We know you might have missed some NBA action Monday night as you chased a flock of feral turkeys around New York City, so we bring you grades from the night to help you get caught up.
Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets. Lawson spent the first half of this game deferring (J.J. Hickson had 12 points in the first quarter), but in the third quarter he took charge with 13 points, sparking a 16-4 run that solidified Denver’s eventual win. Lawson finished with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting plus he dished out 11 assists. Denver is playing well again and Lawson is at the heart of that renaissance.
LeBron James, Miami Heat. Just another LeBron James dominant performance — 35 points on 11-of-14 shooting — but this one game is not why he is here. Rather, it is this stat: On the season LeBron is shooting 60.9 percent. That with a usage rate near the top of the league at 28.3 (percent of team possessions he uses). Insane. If you’re a fan of the game of basketball, savor getting to watch him play at this level while we can.
Samuel Dalembert, Dallas Mavericks. He was benched at the start of the Mavericks’ game Monday after sleeping through shootaround. That happens to guys out on the road when in Miami or New York (the night before has something to do with that), but at home in Dallas? Come on, you’re a vet.
The Indiana Pacers defense. Another day, another team with a lot of offensive weapons just shut down. The Timberwolves shot just 32.6 percent overall, and thanks to the “Roy Hibbert effect” they shot just 40 percent inside 8 feet of the rim. Minnesota finished with an offensive rating of 79.8, which is well off their season average of 102. Indiana is 13-1 and while they will not sustain that pace all season with their defense they can sustain winning deep into the playoffs.
Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers. When people talk about the Blazers hot start it’s all about LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, but people are looking past Batum who is hot and key to all of it — he had 23 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists against the Knicks Monday. In Portland they have been waiting on him to live up to his potential (and contract), well he has been lately.
LeBron James is one of those guys who seems like he can do it all. He’s been league champion, league MVP, and Finals MVP. He’s an international marketing icon. He’s the best basketball player of a generation.
Apparently, he can also save people from the water like a dang superhero.
The recent article published on Vogue about James and his wife Savannah, the author shared a story told to him by Gabrielle Union, actress and wife of Dwyane Wade.
As Union tells the story, during a snorkeling trip in the Bahamas, Lebron noticed one person wasn’t back in the boat at the end of the session.
He then leapt in to bring them back.
As I prepare to say goodbye, I am reminded of a story Gabrielle Union told me about LeBron. Union and her husband, Dwyane Wade, with other friends and athletes, were out snorkeling in the Bahamas a few years back. Some, including Wade, were ocean-shy, city-born and not as strong at swimming as LeBron. (“LeBron, it turns out, is Aquaman!” Union says.) Eventually, the group got out in the water, though at the end of the swim, when everyone was back in the boat, LeBron took a count and noticed a man missing, immediately diving back in. “He literally brings our friend back, like something out of an episode of Baywatch,” Union says. “Because he’s that guy, and when you see that, you know he is not going to leave these at-risk kids behind or an NBA player snorkeling. He’s that guy who dives in.”
Lebron James: that dude.
This upcoming season will be a huge test for Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins.
After a couple years of steady improvement, it appeared that Wiggins started to level off in his third season. Yes, he increased his 3-point shooting percentage but dips in his free-throw rate and VORP were a tad disappointing considering his usage even as he contributed more points per-game. Many in Minnesota expected him to be a superstar, and now it’s possible he ends up simply as a perennial rotation guy.
Still, the new season for the Timberwolves should be pretty interesting as they have added new pieces to the roster, including former Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler.
The video above includes 10 of Wiggins’s best plays from the 2016-17 NBA season. Hopefully Wiggins will be able to build on this type of play as the roster around him and gets better and expectations rise.
Doc Rivers no longer has the hammer on trades and player moves in Los Angeles, that has been wisely handed over to Lawrence Frank, the team’s new president of basketball operations. He has Jerry West as a consultant — who will have the owner’s ear — working with him.
Frank now has a new right-hand guy, one of the better respected, up-and-coming front office people in the league, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The LA Clippers have offered Oklahoma City Thunder executive Michael Winger its general manager’s job, league sources told ESPN. A deal could be finalized soon, league sources said…
Winger, 37, has spent the past seven years with Oklahoma City, working closely with Executive Vice President and GM Sam Presti.
ESPN’s Thunder reporter Royce Young chipped in with this.
This is a good hire by the Clippers, bringing a smart young executive from a well-respected organization into the fold to help energize their front office.
This past summer the Clippers lost Chris Paul (traded to Houston, because he was leaving as a free agent otherwise), locked up Blake Griffin long-term, and now have to decide on a future direction. DeAndre Jordan has a player option next summer, do the Clippers want to max him out or move another direction? The Clippers need to inject some younger, more athletic players into their roster and move out of the win-now, trade youth for vets mode Rivers had them in. The Clippers have done a poor job developing young talent and using that to supplement their stars (something teams like the Warriors and Spurs have done well over the years).
Winger should help change that dynamic.
I’m not sure it’s possible to argue that LeBron James is not the most important player in the NBA, even in 2016-17.
Yes, others have won the MVP award in years past, but each and every postseason you understand just how important LeBron is to every roster he is on. NBA players even voted him as the player they would most secretly want on their team.
That’s why it’s pretty easy to galvanize that opinion when you watch a 20-minute highlight video of LeBron’s best plays from each game of the past season.
Summer is upon us and even preseason seems like a long way off. Thankfully, we will be able to get to see plays like this here in what feels like the near future.