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Duke in the NBA: Tatum, Irving star for Celtics, Okafor wants out of Philly

<p>Jahlil Okafor doesn't appear to be a part of the 76ers' long-term plan.&nbsp;</p>

Jahlil Okafor doesn't appear to be a part of the 76ers' long-term plan. 

Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving continue to carry the Eastern Conference-best Celtics, while Jahlil Okafor might not be long for Philadelphia. The Blue Zone recaps how some former Blue Devils are doing in the NBA: 

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics: 

In a big season for the Celtics, Tatum continues to stand out. Boston has the best record in the NBA, and the rookie has been a big part of that. He has elevated his game in the fourth quarter, averaging 4.1 points and a 78.7 percent shooting from the floor in the final period, second in the league behind just Kyle Korver. 

Overall, Tatum is currently averaging 13.9 points per game and 5.4 rebounds while shooting a true 63.0 percent. The early returns for Danny Ainge have been solid in trading away the No. 1 overall pick, with Markelle Fultz sidelined and Tatum thriving. 

Kyrie Irving, Celtics

Irving has settled right in with his new team. The Celtics are 18-4 and have taken down the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors. He has continued to be a volume shooter and scorer, taking 19 field goals a game in his last five games and averaging 28.6 points per game during that stretch—his facial fracture appears to have no affect on his game. Boston has gone as he has—he went just 6-of-16 from the floor Monday against the Pistons, and it suffered a 118-110 loss.

Luke Kennard, Detroit Pistons 

At second place in the Eastern Conference behind just the Celtics, Detroit has been one of the season’s biggest surprises. After topping Boston Monday, the Pistons are 14-6 with Kennard playing a role off the bench. The rookie has averaged 5.7 points per game in 15.4 minutes. He picked up his fifth double-digit scoring outing Tuesday against Phoenix, scoring 12 on 4-of-8 shooting. His 3-point shooting has fallen off a bit in the pros—he’s shooting just 36.4 percent from beyond the arc. 

Austin Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers continue to struggle, and Blake Griffin’s sprained left MCL won’t help—the injury was inadvertently Rivers’ fault, as he fell on Griffin while going for a loose ball. Despite being on a struggling Clippers squad, Rivers is having one of his better seasons. Currently averaging 13.2 points per game—his career high—Rivers is capitalizing on his increased minutes since Chris Paul’s departure. 

Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers: The Los Angeles Lakers may be 8-12 and 10th in the Western conference, but all the talk surrounding the Lakers has been about Lonzo Ball and his family’s antics. Ingram has somewhat quietly increased his season averages, pushing them up to 14.9 points per game in 33.3 minutes.  Ingram has also proved a key member of the team scoring 17 points in a win against Chicago and in a close loss to the Clippers. Ingram’s improvement over a somewhat disappointing rookie season is a highlight of an otherwise dismal season for the Lakers.

Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers keep trusting the process, but it doesn’t look like Okafor will be a part of it. He continues to sit in trade limbo and is seeking for the 76ers to allow him to play somewhere where he can see the floor. He hasn’t played since he saw three minutes against the Jazz on Nov. 11.  


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