Nine Former Jayhawks on NBA Opening-Day Rosters
Oct. 27, 2009
LAWRENCE, Kan. -
Nine former Kansas men's basketball standouts have made the cut to be included on the rosters for the 2009-10 NBA season, which officially begins tonight. The first game to tip off will feature two ex-Jayhawks, as Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics travel to Cleveland to face Darnell Jackson and the Cavaliers.
Pierce bgins his 11th year as a member of the Boston Celtics franchise, where he has become the third-leading scorer all-time behind John Havlicek and Larry Bird. The 2008 finals MVP is off to another strong start having averaged 12.3 points per game during the preseason, second-highest on the team. He will face Jackson on Tuesday, who played 19.1 minutes per game during the preseason, while averaging 3.3 rebounds and 5.6 points.
Also playing on opening night is Drew Gooden, who is in his first year with the Dallas Mavericks. Gooden played in all seven preseason contests for the Mavs, averaging 11.7 points per game.
The remaining six KU alums, which include Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich, Brand Rush and Julian Wright, will make their 2009-10 season debut on either Wednesday or Thursday.
Arthur will not be on the floor for Memphis to start the season, as he recently underwent surgery to repair a partially torn right pectoralis muscle. Arthur is expected to miss up to four months due to the injury.
Chalmers will be part of the Miami Heat starting lineup for the second straight season, as his team kicks off their 2009-10 campaign on Wednesday against the New York Knicks. Chalmers played in all seven preseason games, averaging 24.6 minutes and 7.0 points per game. Last year, Chalmers was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team and also became the only Rookie in HEAT history to start in all 82 games.
Collison of the Oklahoma City Thunder will face the Sacramento Kings in his first game of the season. Collison garnered 40 starts last year for the Thunder, and tallied 11 double-doubles.
A veteran of the NBA, Hinrich enters his seventh year on the Chicago Bulls roster. He will play primarily off the bench, but proves to be a strong contributor having averaged 12.7 points per game and 3.3 assists per game during the preseason. The Bulls will be one of the last teams to open their 2009-10 campaign, as they face the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
Rush returns to the Indiana Pacers after a successful rookie season, where he averaged 8.1 points and 3.1 rebounds off the bench. He is expected to start this year after stepping up his game at the end of 2008-09 season. Rush averaged 16.9 ppg in the final 13 games. The Pacers take on Atlanta Wednesday night.
Wright will start this year for the New Orleans Hornets, after spending two years as a strong bench player. He averaged 7.7 points and 5.6 rebounds during his seven preseason games.