Conley and the Grizz are surging - USA TODAY Sports
The NBA All-Star Break has come and gone, and now is the time for teams to buckle down for the stretch run of the season.
For former Buckeyes in the NBA, there are two that are on teams that are surging, two that are on teams that are really struggling, and Daequan Cook who doesn't seem to play (the fifth wheel if you will). The only team that truly has no shot at the playoffs is Byron Mullens' Charlotte team, but after last season they must just be thrilled with hitting double digits in wins this year. Even with some of their horrid play this year, the 76ers are still within distance of the final playoff spot, but are going to need Evan Turner to step up and help of Jrue Holliday on that young 76ers team.
Mike Conley - PG - Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley's strong play lately has been one of the main reasons that Memphis is currently riding a 7-game winning streak. Conley closed the 1st half of the season on a high note with 22 points in a win over Sacramento. Coming out of the All-Star Break, Conley is averaging 15 points and 6 assists in the four games Memphis has played since the break. With under 30 games until the playoffs begin, Memphis is looking at a 4 or 5 seed in the Western Conference.
Daequan Cook - SG - Chicago Bulls: As the Bulls got back into action after the All-Star Break, the minutes for Daequan Cook have been scarce, much like the first half of the season. In the four games after the break, Cook has only seen 14 minutes on the floor. It doesn't look like Cook will see an increase in minutes anytime soon with him behind Rip Hamilton and Marco Belinelli on Chicago's depth chart at shooting guard. Currently the Bulls are in 6th in the Eastern Conference standings and sit 3 games behind Indiana for the lead in the Central Division.
Kosta Koufos - F/C - Denver Nuggets: Koufos picked up right where he left off after the Nuggets returned from the All-Star Break, giving Denver steady play in starting at center. It seems that Koufos gives the Nuggets about three to four games a month where he'll hit double figures in scoring and another couple games a month with double digit rebounds. Koufos isn't flashy but the Nuggets seemed to have found a good mix with him and JaVale McGee sharing time at the center position. Koufos and McGee have formed quite the block combo at center, with Koufos sitting 17th overall in the NBA with 1.4 blocks per game and McGee in 7th with 2 blocks/game. The Nuggets currently sit in 5th place in the Western Conference.
Byron Mullens - F/C - Charlotte Bobcats: Byron Mullens had been on fire since his return to the court earlier in the month after recovering from a sprained ankle he suffered before Christmas, but his two games he has had a rough go at it. In the eight games following Mullens' return from injury, he averaged almost 18 points and close to 9 rebounds in the game. In his last two games Mullens shot 2-21 from the field and registered only 6 points and 9 rebounds. Hopefully this is a brief bump in the road for Mullens, who was in the midst of one of the best stretches of play of his 4-year NBA career.
Evan Turner - G/F - Philadelphia 76ers: After a four-game stretch earlier this month when he didn't reach double figures in scoring, Turner has found his scoring touch again. In his last four games Turner has averaged 18.5 points per game, including a 21 point, 6 rebound, 8 assist performance against the Knicks on Sunday. The bad news for Philadelphia is that the improved lately for Turner hasn't translated into any wins, as they have now dropped five straight games. The 76ers will have to turn things around quickly if they want to avoid falling out of the hunt for the playoffs. Currently the 76ers sit in the 9th spot in the Eastern Conference, four games behind Milwaukee for 8th.