The 73rd NBA regular season wrapped up Wednesday night. Let’s take a look at the Longhorn alumni whose seasons didn’t come to an end.
A lot of digital and physical ink has been spent in this column discussing the importance of former Texas forward LaMarcus Aldridge to the San Antonio Spurs. Aldridge has been the engine that has driven the Spurs into another playoff run, a streak going back over 20 years. Aldridge will be expected to keep up his high level of play heading into the playoffs, but the Spurs seem happy just to make it.
The player oft confused for a song much more popular than he is, former Texas big man and current Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba is heading to the playoffs in his very first year in the league. This will be Orlando’s first time in the playoffs since trading away Dwight Howard earlier this decade.
Unfortunately for Bamba, his first experience in the playoffs will come from the bench. Bamba has been out of the lineup with a leg injury since early February. The Magic expect him to be ready for next season, so there won’t likely be any surprise performances from Bamba in the coming weeks.
Similar to the Magic, the Brooklyn Nets haven’t made the playoffs in quite some time. A key cog in the team qualifying for the first time in a few seasons has been the consistent play of Texas alumnus Jarrett Allen. Allen isn’t much of a star, and his numbers don’t jump off the page but he’s averaged 11 points and 8.3 rebounds along with 1.5 blocks in only 26 minutes of play.
But the Nets will need more from Allen in the coming week if they have any hope of upsetting the Philadelphia 76ers. Allen will be the primary defender on superstar Joel Embiid. The only way the Nets can advance is if Allen contains him, but it’s been an impressive season regardless of Brooklyn’s outcome.
Former Texas star Kevin Durant has had a phenomenal season that has largely been overlooked since his team rolls out what could be the starting lineup in an All-Star game. There are no real flaws to the Golden State Warriors other than a lack of depth, but having five All-Stars should more than help. Expect Durant to hoist another Finals trophy at the end of the playoffs, as well as a possible Finals MVP trophy.
Cory Joseph and Myles Turner
The Indiana Pacers surprised the NBA world in 2019 with their consistent level of play despite an injury to All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. The Pacers remained competitive by having a balanced offense and defense, held together by consistent effort of multiple players.
Two such players have been Texas alumni Cory Joseph and Myles Turner. Joseph has given the Pacers a solid option at the backup point throughout the season, while Turner has turned into a defensive stalwart in his third year. The Pacers will likely be a first round exit with a matchup against the Boston Celtics, but the Pacers are used to be counted out.