After a couple stellar games, Dwyane Wade was pretty pedestrian on Wednesday night — 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, five assists and five turnovers.
Which in some minds revived the “has Wade lost a step” that had Charles Barkley and LeBron James sniping back and forth over it.
Mark Jackson is too smart and too media savvy to get drawn into that mess. When asked about what he sees from Dwyane Wade on tape, he paid him a very high compliment, via the Palm Beach Post:
“He’s a guy I love as a basketball fan,” Jackson said. “To me, he’s the third-best shooting guard to play the game. People think I’m crazy for saying that. And there’s no disrespect to anybody else. The guy is a winner, he competes, he’s an underrated passer, and we all know he can score the basketball.”
When asked, Jackson said Michael Jordan was No. 1 and Kobe Bryant was second. That is kind of the consensus today, although I think Jerry West is the guy who gets screwed in that discussion. You can also make a case for George Gervin if you want, same with Clyde Drexler. Don’t try to make a Reggie Miller case to break that top three, although top five maybe.
Wade’s career numbers (so far): 25 points a game on 48.6 percent shooting, a career PER of 25.6, two NBA titles and one NBA finals MVP, eight All-Star games and an almost certain future Hall of Famer.
That is a great job by Jackson to dodge the current debate and get us debating something else.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.