How the Magic use Howard in crunch-time

5 Comments

One reason some people don’t consider Dwight Howard quite on the level of LeBron James or  Kobe Bryant is that he’s not the go-to guy for the Magic in crunch-time situations. In what 82games.com defines as “clutch” situations, LeBron averages 65.5 points per 48 minutes. Kobe averages 50.1 points per 48. Dirk averages 45.7. Carmelo averages 40.3. Durant averages 38.4. 

Howard, on the other hand, averages only 15.6 points per 48 minutes in “clutch” situations. Vince Carter has been the Magic’s go-to guy in clutch situations, averaging 41.1 points per 48 minutes despite the fact he only shoots 37.5% from the field and 28.6% from deep during crunch-time. Dwight’s free throw issues are the main culprit here — Dwight’s gets fouled on 60% of his field goal attempts during crunch time, and he’s only made half of his free throws in pressure situations. 
Despite the fact Howard hasn’t been the guy doing the scoring late in games for the Magic, the Magic’s crunch-time offense works with Howard on the floor. Howard has played 96% of the crunch-time minutes for the Magic this season, and when he’s on the floor in those situations the Magic have scored 110.3 points per 100 possessions. That’s a better team crunch-time mark than the Lakers with Kobe on the floor, the Thunder with Durant on the floor, and the Nuggets with Carmelo on the floor.
On NBA Playbook, Sebastian Pruiti has a post up detailing how Howard helps the Magic offensively without needing the ball in his hands. As Howard sets a screen for the ballhandler and rolls down to the rim, he forces the defense to put one or two defenders in the paint to prevent Howard from getting an easy dunk, freeing up one of Orlando’s many perimeter shooters. It’s long been known that this is the Magic’s strategy, but kudos to Sebastian for illustrating how the Magic use their All-NBA center late in the game without needing to give him the ball. 

Kings’ Rudy Gay suffers apparent torn left Achilles tendon, would be done for season

Leave a comment

This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.

Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.

Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.

Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. However, those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings, and the team’s playoff chances have taken a serious hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers).

Gay was not happy in Sacramento and had said planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.

That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.

Zaza Pachulia lays out Russell Westbrook, stands over him (video)

1 Comment

Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.

Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.

Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.

Report: 76ers’ Ben Simmons sitting entire season still on table

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
2 Comments

That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?

It just won’t die.

Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.

Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.

76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.

It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.

Roy Hibbert passes ball into hoop, reacts with perfect facial expression (video)

Leave a comment

The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.

Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).