Recapping former Terps’ NBA season debuts
Forward Bruno Fernando blocks a defender in the paint as forward Jalen Smith prepares to put up a jumper during Maryland’s 94-71 win over Loyola (Maryland) at Xfinity Center on Dec. 11, 2018. (Frances Moyonero/The Diamondback)
The 2020-2021 NBA season saw its first full slate of games Wednesday night, and with that came the season debuts of former Terps Kevin Huerter, Bruno Fernando, Jake Layman, and the highly-anticipated rookie debut of Jalen Smith.
Huerter and Fernando are part of an Atlanta Hawks team that has high hopes of playoff contention. The team’s potential was put on full display in its season opener against the Chicago Bulls, cruising to a 124-104 victory after scoring 83 of those points in the first half.
In 27 minutes off the bench, Huerter scored 11 points while dishing out four assists. With Huerter moving to the bench in favor of Cam Reddish after starting 48 of 56 games last season, his minutes may dwindle, but he remains an important piece to the Hawks’ puzzle with his career 38 percent three-point shooting.
Meanwhile, Fernando spent 18 minutes on the court and led Atlanta with seven rebounds, including three offensive boards. He made two of three shot attempts, scoring five points total. Atlanta’s best big Clint Capela was for the game as was the Hawks first-round pick Onyeka Okongwu, so it’s likely that Fernando will spend a lot of time on the court early on until they return.
Up in Minnesota, Layman made his season debut — and first start since November 18, 2019 — with the Timberwolves in their opener versus the Detroit Pistons. The Timberwolves had a strong comeback victory, outscoring the Pistons 31-16 in the fourth quarter to win 111-101. However, Layman only played 17 minutes and went scoreless on three field-goal attempts.
Down in Phoenix, Jalen Smith, who was drafted tenth overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, made his NBA debut in the Suns’ opener against the Dallas Mavericks. Smith may not receive a considerable amount of minutes early this season with 2018 first overall pick Deandre Ayton playing a huge role for a young Phoenix squad, but he did show plenty of promise Wednesday night in the 16 minutes he played. Stix scored four points on 2-3 shooting, including a pretty post-fade over Maxi Kleber, while grabbing three boards and a block.
— Matt Levine (@MattLevine__) December 24, 2020