Damian Lillard already had locked up Rookie of the Year honors with his stellar play the first half of the season, and that was long before a deadline deal got him some backcourt help in the form of Eric Maynor, who the team acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Since Maynor’s arrival, Lillard’s numbers have been on the rise, and his play has been even more impressive.
Lillard has seen solid increases in scoring, field goal percentage, and three-point shooting percentage, all because of Maynor’s presence which frees up Lillard from some of the ball-handling responsibilities, and forces the defense to play him straight up instead of constantly trapping him on the perimeter.
It would seem as though Maynor is an excellent fit with Lillard, and the Blazers could make Maynor a qualifying offer this summer in order to retain a right to match any offer he might receive in restricted free agency.
But that isn’t likely to happen, given the relatively small amount of cap space the Blazers have to spend this summer.
From Joe Freeman of The Oregonian:
Maynor’s qualifying offer is $3.4 million, with a hefty $5.85 million cap hold that would eat a substantial amount of the Blazers’ offseason spending money.
Early reviews suggest that the Blazers and Maynor are a good match. But it seems unlikely the team would mortgage so much of its offseason spending power on a backup point guard. It seems more likely the Blazers will allow Maynor to become an unrestricted free agent and pursue him with the rest of the NBA. It’s the same move the Blazers made last offseason with JJ Hickson and he ended up returning.
Just because it worked with Hickson doesn’t mean it would be the same for the team’s negotiations with Maynor.
However, the situation Maynor has found himself in might be a better match for him than it would be elsewhere — as long as the dollar amount of a new contract in Portland would be similar to the offer he might receive from others.
“He played 20 years … I mean, yeah I guess.”
That’s what Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had to say in this video after learning that Kobe Bryant was the all-time leader in steals for his franchise. You have to hand it to him, it is a little surprising. Even more surprising is that Bryant has 220 more than Magic Johnson at No. 2.
In a video posted to YouTube by Complex on Saturday, rookies tried to answer questions similar to the one Ball pondered over, like what team drafted their head coach, who the NBA all-time leading scorer is, and what day the first game of the season starts on.
A lot of the responses were pretty funny, including the guys getting wrong what year Adam Silver became NBA commissioner. Poor David Stern has already been forgotten about!
Meanwhile, Ball looked the sharpest. He’s going to come in handy when the Lakers play pub trivia.
It’s summertime in the NBA, which means a lot of us are just trying to find ways to keep our minds occupied until training camp starts.
Thankfully, some of us are artists, including u/bbnexus over at the r/NBA subreddit. Apparently they wanted to use some of the free time we have here during the NBA offseason for a little art project. Specifically, turning all of the remaining 29 NBA team logos into one featuring the Toronto Raptor.
The result is a pretty impressive amount of effort having gone into these logos. I personally think the edition for the Hawks, Timberwolves, and Celtics are the best ones.
A fun game to play here is to figure out which logo goes to which team.
Based on how some of the new Nike uniforms have turned out for teams this year, perhaps u/bbnexus should get the job designing a future ones based off of these logos.
Kevin Durant is having a pretty good summer. He is obviously in a full on “I have a ring now” mode and is just battling everyone he can set his sights on. He’s confident, as he should be.
Durrant responded to critical comments conservative commentator and ex-ESPNer Britt McHenry made about the Golden State Warriors forward not wanting to visit the White House should an invitation come for the team.
Now, Durant has seen a handout that a teacher gave to kids in school comparing him and Michael Jordan. In the handout, it asks kids to refrain from being like Durant, asking them not to take the easy way out by cheating in class. Instead, it asks them to be more like Michael Jordan and not take shortcuts.
That’s not even a correct interpretation of the facts, much less a very good analogy. Nevertheless, when SB nation published an article on an image of the handout on Twitter, Durant responded.
Firing might be a little harsh but perhaps the person who wrote this handout could put their hardcore sports allegiances away for a minute? Things like this and up on the Internet, you know?
Luke Kennard came out of Duke with one of the best jump shots in the draft — he’s got a skill that translates to the NBA and will help the Pistons. The questions were about his defense and athleticism, but he started to answer those when he averaged 17.2 points a game in the Orlando Summer League. He hit threes but generally just looks like a guy who just knows how to get buckets.
So far, at the Pistons’ training facility and in the Orlando Summer League, coach and decision maker with the Pistons Stan Van Gundy likes what he sees from his rookie, he told the Pistons’ official website.
“Pretty much what we thought offensively, maybe even did a better job passing the ball than I thought,” Van Gundy said. “He’s able to make plays off the dribble , that nice change of pace, and things I hadn’t seen a lot of. He really has a great feel for the game and how to play in addition to clearly his ability to shoot the ball….
“We’ve seen that a lot. He’s got great mental toughness,” Van Gundy said. “The thing I have great confidence in is that as he runs into challenges in the league – and everybody does and he’ll be no exception – I just think he’s a smart guy who’s adaptable. I think he’ll figure out a way to combat it. I’ve got great confidence in his ability to do that….
“The thing I didn’t know that he showed me is he has the ability to move his feet defensively. Now, he’s still got a long way to go in terms of handling some of the other things, rotations and things like that. But he certainly showed that he can get down in a stance and move his feet. I did not have a good feel for that going into the draft, so that was a positive.”
Yes, you should take a coach talking up a rookie before a game is played with a grain of salt.
However, the comment about the potential to defend is good news. SVG is right that mental toughness, and willingness to put in the work, is what will allow Kennard to take steps forward, but he has to have a baseline to get there and Van Gundy thinks he has that. Kennard has challenges ahead of him but if he can keep hitting shots the Pistons will give him time to work out everything else.
Kennard is going to get plenty of run as the backup to Avery Bradley at the two in Detroit. In with a second unit of guys like Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver, Kennard is going to get his chances to score. He could put up decent numbers for a rookie.