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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Five former Wildcats making splash in the NBA

Rebecca Noble

Then-Arizona point guard TJ McConnell (4) ducks to avoid the Wisconsin defense in McKale Center on Saturday, March 28, 2015. The Philadelphia 76ers point guard recently hit the game-winning shot against the Brooklyn Nets and has produced in the NBA preseason thus far.

The NBA season is off to a fast start and many former Wildcats have taken the NBA by storm. Here are the five biggest former Wildcats who are making opponents turn their heads.

T.J. McConnell

None other than T.J. McConnell is averaging 25.7 minutes per game, along with 6.7 assists, two steals and four points per game.

McConnell, who barely made the roster, has taken the Philadelphia 76ers by storm and is making a very strong case to start at the point guard spot.

As an undrafted rookie, McConnell has made NBA heads turn, especially since the 76ers are currently set back by injuries at that spot. McConnell’s competition at the moment is Isaiah Canaan, a second round NBA draft pick in 2013.

Luke Walton

When Steve Kerr went down to injury — yes you read that right — fans were nervous about interim head coach Luke Walton, who has stepped into the role while Kerr rests. Walton has also taken the league by storm. The Golden State Warriors, led by Steph Curry, have a 4-0 record and even managed to beat the Memphis Grizzlies by more than 50 points on Monday.

The Warriors are definitely moving in the right direction under Walton. Until Kerr can get back to 100 percent, Walton is a confident replacement and will surely be offered a head coaching position by the end of the season.

Last year’s NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala is a big reason for the 4-0 start by the Warriors. Averaging seven points per game and 5.3 RPG on 26.3 minutes is an impressive feat for the shooting guard.

Aaron Gordon

Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon has averaged 16 minutes per game along with 8.3 points. He has given the poor Magic team a high flying asset. Gordon has the ability to excite the Orlando crowd on his wild dunks and put backs. If he improves his shooting, he will be a name to look out for.

Jerryd Bayless

The seven-year veteran out of Phoenix, Arizona was explosive in his previous game against the Brooklyn Nets, where he dropped 26 points and played 47 minutes. Overall, Bayless has played four games, averaging 31.5 minutes and 11.5 points per game.

Unfortunately for Bayless, the Bucks aren’t performing well and have notched just one victory this season.

Derrick Williams

Williams hasn’t had the same success in the NBA that he had in his time at the UA. However, this season he is averaging 11.5 points per game on 42.1 percent shooting. The New York Knicks power forward may see fewer minutes after his 21 minute game in the first of the season.

His competition features teammates Robin Lopez, Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn. That’s one competitive frontcourt.

Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.

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