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Terps in the NBA: Jake Layman leads the way in the first month’s report card

Introducing our latest pro Terps series.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA season has been going strong for about a month now. Let’s take a look at how all the former Terps in the league are playing in our latest series: the Terps in the NBA report card.

Each month, we will analyze and grade how each of the four Maryland men’s basketball players in the NBA — Jake Layman, Kevin Huerter, Bruno Fernando and Alex Len — have been performing.

Jake Layman: A-

Through the first month of the season, Layman has easily been the best Terp in the NBA. His Timberwolves team is overachieving at an 8-7 record to this point, and Layman’s strong contributions off the bench have played a huge role in the team’s success.

On the season, Layman is averaging 10.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game — already surpassing his combined average from his prior three years in the league.

Layman has had many games this season where he registers double digits in points, but his best game of the season game Nov. 16 against the Rockets. In that game, the former Terp put up 21 points and five rebounds on 9-for-14 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc.

Layman is shooting a respectable 35.2 percent from three point range, which is a career high. The Wolves have been led by great play from star center Karl-Anthony Towns, and also a surprising resurgence from Andrew Wiggins, but Layman has been a key kog for them off of the bench.

The small forward is currently dealing with a toe injury, listed as day-to-day.

Kevin Huerter: Incomplete

Had this article been written right before Kevin Huerter went down with a shoulder injury, his grade likely would have been in the B or B- range. Huerter started the season slow, as expected following a lingering knee issue, but had really picked up his game in the most recent games before suffering a sprained left rotator cuff.

On the season, the former first round pick is averaging 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. During his last two complete games before his injury, Huerter had put up season highs in points, scoring 17 points against the Kings and 15 points against the Blazers on Nov. 10.

Against Portland, Huerter caught fire in the fourth quarter, hitting a three to tie the game late in the quarter and then sending the game to overtime with a great drive to the hoop after the Blazers had taken the lead following Huerter’s three pointer.

According to the latest reports from Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk, the injury is expected to keep Huerter out for four to five weeks, which the team feels fortunate about given how scary the injury seemed.

Huerter had trouble getting started through the month of October, shooting 33.3 from the field and 26.3 percent from the three point line. However, before his injury during the month of November, Huerter was shooting 48.9 percent from the field and a lights out 48 percent from three. His improvement is likely due to him finally shaking off the rust of not having played in preseason.

Bruno Fernando: B-

Bruno Fernando’s play has to be the most surprising of all the Terps in the NBA. During our NBA Preview episode of Terps in the Pros, we had Hawks beat writer for The Athletic, Chris Kirschner, on and he believed at the time that Fernando’s minutes with the Hawks would be extremely sparse and he would likely spend some time with the G-League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks.

While Fernando has yet to play big or very meaningful minutes, he has been playing in every game and has been getting solid minutes for a rookie drafted in his position. He is averaging 4.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game on 12.2 minutes per game.

The Hawks have struggled a bit in the front court this season, outside of strong play from Jabari Parker. With inconsistent play from fellow Terp Alex Len and Damian Jones, plus the 25-game suspension for John Collins, front court play has been a real weakness for the team.

If Fernando keeps doing what he is doing and making the most of his limited minutes, he certainly has a chance to earn a lot more minutes as the season progresses.

Alex Len: D-

As mentioned above, Len has really struggled this season. After an extremely strong finish last year, which coincided with the emergence of Trae Young, many pegged Len to have a breakout season after he was given the opportunity to be the starting center going into 2019.

However, 2019-20 has got off to an extremely rocky start that has now seen Len lose his spot as the starting to center to Damian Jones. Len is only averaging 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, which currently sits as his worst scoring numbers since his rookie season.

Len started to play a bit better after being demoted to the bench, scoring 17 points in a game to go along with seven boards against the Nuggets last week, and 21 points and 10 rebounds against his former team, the Suns. Since then however, Len has continued to struggle, most recently against the Bucks where he only played nine minutes and scored zero points on 0-for-4 shooting from the field.

Entering the final year of a two year contract he signed with the Hawks after his stint in Phoenix, Len needs to turn it around quickly before he sees his opportunity with the Hawks completely vanish.

Tune in each week to the Terps in the Pros podcast to hear more about the Terps in the NBA and also the Terps in the NFL.