The start of the 2020-21 NBA season comes Tuesday night with a pair of matchups: Kevin Durant makes his long-awaited Nets debut against his former team in the Warriors, while the defending champion Lakers open up against the Staples Center rival Clippers.
From a local standpoint, there are only a handful of former UConn players in the NBA. At one point in the mid-2000s no school had more alums playing in the Association than Connecticut, but the number has dwindled down to four (though some more are on the fringes). As the season tips off, here are the ex-Huskies suiting up:
Andre Drummond: After eight seasons in Detroit the 26-year-old was dealt at the trade deadline to Cleveland, where he only played eight games before everything shut down (the 19-46 Cavs didn't play in the bubble). Drummond has been the model of consistency, averaging exactly 17 points and 15 rebounds a game in three straight seasons, bringing some much-needed stability to a young Cleveland team that's rebuilding.
Rudy Gay: Entering Year 15, Gay is still an important piece on the roster as he begins his fourth year with the Spurs. Leaning toward small-ball, Gay slimmed down in the offseason and has settled in nicely as a veteran. At age 34 the days of him averaging 20 points are gone, but he'll basically always be somewhere in the 11-13 point range with five or six rebounds per game. Assuming he stays healthy he'll hit the 1,000-game mark for his (regular season) career, something only the late Cliff Robinson and Ray Allen have done.
Jeremy Lamb: One of two Huskies battling injury, Lamb will miss the first few weeks of the season as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in February. In the second of a three-year deal with the Pacers, he averaged 12.5 points on 45 percent shooting before getting hurt last year, which is basically in line with his progression since being drafted in 2013.
Kemba Walker: The four-time All-Star will also miss the start of the year as he battles lingering knee issues, which are worrying some in Boston. The explosive playmaker missed six of the Celtics' ten games in the bubble after the restart, and looked clearly hobbled in the four he did play. When fully healthy his impact is obvious: four straight All-Star nods, five straight years averaging at least 20 points, the big contract, etc.
Shabazz Napier: You might be asking "Where's 'Bazz?" but despite averaging 10 points between Minnesota and Washington last year, the 2014 national champion is currently without a suitor. Don't expect that to last too long, though, as a veteran with some scoring ability off the bench brings obvious value to a team.
Christian Vital: A handful of former Huskies are overseas, but Vital (for now) is the only one a step away from the Association in the G-League. Undrafted a few weeks ago, last week Husky Twitter exploded when the Grizzlies signed the guard to a deal... only to see him waived an hour later (don't worry, it's a standard two-way contract practice nowadays). So Vital will start the year with the Memphis Hustle and try to work his way into the league.