Wednesday night NBA Grades: LaMarcus Aldridge is a flat out stud

17 Comments

Our nightly look around the NBA, or what you missed while figuring out how to use lasers to mark the first down line in the a football game….

source:  LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers. For my money right now he is the best power forward in the game. I’d rather have him over Kevin Love or Dirk Nowitzki or Carmelo Anthony or even Tim Duncan. Anthony Davis will take the crown in a few years but he’s not there yet. (I’m not counting LeBron James as a four even though that’s the role he plays the most for Miami, different system.) The Portland Trail Blazers are 16-3 after beating the Thunder Thursday night and Aldridge finished with 38 points on 17-of-28 shooting (60.7 percent) plus he had 13 rebounds and zero turnovers. He dropped 28 and 10 the last game on the Pacers defense. He is at his peak right now and lifting these Blazers to a surprising and amazing start.

source:  Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks raced out to an early lead and never looked back in this one and Millsap’s 11 first quarter points were key to that start. Millsap finished with 25 points going right at Blake Griffin whenever he could. Millsap has been a great fit for Atlanta this season.

source:  Houston Rockets’ offense. Despite giving up 97 points to the Suns, the Rockets played respectable defense Wednesday night. It was the other end of the floor that was the mess — Houston shot 35.2 percent as a team and 29 percent from three. James Harden was 3-of-17, Dwight Howard 4-of-11, Aaron Brooks 7-of-18 and so on. It wasn’t pretty. Houston has the second best offense in the league so far this season; this was just a one-off night for them.

source:  Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks. He knocked down a three 30 seconds into the game to give the Hawks a lead 3-2 that they would never relinquish. More importantly that three set a record — that is his 89th consecutive game making a three, tying the league record. Korver knocked down 6-of-9 from three for a season-high 23 points.

Who is betting favorite to win Rookie of the Year? Lonzo Ball? Ben Simmons? Depends.

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Rookie of the Year race is wide open heading into next season.

It’s that way every year — if you had predicted Malcolm Brogdon was going to win a year ago, you would have been laughed out of the building — but this coming season has a lot of talent at the top of the board who could win. Lonzo Ball, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum all have a real shot — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Who is the better favorite? Depends on where you do your betting.

The William Hill’s Nevada sportsbook (which works with a number of Las Vegas casinos, such as the SLS), has this (hat tip ESPN):

Lonzo Ball 9-5
Ben Simmons 5-2
Dennis Smith Jr. 4-1
Markelle Fultz 13-2
De'Aaron Fox 8-1
Jayson Tatum 8-1

The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has Simmons as the betting line favorite at 9-4

The online betting site Bovda.lv has this line

Lonzo Ball 9-4
Dennis Smith 3-1
Ben Simmons 5-1
Jayson Tatum 5-1
Markelle Fultz 8-1

Traditionally, Rookie of the Year goes to a guy who has the ball in his hands, is aggressive, and puts up raw numbers. It celebrates scorers.

This year a whole lot of guys can fit that bill, more than are mentioned here. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Check out the first NBA 2K18 trailer (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

The NBA season is coming… and that means NBA 2K18 also coming.

To whet the appetite of you gamers out there, check out the first trailer for the upcoming game, with music by Mobb Deep.

You can pre-order the game now.

Aging Pelicans’ owner couldn’t remember Anthony Davis’ name in deposition

Getty Images
2 Comments

Tom Benson, the now 90-year-old owner of the New Orleans Pelicans and the NFL’s Saints, a few years back changed around the succession of control of the team after his passing — his wife Gayle will take control. Rita Benson LeBlanc, Benson’s granddaughter and former handpicked successor, sued saying Benson had been manipulated. After meeting privately with Benson, a judge ruled that while Benson suffered some “cognitive impairment” he was capable of making his own decisions and that Gayle remained the successor.

Benson has been sued multiple times since then, including by former Saints employee Rodney Henry, and the then-89-year-old Benson was deposed in that case last year.

Someone broke the gag order and sent a copy of the deposition to The Advocate of New Orleans, and it shows that Benson’s mental acuity is fading. He couldn’t remember who Anthony Davis was by name.

During another set of questions, apparently aimed at establishing how close Benson and Henry had been, Benson was shown a photo of the two men with Pelicans star Anthony Davis.

“Who is this?” Williams asked.

“It’s Rodney and a basketball player,” Benson said. “Oh, hell, I forget his name. Let me — he’s a great player for us. Tell me his name, and I will tell you yes or no.”

When asked “is it Anthony Davis,” Benson said yes. The man is 90, I’m not sure that we should expect much. He had the foresight to bring in people to run his businesses — including his sports teams — and set up a line of succession for when he does pass. Smart moves.

Would Benson’s mental state impact potential changes coming to the Pelicans? Probably not. New Orleans’ GM Dell Demps bet big on going big in a league trending smaller, pairing Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. If that doesn’t work out, plenty of people around the league expect a house cleaning on the basketball side with the Pelicans. Benson’s mental state, whatever it may be, does not impact that.

The deposition leak came from an anonymous source (and anonymous email account, the paper verified the document before publishing). Who leaked it? It may be nearly impossible to find out, but only one side benefits from all this becoming public. And it’s not Benson.

K.J. McDaniels signs with Raptors for camp, can he make roster?

Getty Images
2 Comments

A few years back in Philadelphia, the athletic K.J. McDaniels was a highlight factory and looked like a guy who could develop into a role player on the wing in the NBA.

Except, he never actually developed. Houston gave him a chance (three years at a total of $10 million), and it didn’t work out, then last season Brooklyn had him for 20 games, but they decided to move on.

Now Toronto is going to give him a chance, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

McDaniels’ agent later confirmed the news. This is a training camp, make-good contract for McDaniels. But unlike a lot of those contracts being handed out around this time, there is space on the Raptors roster for a player or two.

McDaniels will compete with Alfonzo McKinnie, Kennedy Meeks, and Kyle Wiltjer for one of the final roster spots in Toronto. Of that group, I’d most likely want to keep McDaniels because of the shot blocking and his potential — but his outside shot has to improve.

The Raptors can carry 15 on the roster and very possibly will until at least Jan. 10, which is the date these partially guaranteed deals become fully guaranteed for the season. Toronto is flirting with the tax line, and ownership is not going to want to pay the tax for this team, so if they do carry 15 they likely will cut it to 14 by that date.