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.
The Raiders are moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, and Draymond Green — whose Warriors also play in Oakland is not pleased.
Green, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:
I wouldn’t attend a game. I won’t attend a game.
“And I’m not a diehard Raiders fan, but I support the city of Oakland. It ain’t for me and I feel like all fans should feel that way. You just don’t do that. Come on man, that’s ridiculous.”
“If I were the fans, I wouldn’t attend a game for the next two years. But that’s just me. That’s ridiculous. No way I’d pay my money to attend a game.”
Um, does Green realize the Warriors are also moving from Oakland (to a new arena in San Francisco)?
“It’s one thing if you’re moving them from Oakland to Fremont or something,” Green said of the Raiders. “To Las Vegas?
OK, that’s Fair. I am just being pedantic. I don’t actually see moving across the bay as similar to the Raiders moving hundreds of miles away.
“That’s like moving the Dallas Cowboys or moving the Packers,” he said. “Moving the Raiders? You can move a lot of teams. Ain’t many fan bases like the Raiders fan base. That’s like moving the Boston Celtics from Boston or the Lakers from LA.
“You just don’t move certain franchises with the fan base they have.”
But seriously this time: Someone tell Green that the Raiders have already moved from Oakland to Los Angeles and back to Oakland — hundreds of miles each way and a ridiculous drive in traffic.
I get that Green — who grew up in Detroit Lions territory, roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is pictured above in a San Francisco 49ers jersey — just wants to connect with Oakland fans, but this argument is just intellectually dishonest.
Who should go No. 1 in the 2017 NBA draft?
A pair of Pac-12 freshmen point guards, Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, lead the discussion.
Fultz looks like the leading contender, but Ball doesn’t buy into the conventional wisdom.
Ball, via ESPN:
“Markelle’s a great player, but I feel I’m better than him,” said Ball, who led the Bruins to a pair of blowout victories over Fultz’s Huskies this season.
“I think I can lead a team better than him,” Ball added. “Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”
This will get spun into a discussion of Lonzo’s father, LaVar Ball. But, without digging deeply, D'Angelo Russell, Shabazz Muhammad and Enes Kanter each claimed to be the best player in their respective drafts. Look further, and there are many more examples.
Reaching Lonzo Ball’s level usually comes with supreme confidence. This is normal — not a cause for concern about the influence of his boastful dad.
And for what’s it’s worth, I’d favor Ball over Fultz right now, though there’s still more information to gather in the draft process.
There are some strong candidates for NBA Coach of the Year this season. Brad Stevens has built up Boston over the past couple seasons, and they are now the top seed in the East. The Wizards are having their best season in a long time, and the players there credit new coach Scott Brooks. Quin Snyder has done a fantastic job building a culture and strong team in Utah. Eric Spoelstra didn’t allow the Heat to let go of the rope in the East when they were 11-30, and now they are on the cusp of making the playoffs. Gregg Popovich needs to be in the running every year because he is the best coach in the game.
However, Houston’s Mike D’Antoni is probably going to win the award. Golden State’s Steve Kerr – who won the award last year — is good with that, here is his quote via ESPN from after the Warriors beat the Rockets Tuesday night.
“I think the fit with the roster and Mike’s philosophy has been perfect,” Kerr said Tuesday night. “What he’s so good at is really giving his players confidence and belief. They’re obviously having an amazing year. My guess is that he’ll get the trophy. He’s earned it.”
Rockets GM Daryl Morey deserves a lot of credit for how good Houston has been. Unlike the front offices in New York and Los Angeles, when Morey brought D’Antoni in he went out and got role players who fit with the coach’s style of play. If you’re hiring D’Antoni, you’re doing it to play up tempo and take threes, and he needs the right roster to win that way. Morey gave him that.
Still, D’Antoni is the frontrunner for reasons beyond he’s the coach of the team that most exceeded expectations this season. He truly trusted James Harden in the point guard role and helped the beard elevate his game to MVP levels. He got the role players to buy in. He also has the Rockets playing decent — middle of the NBA pack — defense, which is better than many people expected (at times this season the Rockets have played actual good defense, they just don’t sustain it).
Kerr is right, D’Antoni deserves it.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lamar Odom says he’s “a walking miracle” after being found unconscious with cocaine in his system in a Nevada brothel in 2015.
Odom tells US Weekly he hid his cocaine use from ex-wife Khloe Kardashian for a while, but she found out about two years before their 2013 split. He also says that he regrets “having multiple affairs with different women” while married to Kardashian.
Kardashian filed for divorce in 2013 but delayed it after the incident at the brothel. He says Kardashian helped him regain his memory following the episode. Their divorce was finalized in December.
Odom blames cocaine for helping end his NBA career. He says “drugs killed my drive to want to train and be in shape.”
Odom says he’s sober now after finishing a rehab stint in January.
Here is some of the interview, however warning the language is not safe for work.