UK in the NBA: Rondo an All-Star starter

University of Kentucky Pros player Rajon Rondo goes up for a dunk during the game against the Dominican Nationals team at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. on August 15, 2011. Photo by Ryan Buckler | Staff

By Nick Jones | @Kernel_Nick

njones@kykernel.com

Rajon Rondo was named as one of the five starters for the Eastern Conference All-Stars this past week. Rondo will be joined in the backcourt by Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.

Also starting for the East in the 62nd NBA All-Star Game is Rondo’s Boston Celtic teammate Kevin Garnett. Joining 15-time All-Star Garnett in the frontcourt is New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, and the Heat’s LeBron James.

While this is Rondo’s fourth All-Star appearance, he has made progress this season, with 2013 being his debut as a starter, earning 382,613 fan votes in the process.

Former UK star John Wall, now five games into his injury-shortened season, is off to a hot start for the Washington Wizards. Wall is averaging almost 16 points and eight rebounds in what has been limited action as he continues to build his fitness levels.

“(Wall) gives us that extra gear,” Coach Randy Wittman told The Washington Post after the Wizards’ 120-91 victory over the Orlando Magic. “And now guys have to run harder. You see bigs running harder because they know if they get to the rim, they’re going to receive a pass.”

In just 19 minutes, Wall scored 12 points and added six assists for the Wizards, a team that has a new sense of fortune since the return of their star player.

“I’m not going to say I’m that important,” Wall said. “I just feel like I’m a big key (that was) missing to the piece. I’m just trying to help my teammates out. It’s just at times we play hard, and we’ve been in a lot of games. We just didn’t have anybody to close four quarters out or get us easy points or make the job easier.”

As he continues to get his legs under him, Wall should be able to further advance his game in order to reach the level of an elite NBA point guard — which he was thought to be when he came into the league in 2010.

Wall’s former backcourt teammate at UK, Eric Bledsoe, has been a hot topic thus far in the 2012-13 season. Bledsoe, of the Los Angeles Clippers, is among the most talked about young players in the league, but his playing time only allows for his talent to shine through in short spurts.

Bledsoe, who has been tagged with the nickname “Baby LeBron” by Clippers fans, has the ability of a starting point guard in the NBA.

However, the former first-round draft pick plays just 18.9 minutes a game off the bench as he serves as a reserve to the league’s best player at the position, Chris Paul.

“I’m just focused on winning,” Bledsoe said to the Los Angeles Times. “I’m just focused on winning and learning how to win right now. For the most part, I’m just continuing working and building, learning how to run a team. The other stuff will take care of itself.”

This past week, though, Bledsoe started three games as Paul was sidelined with a bruised kneecap.

In those three games as a starter, the Birmingham, Ala., native produced three straight wins for the Clippers while averaging nearly 12 points, four assists, five rebounds and three steals per game.

UK in the NBA week 13 TV schedule

Thursday, January 24, 2013:

Boston Celtics (Rajon Rondo) vs. New York Knicks 8:00 p.m. on TNT

L.A. Clippers (Eric Bledsoe) @ Phoenix Suns 10:30 p.m. on TNT

 

Sunday, January 27, 2013:

Boston Celtics (Rajon Rondo) vs. Miami Heat 1:00 p.m. on ABC

L.A. Lakers (Jodie Meeks) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (DeAndre Liggins) 3:30  p.m. on ABC

Week 12 stats

UK in the NBA: Week 12 stats