The 2019 NBA Playoffs are set to tip off this Saturday, but there are several other storylines worthy of your attention rather than just who will be crowned this year’s champion. Here are a few former North Carolina basketball standouts from across the league that you should keep an eye on over the coming months.
Carter is about to wrap up his 21st season in the league, a career older than 36 of the players that have stepped foot on an NBA court this year. The former second-team All-American hasn’t let his age impair his play on the court, even after passing Karl Malone to move into fifth on the all-time games played list at the end of March.
Carter has played in three of the Atlanta Hawks’ four games during the month of April, averaging nearly 27 minutes a game at 42 years old. In that span, the forward contributed eight points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and a block per contest.
Ellington has found a new home on the Detroit Pistons, putting up some of the best numbers of his career during the 26 games he has played for his new team.
The Pistons are currently on a four-game losing streak, yet Ellington has shined bright during this rough patch. Over the course of this skid, the former Tar Heel sharpshooter has averaged 18 points, four rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting over 46 percent from the field.
The next few months should be interesting for Ellington as the Pistons fight for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this week and he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. If Ellington can will the Pistons into the postseason, it would give the guard an extended opportunity to display his talent and make the case for a new contract on one of the league’s better rosters.
One might look at the Dallas Mavericks’ 32-48 record and think they didn’t have a productive season. However, the Mavs have spent this year laying the foundation for what has the potential to be an extremely bright future.
The Mavericks are expected to head into next season with Kristaps Porzingis, Luka Doncic and Justin Jackson, all of whom are under the age of 25. Dallas also has $30 million in salary cap space for this summer and if the Draft lottery works in their favor, the Mavs could land a top-5 pick in this year’s Draft.
Jackson is expected to play a large role in this rebuild, based on the fact that the young forward has started in the last nine games for his new team, playing 25.5 minutes a game. Jackson has continued to show off his scoring ability as he has contributed at least 16 points in three of his last four games.
After adjusting to Dallas’s system, Jackson is averaging 17 points, four rebounds and three assists per game for the Mavericks in the month of April, while boasting a field goal percentage of 52.2 and knocking down 45 percent of his 3-pointers.