Eric Gebhart (All Photos: NBA.com)
Training camp has now passed, preseason games are well under way, and the regular season is less than a month away, so we decided to take a look at the six former Marquette ballers in the National Basketball Association.
Henry Ellenson, Detroit Pistons
Last Year Regular Season Stats:
I have heard many doubts among Marquette fans about Henry Ellenson’s NBA potential, but a lot of the time it’s how the player fits in a certain system, even more than that player’s abilities that determines how successful he is. The Pistons and Stan Van Gundy’s system was one of the best fits for Henry and he should be able to find success his rookie year and beyond. After recording the best freshman year in Marquette basketball history, Ellenson was drafted 18th overall by the Pistons. Big Hen brings his unique abilities of scoring the ball in a variety of ways and rebounding to Detroit. Ellenson has potential to be a very good fit in the Motor City. The Pistons needed to add offense around their defensive-minded big man, Andre Drummond. Ellenson’s main weakness is his defense so he will be able to learn from Drummond to develop his defensive abilities.
Jae Crowder, Boston Celtics
Last Year Regular Season Stats:
Jae Crowder had his most productive year in his NBA career last year with the Celtics. Crowder was Boston’s best player in their playoff series loss to Atlanta. Since his days at Marquette, Crowder’s main strength has been his defensive versatility, the ability to cover anyone on the court. This comes courtesy of being 6-7 and 240 pounds with an aggressive playing style. He averaged 0.4 blocks per game last year (0.8 in the playoffs) and a steal per game.
According to Taylor Snow (Celtics.com), we should be prepared to see a “reenergized” Crowder after an ankle injury in March. The resulting fatigue affected his shooting down the stretch. Rest in the offseason has boosted Jae’s confidence in his jump shot and that could result in a very exciting season. Hey, 2016-17 Eastern Conference All-Star Jae Crowder has a pretty good ring to it if you ask me.
Wesley Mathews, Dallas Mavericks
Last Year Regular Season Stats:
The 2015-2016 season saw the return of Wesley Matthews from Achilles surgery. Even though he had a productive season, starting all 78 games he played in, there is hope for improvement. Matthews shot 36% from 3 which is almost 3% lower than his career average and also did not possess as much mobility as he and the Mavericks would have liked. Wes used this offseason to hit the weight room and should come into the 2016-17 in a much improved condition. The Mavs also added Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut which should take some focus off of Wes and provide for some open shots.
WORTH NOTING: In addition to hitting the weight room this summer, Wes gained some coaching experience in The Basketball Tournament as the head coach of Golden Eagles Alumni. It was very entertaining to hear a mic’d-up Coach Wes get in the officials’ ear and motivating his fellow alumni with language that was more teammate-friendly than coach-like. The GEA won all 3 games that Matthews coached (he was not present at the loss to Always a Brave) so his coaching record is still unblemished. Wesley might be the first one to call if Wojo ever leaves Marquette. You heard it here first. #DoneDeal
Steve Novak, Milwaukee Bucks
First off, ignore the red and W’s in that photo and focus on Mr. Novak, who has been pulling out the Marquette gear while the Bucks hold their training camp in the Kohl Center in Madison.
After being traded from the Thunder and then almost immediately being waived by the Nuggets, the veteran sharpshooter began talks with the hometown Bucks, much to the excitement of the Marquette Twitter-sphere. Novak signed with the Bucks on February 22nd but his season ended in disappointment after only being able to play 20 minutes over a 3 game span because of an MCL injury. Fortunately, he resigned with the Bucks again in late August and is gearing up for this season in Milwaukee.
Novak will likely assume a familiar role this season, coming off the bench in very limited minutes. Even though he is one of the best 3-pointing shooting SF’s in the NBA, having Novak on the court will be a defensive liability. He was never particularly strong on defense and has only gotten worse as his career has progressed. His main contribution will likely be in the locker room as one of the veterans on a team full of “Young Bucks.” Still, it will be a treat for Marquette fans to be able to see their hometown guy suit up every night for the hometown team.
Dwyane Wade, Chicago Bulls
In one of the most shocking–but perhaps most pleasing for Marquette fans–signings of the offseason, Dwyane Wade became a Chicago Bull. By signing with the Bulls, D-Wade will be playing in his hometown and joining a fellow Marquette alumnus (see #6).
Last season we were treated with many “vintage Wade” moments, especially in the playoffs, but expecting to see that on a consistent basis is, unfortunately, not realistic. Jordan Campbell (dawindycity.com) relates D-Wade’s signing with Chicago to Shaq’s signing with Wade’s Heat in 2004. He will not be the leader of the Bulls but a mentor to the leader, who–SPOILER ALERT–is #6 on this list. Expect to see a few exciting plays out of Wade, but the person you want to turn your main focus to is…
Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
After the Bulls sent Derrick Rose to New York, the Bulls became Jimmy Butler’s team and the 2016-17 season will be the first full season of the Jimmy Butler Era of the Chicago Bulls, even with the signing of veterans Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. The two vets will add some leadership and depth at the wing position, but this team is still “Jimmy’s team” as Rondo said. It will be interesting to see if Butler, Wade, and Rondo can mesh, and if they are able to, expect Jimmy to have his best year yet.
As long as Jimmy can stay healthy, he is almost a lock for the All Star Game. He has proven himself as a strong wing and one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. He was a member of Team USA this summer in Rio and helped win the gold medal. I think it is safe to say that Jimmy has surpassed D-Wade as the best former NBA player in the league right now, but it will definitely be exciting, as always, to see all former Golden Eagles excel in the Association.
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