Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while laughing at LeBron James’ recent outfit…
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves. He could be here for the 30 points on 21 shots. He could be here for the 9 rebounds (which is a little off his pace a little), But he is here because a guy much maligned for his defense did a good job on Zach Randolph in the post and that was the real key to slowing the Memphis attack (Z-Bo was 7-of-19 on the night and while he got 20 he really had to work for them).
Memphis Grizzlies defense. Last season this team was a defensive force, this season not so much. They have not been good on that end all season but it is just getting worse. Sunday night they gave up 113.5 points per 100 possessions to Minnesota. In their five games (four of them losses) the Grizzlies have allowed 113.4 points per 100 possessions, which is the worst in the NBA over the that stretch. That will not get it done.
Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings. Give the man some credit for a fairly efficient night in his home debut in Sacramento — 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting. More than that his shots were not forced (most were good looks) and he had five rebounds, four steals and four assists. The Kings don’t beat the Rockets without him.
Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns. Stephen Curry tried but he doesn’t have the quickness to stay in front of Bledsoe, who racked up 24 points on 16 shots, plus added 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Bledsoe and Goran Dragic are a very underrated combo in the backcourt — they played Curry and Klay Thompson toe-to-toe. Five wins in a row for the Suns and Bledsoe has been key for that stretch.
The Wizards look like they solved their backup-point-guard problems with Tim Frazier.
But they also looked like they solved their backup-point-guard problems with Trey Burke and then Brandon Jennings last year – and look how that turned out.
So, even after trading for Frazier, Washington is still trying to increase stability behind John Wall.
The Wizards added some depth to their backcourt on Thursday by signing veteran guard Donald Sloan to a one-year deal, CSN’s Chris Miller confirmed on Thursday night.
The 29-year-old Sloan has played for the Hawks, New Orleans Hornets, Cavaliers, Pacers and Nets in a five-year NBA career. He spent last season in China.
Sloan isn’t much of a scorer, and he’s only a decent distributor. But he makes up for it with all-around adequacy, highlighted by his rebounding for his position.
The veteran will compete with second-year Sheldon Mac, whose salary is just $50,000 guaranteed, to be Washington’s third point guard.
Nigel Hayes became a cult hero at Wisconsin for bringing a “BROKE COLLEGE ATHLETE ANYTHING HELPS” sign to GameDay and soliciting Venmo donations, challenging the stenographer in a press conference and “accidentally” calling a stenographer beautiful in front of a hot mic.
After going undrafted, Hayes and his colorful personality are headed to New York, where Knicks fans are starving for fun.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Could Hayes stick into the regular season? The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one more spot for a player on an standard contract. Chasson Randle has an unguaranteed salary that becomes partially guaranteed around the time training camp opens. The Knicks could also sign other players, though they’re down to just minimum exceptions.
Hayes – a 6-foot-8 forward – has a chance, but he’s most likely ticketed to New York’s minor-league affiliate after being waived by the parent club.
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.
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.