The Master List, Part 1: ACC Players In The NBA’s Eastern Conference

In part one of this two part series, I explore how NBA players from the ACC are performing thus far this season. The rankings are how I perceive the players thus far and are subject to change throughout the rest of the year. Without further ado, let’s get the rankings started.

1. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat (Georgia Tech)

With LeBron James bolting from the Heat back home to the Cavaliers this past off-season, Chris Bosh was able to assume a primary scoring role that he has not experienced since leaving Toronto a little over four years ago. He is averaging 21.3 points per game, his highest total since the 2009-2010 season. While his field-goal percentage has dipped from 52% to 45%, he is taking nearly five more shots per game now that LeBron is gone. The Heat currently hold the 7th spot in the East, and with age and injuries beginning to nag Dwayne Wade, the team will only go as far as CB takes them.

2. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers (Duke)

There were many questions surrounding Kyrie Irving this off-season upon the arrival of LeBron James. The most talked about issue was how Kyrie would adjust to being a secondary scoring option for the first time in his career. After a rocky start to the season, the Cavaliers are beginning to scratch the surface on what their potential could be come playoff time, and Irving;s play is a big reason why. He is averaging 21.2 points per game, while shooting career bests in 3-point percentage (41.8%) and field goal percentage (47.9%). When LeBron James and Kevin Love are not on the floor, Irving has flourished as the primary scoring option, and is beginning to adjust his play by successfully deferring scoring roles to James and Love when the three share the floor together. His evolution as a more well-rounded point guard will be fun to monitor as the season progresses.

3. Carmelo Anthony, NY Knicks (Syracuse)

At 4-19, the New York Knicks own one of the worst records in professional basketball. Some believe that the team isn’t buying in to Phil Jackson’s Triangle Offense, others say that the team’s new man-in-charge, Derek Fisher, simply has too steep of a learning curve this season to help the Knicks win. Carmelo Anthony has missed two games due to injury, but in his 20 starts he is averaging 23.2 points per game on 45% shooting. His 23.3 points per game is the third lowest average in his 11-year career, and there is a growing belief that the perennial all-star’s decision to sign a new contract this past off-season with the Knicks will hinder his chances of ever winning a championship ring. Only time will tell, but he is still a star player who is simply on a team that is not very good.

4. Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks (Wake Forest)

As the leader of the Atlanta, Jeff Teague has been much of the reason why the team is off to their best start in recent memory at 14-6. He leads the team in both scoring (17.1 ppg.) as well as in assists (7.1 apg.). He is making a strong case for an all-star appearance in the coming months, and will be the main reason why the Hawks will be competitive in the East throughout the rest of the season.

5. Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers (Syracuse)

For Michael Carter-Williams, the 76ers’ tanking ways have to be weighing on him in his second full NBA season. While he has continued to shine in his starting point guard role, it is apparent that he is frustrated with how things have been going in Philly. As a clear star in the making, Carter-Williams has enjoyed a successful individual campaign thus far. He is averaging nearly a triple-double at 16.3 points, 7.4 assists, and 7.1 rebounds per game. He is doing a little bit of everything for the 2-18 76ers, who would benefit by putting talent around him sooner, rather than later.

6. Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks (Duke)

The second overall pick in June’s draft has not disappointed in his rookie season with the Bucks. He has started all 22 games for the up-and-coming franchise, averaging 12.9 points per game on nearly 49% shooting. Parker has pulled down about 6 rebounds per contest, but the most surprising part of his game so far has been his poor free throw shooting. He has only shot 69% from the line, and as a player who was lauded coming out of college for his scoring ability, these free throw numbers are both disappointing and troubling. His defense is coming along, but he is still trying to get his feet under him on that end of the floor,but don’t worry Bucks fans, Parker is the real deal.

7. Mike Dunleavy, Chicago Bulls (Duke)

Mike Dunleavy has excelled as a perimeter wing player throughout the entirety of his 12-year career. This season for the Bulls, he has started in all 20 games he has played, averaging 10.1 points per game. Dunleavy is a big body who can effectively defend on the wing, and his outside shooting has always been one of his key assets. Look for him to continue to maintain a major role with the Bulls for the rest of the season.

8. K.J. McDaniels, Philadelphia 76ers (Clemson)

The 6’6″ rookie swingman with huge upside was thrust into a starting role for the tanking 76ers and has played well, shooting 43% from the field while averaging 10.1 points per game. McDaniels’ main issue is turnovers, as he has nearly a 1:2 assist to turnover ratio, which is hindering his early development. While rookies make mistakes, especially with little to no help around them, this is something McDaniels will have to improve upon as he adjusts to life in the NBA.

9. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers (Syracuse)

Waiters has had a tumultuous start to his career to say the least. With questions swirling around about how compatible he could be with fellow backcourt mate Kyrie Irving, Waiters was close to being run out of town as he was dangled in trade talks the entire off-season. This season, after initially struggling to find his niche, he began coming off of the bench full-time for the first time in his young career. Unfortunately for him, it has not paid dividends as he is shooting a career worst 39% from the floor and continues to turn the basketball over. While his defense has always been suspect, the hope for the Cavs is that he improves upon settling in to this new role. Perhaps the Royals watching the Nets-Cavs game the other night were inspiring, as Waiters hit for 26 points, as the Cavs extended their win streak.

