Tonight we will play the four — three power forwards who keyed their teams’ wins.
Third Star: Glen Davis (24 points, 6 rebounds)
A night after an emotional win in Los Angeles — don’t think for a second those Magic players didn’t enjoy beating and embarrassing Dwight Howard after standing up for him for years only to feel deserted — for Orlando to come back the next night with a win in Golden State is impressive. Big Baby was at the heart of it, scoring 24 and grabbing six rebounds. It was Davis’ second big game in a row and for much of the night the Warriors had no answer for him inside.
Second Star: LaMarcus Aldridge(25 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists)
There are times when you are watching the Blazers when it seems the other four guys on the floor just forget LaMarcus Aldridge is the best player on the team and stop getting him the rock. That happened for a stretch in this game. But during the Blazers dramatic 18-point comeback — fear Luke Babbitt — Aldridge had six points on 3-of-4 shooting, but more importantly six rebounds, three offensive. Then in the OT Aldridge had another bucket and three more boards. He was at the heart of the comeback and had a line that reminds you he is an All-Star.
First Star: Blake Griffin(30 points, 11 rebounds)
Blake Griffin is off to a slow start this season — he has struggled in isolation sets, he is taking fewer shots at the rim and converting them at a lower percentage — but he seemed to break out of it against the Jazz with his biggest night of the season. What he seemed to be was aggressive again — he was getting transition buckets and dunks, he was making things happen with his crazy athleticism. Griffin gets criticism for not having a more rounded game — no steady outside shot, no go to move if you take the spin in the post away — but when he can do is run and jump and dunk and when he does those things he impacts the game. Like he did against Utah. It’s be nice to develop the Tim Duncan in his game, but that can’t come at the expense of him being Blake Griffin. Dunks aren’t just highlights, they are a very efficient two points.
LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’
Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.
In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).
Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.
Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury
The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.
After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.
Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) —LeBron James‘ playing status for Tuesday’s season opener against Boston remains unclear.
James has been slowed by a sprained left ankle for more than two weeks and it’s still not known whether he’ll be on the floor when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics and Kyrie Irving, who asked to be traded by Cleveland this summer.
Following Monday’s practice, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said “I really don’t know” when asked if James will play.
James took part in some post-practice shooting drills with teammates. He did not speak with the media as the Cavaliers prepared for their opener, a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals.
James has never missed an opener in his NBA career, and teammate J.R. Smith doesn’t expect him to miss this one.
“Oh, he’s going to go,” Smith said. “He’s going to go, trust me that. I don’t care what he’s got to do, he’s going to play.”