Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while trying to find Stephen Colbert’s cameo in “Hobbit 2”….
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers. This is what Blake Griffin looks like when his midrange jumper falls. Griffin was 7-of-10 from the midrange and even nailed a three on his way to 31 points — check out his shot chart.
People who don’t think Blake Griffin is still evolving as a player — anyone who tells you “all he can do is dunk” — isn’t watching him. His jumper is not as consistent as you would like, he can be too hesitant to make his move when he gets the ball on the block, he’s got work to do on the defensive end, but he and his jumper are improving — and he does make plays. Besides there is nothing wrong with dunks.
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors. The Raptors traded Rudy Gay and have been 9-3 since then counting the big win Wednesday over the Pacers. Apparently missing his former teammate, DeRozan did his full on Rudy Gay impression in this one — in the first three quarters he was 6-of-18 shooting for 16 points, just an inefficient gunner with Paul George defending well and forcing him into bad midrange shots. Then in the fourth DeRozan started hitting those tough shots — he had 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting and was key in Toronto owning the final six minutes and winning. DeRozan finished with 26 points on 24 shots and he was making the tough ones from the midrange. All very Gay like, but it worked for a night.
Denver Nuggets. Just when you think they have hit rock bottom, they find a new bottom. A struggling, tanking Sixers team came to Mile High and make it eight straight losses for Denver. Once again you can’t say it was either the offense or defense for the Nuggets as both were bad — over their last five games Denver has the 29th ranked offense and 29th ranked defense (in points per possession, via NBA.com). They used to run teams out of the building at altitude, but that starts with getting turnovers or stops and that isn’t happening. Plus their offense is stagnant and seems to be a lot of dribbling around, or a Ty Lawson/J.J. Hickson pick-and-roll, and not much else. Denver is 1-8 since Brian Shaw banned pizza and junk food from the locker room, time for someone to make a call over to Lucky Pie Pizza and Taphouse and get a delivery.
It’s a good time to be a Cleveland sports fan. Finally.
Next Tuesday, Oct. 25, will be one of the great sports days in the history of the city — the Cavaliers will get their championship rings, and the Indians will open the World Series at home.
Only one little problem: the two events were going to overlap.
So in the spirit of city unity the Cavaliers have moved up the start time of their ring ceremony by 30 minutes, and the game by 30 minutes as well. The ring ceremony now begins at 7 p.m. Eastern, with tip-off against the Knicks at 7:30 (both will be broadcast on TNT, followed by the Spurs at the Warriors).
First pitch for the World Series is at 8 Eastern.
Fans attending the Cavaliers ring ceremony will be given a special silicone ring, which if viewed on their phone through the Cavs app will look like a virtual championship ring. Kind of cool idea.
Tuesday is going to be a great day to be a Cavaliers sports fan (just don’t bring up the Browns). A lucky few will be at these events.
Although personally, I’d rather watch them both on a television while eating the brisket and having a beer at the bar at Mabel’s BBQ.
When asked my prediction for the 2017 NBA champion, I say the Warriors have about a 50-50 chance. Some call that a copout answer – but it’s really not.
For a team to have even odds against 29 others combined entering the season is extraordinary.
Just how rare is it?
David Purdum of ESPN:
Jeff Sherman, head NBA oddsmaker at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, remembers the 1997-98 Bulls team, which was coming off a 72-win season, being around a minus-125 title favorite entering that season.
But Sherman and other sports betting industry veterans struggled to recall another team — in basketball, baseball or football — that was an odds-on favorite to start the season.
Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen led Chicago to the championship in 1998 (which was actually two seasons removed from the 72-win year).
Will Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson also meet their oversized expectations and deliver a title this year?
Flip a coin.
Tyus Jones has a lot to like — he’s a point guard who makes good decisions, his shot is developing (40 percent from three at Summer League), and he’s got skills. Minnesota won the Summer League championship because of Jones’ leadership — just drafted and highly touted Kris Dunn was out for the title game, that’s where Jones shined.
But Dunn is the future at the point in Minnesota, and Ricky Rubio is still there. So Minnesota is seeing what might be out there for Jones, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Minnesota has had talks with Philadelphia, New Orleans, and others about Jones for a while.
Jones is likely a steady backup point guard at the NBA level — he’s a smart passer, knows how to run a team, and as his shot develops he becomes more dangerous. His downside is defense, but as a reserve that’s less of an issue.
For a team like the Sixers — without Jerryd Bayless to start the season — or while New Orleans waits for Jrue Holiday‘s return, Jones makes some sense. The only question is the price going back to Minnesota.
The Bucks got a rude awakening about Greg Monroe‘s value when they tried to sell low on him this offseason – and still got no takers.
Now, Milwaukee seems to have gotten the picture. Monroe – whose agent claimed the center could name his contract terms from multiple teams last year – might opt into the final year of his deal, which would pay $17,884,176.
Zach Lowe of ESPN:
Milwaukee is already preparing for the possibility Monroe opts into his deal for 2017-18, league sources say.
The Bucks indicated this thinking when they extended Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s contract, putting a large 2017-18 salary rather than a relatively low cap hold on the books to begin next offseason. If Monroe opts in, the difference in Antetokounmpo’s initial cap number is far less likely to matter. (Though Antetokounmpo’s extension wasn’t a complete giveaway into Milwaukee’s Monroe expectation, because the Bucks saved over the life of the extension.)
Don’t put it past Monroe to opt out if he believes he can find a better situation. After all, he signed the small qualifying offer to leave a tough basketball fit with Andre Drummond in Detroit. Monroe also took the risk of a shorter detail in Milwaukee. He’s secure enough in himself to at least consider moving on if he’s unhappy.
It’s also possible he finds a satisfying role with the Bucks. They’ll bring him off the bench, which could hide his defensive shortcomings and give him a chance to mash backup bigs. Heck, he could even play well enough to justify opting out.
There’s still a full season before Monroe must decide on his option, and a lot can change by then. But it seems Milwaukee now has a realistic expectation.