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An end-of-season look at UK in the NBA

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NBA-Logo.png It has quickly become a rarity to turn on an NBA game and not find a former Kentucky Wildcat on the floor.

Sixteen former Kentucky Wildcats finished the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season on NBA rosters, which ties UK with Duke for the most of any school. Nearly half of the league's teams - 13 to be exact -  feature a player who used to don the Blue and White and exactly half of the 16 teams to make the playoffs will field at least one former Wildcat.

With six more talented Cats looking to be drafted this June, that number will climb yet again, but before then, let's reflect on another season in the books for UK players in the NBA:

Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics)
Season averages - 11.9 points, 11.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals

Even with the infusion of talent since the beginning of the John Calipari era, Rondo remains the face of UK in the NBA. Rondo has evolved from a bit player on a championship team to an All Star who perennially leads the Celtics to the playoffs, and that's exactly what he did this season. He led the NBA in assists per game, averaging double-digit dimes for the second straight season.

He has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the past two seasons - like pretty much all of the Celtics' nucleus - but has only solidified his spot as arguably the best combination of passing, rebounding and defense that the NBA has to offer at the point guard position. In spite of sitting out three of Boston's final four games, he ended the season on a ridiculous streak of 24 consecutive games with 10 or more assists, most since John Stockton had 29 in a row for the Utah Jazz in 1992.

Rondo was also the only player in the NBA to post more than one triple-double this season, leading the league with six such performances. Among those triple-doubles was an insane 18-point, 20-assist, 17-rebound game in a win over New York, continuing his habit of posting some of the most unique lines in the NBA.

Rondo and the fourth-seeded Celtics will open the playoffs against the No. 5 Atlanta Hawks on Sunday at 7 p.m. on TNT.

John Wall (Washington Wizards)
Season averages - 16.3 points, 8.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 0.9 blocks


In his second season out of UK, Wall toiled once again on a struggling Washington team. The Wizards finished with the NBA's second-worst record, but they flashed some promise down the stretch, winning six straight and raising their win total from 14 to 20 in the process. Wall was spectacular, dishing double-digit assists in five of the six wins.

Wall's averages were about the same as during his rookie campaign, but he improved both his field-goal and free-throw shooting percentages. Perhaps most encouragingly, Wall started all 66 of his team's games after missing 13 due to injury a season ago.

Wall and the Wizards will look to take another step forward next season, and they will look to begin that improvement in this June's draft. They stand the second-best chance of winning the Anthony Davis sweepstakes in the draft lottery.

DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
Season averages - 18.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 1.2 blocks


Cousins showed improvement pretty much across the board in his second season. He posted career bests in nearly every statistical category and is even in the conversation for Most Improved Player honors. He ranked among the NBA's top rebounders and finished the season on a tear, scoring 29, 32 and 23 points over his final three games. Like the Wizards, the Kings will look to get an impact player in this year's draft after finishing the year 22-44.

Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons)
Season averages - 12.8 points, 3.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds


Knight showed why the Pistons picked him high in last year's NBA Draft, ranking among rookie leaders in scoring, assists and minutes played. He saw the floor in 65 of 66 games this season, starting 59. He showed himself to be a capable scorer and passer at times this season and is expected to be a cornerstone of Detroit's rebuilding process alongside big man Greg Monroe.

Tayshaun Prince (Detroit Pistons)
Season averages - 12.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists


Now 32, Prince turned in another solid season after resigning with the Pistons this offseason.

Patrick Patterson (Houston Rockets)
Season averages - 7.7 points, 4.5 rebounds


Patterson, coming off an injury in the offseason, took a little while to get going for the Rockets, but settled in and turned in an encouraging season. He took on an enhanced role in his second season, playing nearly seven more minutes per game and attempting nearly three more field goals a game. While rebuilding, Houston has opted to hold on to Patterson even while being active on the trade market. He will push for a starting role this summer.

