Basketball

Gators in the NBA: Week 1

Photo by Scott Taetsch / Getty Images

The start of the NBA season saw only five former Florida Gators on NBA rosters, but the small group still made offseason headlines.

All Star Bradley Beal (guard, Washington Wizards) signed a two year, $72 million extension to stay in the nation’s capital, while five-time All-Star Al Horford (center, Philadelphia 76ers) inked a four year, $109 million deal to ditch Boston for the City of Brotherly Love.

Beal picked up where he left off from his 2018-19 All-Star campaign, speeding out to an average of 26.8 points through his first four contests of 2019-20. He also sports an average of 7.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds, but the Wizards are a lowly 1-3 regardless.

The eighth-year guard registered a masterful, 46-point performance against the Houston Rockets Wednesday night, but his efforts were overshadowed by James Harden’s 59 points in the 159-158 Houston victory. Beal shot a ridiculous 14 of 20 from the field and 7 of 12 from three. He also nailed 11 of 12 free throws while dishing eight assists.

Beal and the Wizards (which also harbor former UF guard Chris Chiozza) will turn around and host the 3-1 Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.

Horford has enjoyed some decent production since moving to Philadelphia, averaging 14 points, 9 rebounds and 3.5 assists, as the 76ers cruised to a 4-0 start.

In his most recent victory over Minnesota, Horford led all players with 16 total rebounds and 11 defensive rebounds. He added 12 points as all of the 76ers’ starters scored in double digits in the 117-95 win.

For its next matchup, Philadelphia will travel all the way to Portland to take on the 3-2 Trailblazers on Saturday.

Another Gator who has contributed heavily is Dorian Finney-Smith (forward, Dallas Mavericks), who started in both of the Mavericks’ last two victories.

The fourth-year player holds an average of 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds as Dallas has jumped out to a 3-1 record.

Finney-Smith is known for his lengthy frame and grittiness on defense. His hard work has led to a +32 point differential for the Mavericks when he is on the floor.

However, he contributed a nice offensive performance in Tuesday’s win over the Denver Nuggets. Finney-Smith scored 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting and went 2 of 2 from beyond the arc.

Next up for Dallas is a bout with the 3-1 Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

Note: If you’re wondering who that fifth player from Florida is… it’s Chandler Parsons. Somehow the ninth-year forward found a roster spot on the Atlanta Hawks despite playing in less than 40 games in each of the past three seasons.

Mark Stine is a contributing writer to Chomp Talk. Follow him on Twitter @mstinejr.

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