Should you have to lead your team to victory to make it into our nightly three stars tribute?
I say no. But it helps. If you are someone like Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday with 31 points and 9 rebounds in a losing effort, you can still make the list. Well, he didn’t because I put a couple of guys who did get wins ahead of him. But you theoretically can make the cut. Also with good nights but not making the grade Wednesday were the Kevins —Garnett (27 points, 10 rebounds), and Durant (25 points, 7 rebounds). Guys just had bigger nights. Sorry. So here are the guys that made the cut tonight.
Third Star: O.J. Mayo(28 points, 5 assists)
O.J. Mayo was the model of efficiency in a quality win for Dallas over Portland — 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting, 3-of-4 from three and a +15 on the night. He did a lot of scoring damage in the first half — 20 of his points came before the break — but in the second half he did a good job of drawing the defenders and moving the ball to the open man. And for a night the Mayo/Dirk Nowitzki pick-and-roll was an impressive thing to see. That’s a took I expect to see Rick Carlisle go to more and more over the second half of the season.
Second Star: James Harden(36 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists)
See, you can still make the top three if your team loses, you just have to put up some big numbers. James Harden did that and did it most when it counted — he had 16 points in the fourth quarter as he tried to lead the Rockets on a comeback. All game Harden pretty much did what he wanted, it just wasn’t enough as he didn’t get all the help he needed (no team shuts down Jeremy Lin quite like the Heat).
All those stats up there and we leave off blocks — Wade had two, including one on Harden with 11 seconds remaining to ice the game. Wade seems to get up for taking on the challenge of Harden (the heir apparent to Wade’s “best two guard” in the game mantle) and you saw it from the start when Wade had 11 points in the first quarter. Wade was attacking the rim — he got to the line 13 times — and of course it’s not a Heat game unless he goes Joe Flacco and hits LeBron James with a length-of-the-court pass.
Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines
Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.
Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.
“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”
He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.
Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp
The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.
“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”
All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.
New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.
Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee to make-good training camp contract
He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.
But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
The Warriors are signing veteran center JaVale McGee to a make-good deal for a chance to make the team in training camp, league sources say.
This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.
I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.
Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant
At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.
But not right now. He remains silent.
This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.