Duke in the NBA: Williamson powers Pelicans forward, Griffin notches second buzzer beater of season

Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett have performed exceptionally well in December so far.
Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett have performed exceptionally well in December so far.

The NBA is in full swing and a number of former Blue Devils are shining for their teams. The Blue Zone takes a look:

Paolo Banchero continues magical run in Orlando

The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft has certainly lived up to expectations in his first season with the Magic. After missing two weeks with a sprained ankle, Banchero has come back and is playing exceptionally well. He has recorded five-straight games with 20 or more points, and has grabbed more than 10 rebounds in two of those games. Notably, he has helped lead Orlando to a four-game winning streak, which marks its longest streak since the 2020-21 season. Banchero leads all rookies with 34.8 minutes and 21.7 points per game. In addition, he is proving to be a valuable facilitator, ranking third amongst rookies in assists per game with 3.9. The Magic will put its winning streak on the line as it travels to Boston to face fellow Blue Devil Jayson Tatum and the Celtics Dec. 16.

RJ Barrett boosts Knicks to win streak

Barrett has been having one of his best weeks so far this season. He has scored 20 or more points in three-straight games, his longest streak since early November. The Knicks are on a winning streak of their own, victorious in the past five games, including a 128-120 overtime victory against the Bulls Dec. 14. In that game, Barrett connected on a season-high four 3-point baskets, shooting more than 50% from behind the arc. The fourth-year pro has used his length to his advantage, securing more than six rebounds in every game this month. Barrett is averaging 7.2 rebounds per game in December, more than any other month this season and above his career average of 5.6. If Barrett can keep up this production, the Knicks will continue to win games moving forward.

Zion Williamson improves remarkable scoring feats

The Pelicans have quickly emerged as one of the best teams in the Association, in large part due to the play of Williamson. The former No. 1 pick has led the Pelicans during this hot streak, as they have won 10 of their past 13 games. Williamson is having an exceptional scoring month, averaging 30.1 points per game thus far, including 35 points each in back-to-back wins against a quality Suns team last Friday and Sunday. He has led the team in scoring in each of the past five games, and continues to improve after a brief foot injury caused him to miss a week in November. He has been filling up the stat sheet as well, averaging nine rebounds and 5.3 assists this month, both of which are season highs. 

AJ Griffin hits another buzzer beater

Only 163 players in NBA history have made multiple buzzer beaters, and AJ Griffin has already managed to do so in his first few months in the NBA. There have been six buzzer beaters this season, and Griffin has made two of them. His most recent came in Atlanta’s 123-122 overtime win against the Bulls Dec. 11, as he ended the game with a tough turnaround shot. Aside from these game-winning shots, the Hawks rookie is quietly having a very productive month. He has scored double figures in six of the seven games this month, including 17 in the Bulls game. He has shown steady improvement in every month this season, averaging 5.0 points per game in October, 9.9 in November and now 14.1 points per game through the first half of December. 

Ranjan Jindal profile
Ranjan Jindal | Sports Editor

Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity sophomore and sports editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume.


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