Bruins in the NBA, Postseason Update
The UCLA men's basketball program has eight former players set to compete in the NBA playoffs, which have started with the State Farm Play-In Tournament this week.
Eight teams are competing for four spots in the NBA's modified postseason format this month. The play-in tournament began Tuesday and will continue through Friday, May 21.
Kyle Anderson (Memphis), Trevor Ariza (Miami), Aaron Holiday (Indiana), Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee), TJ Leaf (Portland), Kevon Looney (Golden State), Norman Powell (Portland) and Russell Westbrook (Washington) are part of NBA teams that have advanced to the postseason.
In all, UCLA had 12 former players compete in the NBA during the 2020-21 season. In addition to the eight aforementioned players, UCLA saw Lonzo Ball (New Orleans), Moses Brown (Oklahoma City), Zach LaVine (Chicago) and Kevin Love (Cleveland) earn playing time.
HEADED TO THE PLAYOFFS: In his 13th NBA season, Russell Westbrook averaged 22.2 points and a league-best 11.7 assists per game with the Washington Wizards. Westbrook also registered 11.5 rebounds per game, marking the fourth season in which he has averaged a triple double (at least 10.0 points, rebounds and assists per game).
Last week, Westbrook broke the NBA's all-time record for most triple-doubles. Previously, Oscar Robertson had registered 181 triple-doubles before retiring at the end of the 1973-74 season. Westbrook logged career triple-double No. 182 on May 10, 2021, to break Robertson's long-standing record. He tallied that triple-double with a defensive rebound with 8:30 to play in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 28 points, 21 assists and 13 rebounds.
Westbrook and the Wizards are currently playing in the "play-in" tournament, having lost to Boston on Tuesday. Washington will take on Indiana in an elimination contest on Thursday.
The most veteran of UCLA's former players in the NBA, Trevor Ariza, enters the playoffs with the Miami Heat. Now in his 17th NBA season, Ariza averaged 9.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 30 contests (27 starts) with the Heat. Miami (40-32) will advance to the postseason as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Kyle Anderson has played a pivotal role with Memphis this season, his seventh year in the league. Anderson averaged career highs in scoring (12.4 points per game) and assists (3.6 apg). He played (and started) in 69 regular-season contests with Memphis. Anderson and the Grizzlies will take on the San Antonio Spurs in the play-in format on Wednesday evening.
Aaron Holiday played in 66 regular-season games with the Indiana Pacers, his third year in the NBA. Holiday averaged 7.2 points and 1.9 assists per game, helping Indiana advance to the NBA's play-in tournament. Indiana advanced past Charlotte on Tuesday evening and will take on the Washington Wizards on Thursday.
Jrue Holiday, the older brother of Aaron, played his 12th NBA season with the Milwaukee Bucks (his first year with Milwaukee). Holiday averaged 17.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game during the regular season. He shot a career-best 50.4 percent from the field and 39.2 from 3-point distance, through 59 regular-season games (56 starts). Milwaukee (46-26) has secured the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
TJ Leaf signed a two-way contract with the Portland Trail Blazers in April 2021. Leaf, who starred at UCLA in 2016-17, played in seven games this season with Portland. He spent his first three NBA season with the Indiana Pacers. Leaf is teammates in Portland with former UCLA standout Norman Powell.
Kevon Looney played in 61 regular-season games with the Golden State Warriors, his sixth season in the NBA (all with Golden State). Looney averaged 4.1 points and a career-high 5.3 rebounds per game. The Warriors have advanced to the play-in tournament and are set to face the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday evening at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Norman Powell played in 69 games during his sixth NBA season. The former UCLA standout was traded from the Toronto Raptors to the Portland Trail Blazers midway through the 2020-21 season. In 27 games with Portland, Powell has averaged 17.0 points and 3.3 rebounds. Over the course of the entire season, Powell registered 18.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Powell shot 47.7 percent from the field and a career-best 41.1 percent from 3-point distance.
SEASONS HAVE ENDED: While Lonzo Ball, Moses Brown, Zach LaVine and Kevin Love have seen their respective NBA seasons conclude, all four former UCLA players had strong campaigns in 2020-21.
Ball, in his fourth season in the NBA, finished the year having averaged a career-best 14.6 points per game. He also registered 4.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. Ball shot career-high percentages, both overall (41.4%) and from 3-point distance (37.8%).
Brown saw minimal action in 2019-20 with Portland, but became the starting center for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2020-21. The 7-foot-2 center from New York averaged 8.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Brown finished the year having totaled 12 double-doubles. In Oklahoma City's final game of the season, Brown totaled 24 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks in the Thunder's 117-112 win.
LaVine averaged at least 20 points per game for the third consecutive season. He registered a career-best 27.4 points per game. LaVine also tallied career-best averages in rebounding (5.0 rpg) and assists (4.9 apg). He secured his first career All-Star Game selection midway through the year. LaVine shot a career-high 50.7 percent from the field and made a career-best 41.9 percent of his 3-point shot attempts.
Love's 13th NBA season was hindered by injuries, but the former UCLA center averaged 12.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He shot 40.9 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point territory.