Tuesday night NBA Grades: Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo with dueling rookie triple doubles

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If you were busy exploring our galaxy online and not watching hoops Monday then you missed the first time in NBA history that two rookies recorded triple-doubles in the same game. We’re here to help you out with our nightly grades from around the league.

source:  Michael Carter Williams, Philadelphia 76ers. The early leader in the Rookie of the Year race has put it all together this year — he is shooting better than he did in college, he’s getting to the line, he’s passing well and has a real sense of running a team, he is a good rebounder, and he leads the league in steals. So I guess we shouldn’t be shocked that he put it all together in one game for a triple-double — 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals. He had 7 of those points plus four assists in the two overtimes to help secure the win.

source:   Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic. Before you go and hand that Rookie of the Year trophy to MCW in Philly, Oladipo would like to have a word with you. The reason Orlando was in this game was the rookie’s first ever triple double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. (To be fair, Arron Afflalo’s 43 points had a lot to do with Orlando’s game too, he was special.) Oladipo had a bit of a rough start to the season turning the ball over too much, but coach Jacque Vaughn has let the rookie learn from his mistakes and lately we’re starting to see the benefits of that. He’s looked good of late.

source:   Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks. The longer the season goes on, the more it becomes clear that Knight’s future in the league appears to be as a reserve. He just lacks the court vision and sense a starting point guard in the league needs and he can’t help carry the Bucks. He had some good moments in the fourth quarter Tuesday, but for the most part Boston’s Avery Bradley won the war — Jennings had 15 points but on 5-of-15 shooting, which is pretty close to his season average of 36.1 percent. He doesn’t seem to recognize open teammates or play strong defense. It’s been a rough year for him.

source:   Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith (Detroit Pistons). We know that the Miami Heat’s weakness is interior defense, and the three bigs in Detroit have started to play better together lately. Tuesday night all of that came together — Drummond, Monroe and Smith combined for 41 points and 28 rebounds, leading the Pistons to the upset win. It wasn’t exactly efficient (Smith was 7–of-21 shooting) but they are getting the job done with that Detroit is climbing the standings in the East.

source:   Toronto Raptors. They blew a 27-point lead in the second half (this grade is not lower because the Warriors can get hot shooting and have a magic at home… but still 27 points). It’s not all on coach Dwane Casey but he had the Raptors doing some odd things like this random double-team traps on the Warriors perimeter players, which a pass later led to a wide open three. Toronto’s defense has been pretty solid most of the season, but things fell apart in the fourth quarter in Oakland.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.