NBA Heels Update
The enduring image many of us have from the 2019-20 NBA season happened on Wednesday, March 11. Right about the time Tom Hanks was tweeting out that he and his wife Rita Wilson had tested positive for coronavirus, Jazz and Thunder players were leaving the court in Oklahoma City after reports surfaced that Rudy Gobert had also just tested positive.
Here we are two months later, trying to remember the nuances of the season. Sure you remember that the Lakers and Bucks are leading their respective conferences, but do you recall who is fighting for the last playoff spots? Fans in Orlando and Memphis probably remember who holds onto eighth place in each conference, but probably not many outside of those cities.
It’s even likely that, during the hiatus, you’ve forgotten which teams Carolina alums play for this season and what their roles are. You’re in luck because the entire purpose of this article is to remind you of those very things. There are currently 14 Tar Heels on NBA rosters. We’ll go alphabetically through each one, which team they play for, and what their stats are.
Harrison Barnes | Sacramento Kings
34.9 MPG | 14.7 PPG | 4.8 RPG | 2.4 APG | 45.9 FG% | 38.3 3P% |
80.3 FT% | 0.6 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 13.33 PER
Barnes is in his second season with the Kings and has started every game this year. The Kings are tied with the Pelicans for tenth in the Western Conference, 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies for the eighth, and final, playoff seed. Barnes is above his career average in nearly every category and currently has a career high in assists per game. He also leads all NBA Heels in minutes per game, points per game, and rebounds per game this season.
Tony Bradley | Utah Jazz
10.7 MPG | 4.7 PPG | 4.3 RPG | 0.3 APG | 66.5 FG% | 1-1 3P% | 65.0 FT% | 0.2 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 21.79 PER
This is the first season Bradley has been consistently in the NBA, rather than the G-League. The Jazz are currently in sole possession of fourth place in the West. Bradley’s 21.79 PER is twentieth in the NBA and the highest-ranked Tar Heel in any statistical category this season. He also currently has the highest field goal percentage of any Tar Heel alum in the NBA.
Reggie Bullock | New York Knicks
23.6 MPG | 8.1 PPG | 2.3 RPG | 1.4 APG | 40.2 FG% | 33.3 3P% | 81.0 FT% | 0.9 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 9.3 PER
Bullock has missed most of the season due to a neck injury, playing in just 29 of the Knicks’ 66 games. The Knicks are twelfth in the East with no real hopes of making the playoffs.
Vince Carter | Atlanta Hawks
14.6 MPG | 5.0 PPG | 2.1 RPG | 0.8 APG | 35.2 FG% | 30.2 3P% | 79.3 FT% | 0.4 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 7.6 PER
In his final season, Carter is, unfortunately, playing for one of the worst teams in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks. VC did drain a three at the end of the Hawks’ final game before the suspension of the season. If the season never resumes, it will certainly be an indelible final moment to Carter’s illustrious career.
Ed Davis | Utah Jazz
10.7 MPG | 1.3 PPG | 3.8 RPG | 0.3 APG | 41.2 FG% | N/A 3P% | 45.5 FT% | 0.4 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 7.3 PER
Though they started their Carolina careers nearly a decade apart, Davis and Tony Bradley are now teammates for the Jazz. As previously mentioned, the Jazz are fourth in the West. With the Jazz, Davis has career lows in just about every statistical category.
Wayne Ellington | New York Knicks
15.6 MPG | 5.1 PPG | 1.8 RPG | 1.2 APG | 35.1 FG% | 35.0 3P% | 84.6 FT% | 0.4 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 8.52 PER
Though they were never teammates at Carolina, Ellington and Reggie Bullock were two of Carolina’s most trusted perimeter threats from 2006-2013. Now they are playing together for the Knicks. Due to an Achilles injury, Ellington has only played in 36 games this season.
