Ohio State Basketball: Profiling Buckeyes Who Made the NBA Playoffs This Year
Ohio State basketball didn't get the ending it wanted to its Final Four story, but the postseason isn't entirely over for Buckeye fans.
With the NBA in the thick of its playoffs, a few OSU alumni in the pros still have some very meaningful basketball to play.
One such player who managed to extend his season last night was Evan Turner of the 76ers. Another outstanding all-around game from the versatile guard helped Philly hold off Boston to force a Game 7 in its Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Read on for a look at Turner and the rest of the Buckeye alumni who have made it to the NBA playoffs, in order of their teams' actual (or projected) elimination.
Kosta Koufos, Denver Nuggets
A rarely used backup in his first three NBA seasons, 7'0", 265-pound Kosta Koufos had a career year in 2011-12. He started half of the 48 games he played for the Nuggets, finishing with career-bests of 5.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
In the postseason, though, Koufos' role all but vanished, as he averaged a mere 8.7 minutes a night in three appearances.
His nonexistent scoring presence (0.7 points per game) got him benched after two straight losses, and though the Nuggets rallied to force a seventh game—in which Koufos did not play—they came up short against the Lakers.
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
After five years in the league, Mike Conley is a proven commodity at the NBA level.
He's not quite an All Star-caliber point guard, but he posted his second consecutive season with 6.5 assists per game, a figure that ranked him 11th in the league in 2011-12.
Conley stepped up in his second career postseason trip, raising his averages to 14.1 points and 7.1 assists a night against the dangerous Clippers.
Despite Conley's valiant effort, though, L.A.'s Chris Paul was even better, matching Conley's 7.1 assists and torching him for 20.4 points per contest in a seven-game Clippers victory.
Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers
In his first two years with the 76ers, Evan Turner has been a valuable reserve who gets tossed into the starting lineup every so often.
He set new career-highs in almost everything this season, averaging 9.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per night while starting just under one-third of his team's games.
Turner's role has dramatically expanded in the playoffs, where he's started every game but one and is averaging nearly 35 minutes a night. He's not scoring a ton of points, but that's not a problem in Philly's ensemble-cast offense (four scorers in double figures, and nobody with more than Jrue Holiday's 15.5 points per contest).
More importantly, Turner is actually leading the team with 7.4 rebounds a game in the postseason.
His 6'7" frame is also being put to good use on defense, where he's corralled jump-shooting specialists such as Rip Hamilton and Ray Allen, but if his Sixers survive Saturday's Game 7 in Boston, Turner will likely face a more daunting challenge against Miami superstar Dwyane Wade.
Daequan Cook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Throughout Daequan Cook's pro career, he's leaned on the same skill that made him so valuable in his one season with the Buckeyes: sensational three-point shooting.
Now in his second year with the Thunder, Cook took more than 77 percent of his shots from beyond the arc as the team's designated long-range specialist off the bench.
The postseason has severely curtailed Cook's playing time, and he's getting just 8.3 minutes a night. He went 6-for-20 from deep in that time (well below his season average of .346), but that hasn't slowed down OKC.
The Thunder have lost just once in the first two playoff rounds heading into Sunday's series-opener against the top-seeded Spurs. If Cook can heat up even marginally from beyond the arc, his team will be even tougher to stop.