This is what the Spurs do — make a mistake and you pay the price.
Down two with 8 seconds left in Cleveland, Tony Parker gets the ball out top and drives the lane. If you don’t take that away from him one of the best point guards in the game will tie it up. Tyler Zeller does the right thing and cuts off Parker’s path to the basket. But watch rookie Dion Waiters almost unconsciously slide into the paint to be near the action and leave Kawhi Leonard alone in the corner.
Tony Parker finds Leonard — it’s what the Spurs do, the execute game in and game out better than any team in the league. Leonard is shooting 48.8 percent on corner threes this season and this one fell. And the Spurs win. Again.
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).