A look at former Deacons playing in the NBA as the league officially kicks off the 2013-14 season
Oct. 29, 2013
By Jenn Leser, WakeForestSports.com
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The 2013-14 NBA season starts tonight, and a number of former Demon Deacons will play significant roles in the chase for the league title. Here is a look at where the former Deacons are at leading into the start of the season.
Al-Farouq Aminu - New Orleans Pelicans
Entering his fourth season in the NBA, Aminu signed a one-year extension with the Pelicans in July and had a solid preseason, logging the most minutes of anyone on the team through eight games. The Norcross, Ga., native averaged 7.9 points per game with 5.5 rebounds. The small forward started 71 games last year for New Orleans, averaging career-highs of 7.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Aminu and the Pelicans will open the 2013-14 season on Wednesday when they host the Indiana Pacers.
Tim Duncan - San Antonio Spurs
After a postseason run that saw the San Antonio Spurs fall just short of winning the NBA championship against the Miami Heat, Duncan is set to return for his 17th season in the league. Despite turning 37 earlier this year, Duncan is still capable of putting up big numbers, as he led San Antonio with 10.2 rebounds per game and was second to Tony Parker with 18.1 shots per game in the postseason. San Antonio is expected to contend for another title, as long as Duncan's knee injury doesn't flare up again. Duncan and the Spurs will host their Western Conference rival the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday to kick off the 2013-14 season.
Entering his 11th season in the NBA, Howard was signed by the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday and then released by the team on Friday. The move allows the Spurs to assign Howard to their D-League affiliate in Austin, Texas, giving the veteran forward the chance to work his way back from the season-ending knee injury he suffered last year with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Winston-Salem native has seen limited time on the court since oringally suffering an ACL injury in early 2010 but is reportedly back to full heath and is expected to be a potential backup for rising Spurs star Kawhi Leonard. Once Howard clears waivers, he is expected to work on his conditioning with the Austin Toros with the ultimate goal of moving back up to San Antonio to be a veteran bench scorer.
Entering his fifth season in the league, Johnson was waived from his non-guaranteed contract by the Atlanta Hawks during the preseason. The power forward had a fairly quiet postseason, where he averaged 1.5 points and 12 minutes through four games. Johnson spent the 2012-13 season with the Sacramento Kings, before signing with the Hawks in the offseason.
Chris Paul - Los Angeles Clippers
The reigning All-Star MVP and current National Basketball Players Association president signed a five-year, $107.3 million contract with the LA Clippers this past summer. The ninth-year guard, widely considered the best point guard in the game, averaged 22.8 points and four rebounds in the postseason before the Clippers were knocked out of the first round of the playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies. Paul was recently voted the league's best passer and best leader as he looks to lead Los Angeles to the Finals under new coach Doc Rivers. Paul and the Clippers will open the 2013-14 season against their cross-town rivals the L.A. Lakers on Tuesday evening.
Ishmael Smith - Phoenix Suns
Smith, entering his fourth season in the NBA after going undrafted out of Wake Forest in 2010, was part of an offseason trade that saw the Phoenix Suns send Caron Butler to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Smith and Slava Kravtsov. The point guard is on the Suns' opening night roster, his sixth team in four years. Smith split time between Milwaukee and the Orlando Magic last season, averaging 2.4 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists. The Concord, N.C. native is expected to serve as a backup point guard off the bench. Smith and the Suns will host the Portland Trailblazers in their season opener on Wednesday in Phoenix.
Jeff Teague - Atlanta Hawks
After entering the offseason season as a restricted free agent, Teague resigned with the Atlanta Hawks on a four-year, $32 million deal that will keep him in Atlanta through 2017. The Hawks chose to match an offer sheet from the Milwaukee Bucks, keeping Teague in town as they rebuild their roster. The fifth-year point guard set career averages last season with 14.6 points and 7.2 assists per game, as he helped lead Atlanta to the first round of the playoffs before being knocked out by the Indiana Pacers. Teague and the Hawks will open the 2013-14 season on the road against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.