I know, I know. Late Night with Roy was amazing. The NCAA didn't issue any sanctions. The Quest for Banner #8 is about to begin. Your Carolina blue blood is already pumping...and the season opener is still four weeks away.
Fortunately, to tide us over, we have this NBA thing that's starting this week. This year's NBA offseason resembled a nuclear arms race, with teams all over the map trying to load up their rosters to compete with the Warriors (good luck with that). This season should be wildly entertaining and, as always, will feature players who cut their teeth in Chapel Hill.
Here is your guide to the Tar Heels currently in the NBA:
(in order of departure from UNC)
Vince Carter (Sacramento Kings)
The current Tar Heel OG will begin his 19th season in the league with a new team. The Sacramento Kings made a splash in the NBA Draft, taking three 1st rounders (including a certain UNC swingman). The young squad will be looking to Carter for leadership and veteran savvy, a role that the 8-time All-Star relished during his time in Memphis. He may not be Vinsanity anymore, but he can still contribute and will be a valuable player for a team with a lot of potential.
Raymond Felton (Oklahoma City Thunder) -
The Cousy Award Winner joined his 7th NBA team over the summer, and this one probably will be the best that he has played on. The Thunder acquired Paul George and Carmelo Anthony over the summer to give them a superstar trio along with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. Felton will serve as the primary backup to Westbrook. This is a vitally important role, since the Thunder have traditionally suffered from weak benches over the years. Felton will hope to reverse that trend.
Marvin Williams (Charlotte Hornets) -
The Freshman Who Beat Duke will begin his fourth season for a Charlotte team that is looking to climb a few rungs up the ladder in the East. The Hornets drafted scorer Malik Monk to supplement their offense and hope he will prove a solid backcourt partner to Kemba Walker. Williams, however, is acknowledged to be the leader of the team's defense. His basketball IQ and leadership have been big for the Hornets in ways that don't necessarily show up in the box score. He's improved as a floor stretching shooter in recent years and will be a key piece if the Hornets hope to return to the playoffs.
Brandan Wright (Memphis Grizzlies) -
The former one-and-done lottery pick is on his third year playing in his home state. Unfortunately, his tenure in Memphis has proven to be frustrating to say the least. Injuries and benchings have derailed Wright's time with the Grizz: He has played a a grand total of 40 games in his first two seasons with them. This year will be interesting due to circumstance: Zach Randolph is gone, and the Grizz will need someone to step up to support Marc Gasol on the frontline. Wright would seem to be a solid candidate to do so, but he simply not figure into David Fizdale's plans.
Wayne Ellington (Miami Heat) -
The Most Outstanding Player of the 2009 Final Four experienced something of a career renaissance in Miami last year. After either riding the bench on solid teams or getting minutes for teams in full-blown tank mode, Ellington found himself in a key role on a team that exploded in the 2nd half of the season. The Heat went 30-11 on the back stretch and missed the playoffs by virtue of a tiebreaker. Had the season been a week longer, they'd have been in. Ellington was a key contributor as a strong shooter off the bench, and Miami will be hoping for more of the same as they look to string together a full 82 game run of the same quality they ended with last year.
Danny Green (San Antonio Spurs) -
Dancin' Danny remains a mainstay in San Antonio, where his shooting and perimeter defense have made him one of the most reliable three-and-D starters in the league over the last five years. The Spurs are coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals that ended at the hands of the Warriors (with a little help from the foot of Zaza Pachulia). Kawhi Leonard will be an MVP candidate this year and Gregg Popovich and Co. hope to get a bit more out of Lamarcus Aldridge after a disappointing postseason. The core of a championship remains intact and, ever since joining the team in 2011, Green has become a part of that core.
Ed Davis (Portland Trail Blazers) -
The 2009 National Champion and former 1st round draft pick has been a solid backup 4/5 ever since entering the league in 2010. Davis now resides in Portland, where his last season was cut short by surgery on his left shoulder. The Blazers have one of the league's most explosive backcourts in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but have lacked punch up front to support their high-scoring guards. They'll be hoping for a healthy Davis to make a bigger impact this year.
Tyler Zeller (Brooklyn Nets) -
The 2012 ACC Player of the Year had a turn of bad luck this offseason when he was one of the many Boston Celtics ushered out of town during Boston's wild summer. Zeller went from a team that was the East's #1 seed last season to the team that finished dead last, the woeful Brooklyn Nets. Zeller has always been an efficient player offensively, but his lack of athleticism and rim-protecting ability caused his minutes to decline in Boston. With Timofey Mozgov and rookie Jarret Allen on the team, it's unlikely Zeller's numbers will be going up, but, then again, it's the Nets, so who knows?
