With NBA All-Star Weekend rapidly approaching, the Blue Zone checks in with the four former Blue Devils who will be participating in the festivities:
Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics’ star point guard will make his sixth appearance in the All-Star Game later this month, earning one of the Eastern Conference’s starting spots. Irving has put up stellar numbers this year, averaging 23.8 points and 7.0 assists on a career-high 50.3 percent from the field.
Although his scoring output has decreased slightly since last season, the top pick in the 2011 draft has improved in every other major statistical category despite not seeing a significant increase in minutes. The Celtics have struggled this year, seeded just fifth in a conference they were expected to dominate after their appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. Nonetheless, Irving has had a phenomenal year and has shown why he is one of the best point guards in the league.
Seth Curry, Portland Trail Blazers
After sitting out all of last season with a tibia injury, Curry has made the most of a limited role on the Trail Blazers. He leads in the league in 3-point percentage at an impressive 48.5 percent, earning him his first appearance at All-Star Weekend as part of the 3-point contest. After an excellent season in Dallas two years ago, many expected Curry to replicate his production at Portland.
However, behind a stacked backcourt of CJ McCollum and All-Star Damian Lillard, Curry is only scoring 6.3 points per game. Still, he has excelled in his role as a 3-point specialist, and he will relish the opportunity to showcase that in his hometown of Charlotte against his older brother Stephen Curry.
Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings
In just 52 games, the Kings have matched their win total from all of last season and currently sit just outside of a playoff position in the tightly-contested Western Conference, an incredible and surprising improvement. The No. 2 selection in the 2018 draft has been a major reason for that.
Although he still hasn’t secured a starting role behind standouts Nemanja Bjelica and Willie Cauley-Stein, Bagley has shown major growth over his rookie year. He has averaged 12.9 points and 6.8 rebounds while leading the Kings with 0.9 blocks a contest, impressive numbers that earned him a spot on Team U.S.A. in the Rising Stars Challenge. Bagley missed a stint of games with a knee injury but has posted impressive numbers since his return, including a career high 22 points in a loss to Toronto. Look for Bagley’s role to continue to grow this year while he comes off the bench, potentially becoming a starter next season.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
After an incredible run to the Eastern Conference Finals last year led primarily by young players like Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics looked poised to dominate the conference this year. However, despite the return of Irving and Gordon Hayward to the lineup, the team has struggled, several games back from the top two seeds. Tatum seems to have regressed from his promising rookie campaign, shooting 2.4 percent worse from the field and 6.1 percent worse from beyond the arc this season. Still, he has increased his scoring output and rebounding enough for a spot on Team USA in the Rising Stars Challenge. Tatum has continued to display his potential for stardom, but will need to become more efficient to push the Celtics over the edge and make them legitimate contenders to win the conference.
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