Our grades from Thursday night around the NBA, or what you missed while playing Call of Duty Ghosts like everyone else….
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat. For two straight games now we have had vintage Wade show up, which has to make Heat fans happy. He was attacking J.J. Redick on post ups or blowing past him to get to the rim where he finished well. Wade ended up with 29 points on 13-of-22 shooting, plus 7 assists. He keyed the third quarter run (while LeBron and Chis Bosh rested) that got Miami the win.
Clippers defense. The only reason this grade isn’t lower is because while the 109.1 points per possession surrendered in this game is unimpressive, it is actually better than they had done through their previous five games. Their defensive rotations were terrible and that left driving lanes open for the Heat all game. The Clippers and Doc Rivers have 76 games left to figure out how to play cohesive team defense if they have plans of getting past the first round.
Steve Blake, Los Angeles Lakers. He was 4-of-6 from three, but if you need to see why he is here just follow this link.
Los Angeles Lakers bench. The Lakers got 54 of their 99 points from their bench. Jodie Meeks was 5-of-7 from three on his way to 18 points. Wesley Johnson had 16, and Jordan Farmar had 11. When the bench for the Lakers has stepped up they have two nice wins (the Clippers and now Rockets). At the start of the season I never would have expected to have given the Lakers’ bench this kind of grade.
Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets. He had 10 of his 25 points in the final quarter to lead the Nuggets to their first win of the season, a 109-107 win over the Hawks. Lawson also pitched in with eight assists, and seven rebounds. You can make a case that the Nuggets bench really should be here, but they don’t get the chance without the big line from Lawson
Carmelo Anthony said the Knicks should have gotten a Christmas game last year. In hindsight, the NBA reportedly agreed.
So, Anthony expects New York to get a marquee matchup — against the Bulls — on either Christmas or opening night.
Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:
The storylines are overflowing.
The Knicks added Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — two former Bulls — to join Anthony, who strongly considered Chicago in his last free agency. The Bulls answered with a couple big names: Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. They’ll join Jimmy Butler, whose stature is only growing — just like Kristaps Porzingis in New York.
Those are plenty of attention-drawing players, and the league will want to capitalize, even if we’re talking about a couple middling Eastern Conference teams.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that New York and Chicago are huge markets.
Michael Jordan issued a statement on race in America and donated $2 million to a couple worthy causes.
That drew international coverage, including one curious photo choice:
Only in Malawi.
When Amar’e Stoudemire retired, I said history will treat him better than present-day analysis — maybe even to the point he gets legitimate Hall of Fame consideration.
Get past Stoudemire’s injury-caused decline with the Knicks and his wayward years with the Mavericks and Heat, and Stoudemire was a heck of a player with the Suns (and in his first year in New York).
Thanks to the NBA, the process of remembering Stoudemire for his peak can begin immediately. I was blown away by the first few highlights before realizing they were just the introduction for the top 10.
Vlade Divac isn’t calling Rudy Gay with trade-talk updates.
So, how is the Kings general manager spending his time?
Watching DeMarcus Cousins with Team USA.
James Ham of CSN California on Cousins:
He’s primed to show the world what both he and plenty of others around the basketball world already believe — that he is the best big man in the world.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said from his courtside seat. “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world. And being from Serbia, I have to root for Serbia, but I feel bad for them. He’s going to kill them.”
If we take Divac’s statement — “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world” — at face value, nope. LeBron James is. Other players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are also better than Cousins, but big men can dominate in a way perimeter players can’t
If Divac meant just among big men, there’s a case. When Cousins is fully engaged, it’s one I’d definitely buy. He’s a load to handle inside, and his defense can be top-notch.
There are just too many times Cousins checks out. It’s a fine line, because Cousins’ emotions carries him to his highs. But he hasn’t yet found an ideal equilibrium point. His lows are still too low and too frequent.
That said, no center nears Cousins’ peak dominance. DeAndre Jordan and Draymond Green, when he plays the position, need too much help from teammates to be considered truly dominant. Andre Drummond isn’t polished enough. Even with his flaws, Cousins is probably already the NBA’s most dominant center.
Most dominant player, though? No. That’s a step too far.