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Cheering on the Zags in the NBA

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The other basketball season starts today, and there are plenty of Zags to get excited for.

Charlotte Hornets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA season starts today, and with each and every passing year, we are getting our hands on more and more Gonzaga players to cheer for when channel surfing each evening.

Here is a quick roundup of where former Gonzaga players are in the professional league.

Brandon Clarke - Memphis Grizzlies

Last season: in college

Brandon Clarke dropped on draft day, and he showed to each and every team why that was an issue by winning the 2019 Summer League MVP after averaging 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Paired alongside Ja Morant, the Grizzlies are going to be equally frustrating and entertaining to watch. For sheer highlight reel value, tune into every single Clarke game you can, and then imagine what life would be like if he were still a Zag.

Zach Collins - Portland Trail Blazers

Last season: 77 games, 17.6 MP, 6.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.9 BPG

The Blazers had a rather busy offseason season, and after all of the dust settled, the space is there for Collins to grab a starting role in his third season in the NBA. The Blazers big men are a who’s who of injuries, Jusuf Nurkick is still out and Pau Gasol is recovering from foot surgery in May. Collins grabbed that opportunity by the horns during the preseason, averaging 13.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. After a couple of quiet years in the NBA, Collins is poised to make his biggest impact with the Blazers.

Rui Hachimura - Washington Wizards

Last season: in college

Rui is hitting the ground running in Washington, already making it into the starting rotation—which doesn’t say very much considering the Wizards are near the bottom of the barrel in the NBA. That said, Rui was going to be the Gonzaga draftee that needed seasoning, and putting him straight into the mix is probably the best way to see what you have. Bullets Forever had a nice breakdown of what to expect from Rui, and it isn’t much different than what we’d say around here: A lot of good, a bit of great, and some potential for some head scratching.

Zach Norvell Jr. - Los Angeles Lakers (two way contract)

Last season: in college

Considering the Lakers have championship aspirations, and that Norvell can only spend 45 days in the NBA thanks to his G League contract, we will have to keep an eye on when the ex-Gonzaga guard is in the Lakers uniform. He made more than a name for himself during the preseason with his tendency to completely embarrass Jordan Poole and dropping 29 points in the final preseason game.

Kelly Olynyk - Miami Heat

Last season: 79 games, 22.9 MPG, 10.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 0.5 BPG

Olynyk took over the starting role at power forward last season for the Heat last season, shooting a career high 60 percent for two-pointers. This year could be a pivotal year for Olynyk’s career. He signed a multi-year contract with the Heat in 2017, and has a player option for the 2020-21 season. A big year by Olynyk will give him a bit more bargaining power at the table as the year goes on.

Domantas Sabonis - Indiana Pacers

Last season: 74 games, 14.1 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.9 APG

Sabonis had a career year with the Pacers last season and it couldn’t have come at a better time. He just recently signed a four-year, $77 million extension after finishing second in the 2019 Sixth Man of Year award.

Pacers guard Victor Oladipo is still out as he recovers from injury, so the start of the year is going to need Sabonis at his top level alongside center Myles Turner. In a day and age where most teams in the NBA are going shorter, more mobile, and faster, the Pacers are going to try and almost two-center approach. Let’s see how it goes.

Nigel Williams-Goss - Utah Jazz

Last season: with Olympiacos B.C., 25 MPG, 11.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.6 APG

The Jazz chose NWG with the No. 55 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and he took what might be a more unconventional route to the NBA. With the Jazz retaining his rights, Williams-Goss headed to Europe for two years of playing rather than a couple of years of sitting on the bench. He returned stateside and signed a three-year contract with the Jazz, but it already is a question of how much playing time he will see. The Jazz are loaded in the backcourt with veterans Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Dante Exum. The minutes will be hard to come by for NWG early on, but he should be able to grind out some time at either the point or the two guard.