Compton and Poly alumni are hoping to make a run at the NBA Finals.
Long Beach Poly alumnus and Golden State Warriors rookie Jordan Bell, 23, is not having the season he expected in his first year in the NBA. Bell was acquired by Golden State after he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft (38th overall) in exchange for $3.5 million out of the University of Oregon. In his final year with the Ducks, Bell was a Pac-12 second-team All-Conference selection and won the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
This season with the Warriors, Bell has played in only 57 games averaging 4.6 points per game with 1.8 assists and shooting 62.7 percent from the field. Bell injured his left ankle against the Chicago Bulls when he landed awkwardly trying to block a dunk from the Bulls’ center Robin Lopez and had to be taken off the court in a wheelchair. Shortly after, Bell returned to the court from his left ankle injury and sprained his right ankle contesting a shot against Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Although he has been battling ankle injuries for a good part of the season, Bell and the Warriors are looking like the favorites to win it all once again, even without the services of their star shooting guard Stephen Curry who is dealing with a knee injury.
During the Warriors first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs, Bell played in three games averaging only 3.7 minutes per game. The Warriors ended up defeating the Spurs in five games and will take on the New Orleans Pelicans and superstar Anthony Davis in the second round of the playoffs starting on Saturday, April 28. The Warriors won three of the four games played against the Pelicans during the regular season as they make a bid to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth season in a row.
Compton High School product DeMar DeRozan, 28, leads the top-seeded Toronto Raptors into the Eastern Conference playoffs seeking the franchise’s first trip to the NBA Finals. The NBA has seen a lack of parody over the last few seasons as fans have witnessed a rerun of sorts as the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers have squared off in the NBA Finals the past three seasons.
Many experts around the NBA media are saying this could be the year that the Cavaliers get dethroned. Whether it is a young and dangerous Philadelphia 76ers team that is looking to “complete the process” or a now-experienced Toronto Raptors club that has the talent to make a deep run in these playoffs.
Although the Raptors are the number one seed in the East, they have their hands full right now with John Wall, 27, and the eighth-seeded Washington Wizards. After handily beating the Wizards in the first two games of the series in Toronto, the Wizards have fought back to tie the series with two home wins of their own. During the first four games of the series, DeRozan is averaging 28 points per game, shooting 44 percent from the field while averaging 36.5 minutes. If the Raptors can move on to the second round they will play the winner of the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers series, which is also tied at two games apiece.
The Cavaliers have bounced the Raptors the past two seasons, but could this be the year NBA fans actually witness a Finals series not starring a man by the name of LeBron James? DeRozan can do it.