A change in scenery has done wonders for some of the former Gators in the NBA this year. For others, it has done the exact opposite.
And for the one player on this list who didn’t suit up for a new team this season — Wizards guard Bradley Beal — staying put has led to a career-high 23 points per game.
Arguably the best current player out of Gainesville, the 6-foot-5 Beal has helped lead Washington to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Centers shining, suspended:
Center Al Horford has been a solid addition to the second-seeded Celtics, averaging a career-best five assists per game in his first season away from Atlanta. With Horford in the lineup, Boston has increased its win total for the third straight year as it contends for the Eastern Conference title.
The same can’t be said for his former Florida teammate Joakim Noah, who received a 20-game suspension for using banned over-the-counter supplements. The suspension will be split between the final eight games of the 2016-2017 season and the first 12 of 2017-2018.
Small forwards hope to make it big:
Another former Gator to struggle this season is small forward Chandler Parsons, who is in his first season with Memphis after spending two years in Dallas. After showing flashes of elite offensive ability in Houston, Parsons has failed to live up the hype during his time in Dallas and Memphis. Lingering knee issues have limited his minutes and production since signing with the Grizzlies, leading to season-ending surgery for the forward.
Rookie Dorian Finney-Smith is the only Gator in the NBA who has played for UF coach Mike White. Finney-Smith plays the same position as Parsons and comes off the bench for about 20 minutes a night. It’s conceivable that Finney-Smith could eventually take over Parsons’ versatile role for the Mavericks, although it can be hard to predict with only a one-season sample size.
Vets giving playoff teams a boost:
Veteran big men David Lee and Marreese Speights have both been good pickups for a couple of contenders in the loaded Western Conference. Lee has provided experience off the bench for the second-seed Spurs, who have a better record than every team but the Warriors. Meanwhile, Speights has helped bolster a Clippers second unit that has kept the team alive as it dealt with injuries to stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. If either team wants to make it through the Western Conference during the playoffs, depth found in players like Lee and Speights will be crucial.
Contact Andrew Huang at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @AndrewJHuang.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) drives on Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson (7) during second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 10, 2017, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)