When Kobe Bryant steps on the court Thursday night against the Sacramento Kings, we will know exactly how many points he needs to score to win one of the closest NBA scoring title races ever over Kevin Durant.
Both men say they don’t want it. Both men say all they want is a ring. Both men are also fiery competitive and don’t back down from a challenge. We’ll see if when push comes to shove the next couple days if they can turn that fire down.
As of right now, two-time defending scoring champ Durant is averaging 27.97 points per game to Bryant’s 27.86.
Durant and his Thunder play Wednesday night at home against the Nuggets. The Thunder are locked in at the two seed, the game means nothing to them. The Lakers are locked in to the three seed and Thursday’s game for them is meaningless. The Oklahoman did the math and breaks down who has to score how much to win the title.
But if Durant scores less than 30, Bryant will have to top Durant’s output by at least seven points. If Durant posts more than 30, Bryant must outscore Durant by at least six. The necessary differential would narrow more the more each player scores. The discrepancy is caused by Bryant playing seven fewer games. The scoring title is determined by scoring average.
So if Durant finishes at his average of 28 points, Kobe will have to score 35. On the season, Kobe has averaged 33.5 points per game against the Kings.
The real question is will Kobe go after it? There is no doubt that even if he has to score 40 something he can get it — even if he has to take 40 shots to do it — and if he wants it Mike Brown will leave him in and his teammates will get out of his way.
The question is, will he? Here is what he told ESPNLA.com a few days ago.
“(It’s) not very important,” Bryant said. “San Antonio was playing me single coverage yesterday, if it was important I would have gone for 50 yesterday.”
I have no doubt he means it. But can he turn off that desire to win if he just needs 10 more points midway through the third quarter Thursday?
The No. 28 pick, R.J. Hunter became the first first-rounder from last year’s draft to fall out of the NBA when the Celtics waived him.
He won’t be out of the league for long.
The Bulls, the only team with an open roster spot, appear close to adding him.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Hunter belongs in the league. Though he must knock down shots far more reliably than he has, Hunter has potential as an outside shooter with complementary ball skills to provide value. Boston just had more NBA-caliber players than roster spots.
He’s far from a lock to succeed in the NBA, but I value Hunter about as much as Tony Snell – whom the Bulls just traded for an upgrade at backup point guard in Michael Carter-Williams. That they could so cheaply replace Snell makes that deal look even better.
Gerald Green was drafted by the Celtics and spent two seasons with them before being traded (in the Kevin Garnett deal).
After stints with the Timberwolves, Rockets, Mavericks, Nets, Pacers, Suns and Heat, he signed with Boston this summer.
Think he’s happy to be back?
Abby Chin of CSN Mid-Atlantic:
Joel Embiid couldn’t endear himself by playing in an NBA game, because he’s been too injured to do that in two pro seasons.
He’s had to resort to witty nicknames, practice-gym dunks, fun-loving stunts, attention-seeking tweets and self-deprecating humor.
Embiid is scheduled to make his NBA debut tonight, when the 76ers play the Thunder. Soon, we’ll judge him more for what he does on the court.
But, first, Embiid went out with one last bang of a quote.
Embiid, via Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:
“You know how I learned to shoot?” Embiid says. “I watched white people. Just regular white people. They really put their elbow in and finish up top. You can find videos of them online.”
LeBron James might be the greatest athlete in NBA history.
But even he has shown signs of decline at age 31.
He has gotten multiple back injections and even took a break during the season to rehabilitate in Miami. The forward has treated the last two regular-seasons as glorified warmups for the playoffs.
Just where does LeBron stand physically?
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue gave quite the answer.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Lue said James, at 31, “had a chance to get tested this summer and they said he had a body of a 19-year old. Maybe he’s getting younger. Benjamin Button.”
It was a little perplexing because neither James, nor his personal trainer, Mike Mancias, nor general manager David Griffin had any real idea what test Lue was talking about.
This reminds me of Derrick Rose attributing the Knicks and Warriors being super teams to “They’re saying.” Who is they, and what are they smoking?
That LeBron, Mancias and Griffin won’t cop to knowing is quite revealing.
LeBron does not have the body of a 19-year-old. Years of other-worldly play and long playoff runs has taken a toll.
Because he’s declining from such a high peak, LeBron should remain elite for a while. His athleticism might even fluctuate as it trends downward overall.
But Father Time is undefeated, and LeBron didn’t just get a mid-career reset to his rookie physical form.