As the cold of winter begins to settle in, the second half of the 2018-2019 NBA regular season is just warming up. Both teams and fans alike are beginning to get a glimpse at how the playoff picture will unfold, while several former North Carolina men's basketball stars are making a push to help their respective teams finish strong.
The Toronto Raptors currently sit at second place in the Eastern Conference, with only the Milwaukee Bucks ahead of them. Part of Toronto’s success this season can be credited to the blockbuster trade over the offseason involving Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan.
While Green may not have been the focal point of the trade, he has spent all season proving to opponents that he is not someone you can afford to forget about.
The Raptors' last three games have been played away from Toronto — two of which were against teams in playoff position. During that stretch, Green has averaged 14 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and he hasn't turned the ball over once.
Green continues to display the shooting ability he possessed during his career at UNC — something that helped propel him into the NBA. Over the last three games, Green has been shooting 51.7 percent from the field, including a tremendous performance against Houston where he made six of 10 from beyond the arc.
The Charlotte Hornets are in the midst of what could be one of their most memorable seasons in recent history. The NBA All-Star Weekend will be held in Charlotte in mid-February and the Hornets are in a position to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-2016 season.
Behind all-star Kemba Walker, Williams has led the charge for this improving Hornets squad. Recently, the Hornets picked up wins against the Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks, but dropped a tough road matchup against the Bucks.
In those three games, Williams averaged 10.3 points, six rebounds, 1.7 assists and one steal per game. He has helped the Hornets reach the seventh-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league this year and he's boasting a 1.25 ratio over that three-game span.
One of the former UNC players with the most unique season thus far has been Pinson. Pinson began the year splitting time between the Brooklyn Nets and their G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets. But after forward Caris LeVert went down with a serious ankle injury on Nov. 12, Pinson was brought up by Brooklyn. Since then, he has gotten plenty of opportunities in the NBA as the Nets have made their way up to the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
In the two games Pinson has played in since Jan. 23, he has seen at least 25 minutes of playing time in both and the Nets have posted a 1-1 mark.
Although Pinson may not have been known for his perimeter shooting at North Carolina, he’s shown vast improvement in his rookie season. Against the Knicks on Jan. 25, Pinson shot 60 percent from 3-point range (three of five) on his way to scoring 19 points, grabbing eight rebounds and snagging a pair of steals.
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