By: Amanda Szylin
Several AAU alumni made their NBA debuts in the opening games of the season last night. Eighteen of the thirty players that were drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft played AAU Basketball at some point in their careers and they were ready to take their talents to the highest stage.
The first NBA game of the season, between the Magic and Pelicans, featured Magic rookies Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton tipping off their careers. Payton, the 20 year old Louisville-Lafayette point guard, played for 31 minutes and scored 4 points. Not only was he able to make his NBA debut, but his first game was in New Orleans, Louisiana, just a few miles away from Payton’s hometown of Gretna. Family and friends poured into the Smoothie King Arena to watch his first professional game and the crowd went wild when his name was called in the starting lineup. He added five rebounds, 7 assists and a steal to his stat line.
Payton’s teammate, Aaron Gordon, also checked into the game, making his first appearance in the NBA. He played for a total of 28 minutes, totaling 11 points and making 5 of 8 shots. The power forward from Arizona racked up three rebounds, a block and a steal. Gordon also sank a three pointer from the corner to give the Magic an early lead in the game.
Devyn Marble, who was chosen in the second round and 56th overall, had his first opportunity to play in an NBA game. He only came in for three minutes, but he managed to add four points to the board, making both of his shot attempts. He also grabbed a rebound and was fouled, although he was 0-2 on free throw attempts. Despite the solid performances from the rookies, the Magic fell to the Pelicans, 101-84. Orlando will play again Thursday, October 30th against the Wizards at home in the Amway Arena.
The Lakers and Rockets took the court later in the night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. AAU alumnus Julius Randle had a rough start in the first game of his NBA career. Randle played a total of 14 minutes and scored two points. He could have potentially racked up more stats but he went down halfway through the final quarter with a right leg injury. The Lakers announced courtside that the 19 year old SEC Freshman of the Year had a broken tibia in his right leg. The seventh pick overall in the NBA draft was surrounded by his teammates underneath the basket before being taken off the court on a stretcher. Later, Lakers’ coach Byron Scott confirmed the diagnosis and the Los Angeles Times reports that Randle is likely to undergo surgery as early as Wednesday and will “probably” sit out the rest of the season. To add insult to injury, the Rockets topped the Lakers 108-90. The Lakers play again today (October 29th) against the Suns at 10PM in Phoenix.
On a happier note for the Lakers, 46th overall draft pick, Jordan Clarkson, played for 20 minutes, scoring a total of eight points, with four rebounds, two assists and a three point shot! With the Lakers’ veteran point guard, Steve Nash, out for the season with chronic back pain, coach Byron Scott may turn to Clarkson to fill the role in an emergency, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Congratulations to ALL of the AAU Alumni that are making their NBA debuts and we wish Julius Randle a safe and speedy recovery!
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