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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels in the Pros: Former basketball players make their 2018-2019 NBA debuts

Marvin Williams

Hornets forward Marvin Williams (2) shoots against Celtics forward Jaylen Brown (7) at the Smith Center Sept. 29. The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Boston Celtics, 104-97, in a preseason game.

On Tuesday, Oct. 16, the 2018-2019 NBA season tipped off with 13 former Tar Heels making 12 different rosters.

Over the last week, most of these players have gotten the chance to prove how their high level of sportsmanship in college basketball translates to the NBA. 

The shortlist for the standout performances from the first week of NBA action featured Reggie Bullock, Danny Green, Justin Jackson and Marvin Williams.

After not playing in the first game of the season due to an illness, Bullock returned to the starting lineup to score 16 points in a 118-116 win over the Chicago Bulls in his season debut for the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. The Pistons have started the year 2-0 for just the second time since the 2008-2009 NBA season.

In the offseason, Green was traded from the San Antonio Spurs to the Toronto Raptors, and he made sure his arrival to Canada was not overshadowed by the performances of All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. In the first three games of the season, Green managed to contribute in almost all areas of the box score, averaging 10 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, one assist and one block per game.

Coming off a rookie year where he averaged 22.1 minutes per game for the Sacramento Kings, Justin Jackson hopes for a larger impact as a second-year player. Over the first three games of this season, Jackson's minutes, points, free throw percentage, rebounds and assists have increased compared to his averages from last season. It’s still extremely early in the year, but Jackson has shown improvements in nearly all aspects of play from his rookie campaign.

Williams, the Charlotte Hornets starting forward, had a solid performance for the first week of regular season action. Contributing 8.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, Williams demonstrated how he can still contribute to the NBA team with the third best defensive rating in the league, even in the midst of his 14th season.

After becoming an ACC champion, advancing to multiple NCAA championship games and winning a national championship, Theo Pinson’s name was not called during the 2018 NBA draft. However, shortly after the draft, Pinson signed a two-way contract with the Brooklyn Nets, meaning that he can spend time with the organization and its G-League team this season. Pinson got the call to make an appearance for the Nets early this season, playing seven minutes in a 132-112 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

The former Tar Heel with the longest active NBA career, Vince Carter, is still going strong for his eighth team in 21 seasons. As a 41-year-old player with a career longer than the age of 11 members of the NBA’s new rookie class, Carter has been showing the young bulls of the league just how far experience and basketball IQ can get you. Playing 19 minutes per game so far, the new Atlanta Hawks forward managed to get into double-digit scoring in two of the team’s three games this year. 

Two of the other more established NBA veterans that have previously played for North Carolina  have had to sit the beginning of the season out — Harrison Barnes due to his hamstring injury and Wayne Ellington due to his ankle injury.


@DTHSports |

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