessens the chance that the mental side of his game derails him. Here’s to hoping that Markelle can rediscover his form in Orlando because he showed all of the skills necessary to be an NBA star in his 1 year in Seattle.
Marquese Chriss, Cleveland Cavaliers
2018-19 Stats: 18 games, 2.7 pts, 2.2 rbd, 0.2 bpg, 37.3% FG, 22.7% 3pt, 85.7% FT
It has been a rough year for the former top-10 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft as Chriss was traded from Houston to Cleveland last week in a deal that also involved the Sacramento Kings. The good news is that Chriss should see his playing time greatly increase with the move. The bad news is that Cleveland is vying for the worst record in the NBA while the Rockets were a contender to make the Western Conference Finals.
Since the trade, Chriss has played 23.5 minutes per game and has shot 57% from 3-pt range (albeit in just 2 games). It was widely known when he was drafted that Chriss was impossibly raw and there was a chance he never put everything together but the Suns gambled on his athleticism. In year 3 his per minute stats are if anything worse than they were in his rookie season. Somehow, Chriss is still just 21 years old. It’s incredibly unfair to write him off when he’s younger than most of UW’s current starters. But the NBA is a business and unless he’s able to make a major leap forward with Cleveland over the next few months it will be difficult for him to find an opportunity for serious playing time on an NBA roster.
Justin Holiday, Memphis Grizzlies
2018-19 stats: 57 games, 10.5 pts, 4.2 rbd, 2.1 ast, 37.2% FG, 34.7% 3pt, 88.9% FT
Holiday also changed teams this season except he was dealt over a month ago rather than at the trade deadline. Overall, you have to consider Holiday’s career to this point a success since he’s become a serious NBA role player despite entering the league as an undrafted free agent. His numbers have taken a dip since the trade from Chicago as he was shooting 36% from 3-pt range with the Bulls and is down to 30.4% with Memphis. But he’s an above average wing defender and you would expect his shooting to pick back up. He’ll be a free agent this offseason and should be able to get more than the 4.5 million annual average he received 2 summers ago.
Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic
2018-19 stats: 57 games, 14.7 pts, 3.4 rbd, 1.5 ast, 43.5% FG, 38.1% 3pt, 86.4% FT
If you’d asked most NBA experts they’d have said that Ross was the most likely ex-Husky to be dealt although he ended up staying put as it appears the Magic wanted a 1st rounder in return and no one was willing to pay that price. Ross has been Orlando’s 6th man this season although he has often been a part of their crunch time lineup. Last season, Ross struggled returning from injuries and looked like he might be on his way out of the league. But this year he has improved drastically with career highs in points and rebounds per 36 minutes and his best shooting percentage season since 2016. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will have options depending on whether he wants to try to be a starter again for a struggling team or play a reserve/6th man role for a contender.
Quincy Pondexter, San Antonio Spurs
2018-19 stats: 43 games, 1.9 pts, 0.9 rbd, 0.5 ast, 49% FG, 33.3% 3pt, 77.1% FT
Q-Pon has played sparingly for the Spurs as he has only seen more than 12 minutes in 4 of the 43 games in which he’s appeared. He has been a much more efficient player than he was last year in Chicago and if he continues to shoot 58% on 2-pt shots and 33.3% on 3-pointers then he’ll continue to find a bench role in the league for several more seasons. He’s a free agent at the end of the season as he signed a 1-year prove it type deal and it wouldn’t shock me to see the Spurs keep him around on a similar contract to continue being a veteran presence and a useful part-time player.
Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs
2018-19 stats: NONE
Murray tore his ACL in the preseason and so is out for the season. He’s expected to be ready for the start of next season and will likely resume his role as the starting PG for the Spurs. Murray was a 2nd-team all-defensive team pick in his first full season as a starter so if he can return fully healthy then he will likely be a long-time player in the NBA.
Isaiah Thomas, Denver Nuggets
2018-19 stats: NONE
IT has yet to return from his hip injury which kept him out for both the first half and last month of last season. The uncertainty over his health led to Isaiah signing a 1-year deal at the veteran’s minimum of 2 million last offseason to try to rehabilitate his value. There are reports that Thomas could be ready to return to the court as soon as this week. But the Nuggets have been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA and currently sit 2nd in the Western Conference standings. Nikola Jokic has been a potential 1st-team All-NBA caliber player as the team’s point-center while the combo of Jamal Murray/Monte Morris have been serviceable at the traditional point guard spot. All of that to say, the Nuggets have been content taking their time with IT to ensure he’s 100% healthy before bringing him back. Here’s to hoping that he is able to reach that point and secure a long-term contract this offseason when he’s a free agent again.
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