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Arizona in the NBA update: Lauri Markkanen, Aaron Gordon shining

Kadeem Allen recently scored his first NBA point

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA season is about a third of the way through and there are plenty of Arizona Wildcats who are showing out for their current teams. Here are some notable updates on those rookies, vets, and coaches representing their alma mater.


Kadeem AllenBoston Celtics

15.3 ppg, 5.4 reb, 4.4 ast, and 2.6 steals (G-League)

Allen is currently on a two-way contract with the Boston Celtics, playing for their G-League affiliate Maine Red Claws. He’s been steadily showing his worth, averaging 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and most notably, 2.6 steals — the highest average on his team and tied for second in the entire G-League. He just made his NBA debut for the Celtics, splitting a pair of free throws for his first point.

Jerryd BaylessPhiladelphia 76ers

8.8 ppg, 2.5 reb, 1.8 ast, 41.2 FG%, 36.9 3PT%

Lost among #TheTimeline standouts like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons is Bayless, who has been in the starting lineup more than 40 percent of games so far.

Channing FryeCleveland Cavaliers

4.5 ppg, 2.4 reb, 0.2 blk, 51.1 FG%, 31.9 3PT%

Frye has remained a consistent bench contributor for the Lebron-led Cavaliers, averaging 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game this season.

Aaron GordonOrlando Magic

18.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 0.9 blk, 49.2 FG%, 40.9 3PT%

NBA: New York Knicks at Orlando Magic
Aaron Gordon celebrates after making a three pointer.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Once known as a high-flying dunker with an absurd vertical, Gordon has taken his game to another level this season and is in the conversation for the NBA’s Most Improved Player recognition.

He’s averaging a team-high 18.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and a block and steal per game so far this season — all career highs. The most stark improvement in his game has come in his shooting, where he is shooting 40 percent from 3, a 12 percent leap (pun intended) from the previous year. Gordon has impressed those around the league with his consistent play thus far, as well has his 40-point, 15-rebound outbreak against the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier in the year.

Solomon HillNew Orleans Pelicans

No stats

Hill suffered a hamstring injury that could leave him out all season. He’s staying patient with the injury and his defense is missed on the Pelican’s team, who have fallen from top-10 in the league in defensive efficiency to 20th this season.

Andre IguodalaGolden State Warriors

6.2 ppg, 4.0 reb, 3.0 ast, 46.3 FG%, 28.9 3PT%

The former NBA finals MVP continues to come off the bench, sparking the second unit of the Golden State Warriors. His numbers have taken a dip this year, and he is averaging a 2.7 +/- ratio, his lowest since joining the Warriors in 2013-14.

Richard JeffersonDenver Nuggets

1.4 ppg, 0.9 ast, 0.4 reb, 30.8 FG%, 20.0 3PT%

Jefferson was traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Atlanta Hawks, was waived by Atlanta, and after mulling retirement, decided to sign with the Denver Nuggets. Jefferson has been a veteran presence on the fourth-youngest team in the league.

Rondae Hollis-JeffersonBrooklyn Nets

14.5 ppg, 5.9 reb, 1.9 ast, 48.9 FG%, 30.0 3PT%

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns
Ronda Hollis-Jefferson being introduced in the starting lineup against the Phoenix Suns.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Hollis-Jefferson has also taken an offensive jump this season, where he is averaging 14.5 points per game, almost six points better than his sophomore season. With Jeremy Lin out for the season and D’Angelo Russell out with no timeline for return, Holis-Jefferson’s offensive output will be relied upon throughout the season.

Stanley JohnsonDetroit Pistons

7.0 ppg, 3.5 reb, 1.3 ast, 35.3 FG%, 28.6 3PT%

Now in his third season in the league, Johnson is now a starter for the Detroit Pistons. Not relied on for his offense (he’s averaging just 7.0 points in 28.3 minutes), he’s making his case as a defensive input on the team, as he is fourth in defensive rating.

T.J. McConnell — Philadelphia 76ers

6.7 ppg, 5.2 ast, 3.5 reb, 52.5 FG%, 56.3 3PT%

McConnell’s role seemed to be in jeopardy when the Sixers added more guards and passers to their team this offseason, however he continues to carve out minutes. After starting 51 games last season, McConnell is definitively on the bench this year, however is averaging 6.7 points, 5.2 points, and 1.1 steals in only 24.0 minutes. He’s also improved his biggest weakness so far this year, outside shooting: McConnell is averaging 56 percent from three and 52 percent overall.

Lauri MarkkanenChicago Bulls

14.7 ppg, 8.1 reb, 0.6 blk, 40.1 FG%, 33.5 3PT%

NBA: New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls
Lauri Markkanen shoots a three, an area of his game he’s seamlessly translated to the NBA.
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Markkanen has been a starter from day one and a lone bright spot for the league worst Chicago Bulls. He’s been raising eyebrows with his play around the league, including from Lebron James and Kristaps Porzingis. Markkanen’s outside shooting has translated to the NBA, where he set a record for threes made through his first 20 games with 48. He’s averaging 14.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists for the Bulls so far.

Kobi SimmonsMemphis Grizzlies

16.8 ppg, 3.9 ast, 3.0 reb, 1.4 ast (G-League)

Simmons is on a two-way contract right now and has spent the majority of his time with the Memphis Grizzlies affiliate, the Memphis Hustle. He’s only played one game for the Grizzlies, but has averaged 16.8 points per game, second only behind former Pac-12 star Ivan Rabb.

Jason TerryMilwaukee Bucks

1.5 ppg, 0.9 reb, 0.6 ast

At age 40, Terry is not as much of a factor in terms of on court production, but is a veteran presence on team looking to make the jump to elite. He’s only played 10 games for the Bucks and is shooting a career-worst 32 percent from the field.

Coaches

Steve Kerr — head coach, Golden State Warriors — 22 wins, 6 losses

Luke Walton — head coach, Los Angeles Lakers — 10 wins, 16 losses

Miles Simon — assistant coach, Los Angeles Lakers — 10 wins, 16 losses

Jud Buechler — assistant coach, Los Angeles Lakers — 10 wins, 16 losses

Bruce Fraser — assistant coach, Golden State Warriors — 22 wins, 6 losses

Bret Brielmaier — assistant coach, Brooklyn Nets — 10 wins, 15 losses