This race had about as much suspense as the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the Thunder/Lakers series, but now it is official:
Kyrie Irving is your NBA Rookie of the Year.
The announcement and presentation came Tuesday morning in Cleveland, where Irving had praised heaped upon him by his coach Byron Scott (via Jason Lloyd of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sulia):
“From a coaching standpoint, one of the easiest guys I ever had to coach and deal with,” (Scott said).
Irving, in turn, thanked his father.
“I love you man. We’re going to bring this back home, put it on the mantle and put flashing lights on it so it shines throughout the house.”
Irving was the runaway winner of the award, getting 117 of the 120 first place votes (and I’d love to hear the explanation from whoever voted for Kawhi Leonard and Iman Shumpert). The former Duke player and No. 1 overall pick last June averaged 18.5 points and 5.5 assists a game, shot 39.9 percent from three, became a dangerous late game threat, and gave the fans in Cleveland hope for the future.
Here are the top 5 vote getters (with total points):
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland (592)
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota (170)
Kenneth Faried, Denver (129)
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio (47)
Iman Shumpert, New York (33)
Mavericks center Salah Mejri has a history of agitating, including against the Spurs.
Two years ago, Mejri dunked while Dallas got blown out by San Antonio and yapped at the Spurs bench – drawing laughter from Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. Last season, Mejri had Trevor Ariza and other Rockets trying to confront him after reportedly saying something about Ariza’s family.
In the Mavericks’ win over the Spurs on Tuesday, Mejri got into it with Patty Mills.
Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com:
Mejri and Rudy Gay received double technical fouls, and Mejri went to the bench. Everything could have cooled down at halftime, but Mejri escalated tension
Watch the full sequence above, but the key moment:
That’ll probably draw a fine.
The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).
That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.
After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.
NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.
Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.
Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China. All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.
TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off
The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.
The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.
I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.
But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.
Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likely” LeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.
Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.
Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.
LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.
But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.
When DeMarcus Cousins builds up a head of steam like this… poor John Henson (and kind of Khris Middleton).
This helped the Pelicans pull away for a 115-108 win over the Bucks last night.