Player to Beware: Lester Hudson

Hopefully Coach Vogel’s scouting report is up to date because the Cavaliers will likely give a lot of minutes over the next two games to a player who wasn’t even on their roster about two weeks ago. His name is Lester Hudson. Heard of him? Probably not; he’s on his second 10-day contract, he doesn’t play in the Big Apple, his name doesn’t fit perfectly into cool puns, and I wasn’t able to find any stories about him sleeping on anyone’s couch.

But his story is still a great one. Hudson played college ball at the University of Tennessee-Martin which you’ve probably heard of if you went to the University of Tennessee-Martin. He was drafted by Boston at the end of the 2nd round but was never given much of a chance with the Celtics. Since then, he has had stints with world renowned teams including the Maine Red Claws, the Dakota Wizards, the Guandong Southern Tigers, Qingdao DoubleStar, and the Austin Toros. He also had short stays with the Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards.

Then the Cleveland Cavaliers called on March 30 and offered him a 10-day contract. Coach Byron Scott gave him limited minutes in his first four games, and Hudson made decent contributions for a midseason pickup. But last Friday, the 6’3 guard got 32 minutes against the Toronto Raptors. He responded with 23 points, 7 assists and 3 steals. Two night later against the Nets, he dropped 26 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. And then his most complete game came against Charlotte with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.

Hudson will probably never be the superstar that Jeremy Lin became, but his story is inspiring all the same. He is currently serving his second 10-day contracts with Cleveland (Lester tweeted on Monday, “my past 10 days was great hopefully my nexts 10 days will b much better lets go Cavs!!!! #teamhudson”). In order for the Cavs to keep Hudson beyond this contract they will have to sign him for the remainder of the season. If they decide to sign him to a contract for next year it might finally mean some security for Lester.

If Hudson keeps up the strong production then he could easily become the Jeremy Lin for NBA snobs. Kind of like when a musician or director becomes too mainstream for some snobby fans. You know, “Oh you still listen to 50 Cent? I liked him back when he was underground. I’m all about Kendrick Lamar now.” Lester Hudson’s Twitter avatar is a picture of him when he was still with the Wizards. Why do I think that’s cool? I’m not sure, but I do know his profile says, “work hard never give up on what u love 2 do or your dreams.”

Label me inspired.

Of course, he isn’t flawless. If Lin’s Kryptonite is turnovers then Lester’s is shooting percentage. He shoots at a high volume even when the shots aren’t dropping. But some of that can be attributed to the lack of scoring options on the Cavs, and he makes up for this flaw with his high activity on both ends of the floor.

The Pacers have two very winnable games coming up against Lester’s Cavaliers, but if anyone thinks Cleveland will bow down and let them win, they are wrong; Lester Hudson certainly won’t. He is playing every game like his career is on the line — because it is. Byron Scott is also not the kind of coach that lets his team give anything less than 100%.

This is where I like to use the term “professionals.” The Pacers have to be professionals in these two games. They aren’t going to get a whole lot of credit for winning both games and they will be criticized for losing. But that’s because they are better than this team and a high level of execution and effort will be enough to win.

I understand that we can’t expect the Pacers to get up for this game the same as if they were playing the Heat or Thunder, but these games are important in a tight playoff race and the level of play has to be high going into the postseason. They don’t need to blow out Cleveland twice in a row, but they need to bring enough to the table so that Lester Hudson’s fairytale story doesn’t reach another miraculous chapter at their expense.

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