Miami Heat v Houston Rockets

LeBron James says neither he nor Wade will win MVP

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LeBron James does not think he will win the MVP this season, nor will Dwyane Wade in the mind of the two-time defending Most Valuable Player. From ESPN:

“When we decided to come together our Most Valuable Player chances kind of went out the window,” James said before the Heat played the Golden State Warriors Saturday.

“I think they classify it as an individual award. They look at it like the less help you have, the more numbers you have then the better chance for you to win that award.”

via LeBron James says he doesn’t expect MVP for any Miami Heat player – ESPN.

Totally reasonable attitude from James. It’s true that you need to kind of be “the man” in order to win the award. It’s also true that being on a loaded team hurts your case with voters.

That said, MVP could have been well within James’ reach. The Heat just haven’t played well enough. James hasn’t played well enough. It’s not that James hasn’t played well, he’s been his usual brilliant self. But more was expected. Particularly, James’ assists should be much higher than they are. James is averaging 7.3 assists, which is second-best in his career behind last year’s 8.6. But that was in Cleveland with Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison. He’s got Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade now.

What’s more, the Heat are the 8th worst team in percentage of field goals assisted. Granted the Heat were third worst last year, so they’ve gotten better, but you have to wonder if Erik Spoelstra’s offense has something to do with it. Regardless, James’ assists are down, and as a result, his numbers don’t pop off the page. And with the talent he’s surrounded by, the numbers should pop off the page.

It’s true that the MVP voting process is inconsistent and difficult, but it’s still within reach. James won’t win it, but it’s not because he plays beside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It’s because playing next to those two hasn’t made him incredibly better.

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

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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)
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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)

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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?).

Dario Saric blocks back-to-back Raptors dunk attempts (video)

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Norman Powell – get out of here.

Jared Sullinger – get out of here.

Dario Saric blocked consecutive dunk attempts in the 76ers’ 94-89 win over the Raptors. Philadelphia has won seven of nine and looks suddenly revitalized.

The best part of all this? Saric’s teammates’ reactions – though the actual blocks were pretty great themselves.