The 2017 NBA Playoffs have gotten underway as 16 teams are vying to become the champion of the NBA. And you can bet that a number of former SEC stars will have something to say about who takes home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
While Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns both missed out on the 2017 NBA Playoffs, that doesn’t mean some of the conference’s other big stars will be on the sidelines. The Washington Wizards starting back court, consisting John Wall of Kentucky and Bradley Beal of Florida, have an excellent chance of taking down the defending champs, the Cleveland Cavilers, should the two teams meet.
Here’s a look at five former SEC standouts who will have some say on who wins it all this year.(We did not include DeMarre Carroll or DeAndre Jordan considering Missouri and Texas A&M were in the Big 12 when each player was there.)
John Wall: The former Kentucky point guard is having a sensational season as he led the Wizards back into the NBA Playoffs. Wall had a career-high in points(23.1), assists(10.7) and led the league in steals with 2.1 this year. Washington faces the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs but the Wizards are widely expected to move on to the next round.
Al Horford: Horford is no stranger to the NBA Playoffs as he’s made it every year of his now 10-year NBA career. For the first time though he will be doing it in a Boston Celtics uniform, and not an Atlanta Hawks’ one. Horford, who saw his numbers dip to 14.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season, did help lead the Celtics to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics have not won a playoff series since 2012, when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were still on the team. Horford will look to change that.
Bradley Beal: Beal has always had the talent, as he was the No. 3 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. But now that he’s had healthy season—he played in more than 75 games for the first time in his NBA career this season—he’s shown that he’s one of the league’s top shooting guards. He scored a career high 23.1 points per game while knocking down 40 percent of his 3-point attempts. The former Florida guard, along with Wall, figure to be a nightmare for opposing teams.
Patrick Beverly: The former Arkansas product isn’t as big of a name as Wall, Horford or Beal but you’ll definitely hear his name if you watch the Houston Rockets first round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Beverly is likely to defend Russell Westbrook and it should be a fascinating matchup to watch given Beverly’s excellent defense. And these two have a history together, as the last time the Thunder and Rockets met in the playoffs, Westbrook injured his knee while being defended by Beverly.
Joe Johnson: Yes, Johnson is still in the NBA. And yes, the former Arkansas standout is still getting buckets. Johnson will be a key piece of the bench for the Utah Jazz, as he’s already proven that in the Jazz’s first playoff game. Johnson scored 21 points and hit the game-winning shot to steal the opening games from the Los Angeles Clippers.
— All Sport News (@All_SportNews) April 16, 2017