The College Basketball season has sadly come to a close in East Lansing, but not every Spartan has stopped hooping. As a matter of fact, with the NBA Playoffs just around the corner, the pressure is all too real.
Let’s check in on how the eight MSU alumni currently in the NBA are doing.
The sledding has been rough for one of the NBA Spartans’ elder statesmen. Outside of a surprise 17 minute, 9 point game against Denver, Anderson has played exactly ZERO minutes since March 3rd, a span of 13 games.
He’s only played in 39 total games over the last two seasons and, at 34, might be looking at the end of the line after this year.
Unlike Anderson, Davis’ career is just getting started. However, just like Anderson, he is finding minutes very hard to come by. The Grizzlies are in the middle of their playoff push, and are loaded in the frontcourt, so it’s hardly surprising that DD isn’t seeing much time.
Like we said last time, this shouldn’t alarm anyone. The Griz signed him to a guaranteed three-year deal and always planned to bring him along slowly. He has worlds of potential and another offseason of learning from guys like Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph (more on him later) will help exponentially.
March has been Forbes most productive month as a pro by a long shot. Then again, “productive” is a relative term. He’s averaging 3.0 ppg and shooting a pedestrian 33% from three-point land, but is getting 10 minutes a game. If Gregg Popovich is willing to play you at all you’re doing something right.
Forbes is, in so many ways, the quintessential Spurs player. He was an undrafted free agent find, justifiably overlooked by most teams but Popovich and GM R.C. Buford saw a pure stroke and decided he was worth a summer league invite. That led to a training camp invite, which led to a D-League spot, which led to a call-up and, eventually, some real minutes. Once Forbes gets truly comfortable with the extended NBA three-point line, he’s got a chance to be the next diamond in the rough for San Antonio.
Everyone hates Draymond. Honestly, if you aren’t a Spartan fan, Warriors fan or just a fan of villains, why would you like him? He’s feisty, talks endless amounts of trash and, above all else, backs it up with stellar play. It has to be incredibly frustrating to root against him.
2017 has been a bit of a down year for Day Day, but he deserves a lot of credit for adjusting his game to account for the addition of some guy named Kevin Durant. Durant, however, has been hurt for the last few weeks and while Draymond has tried to help pick up the slack, his shot is betraying him.
Since the beginning of March, Dray is still averaging 10.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 6.4 apg, 1.4 blocks and 1.8 steals, so it’s hard to complain, like, at all, but his three-point stroke has been downright bad at only 23.5%. KD is supposed to be back for the start of the playoffs, but if he isn’t Draymond is going to have to start hitting three’s like its 2016 (he shot 38.8%) not 2017.
Right now, Draymond is the gold standard for Spartans in the NBA. But Gary Harris is starting to make sure his name is mentioned in the conversation.
In the 15 games since the All-Star Break, Harris has been on an absolute tear. In addition to being one of the best defensive guards in the league, Harris is averaging 17.9 ppg (53.4% FG) 2.8 rpg, 2.9 apg and 1.6 steals. Oh, he’s also shooting a robust 43.5% from deep.
Just last year the Nuggets drafted two shooting guards and it seemed like Gary was on unstable ground in Denver, but his incredibly strong sophomore campaign has taken him from possible trade piece to franchise cornerstone, along with Nikola Jokic.
See what an extra year in college can do for you Miles?
AP is having a tough time. He’s always dealt with breathing issues, but in February he was sidelined with a blood disorder called thrombocytopenia, or low platelet count, which can cause bleeding, bruising and slow blood clotting after injury.
He was cleared to practice about two weeks ago but is not going to be game ready for quite a while. Here’s to hoping Payne gets back healthy and game ready before too long.
The resident old head has adjusted quite well to life on the bench in his 15th season. Z-Bo is one of the more productive bench forwards in the league since the All-Star break, ranking 7th among bench forwards in scoring (13.1 ppg) and 2nd in rebounding (7.7 rpg). He also leads the Grizziles in rebounding (8.1 rpg) on the entire season, despite playing 6th man minutes.
Memphis is on its way to yet another playoff appearance (possibly for the 1000th time matching up with the Spurs in the first round) and, once again, Randolph is an integral cog.
The Bulls may be a mess, but Denzel Valentine is already having a more successful March in 2017 than he did in 2016 (that hurt to type).
For the month, he’s averaging 7.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 1.8 apg and shooting a respectable 35.4% from deep while also playing 23.7 minutes per game, easily his monthly high. The minutes increase coincides with Dwyane Wade’s injury, but also gives the Bulls a chance to see what they have in the former Spartan star.
The other Bulls guards — namely, Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams and, before his recent demotion, Cam Payne — are infamously terrible shooters, so Denzel’s natural touch can only be helping his cause for an even larger role in the future.
So far, he’s making fans glad they chose him in the lotto a year ago.