10. Luol Deng, Miami Heat (Duke)

Luol Deng has battled his fair share of injuries in his first season with the Miami Heat. When he plays, he has been registering solid stats as LeBron James’ replacement, averaging nearly 14 points per game on 48% shooting. The injuries will hold him back, but when he plays, he should still be seen as a solid NBA player.

11. Iman Shumpert, NY Knicks (Georgia Tech)

While the Knicks’ struggles continue, Iman Shumpert has only been improving. In his 4th season out of Georgia Tech, Shumpert has always been known for his stifling defense, but this year his offensive numbers have improved as well. At 10.1 points per game on 41% shooting, Shumpert has started his 2014-2015 campaign with career highs in both categories. Although he is not an offensive juggernaut by any stretch, it has to be nice for the Knicks to see Shumpert’s shot beginning to fall, as offensive steps forward will make him a much better overall player.

12. Jarrett Jack, Brooklyn Nets (Georgia Tech)

Although Jack is now two years removed from his breakout season as backup to Stephen Curry in Golden State, he is now stepping in nicely to another reserve role, this time, in Brooklyn. He is averaging 9.4 points on 46% shooting, and is a player with the potential to light up the scoreboard when he gets hot. What is particularly troubling however is his 3-point field goal percentage. Jack is shooting an alarming 15.8% from beyond the arc, which is by far a career worst for him. He is a career 36% shooter from long range, so by the law of averages he has to improve in that category moving forward through the rest of the year.

13. Josh McRoberts, Miami Heat (Duke)

Although McRoberts has battled injury and sickness throughout most of the early 2014 season, he is finally beginning to carve out a role on his new Miami Heat team. He is up to 15 minutes per game, which should only increase as he gets his feet back under him. It is too early to evaluate how he is playing thus far this season, but we should all have a better idea once he is back to full strength.

14. Tyler Zeller, Boston Celtics (North Carolina)

When Zeller was acquired this off-season by the Celtics, it was anticipated that he would serve as a backup to second-year center Kelly Olynyk. However, after Olynyk’s slow start, Celtics coach Brad Stevens decided to shake things up and insert Zeller into a starting role, a move which has paid dividends on Boston’s frontline. Zeller is averaging 7.7 points per game to go along with nearly 5 rebounds per contest for the rebuilding Celtics. While there is no guarantee that Zeller will continue to start the rest of the season, it appears that he has established himself as a solid rotation player for Boston.

15. Mike Scott, Atlanta Hawks (Virginia)

Former UVA star Mike Scott has been quite the surprise in his two seasons in the NBA. Although his third professional season is just getting underway, Scott has proven himself to be a reliable scoring option off of the bench for the Hawks. He is averaging 8.1 points per game on nearly 48% shooting. Look for Scott to continue to make contributions as the season progresses.

16. Shane Larkin, New York Knicks (Miami (FL))

After being traded at the end of his rookie year from the Mavericks to the Knicks, Larkin has begun adjusting to a major role in the NBA that he hasn’t seen since his time at Miami under coach Jim Larranaga. Larkin has played in 20 games this year, making 12 starts. While he has only averaged about 5.3 points per game to couple his 2 assists per contest, Larkin’s biggest asset is the fact that he does not make many mistakes. He is averaging less than a turnover per game and is the primary ball-handler for Derek Fisher’s squad whenever he is on the floor.

17. Gerald Henderson, Charlotte Hornets (Duke)

The 6’5″ Henderson has come off of the bench for most of this season for the Hornets and has been one of the few bright spots on their team. He is shooting a career best 88% from the free throw line, while also setting a career mark in field goal percentage at 46%. His 8 points per game is the lowest total in the last four years for him, although he has been quite efficient when taking into consideration that he is now coming off of the bench behind Lance Stephenson.

18. Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons (Duke)

Singler has played in all 82 games in each of his first two NBA seasons. His durability has never been in question, and this season is no different. Singler has played in all 21 games for the flailing Pistons, averaging 7.4 points per game while playing solid defense in his role coming off the bench. Expect Singler to continue to play between 20-25 minutes per game throughout the rest of the year, as he remains one of the best options off of the bench for the underachieving Pistons.

19. James Johnson, Toronto Raptors (Wake Forest)

As a 27-year old power forward, James Johnson has been fairly productive coming off of the bench for the East leading Raptors. At 58% shooting, Johnson is enjoying his best career field goal percentage as a professional. At 7 points and 3 rebounds per game, Johnson has become a reliable option in the frontcourt, which should remain the case for the rest of the season.