Danny Green | Los Angeles Lakers
25.1 MPG | 8.2 PPG | 3.4 RPG | 1.4 APG | 41.9 FG% | 37.8 3P% | 72.7 FT% | 1.2 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 11.13 PER
Green has started all 61 games for the first place Lakers. He is averaging 1.2 steals per game this season, the most by any Tar Heel. Green is aiming to win back-to-back championships and his third overall.
John Henson | Detroit Pistons
15.0 MPG | 5.5 PPG | 4.1 RPG | 1.4 APG | 55.6 FG% | 22.2 3P% | 50.0 FT% | 0.6 SPG | 1.1 BPG | 17.04 PER
Henson has played in just 11 games this season for the woeful Pistons after spending the majority of his career in Milwaukee and playing for the Cavs last year. He does, however, have the highest blocks per game average for any Tar Heel and the second-highest PER.
Justin Jackson | Dallas Mavericks
16.0 MPG | 5.7 PPG | 2.4 RPG | 0.8 APG | 39.9 FG% | 29.8 3P% | 81.8 FT% | 0.2 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 10.06 PER
Jackson is in his first full season for the Mavs averages a career-low 16.0 minutes per game. This is likely due in large part to his lowest career shooting numbers. The Mavs have a good hold on seventh place in the Western Conference.
Cameron Johnson | Phoenix Suns
20.3 MPG | 8.1 PPG | 2.9 RPG | 1.1 APG | 41.8 FG% | 39.7 3P% | 76.1 FT% | 0.6 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 12.25 PER
Johnson has been in and out with injuries throughout the season. When he is healthy, Johnson has found a niche as a knockdown shooter. In fact, he has the highest three-point field goal percentage of any other Tar Heel in the NBA this season. Unfortunately, the Suns are near the bottom of the pile in the West, but only six games back of the final playoff spot. Despite the injuries, hashtagbasketball.com lists Johnson as the seventeenth best rookie this season.
Nassir Little | Portland Trail Blazers
11.9 MPG | 3.6 PPG | 2.3 RPG | 0.5 APG | 43.0 FG% | 23.7 3P% | 63.6 FT% | 0.3 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 9.67 PER
Little’s Trail Blazers are just 3.5 games back of the Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the West. The appearance of Carmelo Anthony in Portland cut into Little’s playing time, although he is still getting 11.9 minutes a game. His athleticism certainly translates to the highest level of basketball. It should only be a matter of time before Little moves into a comfortable NBA role.
Theo Pinson | Brooklyn Nets
11.1 MPG | 3.6 PPG | 1.6 RPG | 1.7 APG | 29.0 FG% | 18.8 3P% | 93.8 FT% | 0.5 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 5.29 PER
Pinson and the Nets are seventh in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game ahead of the Magic. He has struggled mightily with his shooting touch during game action but boasts a 93.8% from the free throw line (highest for an NBA Heel this season).
Coby White | Chicago Bulls
25.8 MPG | 13.2 PPG | 3.5 RPG | 2.7 APG | 39.4 FG% | 35.4 3P% | 79.1 FT% | 0.8 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 11.95 PER
In the Bulls’ final game before the suspension, Coby White started his first NBA game and led his team to victory with 20 points. White has had some electric moments this season for the Bulls. Just as we all saw during his one season in Chapel Hill, when White’s shot is falling, it’s going in like gangbusters. Unfortunately, the Bulls as a team have some growing to do to become playoff contenders (they are currently eleventh in the East). White’s 2.7 assists per game leads all NBA Tar Heels.
Marvin Williams | Milwaukee Bucks
19.4 MPG | 6.1 PPG | 2.8 RPG | 1.1 APG | 44.2 FG% | 36.1 3P% | 87.0 FT% | 0.7 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 11.4 PER
After being traded from the 10 place Hornets, Williams played 11 games for the first place Bucks before the season was suspended. In those 11 games, he is averaging career lows in minutes and points. The hope is for the season to resume at some point and that Williams will have the opportunity to play deep into the playoffs during his fifteenth NBA season.
Hopefully, this primer will prepare you for if and when the season re-starts. At worst, it's a helpful reminder of the season that was.
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