Byron Scott’s biggest challenge… let me rephrase that because Scott has a multitude of challenges taking over the post-LeBron Cavaliers.
One of Scott’s biggest challenges is the four spot — the proven veteran Antawn Jamison or the future of the team at the position, JJ Hickson? While it is not a totally either/or situation, the fact is it will be hard to play those two at the same time so Scott needs to figure out a rotation that works.
Round one goes to Hickson. Barely.
Coming off the bench in the Cavaliers preseason opener Hickson put up 17 and 9, pretty nice numbers. Much better than the starter Jamison, who had 4 points and 8 rebounds in 21 minutes.
Jamison struggled, he was 1 of 9 from the floor, 0-2 from three. It was not pretty at all.
But this was not a clear win for Hickson, who was just 5 of 13 from the floor (38 percent), which is doubly bad because Hickson cannot stretch the floor. If you’re shooting close to the basket only, you have to do better. His midrange game improved some last season, but his money is made getting points in the lane. An off-season spent working on post moves did not show itself in the Cavaliers first game.
If the Cavaliers really are going to get out and run as Scott has promised, Hickson should benefit because of his athleticism and ability to finish around the rim. Should. But Jamison is a veteran who is not going to be 1-9 most nights, and when you need to stretch the floor he has to be your guy.
The idea of playing them together may get tried but likely is a defensive disaster — neither is going to be able to guard threes in this league well. You’d need a very specific matchup for it to work.
Byron Scott, I do not envy your choices here. We’ll see what he throws out on Thursday as a starting lineup. He is allowed to go mad scientist with his experimenting, he has nothing to lose.
Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.
Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.
During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.
Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.
The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.
According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.
Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)