LJWorld.com weblogs 'Hawks in the NBA
A KU fan's guide to the 2013-14 season
By Nick Gerik & Benton Smith
It's been a long time since we rolled out the 'Hawks in the NBA here at KUsports.com, but we're excited to bring it back.
The 2013-14 NBA season is just a couple weeks old now, so we'll get things started by catching up with the 14 former Kansas Jayhawks currently making their marks — or trying to earn playing time — around The Association.
From rookie Ben McLemore to vet Paul Pierce, this should be an exciting season in the NBA for the guys who honed their skills in Allen Fieldhouse.
New York Knicks (2-4)
When we saw him last: If you looked closely during an Oklahoma City Thunder game last season, you might have seen Aldrich at the end of the Thunder's bench or playing in garbage time. He became a free agent for the first time this summer and landed a contract with New York.
What has he done so far this season?: Until Sunday night, not a whole lot. Aldrich played nine minutes in a blowout loss to the Spurs. Before that he registered four DNP's and one minute. Now that center Tyson Chandler is out for a few weeks, maybe Aldrich will actually become part of the Knicks' rotation. At least he grabbed seven boards against the Spurs.
Denver Nuggets (1-4)
When we saw him last: Arthur spent most of 2012-13 getting back up to speed after a ruptured Achilles cost him the previous season. He averaged 16 minutes as a reserve in his fourth season with the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis was swept in the Western Conference finals, and it traded Arthur to Denver over the summer.
What has he done so far this season?: A logjam of forwards in Denver, coupled with a first-year coach who hasn’t decided on a rotation, hasn’t given Arthur much time to shine in the first five games. It’s early, though, and he’s coming off a 26-minute game on Friday — his longest outing so far. Sunday, his coach hinted more minutes could be in store after news broke that Nuggets starting center JaVale McGee will be out indefinitely with a stress fracture.
Miami Heat (4-3)
When we saw him last: Chalmers won his second NBA title with the Heat in June, playing over 40 minutes and scoring 20 and 14 in the series-deciding Games 6 and 7 against the San Antonio Spurs.
What has he done so far this season?: Chalmers is a starter again in his sixth NBA season (all with Miami), averaging a steady, superstar-supporting 10 points, five assists and two steals a game. Once everyone’s favorite verbal punching bag, Chalmers is now a battle-tested vet … though he’s still learning to control his elbows and pre-game cravings.
Oklahoma City Thunder (5-1)
When we saw him last: Collison, a back-up post player for one of the top teams in the Western Conference, and his OKC teammates figured on a much deeper run through the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Once Russell Westbrook suffered a season-ending knee injury, however, the Thunder couldn't get past the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round.
What has he done so far this season?: Considering he's only playing about 17 minutes a game, averaging 6.0 points and 2.0 rebounds and missed Sunday's game against Washington with a bruised hip, it's safe to say Collison's highlight of the new season came when he won Halloween. The Jayhawk great nailed his costume, going as Walter White, from "Breaking Bad." Check out the photos from his Instagram.
Los Angeles Lakers (3-5)
When we saw him last: Henry was in his second season with the New Orleans Hornets (R.I.P.) in 2012-13, and when he wasn’t injured, he just wasn’t playing — 12.5 minutes in 50 games. Henry was a trade throw-in from Memphis and was never part of New Orleans’ plans. Dismissed as a 22-year-old has-been, Henry became a free agent over the summer and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in September.
What has he done so far this season?: XAVIER HENRY HAS SHOWN HE'S THE SECOND COMING OF KOBE BRYANT!!! ... ahem ... What we meant to write was that Henry’s been impressive. He showed flashes in the preseason and then got the league’s attention with a 22-point, nationally televised Laker debut on opening-night. On the whole, he’s been up and down — 18 points in his first start on Nov. 3; a total of 16 points in the four games since then — but coach Mike D'Antoni seems to be smitten with his talent. Henry’s biggest blemish has been his free-throw shooting — just 61 percent for his career and down to 54 percent (22 of 41) in his fourth season.
Chicago Bulls (2-3)
When we saw him last: Hinrich played big minutes for the 2012-13 Bulls in place of sidelined starter Derrick Rose, culminating with a 60-minute stint in a triple-overtime victory against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. Hinrich injured his calf in that ironman performance and didn’t play again. The Bulls eked out a series win without him, then were eliminated by Miami in five games.
What has he done so far this season?: With Rose playing once again, Hinrich has returned to his usual backup role in his 11th season. During Chicago’s slow start, Hinrich has averaged almost eight points, three assists and a TON of accessories.
Sacramento Kings (1-5)
When we saw him last: The formerly dysfunctional Kings got a new owner, a new GM and a new coach in the offseason and drafted McLemore seventh overall in June. McLemore received plenty of attention for poor shooting and ball-handling in the NBA’s Summer League, but he was much more impressive in the October preseason — 19 points, five-plus rebounds per 36 minutes.
What has he done so far this season?: McLemore scored four points off the bench in his debut, which doubled as the first NBA game he had ever attended. In the three games he’s played more than 20 minutes, McLemore’s scored 19, 15 and 13 points while never shooting worse than 47 percent from the field. His coach loves him and the Kings are talking lineup changes, which could mean an even bigger opportunity soon.
