Hoos in the NBA Playoffs?

Former Cavaliers have contributed to the success of several teams in the NBA Playoffs

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Former Virginia men's basketball star Malcolm Brogdon won Rookie of the Year with the Milwaukee Bucks last season.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

The Virginia men’s basketball program is steadily gaining a reputation for churning out NBA talent, as Coach Tony Bennett has molded several of his recruits into professional-grade players. If former Virginia star Malcolm Brogdon winning the NBA Rookie of the Year last season was any indication, the Cavaliers are beginning to gain some NBA clout.

Not only have former Virginia players been key contributors this year, but several have played important roles in helping their teams secure playoff berths. Though not known for turning out NBA talent as consistently as its ACC rivals Duke and North Carolina, the Virginia men’s basketball program has shown its growth into a solid developer of NBA role-players with the success of its former stars. 

Three former stars represent Virginia men's basketball in the NBA Playoffs -- each with their own trajectory for success at the professional level, but coming from the same program roots.

Malcolm Brogdon, Guard, Milwaukee Bucks

Played at Virginia 2011-2016

Former ACC Player of the Year, Brogdon has gone from a once overlooked NBA prospect to an X-factor for the Bucks in his two years since graduating from Virginia. The skills Brogdon developed as a Cavalier — from three-point marksmanship to aggressiveness as a driver and defender — have translated seamlessly as useful skills in the NBA.

After a Rookie of the Year season in which he averaged over 10 points per game and recorded a triple-double, Brogdon faced many more hardships in his sophomore campaign. Despite his hot start to the season as a starting guard, the Bucks acquired star guard Eric Bledsoe to bolster their roster in early November. Brogdon transitioned to the bench and immediately saw his production decline as his stats dipped from the first month of the season.

As Virginia fans expected, however, Brogdon showed great resilience and adapted to his new role. He averaged 14.9 points in January after putting up less than 13 in November and December and put up a career-high 32 points in a late January win over the Phoenix Suns.

Hardship struck again for Brogdon when he tore his left quadricep tendon on Feb. 1, which kept him out until early April. It took him little time to regain form upon his return, as he dropped 13 points on 5-10 shooting in his second game back and followed with 16 in the Bucks’ first postseason match against the Boston Celtics.

Through all the troubles he faced this year, Brogdon managed to take a step forward in his second season. He averaged 13 points per game — up from 10.2 in his rookie campaign — an increased his field goal percentage by 2.8 percent. He figures to continue playing a major role as the Bucks look to outlast a deep Celtics team in the first round.

Mike Scott, Forward, Washington Wizards

Played at Virginia 2007-2012

It looked as though Scott’s career had taken a dark turn several years ago when he was arrested on charges of drug possession in 2015 as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. Though the Hawks retained him, his minutes and production steadily slipped before he was ultimately traded and waived following last season.

The Wizards put faith in Scott to rebound — and for both sides, it paid off.

Scott averaged 8.8 points and 3.3 rebounds off the bench this season — both above his career averages — and shot a career-best 52.7 percent from the field. He gained widespread praise in December during a stretch of eight games in which he scored at least 18 points in five contests.

The veteran closed his regular season with another productive stretch of games in April where he averaged 10.8 points and scored 14 on 7-10 shooting in the playoff opener against the Toronto Raptors.

Scott will look to provide a bench scoring lift for the Wizards as they attempt to take down the top-seeded Raptors and bring playoff success back to the D.C-Virginia region.

Justin Anderson, Guard, Philadelphia 76ers

Played at Virginia 2012-2015

A productive three-year career at Virginia earned Anderson a first-round choice by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2015 draft, and a midseason trade last season landed him on the young 76ers.

After averaging over 20 minutes per game with Philadelphia in 2017, Anderson saw a minutes reduction over the past season with more talented guards flooding the depth chart. He improved his once lackluster three-point percentage to over 30 percent but saw his scoring average regress from 8.5 to 6.2 points per game.

Despite less playing time, Anderson has shown resilience and strong morale with his second team. He has developed a bond with breakout star Joel Embiid, and when he is called upon for big minutes, he has shown he can deliver. Anderson scored a team-high 25 points in a season-closing rout of Brogdon’s Bucks.

While he may not get many big minutes in the postseason, Anderson has helped give Virginia basketball a good name in the NBA with his team-minded spirit. Once he is able to unlock more potential, he could evolve into a more consistently productive NBA player.

Brogdon, Scott and Anderson have each taken a different path and overcame their own struggles at the professional level, but they are forever united as products of the same basketball roots in Charlottesville.

In the trio, the Cavalier faithful are fortunate to have former stars to cheer for on the professional stage as the NBA Playoffs unfold.

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