John Henson (Milwaukee Bucks) -
The two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year remains a key backup player on a Bucks team that has become one of the most entertaining and fascinating teams in the NBA. The Bucks have a young core, led by freak of nature Giannis Antetokounmpo, who might have the highest ceiling of any player in the NBA. A strong young supporting cast has the future bright for Milwaukee and they look to make a leap into contention this year. Henson has long been their best rim protector and a solid offensive contributor as well. His last few seasons have been marred by injury, but if he can stay healthy, he'll be an important part of a team that'll be making noise in the playoffs.
Harrison Barnes (Dallas Mavericks) -
The Black Falcon was one of the most jeered at free agent signings last summer, with many questioning the max deal he received after struggling in the 2016 Finals. Barnes promptly shut everyone up by playing fantastic basketball as the top scoring option in Dallas. His play has brought new optimism to a Maverick team that had been looking like they were melting away in the twilight of Dirk Nowitzki's career. Instead, with a young core of Barnes, Nerlens Noel, and rookie PG Dennis Smith (of negligible collegiate background), the Mavs are starting to put together the pieces of a solid team going forward. Look for Barnes to improve even further now that he isn't called on to dominate the ball so much this year.
Reggie Bullock (Detroit Pistons) -
The former UNC shooting guard has struggled to find a spot in the rotation for several teams, starting his career with the Clippers before moving briefly to Phoenix, and now to Detroit. He tallied career highs in minutes and points last year, but his season was ended by a meniscus tear. Bullock will have an opportunity to carve out a spot for himself this season however: The Pistons need shooting and perimeter defense and Bullock can provide both. If he makes the most of it, he will have a regular rotation role on a young team looking to build of last season's disappointments.
James Michael McAdoo (Philadelphia 76ers) -
McAdoo was a great success story in his first season. He went undrafted and eventually found his way to the D League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors He led the team to the D League championship, was called up to the Warriors roster at the last moment, then was part of the 2015 NBA Championship run. He became a bench player for the Warriors the next two years, giving their bigs relief minutes. This offseason, Warriors declined to tend a qualifying offer to McAdoo and he signed a two-way contract with the 76ers, allowing him to play half their games, and the other half with the Delaware 87ers, their affiliate.
Brice Johnson (Los Angeles Clippers) -
The former All-American had his season hampered by injury last year, but Brice is back, Brice is healthy, and Brice had a brilliant performance in the Summer League. With the loss of Chris Paul, the Clippers will be leaning more and more on their front court stars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Their anticipated work rate, particularly Griffin's, will create a need for backup big men who can generate offense while the starters sit. Brice should fit into that role nicely. His scoring and rebounding are already pro-ready, the only question is his discipline on defense. He had the tendency to get into foul trouble at UNC and will be challenged even more at the rim in the NBA.
Marcus Paige (Charlotte Hornets) -
The former All-American combo guard signed a two-way contract with the Hornets over the summer following an impressive display in Summer League. The contract allows paige to play up to 41 games for the team, the rest will be played for the Greensboro Swarm, their G-League affiliate. Paige had a difficult time last season making a roster, but his relentless work ethic earned him a new chance in Charlotte. Already, his teammates, Kemba Walker among them, have complimented his basketball IQ and study skills (to the surprise of no one).
Justin Jackson (Sacramento Kings) -
The National Champion and ACC Player of the Year makes his NBA debut in Northern California. Jackson comes in as one of three 1st round draft picks used by the Kings (the others being De'Aaron Fox and Harry Giles, from a certain school eight miles up the road). Sacramento made a strong push in the offseason, bringing in the aforementioned Vince Carter as well as Zach Randolph as veteran leaders to go with their new young core. Jackson will be leaned on as a top wing scorer that can open the floor up for the slashing Fox. He'll have ample opportunity to seize a key role; if he hits his shots it's his.
Tony Bradley (Utah Jazz) -
Carolina's first one-and-done in a decade made the surprise decision to jump to the NBA, and his gamble paid off with a 1st round selection by the Jazz. Bradley will play behind Rudy Gobert, one of the elite big men in the league (certainly the best interior defender) and will benefit greatly from going against him in practice every day. The Jazz were one of the bright young teams in the league last year, but suffered a blow with the departure of Gordon Hayward. They'll be leaning heavily on Gobert, as well as new arrival Ricky Rubio. Bradley will face a steep learning curve coming into the game as a young and very raw talent, but he's in a great position to develop with a model like Gobert right in front of him.