Former Gamecocks Renaldo Balkman and Tarence Kinsey both exceeded expectations even before the season began, Balkman by becoming a first-round pick and Kinsey by making a team despite not being drafted.
Kinsey has erupted since becoming a starter for the injury-plagued Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 19.5 points over a recent six-game span, outscoring Kobe Bryant in one of them. He also averaged 1.45 steals a game and hit two game-winning shots, including a 3-pointer in the final minute to beat the Lakers. Kinsey, a 6-6 forward, had his points-per-game average up to 6.5.
Then there’s Balkman, whose first-round selection last summer led to the further excoriation of New York Knicks boss Isiah Thomas. You don’t hear much criticism for picking Balkman anymore. The 6-8 forward is averaging 15.5 minutes and 4.5 points per game, and like Kinsey has gotten hot lately. As NBA.com points out, Balkman has grabbed at least five rebounds in 10 of his last 11 games, and over the past 13 games is averaging 8.0 points and 6.3 rebounds.
NBA.com last week asked: “Which college has the top-scoring duo of rookie players in the NBA in the past five games (as of last Saturday morning)? As astounding as it might seem, it’s South Carolina. …"Kinsey and Balkman’s combined five-game average of 28.8 points is better than such NBA rookie college teammates as Duke’s Shelden Williams and J.J. Redick, Connecticut’s Rudy Gay and Josh Boone, Texas’ LaMarcus Aldridge and Daniel Gibson and Memphis’ Rodney Carney and Shawne Williams.”
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