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NBA Wildcat Watch (October 23)

The Wildcats were busy over the weekend and on Monday night, putting up some impressive performances in the Association.

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

From Tuesday through Friday, each time a former Wildcat hits the court, we will recap how they did and include a few highlights. On Tuesdays, we’ll also recap what happened over the weekend, so you don’t miss the action. This will also serve as a discussion board. We will try to keep it updated as soon as the games are over, so check back often!

The eight former Villanova Wildcats currently in the NBA were all in action over the weekend and Monday. Kyle Lowry continues to torch his opposition up north, while several of the rookie ‘Cats are carving out roles on their respective teams. There aren't any games tonight featuring the 'Cats, so we're going to catch up on what happened while we were away.

Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry’s impressive start to the season continued over the weekend and into Monday. The All-Star point guard was without his new wingman Kawhi Leonard Saturday, but he picked up the slack and got his team a 117-113 victory against the Washington Wizards. Lowry went for 28 points, 3 rebounds, 12 assists, a steal, and a block.

On Monday night the veteran point guard helped Toronto keep their undefeated season intact as Toronto beat Charlotte 127-106. Leonard returned and Lowry took on the facilitator role, racking up 14 assists to go along with 16 points.

Rumors of the 32-year old guard’s imminent decline seem to be greatly exaggerated. Through four games, Lowry is shooting an other-worldly 60.0% from the floor and 57.7% from three to go along with his reliably tenacious defending.

Next Game: 10/24 vs Minnesota Timberwolves

Ryan Arcidiacono

Tough times continue for the Bulls as they fell 116-118 to the Denver Nuggets over the weekend. Arcidiacono saw 20 minutes in the contest and ran the second unit offense to the tune of three points and seven assists. The former National Champion somewhat unexpectedly contributed significant minutes in the Bulls’ first two games, but saw a DNP on Monday as the Bulls took another loss, this time to the Dallas Mavericks.

It’s not clear what role Arch will have on this Bulls team through three games. After playing 28 and 20 minutes, a DNP Monday was confounding. Meanwhile, the guard rotation got a little more crowded over the weekend as the team signed point guard Shaquille Harrison. Even with Harrison in the mix, the Bulls have a dearth of serviceable point guards, so Arch could find his way back into the rotation.

Next Game: 10/24 vs Charlotte Hornets

Mikal Bridges

After very briefly checking into the Phoenix Suns’ first game, Mikal Bridges played well in 15 minutes in a 91-119 loss to the Denver Nuggets. The swingman played extended sequences in the 2nd and 4th quarters, posting a line of 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Most impressively, Bridges was +21 in his 15 minutes on the court.

Late Monday evening, Bridges saw 16 minutes in a 103-123 loss to the Golden State Warriors, pitching in five points and a rebound.

After three games, the Suns rotation remains an enigma. However, Bridges seems to have earned himself a spot among the many Phoenix forwards as the fourth or fifth option off the bench.

Next Game: 10/24 vs Los Angeles Lakers

Jalen Brunson

While many rotations are in flux early in the season, Coach Rick Carlisle has favored Jalen Brunson early on among the Dallas guards. The second round pick played 20 minutes on Saturday in a 140-136 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves and 15 minutes in a 115-109 win against the Chicago Bulls Monday. Brunson’s stat lines haven’t popped off the page — the point guard scored seven Saturday and six Monday — but he continues to be a positive off the Dallas bench.

Coach Carlisle loves playing multiple ball-handlers on the court at the same time, so Brunson should be in line for minutes in the high teens and low twenties. The shooting numbers should improve as the rookie point guard gains more confidence, but his steadying influence is clearly valued on a young Mavericks team.

Next Game: 10/24 vs Atlanta Hawks

Dante Cunningham

The consummate journeyman, Dante Cunningham remains a rotation fixture for the Spurs and played 16 minutes in a 108-121 loss to the Trailblazers. The former Villanova power forward chipped in three points and two rebounds in the loss. On Monday night and in a starting roll, Cunningham played 29 minutes and pulled in 12 rebounds, adding three points and two steals in a 143-142 overtime win against the Lakers.

Cunningham is a reliable forward at this point in his career, and while he’s hit his ceiling as a professional, there’s still plenty of minutes for the veteran.

Next Game: 10/24 vs Indiana Pacers

Josh Hart

While the Lakers work out the kinks, Josh Hart continues to play starters’ minutes off the bench. The do-it-all shooting guard logged 30 minutes in a 115-124 loss to the Houston Rockets, scoring 11 points and adding five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block. The shots weren’t falling Saturday for the former Big East Player of the Year, but he made his presence felt on the glass and on the defensive end.

The Lakers’ guard bounced back nicely on Monday night with a double-double in Los Angeles’ tough 142-143 overtime loss to San Antonio. Hart amassed the third most minutes on the team, 39, as he shot 8-14 from the floor, hitting four threes and scoring 20 to go along with 10 rebounds and 2 steals.

There was some fear the Josh Hart would lose playing time in his second season to veterans Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley, but the Summer League MVP has proved he deserves big minutes. Hart is going to be an important piece on the Lakers and should see 25-30 minutes per game on a nightly basis.

Next Game: 10/24 vs Phoenix Suns

Donte DiVincenzo

On Monday night, Donte DiVencenzo struggled in 20 minutes as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the New York Knicks 124-113. The #17 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft managed just one point, three rebounds and an assist in the game. That said, DiVincenzo didn’t overextend himself, only taking 3 shots, and did his part on the defensive end.

New Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer seems to like DiVincenzo’s talent as the rookie has seen at least 20 minutes in each of his first three games. DiVincenzo’s versatility and shot-making should keep him in the rotation as long has he plays well on the defensive end.

Next Game: 10/24 vs Philadelphia 76ers

Omari Spellman

Omari Spellman had his first big performance in the NBA Sunday night in a 133-111 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Hawks’ big man had 17 points on 6 of 8 shooting and 4 out of 5 from three point range, adding two blocks. After sitting out Friday with an ankle injury, Spellman looked spry in his 24 minutes off the bench and even closed out the game with the starters.

Hawks’ general management had to be feeling good about themselves Friday with Spellman and Trae Young each having big games. Spellman was considered by some a “reach” at the #30 pick in this past draft, but his ability to stretch the floor and make plays at the rim were on full display Sunday.

Nevertheless, the Hawks will likely treat this as a learning season for Spellman and therefore his minutes may be sporadic baring injury to any of Atlanta’s big men. Still, in games where the opposition goes big, Spellman will be a weapon for the Hawks.

Next Game: 10/24 vs Dallas Mavericks