Jodie Meeks (Philadelphia 76ers)
Season averages - 8.4 points, 2.4 rebounds


For the second season in a row, Meeks was Philadelphia's primary starter at shooting guard, draining 97 3-pointers as the Sixers' shooting specialist. He closed the season out strong, averaging 21 points over his final two games, including a 27-point outing against his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks.

Meeks and the 76ers will top-seeded Chicago in the first game of the playoffs on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Enes Kanter (Utah Jazz)
Season averages - 4.6 points, 4.2 rebounds


Kanter stepped into a deep Jazz frontcourt as a rookie having not played a competitive game in over a year-and-a-half, but still dug out a rotation spot on a playoff-bound team. He played over 15 minutes per game, showing the strength around the basket and rebounding ability that made UK fans so eager to get him on the floor in Rupp Arena. Impressively, he finished his first season shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and had his first career double-double in the final game of the regular season.

The eighth-seeded Jazz will take on No. 1 San Antonio beginning on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Chuck Hayes (Sacramento Kings)
Season averages - 3.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists


Hayes parlayed a career season in 2010-11 into a contract with the Kings, who were looking for him to provide a steady veteran presence on an otherwise young team. After starting most of the last two seasons with the Rockets, he stepped into a reserve role, helping to mentor Cousins in his breakout season. He served as a captain in his first season with the team.

Eric Bledsoe (Los Angeles Clippers)
Season averages - 3.3 points, 1.7 assists, 1.6 rebounds


Injury kept Bledsoe out of the lineup for essentially the first two months of the season, as he played double-digit minutes just once before March. He played more often in that month, but it wasn't until April that he emerged as an effective backup for Chris Paul. He averaged over 16 minutes a game in April along with 5.6 points, 2.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds.

He figures to play a significant role in the Clippers postseason run, which begins against the Memphis Grizzlies at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Josh Harrellson (New York Knicks)
Season averages - 4.0 points, 3.8 rebounds


In January, Harrellson had carved out a role for himself on the Knicks, but then sustained a wrist injury that kept him out for six weeks. He returned to a slightly diminished role, but to a team that was playing much better basketball. He played double-digit minutes just twice in April before the final game of the season, but that's when he scored a career-high 18 points.

His Knicks will open the playoffs as a seven seed in one of the most anticipated series of the first round, taking on the Miami Heat beginning on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Nazr Mohammed (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Season averages - 2.7 points, 2.7 rebounds


Mohammed has a well-defined role as a big man for the Thunder who provides between 10 and 12 minutes per night. He doesn't carry a heavy scoring load and is called on to defend and rebound when he is on the floor.

He'll be asked to do the same as Oklahoma City takes on the Dallas Mavericks - the team that knocked out the Thunder a season ago - in the first round of the playoffs. Game one is at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Daniel Orton (Orlando Magic)

Season averages - 2.8 points, 2.4 rebounds


Orton played the first minutes of his NBA career early this season, but it wasn't until All Star Dwight Howard went out with a back injury that he saw major playing time. He played at least 10 minutes in all but two of the Magic's final 10 games and had a career game against the Cavaliers on April 15 when he had 11 points, five steals, four rebounds and three blocks.

Orton figures to see plenty of action as Orlando takes on Indiana in the first round of the playoffs beginning on Saturday at 7 p.m.

DeAndre Liggins (Orlando Magic)

Season averages - 1.9 points, 0.9 rebounds


Liggins played in 17 games this season, all after February 20. He had career highs of 26 minutes, seven points and four rebounds in the final game of the regular season.

Jamaal Magloire (Toronto Raptors)
Season averages - 1.2 points, 3.3 rebounds


Magloire appeared in 33 games this season, making one start.

Kelenna Azubuike (Dallas Mavericks)

Season averages - 2.3 points


Azubuike fought his way back into the NBA after injury, signing with the playoff-bound Mavericks in March. He didn't appear in a game until the final week of the season, but scored seven points in the final one against the Hawks.

The Mavericks begin the postseason against the Thunder on Saturday at 9:30 p.m.

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