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MM 10.7: NBA Terps start preseason action

This is the Maryland Minute, a short story followed by a roundup of Terps-related news.

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Atlanta Hawks v New Orleans Pelicans Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Step over, football. Basketball season is quickly approaching.

Although the Houston Rockets played the Shanghai Sharks last week, 10 NBA Preseason games for the 2019-20 season took place over the weekend with no former Terps having games, yet.

But starting today, the Atlanta Hawks will be playing the Duke-heavy New Orleans Pelicans (7:30 p.m.), and Jake Layman will be making his debut with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday at 10 p.m.

Here’s what you can expect from the Terps in preseason.

Jake Layman, F, Minnesota Timberwolves

After three years with the Portland Trail Blazers, Jake Layman signed a three year, $11.5 million deal withe Minnesota Timberwolves.

Layman is coming off of his best year in the NBA, as he averaged 7.6 points, 3.1 rebounds in 18.7 minutes on 50.9 percent shooting from the floor and 32.6 percent behind the arc in 2018-19.

Although he didn’t see many minutes behind heavy talent on the Trailblazers, Layman could provide as a proven role player with the young Timberwolves, adding much-needed support to a young team lead by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

“The thing about Jake is that he can fit in wherever because he’s so smart,” Minnesota head coach Ryan Saunders told The Athletic. “He understands the point we make of giving yourself up for the team. He understands that if he sets a screen or does a loose switch and he’s a guy that slips to the basket, it might not be for him to score, it might be for the guy to screen for him. He’s very good. He’s very cerebral.”

Layman will begin his campaign with the Timberwolves on Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns and will be competing with Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver for the fifth starting position, playing alongside Jeff Teague, Robert Covington, Wiggins and Towns.

Alex Len, C, Atlanta Hawks

Former 2013 No. 5 pick Alex Len is coming off of a year where he developed a three-point shot, something that almost every player must possess in this generation’s NBA game.

Len averaged 2.6 attempts from beyond the arc, making just over 36 percent of them. Len also made 31 starts in 77 games, averaging 11.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. The center is expected to take on a larger role this season, especially after an offseason to improve his three-point shooting.

Len has a slight edge for the starting center position but will be competing with Damian Jones for the spot. Jones, who was acquired in July trade with the Golden State Warriors, does not possess the shooting ability that Len does but can contribute more on the defensive end with his athleticism and agility.

Whether he starts or not, Len will have a major role with the Hawks this season starting tonight.

Kevin Huerter, SG, Atlanta Hawks

After a solid rookie year with Atlanta, averaging 9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game for NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors, Kevin Huerter can expect a much larger role in the starting lineup in year two.

His teammates have noted that they’ve seen more aggressiveness from him, and the former Terp says that he’s gained nearly 12 pounds in the offseason. The team has said it is building around him, Tre Young and John Collins as their core, so expect him to take a big step in his second year in the league.

“I’ve seen more aggression from him,” Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins told The Athletic. “I feel like he’s prove himself as a playmaker, so if he can score and have the ability to create at all three levels then we have two guards who can do that and a great roller like myself, we are going to create a lot of problems, so you’re going to have something.”

Huerter has been recently been dealing with a nagging knee pain. While he was listed active as of Sunday, coach Lloyd Pierce told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that if he does play, his minutes will be restricted.

Update: It was announced Monday afternoon that Huerter is out for tonight’s game.

Bruno Fernando, F/C, Atlanta Hawks

Maryland’s lone rookie of the 2018 season is Bruno Fernando, who is entering the league after a season that included First Team All-Big Ten and All-Big Ten Defensive Team. Fernando joins Reddish and Hunter as the Hawks draft picks from June.

We have all witnessed what Fernando is capable of, averaging 13.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game to go along with ferocious rim-rocking dunks, and he’ll fit in nicely with a fast-paced Hawks squad.

Fernando’s role still remains somewhat uncertain, so tonight will be a big indicator as to how the Hawks might use him this season. He’s been working a lot on his shot since being drafted, including from beyond the arc, where the team has said he’ll see more action this season.

Fernando is currently listed as a forward, but given his wingspan and the nature of the current NBA, he could play some time at center as well. Look for Fernando to see significant minutes tonight in preseason action.

In other news

Catch up with our football coverage from the weekend:

Our Maryland men’s basketball preview series started, beginning with point guard Anthony Cowan Jr.

Maryland’s athletic department will be making an announcement on Tuesday.

We launched two new Twitter accounts over the weekend, so be sure to go follow them as we continue to expand the site. Clearly, one is more serious than the other, though both will be producing some great content.

Maryland men’s soccer picked up another big victory, shutting out No. 14 Cal Fullerton 2-0.

No. 4 Maryland field hockey picked up its second consecutive top-five win Sunday — this one coming again No. 3 UConn.

Maryland women’s soccer made history en route to its 6-1 victory over Illinois.

Some NFL news:

Head coach Mike Locksley was proud of his team’s effort after the Terps beat Rutgers.

Maryland men’s basketball continues its player intros — next up, Makhi Mitchell.

Former Terps are dominant the WNBA Finals series between the Washington Mystics and the Connecticut Sun. After a win in Game 3 Sunday, the Mystics hold a 2-1 advantage.

And, Maryland women’s basketball head coach Brenda Frese appears proud from the sideline.

The NBL season is underway for former Terp Melo Trimble in the Land Down Under. He had a monster performance to be named Star of the Game for Melbourne United Saturday, putting up 25 points on 53 percent shooting, seven rebounds and five assists.

Maryland men’s lacrosse head coach John Tillman shared some encouraging words before the annual Team IMPACT walk on Maryland’s campus.

Maryland women’s soccer defender Adalee Broadbent scored her first career goal Sunday.

Maryland men’s soccer freshman Malcolm Johnston has been coming on strong as of late.

Maryland volleyball made history Saturday night against Michigan State.

Seven former Maryland men’s lacrosse players won the MLL championship on Sunday with the Chesapeake Bayhawks.