20. Joe Harris, Cleveland Cavaliers (Virginia)

Due to nagging injuries to rotation players on a star-studded Cleveland roster, Joe Harris has seen more playing time than expected this season. The rookie swingman out of Virginia is averaging 2.4 points per game in 17 games played, and is playing only when matchups are favorable. His make-up was good enough for him to get drafted, but his defense and 3-point shooting will ultimately determine if he ever cracks a rotation full-time in the NBA. Right now, both are works in progress.

21. Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets (North Carolina)

In nearly 25 minutes per game this season, Williams has become a reliable bench option for the Hornets as he has produced offensively and defensively when his number has been called. His 6.4 points and 3.2 rebounds have proved effective for the role he possesses in Charlotte. A former #3 pick, he has had an underwhelming career spent in two of the more lackluster organizations: Post-Stockton-to-Malone Utah and Atlanta. Just writing that induced yawns.

22. P.J. Hairston, Charlotte Hornets (North Carolina)

After a rocky ending to his North Carolina career, P.J. Hairston has adjusted nicely to life in the NBA. He has been in and out of the rotation in Charlotte, and when he has played, he has played well. Hairston is averaging 5.8 points per game in 15.5 minutes per contest. With a dearth of scoring in Charlotte, look for Hairston to get more playing time, especially if the Hornets continue to struggle. The player in front of him, Lance Stephenson, has struggled in his first year after signing a big free agent deal. It isn’t inconceivable that Stephenson might be moved after the moratorium on trades for recently signed players is lifted later this month. In that circumstance, Hairston might see more of the floor.

23. Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets (Duke)

In his second year out of Duke, Plumlee has been placed in a limited role within the rotation in Brooklyn as he only plays about 13 minutes per game. His 5.1 points per game is only slightly below his career average in his limited role within the franchise at this point in the season. With Brook Lopez back, and the emergence of Miro Teletovic there are less minutes to go around this year.

24. Jared Dudley, Milwaukee Bucks (Boston College)

Dudley is currently playing about 20 minutes per game for his third team in three years. Head coach Jason Kidd believes that Dudley can be effective in his bench role with the Bucks, even though his 5 points per game is a career-low. He hasn’t demonstrated the same energy in LA or Milwaukee that he had in Phoenix.

25. John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks (North Carolina)

Henson has yet to carve out an effective role in Milwaukee under new head coach Jason Kidd. His 4.2 points per game is a career-low for him, and he has only played in 14 of the team’s 22 games, as he has has notched up 8 games of “Did not play, coach’s decision.” The return of Larry Sanders has given the Bucks better rim protection, and that’s the only area where Henson is above-average.

26. Kendall Marshall, Milwaukee Bucks (North Carolina)

His pass first mentality will only be beneficial for his career long-term if he develops a steady jump shot. While he has only played in 11 games for the Bucks this season, he has been able to produce when his number has been called, as he is averaging nearly 4.5 points and 3 assists per contest in about 14 minutes per game. He is a bench option for the Bucks and will only see significant time should an unexpected injury occur.

27. Elton Brand, Atlanta Hawks (Duke)

Elton Brand has been a very good option down-low for many teams throughout his NBA career. Now 35 years of age, Brand in solely relied on in a reserve role for the Hawks, as he has only appeared in four games this season. His role should not significantly change unless the Hawks face major injury issues.


28. Jerami Grant, Philadelphia 76ers (Syracuse)

The rookie has seen limited minutes with the 76ers this season, and if you aren’t good enough to play for the tanking Sixers squad, it’s cause for alarm. The son of former NBA player Harvey, and nephew of former Clemson Tiger and NBA champion Horace, he still has plenty of pedigree and upside to allow him some time to develop. But one wonders how long before he is relegated to the D-League just to get some run.

29. Tyler Hansbrough, Toronto Raptors (North Carolina)

The former Naismith National Player of the Year has enjoyed reasonable success as a rotation player throughout his five year NBA career. Unfortunately for Hansbrough, a shoulder injury suffered in early November has led to his replacement in the Toronto rotation. It will be interesting to find out if Hansbrough will be able to once again find playing time this season on the East leading Raptors.

30. Brendan Haywood, Cleveland Cavaliers (North Carolina)

Haywood has been a serviceable big man throughout his entire time in the NBA. That time is coming to an end. While he is in the twilight of his career, he’s still able to serve as replacement-level insurance in the event of an injury to the younger guys in front of him.

31. DeJuan Blair, Washington Wizards (Pittsburgh)

Once a reliable bench option for the San Antonio Spurs, and for a while in Dallas, he hasn’t yet caught on in Randy Wittman’s rotation. He has only scored 6 points total in this entire season and never sees the court for the Washington Wizards.

32. Andre Dawkins, Miami Heat (Duke)

As a rookie out of Duke, Dawkins is currently in a learning role as he bounces back and forth between the Miami Heat active roster and the D-League. Don’t expect to see Dawkins make any sizable contributions this season.


Thanks for reading! Follow me on twitter: @mikem92VT. You can also find us on Facebook. I’ll be back Thursday with the Western Conference Master List.




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