Longhorns in the NBA: Allen dazzles in loss, Bamba eyeing starting role

Abhishek Mukund

It’s only the first week, but let’s overreact.

The NBA season kicked off Tuesday night after a dizzying array of trades and player movement this past offseason. Kawhi Leonard was shipped north of the border, Jimmy Butler trashed his teammates and of course no move was bigger than that of LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers. With a new season comes leaps and regressions from many former Texas Longhorn athletes.

Here is a trio of former Texas big men making noise across the league this week:

Jarrett Allen

Jarrett Allen was a revelation in his rookie season for the Brooklyn Nets. The former Longhorn fell in the draft but quickly  found himself as the team’s starting center. He posted solid numbers, averaging eight points and five rebounds to go along with one block per game, all while shooting a good percentage from the field.

The Nets are hoping for an even bigger jump in Allen’s game this season. Allen has stepped up. He put up 17 points on an efficient 60 percent shooting, 10 rebounds and four blocks in a losing effort against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. In one of his highlight plays, Allen swatted away a dunk attempt by Blake Griffin. Again, it’s only one game. But it looks like the Nets may have their starting center for years to come.

Mo Bamba

The sixth pick in April’s draft suited up for his first regular season game as a member of the Orlando Magic on Wednesday against the Miami Heat. The Magic hope that they’ve found their next uber-talented center in Bamba after having their last two, Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard, leave for the bright lights of Hollywood.

Bamba had 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in just 25 minutes of play during the Magic’s 104-101 win. Bamba also showed off his range from deep in his debut, hitting 1-2 from three while shooting a fantastic 75 percent from the field overall.

While he played quality minutes, Bamba may have some trouble getting playing time so long as Nikola Vucevic holds the starting center role. However, the Magic could move Vucevic prior to February’s trade deadline if they believe Bamba is the real deal. Bamba’s play throughout the first half of the season may determine whether or not Orlando goes all in on the rookie big man.

Myles Turner

Monday was a busy day for the fourth-year Pacer as Turner signed a four-year, $72 million contract on Monday after twisting his ankle hours earlier. The ankle injury kept him out of the latter half of the Indiana Pacers’ preseason games, but Turner did play in the season opener against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday evening.

Turner had a subpar game, finishing with eight points, eight rebounds, and one assist, although he did manage to get four blocks. Turner isn’t typically known for his ability to defend the paint, but he usually flaunts it when given the chance.

Turner’s overall impact on the offensive end may have been limited by the injury he sustained earlier in the week. The center missed 17 games last season but hopes he’s able to stay on the court going forward.