Shocking news out of the league office this Christmas Eve, I know. But two of the game’s best players had two of the best weeks statistically speaking, and were therefore awarded for the accomplishment.
LeBron James and Chris Paul were named Eastern and Western Conference players of the week, for games played from Dec. 17 to Dec. 23.
Miami was 3-0 during that stretch, while the Clippers went 4-0, further piling on to their league-best winning streak that has now reached 13 straight games.
Here are the numbers, from the official release:
LeBron James, Miami Heat
Dec. 18 vs. Minnesota: Tallied 22 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and four blocks in a 103-92 win over the Timberwolves.
Dec. 20 @ Dallas: Posted 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists in a 110-95 victory over the Mavericks.
Dec. 22 vs. Utah: Posted 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a 105-89 win over the Jazz.
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Dec. 19 vs. New Orleans: Posted 10 points, 12 assists and five rebounds in a 93-77 win over the Hornets.
Dec. 21 vs. Sacramento: Tallied 24 points, 13 assists, five rebounds and five steals in a 97-85 win over the Kings.
Dec. 23 @ Phoenix: Collected 17 points, 13 assists and five steals in a 103-77 win over the Suns.
Tough to argue with these two guys being selected.
Others considered were James Harden, David West, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, J.J. Hickson and Jose Calderon.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.