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NBA Dawgs: End of Regular Season Update

A recap of how all your favorite former Dawgs fared this season

Philadelphia 76ers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

And just like that, the NBA regular season is over. We are all still anxiously awaiting the return of the Sonics which means many fans out there aren’t really following the association on a day-to-day basis. So for those of you not keeping up, here’s a summary of every season had by your favorite former Huskies.

Terrence Ross- Phoenix Suns

2022-23 per game stats: 8.3 pts, 2.4 reb, 1.5 ast, 43.0% FG, 36.8% 3pt, 79.4% FT

Ross was bought out by the Orlando Magic midseason as they tried to get more playing time for their young core. He was picked up by the Phoenix Suns and now will have a legitimate chance at his first NBA title on a team with Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, and Devin Booker. Ross has played 5 fewer minutes per game with Phoenix but is scoring a little bit more thanks to better shooting on 2’s and at the free throw line. At this stage in his career defense is the big question mark for Ross but if he can avoid being a walking bullseye on that end then he has a real chance to play meaningful minutes in the playoffs given the Suns’ lack of depth.

Justin Holiday- Dallas Mavericks

2022-23 per game stats: 4.5 pts, 1.2 reb, 0.9 ast, 37.7% FG, 32.2% 3pt, 62.5% FT

Ross wasn’t the only buyout among former Huskies. Justin Holiday started the season with the Atlanta Hawks but was traded midseason to Houston. The Rockets had no interest in winning games and bought out Holiday so he signed with the Dallas Mavericks. That seemed like a sure way to end up in the playoffs given that team has superstar Luka Doncic. However, Dallas traded their defensive depth for Kyrie Irving’s empty calories (and head) and spectacularly flamed out at the end of the season to miss even the play-in game.

Holiday got 2 starts down the stretch for Dallas but played only 44 games total and averaged his lowest minutes or points per game since the 2015-16 season. This probably isn’t quite the end of Holiday’s NBA career but unfortunately at age 33 it looks like we may be inching closer to it. It didn’t help this week that the Mavs in their efforts to tank put Holiday at center. This is the same Justin Holiday who as a freshman at UW had the skinniest legs I have ever seen on a human being.

Dejounte Murray- Atlanta Hawks

2022-23 per game stats: 20.5 pts, 5.3 reb, 6.1 ast, 46.4% FG, 34.4% 3pt, 83.2% FT

It wasn’t quite the season that Murray imagined when he was traded in the offseason from San Antonio to Atlanta in a blockbuster. The Hawks were betting that adding another guard who actually plays defense would help shift Trae Young off the ball and maybe inspire him on the defensive end. Instead, head coach Nate McMillan got fired as Young and Murray mostly took turns being an initiator. Quin Snyder has come in and the Hawks have somehow been within one game of 0.500 for nearly the final half of the season. That’s almost impossible. And it resulted in getting the #8 seed and a play-in game date with the Miami Heat on the road. A loss there means taking on the winner of Toronto/Chicago at home for the right to play #1 seed Milwaukee.

From an individual standpoint it shouldn’t be a surprise that Murray’s numbers dropped playing with another ball dominant guard. His points only fell slightly but his assists, rebounds, and steals all took significant cuts. The scoring didn’t as well almost entirely because of improved efficiency across the board in his shooting numbers. Murray remains one of the top-50 players in the NBA but it seems clear that he and Young aren’t exactly a perfect long-term fit.

Markelle Fultz- Orlando Magic

2022-23 per game stats: 14.0 pts, 3.9 reb, 5.7 ast, 51.4% FG, 31.0% 3pt, 78.3% FT

It has been a long, hard road for Fultz coming off the disaster that was his early tenure in Philadelphia. Many fans had written him off as a bust but he was starting to play well for Orlando before a torn ACL. This year though the Magic gave Markelle the keys and he has made the most with them. Fultz is averaging career highs in every single statistic except for free throw percentage and he has worked his way into merely being a below average 3-pt shooter from a dreadful one.

