The Wolverine

May 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 62 of 67

MAY 2022 THE WOLVERINE 63 BY CLAYTON SAYFIE W ilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Bill Walton, LaPhonso Ellis … Zavier Simpson. The former Michigan point guard is in rare air after his stel- lar NBA debut. According to Basketball Reference, Simpson and the previ- ously listed players are the only ones in history to play 43-plus minutes in a victorious NBA debut. In 44 minutes and a starting role, Simpson posted 10 points, five assists, three rebounds, two blocks and one steal in his first taste of the NBA, a 98-94 Oklahoma City Thunder win over the Portland Trail Blazers April 5. He put his own special twist on his performance, even cash- ing in on one of his signature running hook shots. "One thing I've found is that guys who are that small that make it here, there's tricks that they learn," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said of Simpson's hook shot. "It's almost like they're learning how to survive in the jungle of basketball." "Unguardable," Thunder teammate Vit Krejci said. "I don't know how he does that." Fitting comments for a man who's tied for second in all- time wins in Michigan program history, Simpson was happier about the win than anything else. "I'll definitely remember it by the win, being able to go out there and represent myself and the Thunder. To play well, play with the guys, get up and down — it was definitely a great ex- perience," Simpson said. "We got a dub in my first NBA game, so I'm definitely excited and happy about it. "I can't be more appreciative of just having my name recog- nized and the opportunity to play at this level. I've obviously played in the G League, but this is the real deal." FORMER WOLVERINES IN THE NBA Through April 17 Note: Records and statistics are from the regular season unless specified otherwise. • Ignas Brazdeikis (Played at U-M from 2018-19), F, Or- lando Magic: Appeared in 42 games with one start for the 22- 60 Magic … Averaged 5.0 points and 1.7 rebounds per outing. • Chaundee Brown (2020-21), G, Atlanta Hawks: Signed to a two-way contract by the 43-39 Atlanta Hawks April 9 … Started two games in three appearances with his new team, averaging 9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per outing … The Hawks are taking on the top-seeded Miami Heat in the playoffs. • Trey Burke (2011-13), G, Dallas Mavericks: Made 42 ap- pearances off the bench for the 52-30 Mavericks, who hold the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and are playing the Utah Jazz … Posted 5.1 points and 1.4 assists per tilt. • Tim Hardaway Jr. (2010-13), G, Dallas Mavericks: Suf- fered a foot injury Jan. 25 and underwent surgery … There is no timetable for his return, though he told the Dallas Morning News, "The further we go [in the playoffs], the better chance I have [of playing again this season] … Averaged 14.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per outing in 42 games. • Caris LeVert (2012-16), G, Cleveland Cavaliers: Started 10 of his 19 games for the 44-38 Cavaliers, who were elimi- nated in the play-in tournament, after being traded from the Indiana Pacers … Registered 13.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per clash for the Cavs. • Isaiah Livers (2017-21), F, Detroit Pistons: Opened five of his 19 games for the 23-59 Pistons, averaging 20.2 minutes per contest … Recorded 6.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists per night … Shot 42.2 percent on three-pointers. • Jordan Poole (2017-19), G, Golden State Warriors: Started 51 of his 76 games and averaged 30 minutes per con- test for the 53-29 Warriors, who are the No. 3 seed facing the Denver Nuggets in the postseason … Averaged 18.5 points, Simpson averaged 14.5 points, 6.7 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game with the G League's Oklahoma City Blue this season before signing a 10-day deal with the Thunder to conclude the season in the NBA. PHOTO COUTESY OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER MICHIGAN IN THE PROS Zavier Simpson's NBA Debut Places Him In Elite Company

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