Longhorns in the NBA: Season tip-off edition

Henry Corwin

The 2017-18 NBA season kicked off on Tuesday night with three Longhorns in action. Six more former Texas players began their seasons the night after, and they will look to carve out contributing roles on teams with playoff aspirations. Here’s how three Longhorns fared to start their seasons.

P.J. Tucker – Forward, Houston Rockets:

Tucker was a solid contributor for the Toronto Raptors during the 2016-17 season, shooting 40 percent from three-point range. And this past offseason, Tucker took his talents to Houston, signing a four-year, $32 million contract with the Rockets.

In Tuesday night’s season opener against the defending champion Golden State Warriors, Tucker had 20 points, including two late free throws to give the Rockets a late lead they wouldn’t relinquish. When the final buzzer sounded at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Tucker’s team escaped with a 122-121 victory.

LaMarcus Aldridge – Forward, San Antonio Spurs: 

After an injury to Kawhi Leonard in the 2017 Western Conference Finals, Aldridge could not deliver as the go-to scorer, averaging just 15.5 points per game as the Spurs were swept in four games. However, that was not enough to deter the Spurs from keeping Aldridge, who signed a three-year, $72 million extension with the team before the start of the season.

With a new contract in tow, Aldridge excelled in San Antonio’s season opener. He tallied 25 points and 10 rebounds, leading the Spurs to 107-99 victory. Look for Aldridge to be a key cog in the Spurs’ offense moving forward, especially with Leonard still nursing a leg injury that held him out of the opener.

Kevin Durant – Forward, Golden State Warriors: 

Durant enters 2017-18 as the most notable former Longhorn after capturing his first NBA championship and Finals MVP award last season. However, that was not enough to keep Durant out of headlines this summer. In addition to criticizing his teammate Stephen Curry’s shoe brand, Under Armour, Durant posted tweets on his Twitter account criticizing his former teammates and coach in Oklahoma City.

But the off-the-court drama dimmed on Tuesday night as Durant took the floor in Golden State’s season opener. He poured in 20 points on 7–15 shooting, dipping below his career average of 27.2 points per game. But don’t expect Durant’s scoring totals to stay so low. The former No. 2 overall pick has led the NBA in scoring four times in his career.