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Duke in the NBA: Tatum's Celtics extend winning streak, Carter remains consistent

Jayson Tatum currently averages 31.1 points a game.
Jayson Tatum currently averages 31.1 points a game.

The NBA season is underway, and several former Blue Devils have been integral to the success of their professional teams. The Blue Zone takes a look:

Jayson Tatum helps lead Celtics to eight-game win streak

Jayson Tatum has had an incredible start to his 2022-2023 campaign, putting up elite numbers thus far. He is averaging 31.1 points per game this season, good for fifth in the league. Recently, the Celtics have been on a hot streak, winning each of their last eight games. Tatum scored more than 30 points in five of these contests, including a 43-point production in Boston's 117-108 win against the Pistons Saturday. In the Celtics' most recent victory against the Hawks, 126-101, Tatum had an all-around performance, with 19 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. His shooting production has also been very efficient, with a 48.1% mark from the field this season, a possible career-best should he remain consistent. The former Duke star is the centerpiece of the reigning Eastern Conference champions, and the duo of Tatum and fellow top performer Jaylen Brown has propelled the Celtics to the top of the NBA standings once again. 

Wendell Carter Jr. remains consistent

While reigning No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero has been turning heads during his rookie campaign, another former Blue Devil and current Magic player has quietly had a very productive season. Wendell Carter Jr. is averaging an impressive 16.3 points per game. Carter was injured in the Magic’s loss Monday against the Hornets, but he scored 20 points in the previous two contests and has posted double figures in every game this season. Much of this scoring increase has come from an improved shooting stroke, as Carter currently averages career-highs in 3-point shooting and free throw percentage, at 37.0% and 82.1%, respectively. The Atlanta native has been a facilitator in the Magic offense, dishing out 3.1 assists per game. 

Pelicans’ Blue Devil duo returns to the court

Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram lead the Pelicans as the top two scorers, averaging 23.5 and 20.7 points per game, respectively. Williamson, after sitting out due to injury last season, has excelled in his return to the court and has consistently performed at a high level this season. Although he sat out in the Pelicans' two most recent games with a foot injury, Williamson performed well in the two games he played earlier this week. He scored 26 points in the team's 119-106 victory against the Rockets and 29 points in their 106-95 loss against the Trail Blazers. Ingram has established himself as an elite staple on the Pelicans, averaging more than 20 points per game in his past four years in New Orleans. However, the Kinston, N.C., native is shooting an incredible 50.0% from beyond the arc this season, a mark surpassing his 3-point average in previous years.

Mason Plumlee records breakout game

The 32-year-old center has bounced back from a disappointing season a year ago. In the Hornets' 112-105 win against the Magic Monday, Mason Plumlee scored a season-high 18 points and had 10 rebounds while shooting 8-of-9 from the field. He followed this with another double-double in his team's 125-113 loss Wednesday to the Pacers, with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Charlotte player currently averages a double-double with 11.2 points and 10.3 rebounds this month. Though Plumlee once struggled in free throw shooting, since switching to shooting with his left hand, he has improved his shooting by nearly 20% from the stripe since last year. In addition to his scoring and rebounding, Plumlee has shown he can find his teammates, averaging four assists per game this year. 

Cam Reddish has back-to-back elite performances

After Cam Reddish had a 22-point output in his season-opener, Knicks fans and basketball analysts alike expected this year to be a breakout season for the fourth-year pro. But since that game, Reddish has not come close, as he only broke double figures once in the 11 games following the opener. This all changed Sunday, as Reddish exploded for 26 points in the Knicks' 145-135 loss to the Thunder. He followed this up with two more games in double figures, including an elite performance in New York's 118-111 victory Tuesday against the Jazz with 19 points.

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