The NBA season is in full swing, and several former Duke men's basketball players have been crucial to their team's successes. The Blue Zone takes a look:
Jayson Tatum is currently averaging 31.6 points per game, the second-highest mark in the league behind Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic. Consistency and success have been the name of game for Tatum and the Boston Celtics, as the team has only lost once in its last 14 games, 121-107 to the Chicago Bulls, and Tatum has notched more than 30 points in each of his past four matches. The 6-foot-8 forward led the Celtics to a 134-121 win against the Miami Heat Wednesday by scoring a season-high 49 points while also snagging 11 rebounds. Accordingly, the St. Louis native’s well-rounded abilities have kept him a contender for the 2023 NBA MVP Award.
The Zion Williamson playing style that the Blue Devil faithful know and love made its appearance in the New Orleans Pelicans’ latest 126-108 win against the Toronto Raptors. Williamson scored a season-high 33 points by doing what he does best: driving the ball into the paint and slam dunking. In the second half, the 22-year-old split the Raptors’ defense to make a powerful dunk. The forward drove down the court taking on four Raptors, clearly demonstrating that he can secure points under any defensive pressure. He finished the night with 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks. Williamson’s all-around dominance has guided the Pelicans to third place in the Western Conference with a 13-8 record.
Even though the 6-16 San Antonio Spurs are on a nine-game losing streak, third-year pro Tre Jones has shown that his team-leading prowess followed him from North Carolina to Texas. The 6-foot-1 guard provided 23 points and a staggering 13 assists for the team during the Spurs’ Nov. 26 match against the Los Angeles Lakers. Jones currently averages 7.0 assists per game, ranking him 13th in the entire league for the stat. With his team-player mentality, the team kept their loss to the Lakers to five points and a 143-138 final score.
The reigning No. 1 draft pick is back in action after missing seven games for the Orlando Magic due to an ankle injury. Although the Magic have lost their last six games, the rookie’s consistency seems to provide some light for the struggling team. Banchero has bagged at least 18 points in each outing since his return Nov. 25 and made five assists in his last two games against the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets. The future looks bright now that the young star has returned to the court, as Orlando is currently missing some of its key players on a long injury list that includes fellow former Blue Devil Wendell Carter Jr.
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