Austin Rivers may have been finally starting to figure it out. But now we’re not going to find out for a while.
Rivers will be out four to six weeks with a broken fourth metacarpal bone in his right hand suffered in the Hornets come-from-ahead loss to the Lakers Wednesday night. Which is to say you can pretty much expect him to be done for the season.
Rivers had gone for a steal in the first half of the game and his hand jammed into the body of teammate Greivis Vasquez and that caused the fracture.
For the fist 50 games of this season, the No. 10 overall pick in the last draft had been bad. I mean historically bad. Before the All-Star Game Rivers was scoring 6 points a game shooting 35 percent on the season, 31.6 percent from three, and he was barely getting more assists than turnovers. The Hornets kept playing him under the theory he would improve, but it didn’t look good.
But in his last 5 games (10 really) he has started to show he’s learning from all those mistakes. He is averaging 8.4 points per game on 62.1 percent shooting, and his assist turnover ration is up to 2/1 in the last five games. He had 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting against the Lakers before breaking his hand.
He may or may not make it back this season, but Rivers should be at summer league and spend the summer working out with the team trying to build on the steps he started to make at the end of this season. He’s still a project, this is just an interruption in the plan.
Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.
Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.
This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.
The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.
Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?
Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.
It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.