Three good games from Darko justifies Kahn era… or something

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And now, a call and response…

 

Look out, world! You doubted the Kahn-O-Matic, now you reap the whirlwind! You all laughed when David Kahn signed Darko Milicic to a $20 million deal. You said there was no way a player with his history of massive failure was worth a four-year investment. But who’s laughing now, huh?

(Well, we are.  Pretty loudly, actually. But go on.)

Check this out, you Hatorade drinker! Ha! See! It’s like Gatorade, only with Hate! I just made that up!

(Very amusing. What was your point, exactly?)

In the last three games, Darko is averaging 22 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.6 blocks, and 3.6 assists in 36.2 minutes and shooting 59% from the floor! That’s amazing! This proves it. David Kahn was right! And hey, look, he says so, in the Pioneer Press:

“I didn’t take much offense to it because most of the comments were not based on fact,” Kahn said of Milicic’s deal. “I don’t feel Darko’s contract was that far out of line at all. People are looking backward instead of forward — in terms of how we envision his role with us. You have to be resolute when you make decisions, and I’ve felt very strongly about this decision as with others we’ve made.

“Darko is playing better than we anticipated, considering he hasn’t played much in the past two years. I’m very happy for him.

What’cha think about that, hater?

(I think it’s terrific when a player can overcome a massive history of failure to produce on the floor with a team that dared to believe in him. It warms the heart. Tell me, real quick, prior to this little streak he’s on, you know, in the first eleven games?)

Well, um… 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2.36 blocks, 1.36 assists, shooting less than 30% from the floor.

(Right. So he’s had about five good games and three great games. Is that correct?)

Well, yeah, but the latest games are the best. That means he’s improving! He’s progressing! Just like a young talent should!

(Isn’t he 25?)

Well, yeah.

(Okay, we’ll just leave that there. You’re right that those last three games have been awesome. So what are his season averages?)

Ahem… er… well…

(Go on. You can say them.)

9.1 points, 6.2 rebounds,  2.1 assists, 2.9 blocks.

(And how many turnovers?)

2.3 turnovers.

(Wait, so he actually has nearly as many turnovers as blocks?)

Well, yeah.

(Hmm. Okay, the plot thickens. But hey, maybe he’s just not getting minutes. What are his per-36 averages?)

12.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 3.9 blocks. See? 3.9 blocks!

(Again, how many turnovers?)

3.0.

(Okay. Now how many of those numbers for either per-game or per-36 are significantly above his 2010 numbers with the Wolves?)

Blocks!

(And?)

Turnovers.

(Okay, now how many of his per-36 numbers are significantly above his career average?)

Blocks and assists!

(Is that all?)

Yes.

(So what you’re telling me is that he’s pretty much overall this season the same player he’s always been, just that this last spurt gets him back to a regression to the mean, only he’s a better defensive player because of his block totals, right?)

Well, if you want to look at it that way, hater. It’s not all about offense. Defense is why Darko’s there!

(Okay, so what’s Darko’s defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions)?)

106.

(And what was it last year?)

109.

(And what is his career average?)

106.

(So really, his defensive rating is still really bad, it’s just not as bad as it was last year, but worse than his career average.)

That’s one way of looking at it, yeah.

(What’s another?)

You can’t estimate the kind of impact Darko’s having. He’s making this team a better defensive unit!

(What’s the Timberwolves’ defensive efficiency mark?)

108.3.

(Which is?)

Third worst in the league.

(I see.)

Look, you can throw around all the numbers you want, but Darko’s making a difference!

(But wasn’t the whole point of this to show that his numbers were improving and that’s why giving one of the biggest busts in draft history $20 million over 4 years wasn’t a bad idea?)

Well, yeah. But the bigger issue here is that the Wolves are a better team now than they were last year, and that’s in part because of Darko!

(Okay. What’s the Wolves’ record?)

… 4-12.

(And what was it last year?)

1-15.

(So Darko, along with Kevin Love’s awesomeness and Michael Beasleys’ Beasleyness has helped the Wolves in 4 games of their first 16 instead of 1. )

Right!

(Okay, then. Isn’t it more plausible that this little streak he was on has simply been a regression to the mean, only with the same results and some improved shot blocking ability? Isn’t it possible that while Darko could certainly keep up this production and prove himself to be a legit NBA starter and a redeemed asset that we might want to wait just a little while before absolving Kahn of the contract and Darko of being, well, Darko?)

You’re a hater! Darko for most-improved! Kahn for GM of the year!

(I’ll see myself out.)

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.