Phoenix Suns (5-2)
When we saw him last: Marcus was playing little to not-at-all near the end of the 2012-13 season, after a trade from the Houston Rockets reunited him with twin Brother Markieff, in Phoenix. Marcus averaged 5.7 points in 16.1 minutes in 23 games with the Suns.
What has he done so far this season?: Marcus isn't starting, but he's playing more and scoring more for the surprising Suns, under new head coach Jeff Hornacek. Averaging 8.4 points and 5.7 rebounds, Marcus has hit double-digit scoring numbers three times already and the Morrii mystique created at KU is growing in Phoenix.
Phoenix Suns (5-2)
When we saw him last: As the Suns struggled down the stretch, Markieff flashed his potential from time to time, by posting occasional double-doubles or scoring 20 points — he did the latter in two of his last three games to end the season, though he averaged just 8.2 in 82 games.
What has he done so far this season?: As far as sample sizes go, it's a small one, but 2013-14 looks like it could be Kieff's breakout season. He's playing close to 29 minutes off the bench and putting up significant numbers: 17.2 points, 6.8 boards, 62.7 field-goal percentage. And, as Suns digital reporter Matt Petersen notes, Kieff is on fire, of late.
Markieff Morris over the last three games: 24.7ppg, one 3pt attempt per game...78.9 FG% #Suns— Matt Petersen (@TheMattPetersen) November 11, 2013
In fact, on Monday afternoon the NBA named Markieff its Western Conference Player of the Week.
Brooklyn Nets (2-4)
When we saw him last: After 15 years in Celtics green, Pierce's run with Boston — which included a 2008 NBA championship and Finals MVP — closed in the first round of the East playoffs. The Knicks ousted Pierce and Kevin Garnett in six games in their last hurrah. Celtics brass decided to blow up the roster before Pierce and KG grew any older and traded them both to the Brooklyn Nets.
What has he done so far this season?: It may not always be conventional, but The Truth can still score. Pierce has had one off night, going 1-for-5 in a loss at Washington. Still, he's averaging 13 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists in a new role for a talented Brooklyn starting five. The Nets aren't living up to expectations yet, but Pierce and others think that will change soon.
Portland Trailblazers (4-2)
When we saw him last: Drafted by the Kings, T-Rob didn't even last a full season in Sacramento. He finished the year with the Houston Rockets, but they didn't keep him, either. In one of a number of roster moves designed to free cap space for Dwight Howard, the Rockets shipped Robinson off to Portland.
What has he done so far this season?: Well, off the court, this happened: Robinson drove his Porsche 107 MPH. Happens to the best of us, right? On the court, T-Rob hasn't got much run for Portland quite yet. Off the bench, his season-highs are 13 minutes and 10 points. At least he has averaged 5.0 points in 10.8 minutes. Doing this won't hurt his rep, either:
Utah Jazz (0-7)
When we saw him last: Rush’s 2012-13 season with the Golden State Warriors was cut short after just two games when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Rush had established himself as a top defender and three-point shooter for the Warriors a year earlier after a trade from the Indiana Pacers. The Warriors replaced his minutes with rookie Harrison Barnes during an exciting 2013 playoff run, and then sent Rush to Utah in a trade that brought All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala to Golden State.
What has he done so far this season?: Rush returned to the court on Nov. 5, a year and three days after his injury, and played almost 10 minutes against the Brooklyn Nets. Rush didn’t attempt a shot, committed two fouls and two turnovers to one assist, and didn’t play in Utah’s next three games. He feels fine, the Deseret News reports, but the Jazz — and Rush — want to get him up to speed on the practice court before more game action.
Brooklyn Nets (2-4)
When we saw him last: In 38 games during his rookie season with the Nets, Taylor played limited minutes — double-digits in just four games. Other than a starterless game at the end of the regular season, his biggest contribution was 12 points, including two baskets in overtime, in a mid-February victory. The rest of Taylor’s season was spent in the NBA’s D-League, which he admitted was a good thing.
What has he done so far this season?: The Nets loaded up on talent in the offseason and brought in another backup point guard, so Taylor has yet to see the floor. That means more D-League seasoning for Taylor, who was sent back to Springfield, Mass., for a few days last week. And while he still needs some work on the court (SBNation’s “Ridiculous Upside” blog has more on that here), Taylor has a veteran’s deadpan game off the court.
New Orleans Pelicans (3-4)
When we saw him last: The big man's KU career ended with 12 points, eight rebounds and five block's in the Jayhawks' Sweet 16 loss to Michigan. In June, Withey was drafted in the second round by Portland and traded to the Pelicans. Yes, the Pelicans. Don't call them the Hornets.
What has he done so far this season?: Withey, who plays behind emerging NBA star Anthony Davis and veterans Ryan Anderson, Jason Smith and Greg Stiemsma, hasn't got off the bench in five of the Pelicans' seven games. He did score his first career points with a pair of free throws against Orlando on Nov. 1, though. We'll see if Withey carves a role with this young team in 2013-14.