Washington forward Andray Blatche has always had the talent. Blatche is a sturdy 6-11, and has a long wingspan and excellent athleticism for his size. He’s also an uncommonly skilled player for his size, able to hit the mid-range jumper, and put the ball on the floor. When Blatche has gone inside, he’s even showed some very nice post moves around the basket.
Drafted straight out of high school, the 23-year old Blatche is already playing in his fifth NBA season. During those five years, Blatche has gained a reputation as somewhat of a disappointing NBA player. He’s been a summer-league dynamo who will show flashes of greatness, but has yet to put it all together at the NBA level. He would drift in and out of games, and would sometimes get caught up trying to be to pretty rather than using his size and taking the ball right at the rim. Blatche’s career high in points is 10.0, he’s never shot better than 50%, and he’s never averaged more than two free throw attempts per game.
Since the Wizards traded Antawn Jamison, Blatche has come on strong. In the four games since Jamison left the lineup, Blatche has scored 24 or more points three times, and pulled down 11 or more rebounds three times. He’s still using his mid-range touch, but is also making a more concerted effort to go to the basket. He was 8-11 at the rim during his breakout 33-point game against the Timberwolves, and went to the line 9 times when the Wizards beat the Bulls last night. Blatche is picking his shots wisely, and has shot better than 50% from the field in each of the four games since Jamison left.
If Blatche can continue to play this way, he can be a major building block for the Wizards going forward. Additionally, second-year center JaVale McGee might have even more natural talent than Blatche, but has been even more erratic over the course of his brief career. If he can get with the program like Blatche has, the Wizards could have a very scary young starting frontcourt.
Zaza Pachulia steals ball, starts break, blows open layup against Suns (VIDEO)
Russell Westbrook was just himself — hustling, attacking, and getting his fifth triple-double in a row Sunday night against the Pelicans.
But the play of the night didn’t get him any points or an assist. It was Westbrook hustling, getting to the floor to get a loose ball, then making the showtime pass to start a Globetrotters-like fast break that ended with an Andre Roberson dunk.
Westbrook had an impressive dunk of his own.
NBA VP Kiki VanDeWeghe on “unnaturual acts:” “Our rules are for every player”
The NBA has tried to crack down on “unnatural acts” — players flailing body parts trying to draw a foul call.
At the heart of that is Golden State’s Draymond Green, who picked up a flagrant foul for the unnatural act of getting his leg high enough to kickJames Harden in the face Thursday night. Green fired back at the league, saying in part, “It’s funny how you can tell me how I get hit and how my body is supposed to react. I didn’t know the league office was that smart when it came to body movements.” Green’s argument is that he was fouled in the air and the high leg was the natural act of him trying to keep his balance. (Doesn’t matter, it’s a reckless act and if you kick someone in the face you should get a flagrant foul. Also, try explaining the kick on Marquese Chriss on Saturday that way.)
Former All-Star NBA player as well as coach Kiki VanDeWeghe is now an NBA vice president and the guy who is the decision maker on these reviews and fouls. He spoke with Sam Amick of the USA Today about how those unnatural act rules are applied.
“Our rules are for every player,” VanDeWeghe told USA TODAY Sports. “We want each play judged according to the rules, as best possible, and the rules applied fairly across our whole league. That’s very important to us. We don’t make exceptions for players. They are applied to everybody.
“In Draymond’s particular case (against the Houston Rockets on Thursday), he had an arm flail which struck the player (James Harden) in the neck-head area. And then in addition to that, he had a kick up above the head of the defender. As he brought his leg down, his heel hit him in the face. It wouldn’t matter what player we’re talking about (it’s a foul)….
“Most of these are done to draw the attention of the referees. We noticed an uptick in these last year, and they needed to be addressed by the competition committee.”
While Green feels singled out — “marked” is what he tweeted — VanDeWeghe noted that competition committee included owners, coaches, GMs, people from the players union, and a lot of people with playing experience, who all sat down as a group and studied what is and is not an “unnatural act.” As Amick noted, it isn’t just Green who gets hit with these penalties, although he gets the headlines: Boston’s Marcus Smart was given a Flagrant One for his kick to the groin of the Miami’s Hassan Whiteside; Thursday LeBron James was given a technical foul for his blow to the head of the Clippers’ Alan Anderson.
So long as Green continues to make these acts — and the kick to Chriss Saturday suggests they are not slowing down — the crackdown will continue.
Watch Raptors PG Kyle Lowry throw a full-court alley oop to Pascal Siakam
Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is having an excellent year for the Eastern Conference Finals hopefuls, and part of that is due to his vision. On Saturday, Lowry threw a full-court lob to Pascal Siakam that was mighty impressive.
After a missed shot in the middle of the third quarter by the Atlanta Hawks, Lowry gathered the rebound on the left block and quickly turned his eyes downcourt.
Siakam, the No. 27 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, was streaking toward the Raptors basket and behind the Hawks defense.
Lowry took advantage with a long-distance heave after one dribble at the free-throw line, and Pascal was able to gather and softly lay the ball up at the rim.