Orlando appears to have a bright future with presumptive rookie of the year and Seattle native Paolo Banchero plus a really good forward-mate in Franz Wagner. Wendell Carter has been a nice center option for them. Jalen Suggs hasn’t lived up to expectations as a running mate at guard for Fultz but if the lottery is kind to them and they find an impact shooting guard in the draft then watch out in future seasons.

Matisse Thybulle- Portland Trailblazers

2022-23 per game stats: 4.1 pts, 2.0 reb, 1.7 stl, 0.8 blk, 43.5% FG, 36.5% 3pt, 67.9% FT

It has been a rollercoaster of a season for Thybulle. Doc Rivers lost all confidence in Thybulle’s offense and hardly ever let him off the bench despite the advanced numbers showing Philly was really good overall when he was on the court. Given that he still had value for other teams as a defensive ace and Rivers clearly wasn’t going to use him, Darryl Morey traded him to Portland for Federal Way native Jalen McDaniels (older brother of Jaden).

Matisse clearly had more freedom in Portland as a starter and put up career high averages in just about every category after the trade. From that point on he averaged 7.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game on 38.8% 3-pt shooting. If he can keep up that kind of shooting percentage long-term with his defense then he will be able to play in the league for a long time. Unfortunately though, Portland decided it was best for them long-term to tank at the end of the season and either sat Thybulle or played him alongside lineups without a lot of true NBA players on them.

Jaylen Nowell- Minnesota Timberwolves

2022-23 per game stats: 10.8 pts, 2.6 reb, 2.0 ast, 44.8% FG, 28.9% 3pt, 77.8% FT

It was a bumpy season for Nowell coming off the bench for a Minnesota team that didn’t live up to expectations and fell to the #8 seed in the Western conference. Last year Nowell shot nearly 40% from 3-pt range and had fans clamoring that he should get more playing time as a microwave scorer off the bench. This season his shot abandoned him as he made just 29% of his 3’s without much in the way of defense. It was a career high in games played and points per game for Nowell as he enters a contract season but it doesn’t seem particularly likely that Minnesota will be the team to re-sign him at this point. Nowell played in only 3 of Minnesota’s final 20 games after appearing in every game before that.

Jaden McDaniels- Minnesota Timberwolves

2022-23 per game stats: 12.1 pts, 3.9 reb, 1.9 ast, 51.7% FG, 39.8% 3pt, 73.6% FT

If there was one former Husky who saw their star take off the most this past season it was McDaniels. He put up a career high in points per game while shooting nearly 40% from the 3-point line and starting every game in which he appeared. Where he made the biggest leap though was as a defender. McDaniels is in serious consideration for an all-defense team and despite not putting up gaudy steal or block numbers he locked down the best wing player on the opposite team just about every night. It doesn’t appear that he’s going to be an NBA superstar but McDaniels is living up to the potential of his 5-star rating out of high school and will make a lot of money once he hits free agency.

Unfortunately though, in the final game of the regular season yesterday we saw flashes of the Jaden McDaniels who had a major issue with technical fouls at Washington. McDaniels got called for an early 2nd foul and punched a wall in the tunnel which resulted in a fractured hand that is likely to keep him out for the playoffs. Had McDaniels been healthy he surely would’ve drawn the defensive assignment on Lebron James in the 7/8 play-in game.

Isaiah Stewart- Detroit Pistons

2022-23 per game stats: 11.3 pts, 8.1 reb, 0.7 blk, 44.2% FG, 32.7% 3pt, 73.8% FT

Meanwhile, it wasn’t a great season for Isaiah Stewart despite putting up a career high in points per game. An injury kept Stewart out for a large chunk of the season and he ended up appearing in just 50 games. He started nearly every contest at power forward in Detroit’s multi-big lineups which meant he took 4.1 3’s per game. Maybe not the best strategy for one of the most dominant college post-up scorers I’ve ever seen. But then again, Detroit wasn’t trying to win games. They went all-in trying to tank for Victor Wembanyama and finished with the worst record in the league. If Wembanyama does end up on Detroit in the future then it probably means Stewart’s days of starting are over but he should continue to be a very useful bench big for many years with his work ethic and rebounding ability. Plus Beef Stew takes his role as an enforcer/instigator very seriously.