LOS ANGELES - Six former UCLA basketball players have helped their teams advance to the NBA Playoffs, which begin on Saturday, April 19. A trio of former UCLA standouts – Matt Barnes, Darren Collison and Ryan Hollins – have led the Los Angeles Clippers to their third consecutive playoff appearance. In addition, Trevor Ariza (Washington Wizards), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Earl Watson (Portland Trail Blazers) have helped guide their respective teams to the playoffs.
In all, 12 former UCLA players concluded regular-season NBA action earlier this week. Six of those Bruins saw their seasons come to an end, including Arron Afflalo (Orlando Magic), Jordan Farmar (Los Angeles Lakers), Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Pelicans) and a trio of Minnesota Timberwolves – Kevin Love, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Shabazz Muhammad.
Bruins in the NBA (2013-14)
Orlando Magic, 6-5, G
Afflalo completed his seventh year in the NBA and his second season with Orlando. He averaged 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists in a team-leading 35.0 minutes per game (73 games). Afflalo was one of the top NBA three-point shooters, finishing eighth in the league in three-point field goal percentage (42.7 pct, 128-300). He scored in double figures in 64 of 73 games and logged a career-high 43 points in a 126-125 loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 3. Orlando (23-59) finished fifth in the Eastern Conference Southeast Division (13th overall finish in the Eastern Conference).
Washington Wizards, 6-8, F
Ariza has led Washington to the postseason in 2013-14, his 10th season playing in the NBA. This year, Ariza played in 77 games, averaging a career-best 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in 35.4 minutes per agme. He shot 40.7 percent (180-442) from the three-point line and averaged 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Among NBA statistical leaders, Ariza ranked No. 19 in three-point percentage (40.7 pct) and No. 12 in steals (1.6 spg). He scored a career-high 40 points in Washington’s 122-103 victory at Philadelphia on March 1. Washington (44-38) finished second in the Eastern Conference Southeast Division. The Wizards will enter the playoffs as the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, playing at the Chicago Bulls starting this Sunday. This marks the Wizards’ first playoff appearance since 2008.
Los Angeles Clippers, 6-7, F
Barnes has guided the Clippers to the postseason for the second straight season (third season overall with the Clippers, as he played there in 2003-04). Currently in his 11th NBA season, has played in 63 games, averaging 9.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 27.5 minutes per game. He scored a season-high 28 points in Los Angeles’ 104-96 win at Phoenix on March 4. The Clippers (57-25) won the Western Conference Pacific Division and set the franchise’s single-season record for victories. The Clippers will host Golden State in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday.
Los Angeles Clippers, 6-0, G
Collison played a major role for the Clippers in his first year with the organization, spending the majority of the season as a starting point guard. During the regular season, he averaged 11.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals in 25.9 minutes per game. He ranks among the league’s leaders in free throw percentage (No. 15 overall, 85.7 percent). Collison scored a season-high 28 points on March 31, finishing that game with seven assists and three rebounds in a 114-104 victory at Minnesota.
Los Angeles Lakers, 6-2, G
Farmar completed his seventh NBA season and second stint with the Lakers (originally with the Lakers from 2006-2010). He averaged 10.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 22.2 minutes per game, playing in 41 contests (five starts). Farmar missed 30 games with groin and hamstring injuries. He scored a season-high 30 points in the Lakers’ 126-122 win against Sacramento on Feb. 28, making eight three-point field goals. Farmar, who is married to UCLA women’s soccer alumna Jill Oakes, helped lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2009 and 2010. This year, the Lakers (27-55) finished fifth in the Western Conference Pacific Division (14th overall in the Western Conference).
New Orleans Pelicans, 6-4, G
Holiday missed a majority of the 2013-14 season after undergoing surgery on Feb. 28 for a stress fracture of his right tibia (injury suffered in early January). Prior to the injury, Holiday averaged 14.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.6 steals in 33.6 minutes per game. He started 34 games for New Orleans in 2013-14, his first season with the organization after having spent his previous four years with the Philadelphia 76ers. Holiday, who is married to former UCLA women’s soccer standout Lauren Cheney (current USA National Team member), starred for the Bruins as a freshman in 2008-09. New Orleans (34-48) finished fifth in the Western Conference Southwest Division (12th overall in the Western Conference).
Los Angeles Clippers, 7-0, C
Hollins has guided the Clippers to the NBA postseason for the second consecutive season. Hollins, who arrived with the Clippers following the 2011-12 season, is currently in his eighth NBA season. This season, the former UCLA center played in 61 games in a reserve role. He averaged 2.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 7.9 minutes per game. The Clippers (57-25) will open their first-round playoff series at home against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.
Minnesota Timberwolves, 6-10, F
Love concluded his sixth NBA season, all played with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He finished the season as the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer (26.1 ppg) and as the league’s third-leading rebounder (12.5 rpg). He started for the Western Conference in the 2014 NBA All-Star game, led the NBA in double-doubles (64), scored 40 or more points in six games and registered three triple-doubles. Love logged 4.4 assists in 36.6 minutes per game, competing in 77 contests. He was nominated for the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award on April 4, an award presented annually by professional basketball writers to a player, coach or trainer, who demonstrates outstanding service and dedication to the community. Last summer, Love announced that he will be part of the USA National Team’s program through 2016 and will participate in this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain (Aug. 30-Sept. 14). Minnesota finished third (40-42) in the Western Conference Northwest Division, 10th overall in the conference’s standings.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Minnesota Timberwolves, 6-8, F
Mbah a Moute completed his sixth NBA season, his first year with Minnesota. Mbah a Moute, who spent his first five NBA seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, was traded to the Sacramento Kings in the offseason before being traded to Minnesota midway through the 2013-14 campaign. With the Timberwolves, he averaged 3.3 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game. Mbah a Moute played in 55 games, making two starts.
Minnesota Timberwolves, 6-6, G/F
Muhammad played in his first NBA season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, averaging 3.9 points and 1.4 rebounds in 7.8 minutes per game. UCLA’s leading scorer in 2012-13, Muhammad played in 37 games for Minnesota. He scored a season-high 20 points in Minnesota’s 110-101 win at Phoenix on Feb. 25. In addition, he averaged 24.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in four games with the NBA D-League’s Iowa Energy in January.
Portland Trail Blazers, 6-1, G
Watson played in 24 games for Portland in 2013-14, his 13th season in the NBA. Currently the longest-tenured former UCLA player in the NBA, Watson’s veteran leadership helped guide the Portland Trail Blazers to their first playoff appearance since 2010-11. He averaged 1.2 assists in 6.7 minutes per game, as the Trail Blazers (54-28) finished second in the Western Conference Northwest Division. Portland enters the playoffs as the West Conference’s No. 5 seed and begins its first-round series at the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
Oklahoma City Thunder, 6-3, G
Westbrook has battled through right knee surgeries this season, helping lead the Thunder to their fifth consecutive postseason appearance in the team’s sixth year playing in Oklahoma City. Currently in his sixth season in the NBA, Westbrook has averaged 21.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.9 steals in 30.7 minutes per game. The former two-year UCLA guard has played in 46 games and has scored in double figures in 36 consecutive contests. Westbrook had a triple-double on March 4 in Oklahoma City’s 125-92 win over Philadelphia (13 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists). The three-time NBA All-Star helped Oklahoma City (59-23) finish first in the Western Conference Northwest Division. The Thunder will enter the NBA playoffs as the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed and will host Memphis in the first round beginning Saturday.