This year’s MVP race has been without drama for months, as LeBron James seemed to stand head and shoulders above his competition. Now, even the illusion of uncertainty can be wiped away, as Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that LeBron will receive his second straight MVP award and will officially receive his trophy prior to Game 2 against the Boston Celtics.
James is the MVP by almost any criteria. His 31.1 PER this season is good for tops in the league and ninth in history. His adjusted +/- is second in the league, behind only Dwight Howard. He’s the only non-point guard in the top five in assist percentage (an estimated percentage of teammate field goals LeBron assisted while he was in the game), still managed to grab 7.3 rebounds per game, averaged an unreal 29.7 points per game, and led his team to an NBA-best 61 wins.
The scariest thing? LeBron’s getting better. He’s still learning, making huge strides with his defense, and even becoming a better scorer. Did you know this was the first season of LeBron’s career where he topped .500 in field goal percentage? Or that this was far and away his best season in terms of racking up assists? One of the most insanely efficient players in the game is still finding new ways to streamline his production, and that’s pretty horrifying.
Best player on the best team? Check. Greatest impact? Check. Best statistical resume? Super check. Best player in the league? You know it.
LeBron James is the rightful MVP, and it’s only a matter of time, a press conference, and a photo op away from it being official.
The Detroit Pistons’ playoff dreams hinged on them being able to hang around until point guard Reggie Jackson got back from this thumb and knee injuries. They have done just that — the Pistons are 11-10 and would be the eighth seed if the playoffs started today.
And now they get Jackson back. Stan Van Gundy made the announcement Sunday at shootaround, before the team takes on the Orlando Magic.
It will take a few games to get his conditioning back, but this is huge for Detroit. Jackson running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond is at the heart of Detroit’s offense – the Pistons were 2.3 points per 100 possessions better with the ball in his hands. Ish Smith played well for the Pistons in his absence — 10.8 points per game, 6.4 assists, and he’s been solid. Move his playmaking to the second unit and suddenly the Pistons become a lot more dangerous.
The scouting report on Jakob Poeltl coming out of Utah said he could run the floor well and he was a good finisher around the rim.
But we didn’t expect this.
During the Raptors win Sunday against the stumbling Hawks, Poeltl filled the lane on the break, got the rock, and nobody was going to stop that finish. Least of all Tim Hardaway Jr., he just ends up in the poster.
Entering free agency last July, Hassan Whiteside said his first choice was to stay in Miami — then Pat Riley gave him 98 million reasons to stick around. While the Heat have been up and down this season, Whiteside has thrived as the franchise player in Miami.
Last July he also met with Dallas, but it turns out that was not his second choice. Here is what Whiteside told Erik Gunderson of the Miami Herald before his team fell to the Blazers on Saturday.
“Portland was my second option,” Whiteside said at the team’s Saturday shootaround in Portland. “I would have came here.”
Interesting. There were reports the Blazers chased Whiteside, but it didn’t seem that serious. Apparently, it was. If The Blazers got Whiteside, would they still have spent $70 million on Evan Turner? Probably not. And suddenly a lot of things look better in Portland.
For Blazers fans, watching their team try to outscore opponents while playing terrible defense this season — in part because of a lack of rim protection behind their undersized guards — it’s easy to imagine how much Whiteside would have changed the picture in the Northwest. But at this point, that’s just fan fiction.
JaVale McGree has become a solid contributor for the Warriors off the bench, giving them a needed shot blocking presence. He’s not getting a ton of run (seven minutes a night), but he’s efficient when he’s out there.
Still, there is his reputation as the guy most likely to end up on Shaqtin’ a Fool. He hasn’t done anything like that for a while… until Saturday night, when after a made free throw he tried to inbound the ball for the Suns for a second.
The Warriors bench was laughing under their shirts and towels.